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Harassment and Discrimination FAQs

Click on any question to go directly to its answer below:

 Q: What about academic freedom?

A: Policy 1025 states that “Virginia Tech is… committed to the free and vigorous discussion of ideas and issues. This policy does not allow curtailment or censorship of constitutionally protected expression, nor does it attempt to address behaviors that do not constitute discrimination or harassment. Offensive behavior that does not violate this policy should be addressed by the appropriate supervisor or administrator.” [back to top]

 Q: As a faculty member, how do I know I won’t be hit with a harassment complaint for something I say in the classroom?

A: It is understood that there are times when it is pedagogically necessary to be intellectually provocative or challenging in the classroom. Our experience is that complaints arise in the classroom when an individual makes statements that are offensive or hurtful without apparent academic value. [back to top]

 Q: Can women violate the policy by harassing men?

A: Yes. The policy can be violated by women harassing men, and by people harassing individuals of the same sex. [back to top]

 Q: Are there many false accusations of harassment?

A: No—contrary to what many people believe, false accusations are rare. [back to top]

 Q: Does the conduct or verbal behavior need to be sexual for it to be a violation of the policy?

A: No—Virginia Tech’s policy includes a number of protected classes, and behavior based on any of those characteristics that interferes significantly with a person’s work or education could be harassment. [back to top]

 Q: Does Virginia Tech include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic?

A: Yes, Virginia Tech policies prohibit harassment or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. [back to top]

 Q: Does there need to be a difference in power between the parties, such as between a manager and an employee for there to be harassment?

A: No, harassment can occur between coworkers or between students at the same level. [back to top]

 Q: Does the Virginia Tech University harassment policy apply to each of the individual colleges and departments? To Northern Virginia, to Extension, and outlying sites?

A: Yes, this policy applies to all Virginia Tech entities and to all individuals enrolled or working at Virginia Tech. [back to top]

 Q: If I talk to Equity and Access, does that mean a formal process will be put in motion?

A: No-a staff member will discuss with you informal approaches to dealing with your situation as well as formal options. We look for low-level approaches whenever possible or appropriate. See What to Expect when you contact our office [back to top]

 Q: If I didn’t mean to harass someone, can it still be harassment?

A: Yes—if you engage in behavior that is unwelcome and repeated or severe, and that behavior unreasonably interferes with a person’s work or education, you may be violating policy. [back to top]

 Q: But if he/she didn’t say anything, how can I have violated the policy?

A: While people are strongly encouraged to speak up if someone’s behavior is causing a problem, there are times when they may not. The person engaging in the behavior may be in violation of the policy. [back to top]

 Q: So how do I avoid having someone complain about me?

A: Most people complain about others when they feel they have been treated disrespectfully. The best way to avoid having a complaint filed is to treat people with respect and dignity. [back to top]

Q: This person's behavior is a little scary, but I don't want to overreact. What should I do?

A: Do not hesitate to call Virginia Tech Police or your local police agency.

For more information about concerning behavior or possible safety or violence issues, see the Virginia Tech Threat Assessment and Management Website
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Contact Us

Pamela White
Executive Director for Equity and Access
Title IX Coordinator

Frank Shushok
Associate Vice President, Student Affairs and Deputy 
Title IX Coordinator for Student Sexual Misconduct

Additional Resources

A list of available options and resources concerning harassment and discrimination are available for all members of the Virginia Tech community.