Sexual Harassment Prevention

Frequently Asked Questions

Studies show that no segment of the college community is immune from sexual harassment. Anyone can be sexually harassed regardless of gender, age, appearance, or status. However, virtually every survey and study indicate that sexual harassment is directed at many more women than men.

  • Studies documenting sexual harassment of college students by faculty or staff indicate that between 20 to 30 percent of undergraduate women have experienced sexually harassing behavior.

  • In a few studies that have examined student-to-student harassment at colleges, as many as 90 percent of undergraduates women report at least one negative experience from male students.

  • The studies that have examined the incidence of college faculty experiencing sexual harassment show 20 to 50 percent of women faculty members reporting some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • Data for non-academic employees in educational institutions is sparse. Workplace estimates of sexual harassment range from 40 to 75 percent, with some studies reporting higher numbers.

Both male and female students and employees are legally protected against sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits gender discrimination in employment. Federal Regulations provide that unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment. 

  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual. 

  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

 Students are protected from sexual harassment under Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972. That law provides no person shall, because of his or her gender, be excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of any educational program or activity that receives federal funds.  The Office of Civil Rights, in its 2001 "Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance," stated:

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.  Sexual harassment of a student can deny or limit, on the basis of sex, the student's ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the school's program.  sexual harassment of students is, therefore, a form of sexual discrimination prohibited by Title IX under the circumstances described in this guidance.  

Murray State Sexual Harassment Policy

In practical terms, there are two kinds of sexual harassment which may generally be described as follows:

Quid Pro Quo: In which employment or educational decisions or expectations (e.g., hiring decisions, promotions, salary increases, shift or work assignments, performance expectations, grades) are based on employee's/students' submission to unwelcome sexual advances. Examples of quid pro quo harassment:

  • Demanding sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, raise or grade

  • Disciplining or firing a subordinate/student because of a romantic relationship

  • Changing performance expectations/grades after a subordinate/student refuses repeated requests for a date

Hostile Environment: In which verbal or non-verbal behavior in the workplace or academic environment

  1. Focuses on the sexuality of another person or occurs because of the person's gender;

  2. Is unwanted or unwelcomed; and

  3. Is severe or pervasive enough to affect the person's work/academic environment

The following are examples that can create a hostile environment if unwanted, uninvited, and pervasive:

  • Off-color jokes or teasing

  • Comments about body parts or sex life

  • Suggestive pictures, posters, calendars or cartoons

  • Leering, stares, or inappropriate gestures

  • Repeated requests for dates

  • Excessive attention in the form of love letters, telephone calls, text messages or gifts

  • Touching-brushes, pats, hugs, shoulder rubs or pinches

Federal law and university policy prohibit retaliation against any individual reporting or opposing sexual harassment. The university is committed to the protection from retaliation of those making a complaint, inquiry, or reporting, and/or participating in university grievance procedures.


  • Fear of loss of job opportunities.

  • Fear of rejection by co-workers.

  • Fear of being labeled a “trouble-maker” or a “feminist.”

  • Fear of not being considered a “team player.”

  • Fear of being accused of not having a “sense of humor.”

  • Fear of the “rumor mill.”

  • Fear of being labeled “over-sensitive” or “mentally unstable.”

  • Fear of not being believed.

  • Fear of being “wrong.”

For additional information on university policies and grievance procedures contact

Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access
103 Wells Hall
Murray, KY 42071-3318
TDD: 270.809.3361

For general support and/or counseling contact

University Counseling
104C Oakley Applied Science Building
Murray, KY 42071-3305

For general support and/or advocacy contact

Women’s Center
103C Oakley Applied Science Building
Murray, KY 42071-3305

To seek medical attention contact

On-Campus Health Services Provider
136 Wells Hall
Murray, KY 42071-3318

To report an incident of harassment or to file a complaint or grievance

Office of Diversity, Equity and Access
103 Wells Hall
Murray, KY 42071-3318
TDD: 270.809.3361

To report a criminal activity or to file a criminal charge contact

Murray State Police Department and Emergency Management
Corner of Chestnut and 16th Streets
Murray, KY 42071-3317

Preparation of these web pages includes materials from: The Thompson Publishing Group, Inc. (1993-1994).Educator's Guide to Controlling Sexual Harassment. Washington, D.C.: Author; Quality Media Resources (1992). Subtle Sexual Harassment, "The Issue is Respect." Bellevue, Wash.: Author.

NOTE: The Office of Equal Opportunity transitioned to the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access effective July 1, 2013. All references within campus-wide documents to the Office of Equal Opportunity should be considered analogous to the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access.

Take the next step

© Murray State University Department of Web ManagementWe are Racers.