Sexual Harassment and Misconduct
University Policy Number 1202
Categorized: General Policies
Responsible Office: Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics
Related Law & Policy:
This policy applies to all George Mason University (Mason) faculty, staff, students, university contractors, and visitors.
II. Policy Statement
It is the policy of the University to provide an academic and work environment free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment, a form of gender discrimination, is contrary to the standards and mission of the University. Sexual harassment is illegal and will not be tolerated. Each member of the University community has a responsibility to maintain an academic and work environment free from sexual harassment. The University will take whatever action necessary to prevent, stop, correct, or discipline harassing behavior. Same-sex sexual harassment violates this policy and is subject to discipline under the same procedures. Sexual harassment does not include verbal expression or written material that is relevant to course subject matter or curriculum and this policy shall not abridge academic freedom or George Mason University’s educational mission.
Sexual harassment is defined by law as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical, or other form of expressive communication of a sexual nature, when submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions, or such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or sexually offensive work or academic environment. Examples of behavior that may be considered sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Sexual assault
2. Explicitly or implicitly requiring submission to sexual advances as a condition or term of education or employment, i.e., grades, employment, promotion, letters of recommendation or other privileges
3. Repetitive sexual comments, questions, jokes, gestures or other forms of sexually explicit expression
III. Addressing and Preventing Sexual Misconduct
Sexual misconduct, which is a form of gender discrimination and incorporates a range of behaviors, is contrary to the standards and mission of the university. The University recognizes a need to establish a comprehensive policy that addresses campus sexual misconduct, which includes but is not limited to, sexual assaults, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual exploitation. In this context, Mason reaffirms its commitment to maintain a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the university community; to foster a community that promotes prompt reporting of all types of sexual misconduct; and, to resolve sexual misconduct complaints in a fair, impartial and timely manner.
The University will respond promptly and decisively to all reports of sexual misconduct. Members of the university community accused of sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action when the alleged incident has occurred on campus, off campus or materially affects the learning environment or operations of the university.
A. Sexual Misconduct Reporting Options
All reports of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and gender discrimination made to any University employee must be reported to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Rory Muhammad, in Compliance Diversity and Ethics (CDE). In addition, any person who believes he or she has been subject to sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or gender discrimination may contact the Title IX Coordinator directly. The telephone number for CDE is (703) 993-8730 and email is email@example.com. The Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with Human Resources and University Life, will ensure complaints are addressed by appropriate University entities and will assist complainants in receiving any medical, mental health, or other services that may be warranted. The Title IX Coordinator will also facilitate any interim administrative action necessary to protect the complainant in the institutional setting while the disciplinary or investigative process is taking place. Such action may be taken when, in the professional judgment of University officials, a threat of imminent harm to persons or property exists. Interim administrative action is not a sanction. Actions may include, but are not limited to, interim suspension, alternate housing or academic accommodations, alternate transportation on campus, no contact directives, workspace relocation, or temporary change of reporting structure.
Complaints against students are handled by the Office of Student Conduct and are governed by the Code of Student Conduct (See at http://studentconduct.gmu.edu/university-policies/code-of-student-conduct/). Complaints against faculty and staff are handled by Compliance Diversity and Ethics and are governed by Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Grievance Procedures at http://integrity.gmu.edu/compliance/grievanceprocedures.cfm. The Title IX Coordinator will decide which grievance procedure to apply in cases where the respondent is a student and employee. In addition to filing internal complaints, the University encourages individuals to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the University Police at (703) 993-4111 or local law enforcement at 911.
Anonymous reports can be used to initiate the student conduct process and employee conduct investigations. Under federal law the University is required to investigate all incidents of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, including sexual assaults, about which the University knows or has reason to know to protect the health and safety of the University community. The University will undertake an investigation even in those cases in which the complainant chooses not to cooperate. In those cases, the University may be limited in the scope of its investigation due to the availability of information. Third party or anonymous reports alleging sexual misconduct will be accepted by the University through Compliance Diversity and Ethics.
Any information provided anonymously or formally will be used in compliance with The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act for data collection.
B. Confidentiality and Reporting
The University will protect the identity of persons who report having been victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking or sexual exploitation to the fullest extent possible or required by law. However, when accessing university resources, individuals should be aware of the University’s confidentiality and mandatory reporting obligation in order to make informed choices. Some on-campus resources offer confidentiality, sharing options and advice without having an obligation to tell anyone unless the complainant wants them to. This is limited to counselors in Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) and staff members in Student Health Services (SHS) and Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education Services (WAVES). In addition, complainants may speak on- or off-campus with members of the clergy and chaplains who will keep reports made to them confidential.
Complainants are encouraged to speak to officials of the University to make reports of incidents (e.g., Deans, Directors, Vice Presidents, Department Chairs, Faculty, University Police, Human Resources staff, Resident Director and Advisors, etc.). The University considers these people to be “responsible employees.” Notice to them is official notice to the University. Complainants have the right and can expect to have incidents of sexual misconduct taken seriously by the University when reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through appropriate administrative procedures. Only people who need to know will be told and information will be shared only as necessary with investigators, hearing boards members, administrators, witnesses and the respondent.
University sanctions, up to and including separation from the university, may be imposed upon those determined to have violated this policy. For students, some form of sexual misconduct, such as, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual exploitation are violations of the Code of Student Conduct, subjecting the respondent to disciplinary sanctions up to and including expulsion and suspension from the university. Employees who violate this policy will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment. Sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking are criminal acts which also may subject the respondent to criminal and civil penalties under federal and Virginia state law.
D. Campus Emergency, Medical, Counseling, Advocacy Support Resources
University Title IX Coordinators
Rory Muhammad, Associate Director/Chief Investigator & Title IX Coordinator
Herbertia Gilmore, Equal Opportunity Specialist & Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Compliance, Diversity and Ethics
Mason Hall, D201
Phone: (703) 993-8730
Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education and Services (WAVES) — Provides students with confidential help and support to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. Topics include: relationships, stress management, sexual assault, drugs/alcohol.
Mary Ann Sprouse, Director
Phone: (703) 993-3687
WAVES Office Phone: (703) 993-9999
WAVES 24 Hour Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence Crisis Line: (703) 380-1434
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) — Provides confidential counseling services to students in crisis and non-emergency situations. Crisis Intervention Assistance is provided to members of the University community who are experiencing crises which affect their ability to function in the community.
- For consultation or emergency assistance during office hours call 703-993-2380.
- For assistance during non-office hours, call University Police at 703-993-4357.
- For life threatening emergencies call 911.
Barbara Meehan, Director
Phone: (703) 993-2380
Student Health Services (SHS) — Provides confidential health care to enrolled students in emergency and non-emergency circumstances on the Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William campuses. If there is a medical emergency and Student Health Services (SHS) is closed, please contact the free after-hours nurse ((703) 993-2831), a hospital emergency room, an urgent care facility, or call 911.
Fairfax Campus Arlington Campus Prince William Campus
SUB 1, Suite 2300 Founders Hall, B 102 Occoquan Bldg, Room 229
703-993-2831 703-993-4863 703-993-8374
Fax: 703-993-4365 Fax: 703-993-9425 Fax: 703-993-1948
Wagida Abdalla, MD and Carol Filak, PhD, RN, Directors
Police Phone Numbers/Information
Non-Emergency: (703) 993-2810
Reporting a Crime (Crime Solvers Anonymous Tip Hot-Line): (703) 993-4111
Mason Police Website: http://police.gmu.edu/
Eric Heath, Chief of Police
Phone: (703) 993-3840
University Life (UL) — The Offices of University Life oversee the academic and non-academic adjudication process and help students and faculty resolve grievances by mapping out resources and explaining policies. In addition to fostering campus and community engagement through a myriad of student clubs and organizations, University Life offices promote health and wellness, learning services, diversity education, and career readiness. University Life seeks to enhance the university experience by helping students, staff, and faculty find their place in the George Mason University community.
Pam Patterson, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students
Phone: (703) 993-2884
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Resource Office (LGBTQ) — Provides students of all genders and sexual orientations a safe, supportive, confidential space for advocacy, guidance and mentorship, community building, educational programming, resources, and coordination of the Safe Zone Program.
Ric Chollar, Director
Phone: (703) 993-2702
Student Support and Case Management (OSSCM) — Provides comprehensive service to students of concern. Working in cooperation with the Dean of Students Office, OSSCM serves as the primary resource for managing referrals and student issues related to crisis intervention. The office will make referrals to the Campus Assessment & Intervention Team, as necessary. Individuals concerned about a Mason student are encouraged to share their concerns if they:
- Observe behavior which could reasonably lead one to be concerned for the student’s safety, or for the safety of those around him/her;
- Feel threatened by the student, whether by action or direct verbal threat;
- Observe new behavior, different from a previously established pattern of behavior that causes concern to the observer.
Margaret Olszewska, Director
Office Phone: (703) 993-5376
Office of Student Conduct (OSC) — Provides primarily responsible for resolving allegations of misconduct in a timely and consistent manner. Cases related to Title IX are heard, and decided, on an individual basis taking each situation’s circumstances into account. Additional information regarding the hearing process can be found at Resolution of Alleged Sexual Misconduct (http://studentconduct.gmu.edu/our-process/resolution-of-alleged-sexual-assault/).
Brent Ericson, Assistant Dean and Director
Phone: (703) 993-6209
Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) — ICA is available to assist individuals and to address the challenges of our student-athletes at George Mason University.
Nena Rogers, Associate Athletic Director, Student Services, Intercollegiate Athletics
Phone: (703) 993-3594
Human Resources and Payroll’s Employee Relations Team (HR&P) — Provides assistance to university employees and their supervisors to help identify and resolve work related problems or proactively avoid potential problems, including but not limited to, sexual misconduct issues in the workplace. Resources for faculty and staff can be found here.
Pat Donini, Director
Phone: (703) 993-3878
Office of Housing and Residential Life (OHRL) — Provides a student-centered community that supports the academic mission of the university. They promote student success, encourage engagement with the university community, and promote appreciation for diversity among our residents. Professional and student staff are available around the clock to assist students and ensure safety.
Michelle Coleman, Associate Director of Community Development, Housing & Residence Life
Phone: (703) 993-2720
E. External Emergency, Medical, Counseling, Advocacy Support Resources
Office for Women and Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (OFWDSVS) — Provides comprehensive state-accredited programs for women, men, teens and children who have been affected by domestic and sexual violence and stalking. OFWDSVS promotes safety, responsibility, awareness and equality by offering a 24-hour hotline, free counseling, group sessions, and referrals.
Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 339, Fairfax, VA 22035
Phone: (703) 324-5730 and TTY: (703) 324-5706
24 hour Hotline/Helpline: 703-360-7273 and TTY (703) 435-1235
Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) —Provides services to individuals experiencing domestic violence or stalking and their families who reside in Fairfax County or were assaulted and/or stalked in the county. Referrals for offender services are also available through the intake telephone number only (no offender walk-ins).
Fairfax County Historic Courthouse, 4000 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 2702, Fairfax, VA 22035
Information and Intake Phone: 703-246-4573
Walk-In Intake Hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) — Among its programs, RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800)656-HOPE. This nationwide partnership of more than 1,100 local rape treatment hotlines provides victims of sexual violence with free, confidential services around the clock.
Phone: (800) 656-HOPE
A. Sexual Misconduct is a range of behaviors, including but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual exploitation. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that (a) is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a student or employee’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program, or (b) explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment or academic environment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s academic or work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive academic or work environment.
B. Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the condition of) sexual activity. Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts. Consent can be withdrawn at any time.
If any of the following are present, consent cannot be given:
- Force is the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce 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.
- Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction). Sexual activity with someone who you should know to be – or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be – mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout), constitutes a violation of university policy. University policy covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraints, or from taking drugs or other substances.
C. Sexual Assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact against any individual by another. Sexual assault can occur either forcibly (against a person’s will) or when a person cannot give consent (under the age of consent, intoxicated, developmentally disabled, mentally/physically unable to consent, etc.). Sexual assault can include non-consensual touching or fondling of a sexual nature, which can include touching of breasts, buttocks and/or genitalia.
D. Domestic Violence includes violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the complainant, by a person with whom the complainant shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the complainant as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, or by any other person against an adult or youth complainant who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
E. Dating Violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant. The existence of such relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of three factors: (1.) The length of the relationship; (2.) The type of relationship; and (3.) The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
F. Stalking includes any behavior directed at another person, on more than one occasion, that the stalker intends, knows, or reasonably should know, places the other person in reasonable fear of his or her safety or the safety of others or causes them to suffer substantial emotional distress. Examples of stalking behaviors include, but are not limited to, the following: non-consensual communication, including face-to-face, telephone calls, voice messages, email, texts, written letters; unwanted gifts; threatening or obscene gestures; pursuing or following; surveillance or other observation; trespassing; vandalism; and non-consensual touching.
G. Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual 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 other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to, invasion of sexual privacy; prostituting another person; non-consensual recording or broadcast of sexual activity; going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting someone hide in the closet to watch another have consensual sex); engaging in voyeurism; knowingly transmitting an STD or HIV to another person; exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances – inducing another to expose their genitals; and sexually-based stalking, bullying and cyber-bullying.
V. Protection against Retaliation
Any member of the Mason community has the right to raise concerns about or complain of, sexual harassment or misconduct without fear of reprisal. Retaliation against any person related to any portion of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion by Mason. Retaliation against any person who is the alleged victim of sexual harassment or misconduct is prohibited as well.
VI. Training, Education and Prevention Programs
The University’s Wellness, Alcohol, Violence and Education Services (WAVES) and Compliance, Diversity and Ethics (CDE), are responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive, institution-wide education and prevention campaign for students and employees related to prevention of sexual assaults, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual exploitation as well as training on this policy. These programs will inform the university community about the risks and myths that contribute to incidents of sexual misconduct and strategies for bystander intervention.
Inquiries about or complaints alleging violation of the University’s Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy should be directed to the Title IX Coordinator in Compliance Diversity and Ethics (Mason Hall D201, Mailstop 2C2, Fairfax, VA 22030 Phone (703) 993-8730).
VIII. Responsible Parties
Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics is responsible for administering and monitoring George Mason University’s equal opportunity/affirmative action policies and procedures.
A. Effective Date and Approval
This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Provost and Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance.
B. Timetable for Review
The policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed and revised, if necessary, annually to become effective at the beginning of the University’s fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.
Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance
Provost and Executive Vice President
Date approved: April 20, 2006
Revision Approved: August 15, 2014