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Sexual harassment is a violation of federal and state equal opportunity laws, both in employment and in education. SUNY Plattsburgh is committed to providing a safe environment for employees and for students, and will not tolerate sexual harassment.
You have the right to pursue your studies or your job in an atmosphere free from harassment and discrimination. SUNY Plattsburgh and I, as its President, take seriously the responsibility to provide such an environment. If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment, please take the steps outlined below.
-- SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling, Ph.D.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome, inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature and can include such acts as comments, gestures, or physical contact.
There are two types:
Latin for "this for that", "something for something", Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment is when a more powerful person (a boss or a professor) tells a less powerful person (an employee or a student), "I'll give you a good grade/a good performance evaluation if you let me kiss you." Or the more powerful person makes a threat, "I'll fail you/fire you unless you go out with me."
The perpetrator creates a sexualized environment in which the victim does not function well, is afraid, or is uncomfortable. This can be done, for example, by continually remarking on someone's body or clothing, by posting sexually explicit photos, or by making sexually oriented comments. A peer, a superior, or a subordinate can create a hostile environment.
Note that students may harass students. Staff and faculty may harass students or other staff. Students may establish a hostile environment for faculty and staff. Women or men may be harassers; men or women may be targets.
Sexual assault is considered an instance of sexual harassment. (See link to Title IX below.)
If something like this happens to you or to someone you know:
If you choose to speak with the Affirmative Action Officer (AAO), you may do so informally. We can keep your information on file. However, we will not be able to confront the alleged perpetrator, since we do not have your permission to use your name. We can give you information and some referrals. You are entitled to change your mind later about going forward.
You may also file a formal complaint, but you are required to do this within 90 days of the alleged incident (or within 90 days of receiving your grades if the alleged perpetrator is a faculty member). We will then talk with you and with any witnesses you identify. We will talk with the alleged perpetrator and any witnesses s/he recommends. We will attempt to resolve the issue. For example, the alleged perpetrator may agree to attend a workshop on sexual harassment, and will agree to stop the unwanted behavior.
If the alleged perpetrator is an employee (faculty or staff) and if the AAO's investigation shows that the complaint respondent's behavior may warrant discipline, the AAO will make that recommendation to the college president. If the president agrees, Human Resource Services will conduct a separate investigation. Discipline could involve a warning letter in the employee's file or even termination.
If the alleged perpetrator is a student, the matter will be referred to the student judicial process.
Read more about the complaint process.
If the complainant remains dissatisfied with the college's response, the complainant may contact the New York State Division of Human Rights, the State Department of Education, the Federal Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (See links below.)
You may do this at any time, but doing so may end the campus process.
Find out more about sexual harassment and the law from these websites:
For more information about SUNY Plattsburgh's sexual harassment policy, please contact:
Lynda J. Ames, Ph.D.
Affirmative Action Officer
Phone: (518) 564-3310