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Harassment & Discrimination

Illinois is committed to providing faculty, staff, and students with a working and learning environment that is free from harassment and discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, unfavorable discharge from the military, or status as a disabled veteran or a veteran of the Vietnam era. Instructors must avoid the exploitation, harassment, or discrimination of their students to create a fair and optimum learning environment.

Marilla Svinicki states, “One of the variables that should be at the forefront of our thinking about the ethics of teaching is the great power discrepancy between teacher and students... Abuse of this power is at the base of many ethical traps that lie strewn across our paths as teachers” (2002, p. 314). Svinicki also suggests that sexual harassment may be the most egregious example of abuse.

The campus policy on sexual harassment describes three possible forms of sexual harassment:

  • Unwanted sexual statements (sexual or “dirty” jokes, talking about one's sexual activity in front of others, displaying or distributing sexually explicit material)
  • Unwanted personal attention (letters, calls, visits and pressure for sexual favors, pressure for meetings or dates)
  • Unwanted physical or sexual advances (touching, hugging, etc.)

Because of the power imbalance between faculty and students, faculty must be careful not to cause students to believe that educational decisions will be based on whether or not they submit to unwelcome sexual conduct. Instructors should avoid dating students in their classes or departments.

Racially hostile environments are created through physical, verbal, graphic, or written harassment and interfere with the ability of people to participate or benefit from services, activities, or privileges at Illinois.

Disability discrimination occurs when those qualified with a disability are denied equal opportunities. Reasonable accommodations include: note taking services, text conversion, audio and video tapes, interpreter services, adjustment in time limits, facilities, and programs. Contact the Division of Resources & Educational Services (DRES) at 333-1970, or http://www.disability.illinois.edu for advice and assistance.

Discrimination and harassment are prohibited by state and federal laws, therefore these guidelines are important to remember:

  • Don't engage in harassment or discrimination.
  • Don't tolerate harassment or discrimination.
  • Both informal and formal resources and procedures exist to help resolve incidents of alleged harassment or discrimination.


  • Brandenburg, J. B. (1997). Confronting sexual harassment: What schools & colleges can do. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.
  • Keith-Spiegel, P., Whitley Jr, B. E., Balogh, D. W., Perkins,D. V., & Wittig, A. F. (2003).
    The ethics of teaching: A casebook. Psychology Press.
  • Svinicki, M. (2002). Ethics in college teaching. In W. J. McKeachie (Ed.), Teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (11th ed., pp. 269-277). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.