The University of Illinois will not tolerate sexual harassment of students or employees and will take action to provide remedies when such harassment is discovered. The University environment must be free of sexual harassment in work and study. The executive officer has a special responsibility to encourage and maintain a climate in the department that is free of discrimination or coercion and should take the lead in educating all faculty, teaching assistants, and staff in these matters. Policies and procedures regarding discrimination and harassment are clearly laid out on the website of the Office of Access and Equity. Everyone should be encouraged to read the University’s policy on discrimination and harassment, and the unit head should ensure that members of the department—faculty, teaching assistants, postdocs, staff, and others—understand the range of behaviors that may constitute harassment and their responsibilities with respect to Title IX reporting. It would be a good idea to hold an orientation for teaching assistants, visitors, and new faculty each fall. The Office of Access and Equity has resources to aid in such training, and may also be invited to offer a seminar to the department.
Written complaints of harassment may be directed to the unit head; when the executive officer has been made aware of questionable behavior, he or she should make sure that the individual understands the appropriate standards of behavior and the possible sanctions if a formal complaint should ever be filed. Supreme Court rulings have made it clear that complaints about harassment—even informal—should not be ignored. Please consult the Dean’s Office about handling formal or informal complaints. Unit heads should also be alert to the problems which may arise when a faculty member, teaching assistant, or other person in a position of authority enters into a consensual romantic relationship with a person subject to his or her authority. Members of the department should be cautioned about such relationships. Should such a circumstance arise, it may become necessary to negotiate a reassignment of the individuals in a way that eliminates the circumstance of one having formal authority over the other.