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Sexual Harassment A Workshop for Teaching Assistants Pamela Thomason:

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1 Sexual Harassment A Workshop for Teaching Assistants Pamela Thomason:

2 What is it? According to Merriman-Websters Collegiate Dictionary (3 rd Ed.), it is: uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed at an employee because of his or her sex. sex-u-al ha-rass-ment \`sek-sh(e-)wel he-`ras- ment\ n (1975): Pamela Thomason:

3 A Legal Definition Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

4 Quid Pro Quo Submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of instruction, employment, or participation in other University activity, Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions, or You got the part!

5 Hostile Environment Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individuals performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive University environment.

6 Necessary Showings The conduct must be severe or pervasive Mere offensive utterances do not constitute sexual harassment. Courts look at all of the circumstances to determine whether a reasonable person would consider the conduct to be severe or pervasive from the victims viewpoint. Frequency and severity are balanced.

7 Social Context Determining whether a reasonable person would consider behavior to be severe requires careful consideration of the social context in which the particular behavior occurs and is experienced by its target. The real social impact of workplace behavior often depends on a constellation of surrounding circumstance, expectations, and relationships which are not fully captured by a simple recitation of the words used or the physical acts performed. Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services

8 Example Is a football players environment severely or pervasively abusive if the coach smacks him on the buttocks as he heads onto the field? Would the same behavior reasonably be experienced as abusive by the coachs secretary back at the office?

9 Is this sexual harassment? A role play exercise

10 Students Instructors Story Story I was excited about my research project. I was flattered when my graduate advisor suggested we discuss it over dinner. At first I felt uncomfortable about meeting him in a social setting but, deciding that I was being paranoid, agreed. During dinner, we began to discuss class and my project. As the evening progressed, the conversation shifted to very personal topics, including my present and past boyfriends. I tried to shift the conversation back to something related to class but he kept drifting back to personal issues. Occasionally he touched my hand and told me he thought I was attractive. As we were getting ready to leave, he stood uncomfortably close to me and patted me on the arm. I felt nervous about the way he was relating to me but I was afraid to offend him by saying anything. Now I find myself avoiding him even though I respect his opinions and need need his guidance to do well in my department. I was interested in her work, especially since her topic has been a special interest of mine. I thought her project had real potential. I invited her to dinner so we could talk over her ideas in a more relaxed atmosphere. I thought this would be helpful since she seems very bright but is nervous and shy in class. I enjoyed getting to know her better and I could tell the feeling was mutual. We had a good time and the discussion was productive. Since our meeting, I haven't seen much of her. Im surprised that after such a promising start she seems less interested in my help. I guess she changed her mind about the project. It makes me wonder if shes really grad school material.

11 The Case of the Lonely TA

12 Office Hours William moved to UCLA from the East Coast to pursue a masters degree in drama. Basically broke, he got a job as a TA of a popular course on film. While at first he felt too young (24 years old) to exert authority it turned out that his youth helped him to communicate with students and his classes were filled with discussion and philosophical debate. He developed a kind of friendship with some students. The only part he hated was office hours. He spent that time alone in an underground cubicle waiting for people who never came. That is, until Lisa showed up.

13 Is this sexual harassment? Lisa was one of the best students in class and she started popping by. They talked about movies, sexy actors, and the Lakers. William began looking forward to office hours. Lisa began putting her telephone number on assignments and one afternoon she showed up in a wet suit and said, Surfs up. Wanna come?

14 Is this? William did not go because he could not surf but he kicked himself for not going. That night, he started to dial Lisas number several times but never placed the call. Later, he thought: All tests are numbered so the TA cannot know the identity of the student and cannot be biased in grading. He asked Lisa out for drinks.

15 How about now? After having a few too many drinks, William and Lisa end up in bed in Williams apartment. Neither is very sure about how they got there. Lisa stopped dropping by for office hours and stopped coming to class. Her message machine came on every time William called. William saw Lisa on the street but she turned and walked the other way before he could speak to her. He heard that she left the University.

16 The Risks of Romance Can I date a fellow Bruin?

17 Its a bad idea No UCLA rule or policy forbids dating a fellow Bruin except that faculty, including TAs, may not date a student currently enrolled in his or her class. Consensual relationships between a teacher and a student or between a supervisor and a subordinate are suspect given the power difference. Claims of harassment may also be made by other students or employees who believe they are treated unfairly because of the relationship. What if the relationship sours?

18 Power imbalances and changing circumstances Everyone interprets events based upon their own background, experiences, hopes and wishes. You cannot be sure that someone who depends on your good favor will view a pass as innocent or believe that rejection would be free of consequences. Current events will be interpreted in light of subsequent events.

19 What do you see? A fashionable young woman from a bygone era? An ugly woman with exotic taste in hats? Which one is the truth?

20 Date at your own risk If you date and your former love object alleges that the whole thing was sexual harassment, you are on your own. The University will not defend you and its obligations under the Randi W. case could lead to a refusal to provide recommendations. Oh yes, and your job could also be at stake because, while dating is not against the rules, harassment is.

21 What can you do about offensive conduct that is not yet severe or pervasive? Say you do not like it and ask the person to stop. If the conduct is repeated it can become a violation and the offender can be advised of this. The victim could begin to keep a log or diary of the conduct, including dates, times, witnesses, direct quotes, and any documents or photographs.

22 Report all inappropriate conduct The University can be held to know what you know. Your failure to report will be judged using 20-20 hindsight. When in doubt, shout.

23 Resources for assistance in making a direct response and beyond Information centers can assist in figuring out how to approach a harasser and what to say. The Ombuds Office offers confidential assistance and can help mediate an issue or dispute. Emotional distress is one of the human costs of harassment. Help is available at Student Psychological Services If someone fears harmcall the police

24 Filing a complaint

25 Why is it important? A complaint can protect the victim and others. Only by confronting a social problem can it be corrected. –In one survey, approximately 20% of graduate students reported being harassed. –Research shows that some harassers simply do not see anything wrong with their behavior. Laws or policies and their enforcement really do make a difference.

26 How do you do it? The status of the alleged harasser determines the applicable procedure. Three basic status choices –Student –Staff –Faculty

27 Who is the alleged harasser? A staff member? A student? A faculty member? Linda Avila –Staff Affirmative Action, x50751 Kathleen McMahon –Dean of Students Office, x53871 Eliza Vorenberg –Office of the Vice Chancellor, Academic Personnel, x44217

28 Summary of options for addressing sexual harassment Speak directly to the harasser. Speak to the dean or department chair. Initiate an investigation by filing a complaint. Contact the Ombuds Office. File a complaint with a law enforcement agency.

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