Getting Help

Sexual and Gender Harassment

Sexual and gender-based violence and harassment are problems in every society and students in graduate school are not immune. Close contact and working arrangements, age and cultural variables, as well as heightened power relationships contribute to graduate students being susceptible to discrimination and sexual and gender-based harassment, as well as assault. It is important for all members of our community to know their rights, know their resources, and to be familiar with behaviors that constitute harassment and discrimination.

If you are being mistreated on the basis of your sex or gender identity, talk to a Title IX Coordinator, the Title IX Office, the ODR, OSAPR, or one of the confidential resources listed here about what University and local resources exist. When such mistreatment is preventing you from accessing the programs and services of the University, it may be discrimination under Title IX. It may also be a violation of the law. You may require medical treatment and emotional care and support. For all of these reasons, it is important for you to know where to go for support, reporting, and medical care. The resources on this page, as well as Harvard University’s Title IX Office site are your entry point to access this crucial information.


Gender-based harassment

Gender-based harassment is verbal, non-verbal, graphic, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostile conduct based on sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation or gender identity, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities. For example, persistent disparagement of a person based on a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity or exclusion from an activity based on sexual orientation or gender identity also may violate this Policy.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing or is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement (quid pro quo harassment); or
  • Such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities (hostile environment harassment) Conduct is unwelcome if a person did not request or invite it and regarded the unrequested or uninvited conduct as undesirable or offensive.

Sexual violence

Any sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given. The term defines a broad continuum of violent and abusive behaviors including, but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and non-contact sexual abuse such as verbal and cyber-harassment. —Massachusetts Sexual Violence Prevention Plan (2009-2016)

Rape is any kind of sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal) that is committed against a person's will or when they are legally unable to give consent. Sexual assault is the legal term for rape, and it also encompasses other behaviors beyond forced sexual intercourse. Sexual assault can be any unwanted sexual contact, such as unwanted touching, fondling, or groping of sexual body parts. These sexually violent acts may violate federal law, including Title IX, state criminal law, and Harvard policy. If you believe you have experienced sexual violence, reporting is always a choice. You may file a complaint with the Harvard Title IX Officer or the HDS Title IX Coordinators and/or you may file a criminal report with the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) or the police department of jurisdiction. Different standards are used to assess a complaint under Harvard policy and a criminal complaint. Whether or not you choose to report the conduct to the University or to police, be sure to get the medical care and support that you need.

HDS Resources

Title IX coordinators

Each school within Harvard University has dedicated Title IX Coordinators who are specially trained in the policies and procedures for reporting violations of the University’s Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment policy, as well as the resources for safety and support available to Harvard students. Sexual and gender-based misconduct can occur across schools and levels of status within the University (i.e., students, faculty, staff, and third-parties), therefore the University-wide process is a crucial means of responding to and eliminating discrimination that occurs. The Title IX Coordinators play an integral role in carrying out the University’s commitment to provide a positive learning, teaching and working environment for the entire community.

The local Title IX Coordinators’ responsibilities include receiving information about allegations of unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, providing interim measures, and serving as resources for questions about sexual and gender-based harassment. Title IX Coordinators are knowledgeable about, and will provide information on the University Policy and Procedures and on the wide range of resources available to the community. HDS has designated Title IX Coordinators for students. If you are in need of such counsel, we hope that you will seek it from any of the coordinators listed here:

Confidential resources

  • Kerry Maloney, HDS Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, 617.495.5778,
  • HDS Peer Advocates, a non-administrative confidential resource for peer support and information (in process for 2017–18)