Discrimination and Harassment

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It is unlawful, contrary to Harvard University’s policy, and a violation of the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability unrelated to job or course of study requirements, pregnancy, or any other legally protected basis. The Faculty Council condemns all forms of discrimination or harassment, whether subtle or overt, and asserts that all members of the University community should join in assuring that all students are accorded the dignity and respect called for in the Resolution.

Students who believe they may be victims of any form of discrimination or harassment have recourse to grievance procedures developed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. An individual also may contact the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR):

Office for Civil Rights
US Department of Education
5 Post Office Square, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02109-3921

Harvard also complies with Massachusetts laws that protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as on the basis of gender identity. Questions or concerns about possible discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity under state law may be directed to a School or unit-based Title IX Resource Coordinator or to the University’s Title IX Coordinator.

Graduate students have the right to conduct their learning, research, and scholarship in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. No graduate student can be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, protected veteran status, or disability.

Academic Retaliation against Student Workers

If a student is engaging in conduct protected by the HGSU-UAW bargaining agreement, or if they are participating in any investigation or proceeding arising under the agreement, it is unacceptable and prohibited to use an academic assessment or other academic actions as a means to retaliate against that student’s protected conduct. The FAS provides more information on the Academic Retaliation Policy.

Complaints of Discrimination

Before making a formal complaint, a student should first seek a resolution of a matter involving discrimination or affirmative action through an appropriate officer, such as a department chair, advisor, director of graduate studies, director of the Disability Access Office, or the GSAS dean for student affairs. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved by informal methods, the student may lodge a formal complaint with the dean of GSAS. Depending on the circumstances, the dean may appoint a special committee to resolve the problem or may refer it to the appropriate agency or office for resolution.

If the matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved through these channels, either the student or the GSAS dean may refer it to the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for final resolution. The disposition of the dean of the faculty will be final. Students are expected to exhaust institutional grievance procedures before seeking redress under public law. If students would like to discuss their concerns in a confidential setting, the Harvard Ombuds Office is a neutral and independent resource.

Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct

GSAS is committed to fostering a learning community that is inclusive and supportive of everyone and promotes an environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The FAS provides clear policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct, including sexual assault. Anyone with questions about these policies and procedures or about sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct or concerns should reach out to:

Seth Avakian, Program Officer for Title IX and Professional Conduct
414A University Hall

GSAS students may contact the Office for Gender Equity (OGE) to engage in one or more of the offerings provided by the office. These include:

  • Prevention and education initiatives
  • Support through confidential SHARE counseling
  • Making a disclosure to a Title IX resource
  • Submitting an anonymous disclosure, or
  • Filing a formal complaint 

Office for Gender Equity
Smith Campus Center, Suite 901
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: +1 (617) 496-0200

Office hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

To file a formal complaint, please submit your complaint in writing to the University Title IX Coordinator at oge@harvard.edu. OGE provides more information on how to file a formal complaint.

GSAS students who want to process and understand their experiences in a confidential setting have several options, including OGE: SHARE Counselors.

SHARE Counselors (confidential)
Smith Campus Center, Suite 624
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: +1 (617) 496-5636
24-7 Crisis Hotline: 617-495-9100 (this line is forwarded to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center during the summer months)

GSAS students may also contact the Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR). ODR is a neutral body that impartially investigates complaints of sexual harassment and/or other sexual misconduct against students, staff, and, with most Schools, faculty. ODR investigations are handled by professional investigators working with the involved Schools and units. Any member of the Harvard community may reach out to ODR to request information or advice, including assistance in filing a formal complaint or in seeking information resolution after a complaint has been filed.

Office for Dispute Resolution
Smith Campus Center, Suite 901
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: +1 (617) 495-3786
Office hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Racial Harassment and Discrimination

GSAS is committed to fostering an environment free from racial harassment, defined as actions on the part of an individual or group that demean or abuse another individual or group because of racial or ethnic background. Such actions may include but are not restricted to using racial epithets, making racially derogatory remarks, and using racial stereotypes.

Any member of the GSAS community who believes that they have been harassed on account of race should contact GSAS staff:

Sheila Thomas, Dean for Academic Programs and Diversity and Interim Dean of Students
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 350

Patrick O'Brien, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 350

Director of Student Services
B2, GSAS Student Center

Cases of alleged harassment by graduate students are adjudicated by the GSAS Administrative Board or by the Student-Faculty Judicial Board.

The procedures for dealing with incidents of racial harassment fall into two categories: informal resolution and formal complaint, and the complainant may choose between an informal or formal process. When harassing behavior becomes a matter of public information and concern, formal procedures of investigation and resolution may be used.

GSAS’s investigation and adjudication process is designed to be careful and fair. No person will be reprimanded or discriminated against in any way for initiating an inquiry or complaint in good faith. The rights of any person against whom a complaint is lodged will be protected.