A key to preventing and dealing with sexual harassment allegations early, say many equity officers, involves partnering with anyone in a leadership role at the university. These people are often the point of first contact for a complainant, who might raise the topic when discussing an academic need or an employment issue. Paddy Stamp, sexual harassment officer at the University of Toronto, says, “There’s also going to be all kinds of circumstances where the person who’s the target of sexual harassment can only, in the first place, talk to somebody that he or she knows and trusts.”
- At many universities, the way to partner with leaders can involve training sessions for department chairs and faculty members on interpersonal issues, how to recognize harassment and bullying, and what they can do about it.
- Equity or human rights offices also need to give students, faculty and staff some ideas and advice about what’s really important when somebody first discloses a situation. For example, it’s important to really listen to what they have to say, to let them know that the university believes that sexual harassment is wrong, and to ask if they want to have somebody with them if and when they make a complaint.
Sexual harassment best practices
University community as partners.