Student Affairs

Harassment Policy

  I. Policy Statement

This document defines Clemson University's policy regarding harassment and the complaint resolution process.

Clemson University is committed to offering educational and employment opportunities based on ability and performance, in a productive, healthy, safe, and respectful environment, free from harassment.  Accordingly, it is the policy of Clemson University that harassment of any kind, as defined below, by employees, students or non-employees will not be tolerated. It is also the policy of Clemson University that retaliation against any person who has filed a complaint of harassment or who has assisted or participated in any manner in the investigation and resolution of a complaint of harassment is prohibited and subject to disciplinary action.

Clemson University will respond promptly to all complaints of harassment and retaliation.  Immediate and appropriate corrective action will be taken when it is determined that harassment has occurred.

Violation of this policy can result in personal liability for any perpetrator, as well as any disciplinary action that the University deems appropriate.

    II. Definitions

  1. Harassment

    In general, harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct, based upon race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, age, disability, status as a military veteran or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in the statutory complaint process), that unreasonably interferes with the person's work or educational performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment.  Examples may include, but are not limited to, epithets, slurs, jokes or other verbal, graphic or physical conduct.
Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is one of the oldest forms of sex discrimination.  It is defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic status; or

  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions; or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or academic environment.

Sexual harassment can take many forms.  It can be committed by both men and women and can occur between members of the opposite sex or between members of the same sex.  Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

    Seeking sexual favors or relationships in return for the promise of a grade or other academic opportunity;

    Conditioning an employment-related action (such as hiring, promotion, compensation, or performance appraisal) on a sexual favor or relationship;

   Conduct by individuals in positions of authority or by co-workers or peers that is sufficiently serious to create a hostile working or learning environment.  In the work environment, the conduct unreasonably interferes with the ability of a person to perform his/her employment responsibilities.  In the academic environment, the conduct interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s program.  Such conduct might include but is not limited to the following:

  • Intentional and undesired physical contact
  • Repeated, unwelcome requests for dates
  • Sexually explicit language or writings
  • Displaying or electronically transmitting lewd pictures or notes
  • Remarks or conduct that demeans or belittles an individual personally or in general because of his/her gender. (This type of gender harassment is a violation of the policy even though the remarks are not sexually provocative and the conduct does not involve sexual advances.)

Note:  Also see policy statement on Amorous Relationships

      C.  Sexual Violence

Members of the University’s community - students, employees, guests and visitors – have the right to be free from sexual violence.  Sexual violence is a type of sexual harassment prohibited under Title IX and is defined as physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent, either because of the use of drugs or alcohol or intellectual or other disability.  A number of different actions fall into the category of sexual violence including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion.

  •   In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity.  Consent is sexual permission.  Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want sexually and what you don’t.  Silence – without actions demonstrating permission – cannot be assumed to show consent. 
  •   Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity.  Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another.  When someone makes clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive. 
  •   Because alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to consent in question, sober sex is less likely to raise such questions.  When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to give valid consent if they cannot fully understand the details of a sexual interaction (who, what, when ,where, why or how) because they lack the capacity to reasonably understand what they are doing.
  •   Additionally, this policy covers a person who incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the taking of rape drugs.  Possession, use and/or distribution of any of these substances including Rohypnol, Ketomine, GHB, Burundanga, etc is prohibited.Sexual Exploitation

      D.   Sexual Exploitation

         Sexual Exploiation occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses.  Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  •   Invasion of sexual privacy;
  •   Prostituting another individual;
  •   Non-consensual video or audio-taping of sexual activity;
  •   Going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends hide in the closet to watch you having consensual sex;
  •   Engaging in voyeurism;
  •  Knowingly transmitting an STD or HIV to another individual;
  •   Sexually-based stalking and/or bullying

III. Reporting Harassment

Clemson University will respond to and investigate all claims of harassment and will take steps to ensure that no retaliation will be taken against any person making a complaint in good faith, and that any person against whom an allegation is made is treated fairly. Reports of harassment should be made as soon as possible to enable the University to more effectively investigate the allegations. Complaints investigated under the University’s procedures must be reported no more than 120 days after the alleged conduct occurs.

       A.  Any employee who has experienced harassment may report the incident to the Office of Access and Equity, 110 Holtzendorff Hall; telephone 656-3181 (voice) and 656-3553 (TDD).  An employee can also report the incident to his/her immediate supervisor or to the next level supervisor or University official if the immediate supervisor is the alleged harasser, or if he/she feels more comfortable talking to that person (see section IV).
      B. Any undergraduate student who has experienced harassment may report the incident to the Office of Access and Equity, 110 Holtzendorff Hall; telephone 656-3181 (voice) or 656-3553 (TDD).  A student can also report an incident of harassment to the Office of the Dean of Students, 202 Hendrix Student Center, telephone 656-0471, Academic Deans or Department Chairs (see section IV).

      C. Any graduate student who has experienced harassment may report the incident to the Office of Access and Equity, 110 Holtzendorff Hall; telephone 656-3181 (voice) or 656-3553 (TDD).  A graduate student can also report an incident of harassment to the Dean of the Graduate School, E-105 Martin Hall, telephone 864-656-4172, Academic Deans, or Department Chairs (see section IV).

      D. All others who believe they have experienced harassment may report the incident to the Office of Access and Equity, 110 Holtzendorff Hall; telephone 656-3181 (voice) or 656-3553 (TDD).

      E. Anyone who wants to report an incident of harassment at a time when University offices are closed can call 656-3181 and leave a message on the voice mail service in the Office of Access & Equity.  Your call will be returned as soon as possible.  If anyone feels that the matter is an emergency or their life or someone else's life is in danger at a time when these offices are closed, the University Police Department should be contacted by calling 656-2222.

IV. Responsibility of Managers/University Officials to Notify the Office of Access and Equity

Every supervisor or other University official who receives a complaint of harassment has a positive responsibility to immediately report the complaint to the Office of Access and Equity, regardless of whether or not the alleged harasser has been identified.

Note:  A conflict between an individual's desire for confidentiality and the University's duty to investigate may arise if an individual informs a supervisor about alleged harassment, but asks him/her to keep the matter confidential and take no action.  Inaction by the supervisor in such instances could lead to University liability.  While it may seem reasonable to let the individual determine whether to pursue a complaint, Clemson University has an obligation to prevent and correct the harassment.  Therefore, it is important that all allegations of harassment be reported to the Office of Access and Equity.

V. Methods for Resolving Complaints

     A. The Office of Access and Equity has primary responsibility for investigating allegations of harassment and for initiating and coordinating corrective action when necessary.  Immediate intervention by this office could prevent the harassment from continuing.  Every effort will be made to resolve the complaint as quickly and in as informal and confidential manner as possible.  For more information, please see “The Procedures for Resolution of Discrimination/Harassment complaints at
     B. Filing with External Agencies

In addition to, or in lieu of, the procedures outlined above:

  1. Students (either undergraduate or graduate) may file formal complaints with the following agency:

United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

61 Forsyth St. S.W., Suite 19T70, Atlanta, GA 30303-3104

Telephone: 404-562-6350; TDD: 404-331-7236

            (Must file within 180 calendar days from date of discrimination.)

2. Employees may file formal complaints with the following agencies:

South Carolina Human Affairs Commission

2611 Forest Drive, Suite 200, Post Office Box 4490

Columbia, SC  29240

Telephone: (803) 737-7800; TDD: (803) 253-4125

(Must file within 180 calendar days from date of discrimination.)


U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

301 North Main Street, Suite 1402, Greenville, SC 29601

Telephone: (864) 241-4400; TDD: (864) 241-4403

(Must file within 180 calendar days from date of discriminatory act, or 30 days after receiving notice that the state or local agency has terminated its processing of the charge, whichever is earlier.)

VI. Retaliation

Retaliation is any conduct causing any interference, coercion, restraint or reprisal against a person complaining of harassment or against a person assisting in any way in the investigation and resolution of the complaint.  Retaliation is a violation of this policy and

will not be tolerated.  Appropriate sanctions/disciplinary actions shall be taken against any person found to have participated in any acts of retaliation. Persons who feel they have been subjected to retaliation for filing a complaint of harassment or for assisting with the resolution of a complaint should contact the Office of Access and Equity.

 VII. Confidentiality

The University wishes to create a safe environment in which individuals are unafraid to discuss concerns.  Therefore, the University will always maintain confidentiality to the extent possible.  However, confidentiality of the harassment allegation and the identity of the complainant cannot be guaranteed because the University must also consider fairness to the individual accused as well as the safety and welfare of all members of the University community.  These considerations may require the University to disclose the harassment allegation and the identity of the complainant to the accused and to other University officials.

VIII. Sanctions

Persons found to be in violation of the University's Harassment Policy will be subject to immediate and appropriate disciplinary action, proportional to the seriousness of the offense, which may include, but is not limited to:  oral or written reprimand, reassignment, demotion, suspension or termination of employment, or expulsion from the University in the case of a student.  These sanctions also apply if any employee or student is found to have intentionally brought false charges against another member of the University community.

Individuals subject to disciplinary action may exercise their appeal rights pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Faculty Manual or the Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.  The Office of Community and Ethical Standards addresses student appeals.

IX.   Resources:

Office of Access and Equity

Jerry Knighton, Director

Title IX Coordinator   656-3181

Advice and counseling is available regarding any form of

harassment or discrimination.

Office of Human Resources

Erin Norris, Employee Relations Manager  656-3360

Employee counseling services are available through the

Employee Assistance Program.

Office of Community and Ethical Standards

Alesia Smith, Director    656-0510

Student advice and counseling regarding student misconduct

policies and procedures.

Office of Counseling and Psychological Services                                                         

Raquel Contreras, Director  656-2451

Free psychological counseling is available at Redfern

Health Center to students who have experienced harassment.

X.        Education and Prevention

To meet State requirements, the Harassment Policy is distributed annually to each employee of the University. Individuals with teaching or supervisory responsibilities must be knowledgeable of the sexual harassment prevention guidelines. To support this objective, the Office of Access and Equity provides a computer-assisted training program on the subject of sexual harassment at:

In addition, a representative of the Office of Access and Equity informs new employees and graduate students about the policy on harassment at their respective orientation sessions and education and training sessions on harassment are offered in conjunction with the Office of Human Resources.  All employees, especially those with supervisory responsibility, are encouraged to participate in these sessions. The Office of Access and Equity also works with the Office of the Dean of Students to provide training sessions to undergraduate students regarding harassment upon request.    Information on harassment and procedures for resolving discrimination and harassment complaints can also be found online as follows:   

      1.   The Student Handbook:  

      2.  The Human Resources Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual:  

      3. The Faculty Manual:  

       4. The Access and Equity Web Page:

The Director of the Office of Access and Equity will submit an annual summary report to the President and to the Board of Trustees through the Chief Diversity Office describing the number, type and status of formal and informal complaints of harassment that have been received and investigated.

This policy is a revision of, and replacement for, the Sexual Harassment Policy (Adopted:  April 1982) and the Racial Harassment Policy (Adopted:  March 1988).  Reissued September 30, 2011.

Contact: Office of Access and Equity:  Jerry Knighton, 656-3181