St Hilda's College

Policy and Procedure on Harassment

Harassment policy and procedure (PDF)

Aims and Scope of the Policy on Harassment

The aims of the College as reflected in this Policy are to:

  • Promote a positive environment in which people are treated fairly and with respect;
  • Make it clear that harassment is unacceptable and that all members of the College have a role to play in creating an environment free from harassment;
  • Provide a framework of support for staff and students who feel they have been subject to harassment; and
  • Provide a mechanism by which complaints can wherever possible be addressed in a timely way.
Harassment Advisors

The College’s harassment advisors are:

Nicky Charles; Dev Gangjee; Kerstin Hoge; Sarah Norman

The harassment advisors have all received training and are part of the University’s confidential harassment advisor network.

If you would prefer to speak with an advisor entirely unconnected with St Hilda’s College, the University’s Harassment Line can find an alternative advisor for you:

Welfare Team

The College Welfare Team is:

The Dean; three Junior Deans; the Welfare Officer.


1. St Hilda’s College does not tolerate any form of harassment or victimisation and expects all members of the College community, its visitors and contractors to treat each other with respect, courtesy and consideration.

2. The College is committed to fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all members of the College community are respected.

3. Members of the Governing Body and those in positions of authority, such as College Officers (e.g. the Bursar, Dean, Senior Tutor, Tutor for Graduates) and Staff (e.g. the Domestic Bursar), have formal responsibilities under this Policy and are expected to familiarise themselves with the Policy and Procedures on appointment. All College Officers and Staff have a duty to implement this Policy and to make every effort to ensure that harassment and victimisation do not occur in the areas of work for which they are responsible and, that if they do occur, any concerns are investigated promptly and effectively.

4. All members of the College community have the right to expect professional behaviour from others, and have a corresponding responsibility to behave professionally towards others. All members of the College community have a personal responsibility for complying with this Policy and Procedure and must comply with and demonstrate active commitment to this Policy by:

  • Treating others with dignity and respect.
  • Discouraging any form of harassment by making it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable.
  • Supporting any member of the College who feels they have been subject to harassment, including supporting them to make a formal complaint if appropriate.


5. A person subjects another to harassment where they engage in unwanted and unwarranted conduct which has the purpose or effect of:

  • violating another person’s dignity, or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for another person. The recipient does not need to have explicitly stated that the behaviour was unwanted.

6. Freedom of speech and academic freedom are protected by law. The exercise of freedom of speech in teaching, debate or discussion on matters of public interest, including political or academic communication, are unlikely to be seen as harassment, even if they are deeply offensive to some of the people who are listening. Freedom of speech has its limits, however, as the rights to free speech must be exercised within the law.

7. Bullying is a form of harassment and may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

8. The College seeks to protect any member of the College community from victimisation, which is a form of misconduct which may itself result in a disciplinary process. The College will regard as victimisation any instance where a person is subjected to detrimental treatment because they have, in good faith:

  • made an allegation of harassment, or
  • indicated an intention to make such an allegation, or
  • assisted or supported another person in bringing forward such an allegation, or
  • participated in an investigation of a complaint, or
  • participated in any disciplinary hearing arising from an investigation, or
  • taken any other steps in connection with this Policy and Procedure, or
  • is suspected of having done so.


9. Harassment may involve repeated forms of unwanted and unwarranted behaviour, but a one-off incident can also amount to harassment.

10. The intentions of the alleged harasser are not always determinative of whether harassment has taken place. The perception of the complainant and the extent to which that perception is in all the circumstances reasonable will also be relevant.

11. Being under the influence of alcohol, drugs or otherwise intoxicated is not an excuse for harassment.

12. Harassment can take a variety of forms, for example, but not limited to:

  • Through individual behaviour
    • face to face, either verbally or physically
    • through other forms of communication, including but not limited to, written communications and communications via any form of social media or mobile communications device: such
    • behaviour may also amount to a breach of the University’s (and therefore the College’s) Regulations Relating to the use of Information Technology Facilities
    • directly to the person concerned, or to a third party
  • Through a prevailing workplace or study environment which creates or enforces a culture which tolerates harassment or bullying, for example the telling of homophobic, sexist, ableist, ageist, transphobic or racist jokes.

13. Examples of behaviour which may amount to harassment under this Policy include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • unwanted physical contact, ranging from an invasion of space to an assault, including all forms of sexual harassment, including:
    • inappropriate body language
    • sexually explicit remarks or innuendoes
    • unwanted sexual advances and touching
    • all forms of serious assault
  • offensive comments or body language, including insults, jokes or gestures and malicious rumours open hostility, verbal or physical threats
  • insulting, abusive, embarrassing or patronising behaviour or comments, humiliating, intimidating, and/or demeaning criticism
  • persistently shouting at, insulting, threatening, disparaging or intimidating an individual
  • constantly criticising an individual without providing constructive support to address any performance concerns
  • persistently overloading an individual with work that they cannot reasonably be expected to complete
  • posting offensive comments on social media, including using mobile communication devices
  • threatening to disclose, or disclosing, a person’s sexuality, gender identity or disability to others without their permission
  • deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender and/or non-binary person, persistently referring to their gender identity history, or inappropriately questioning a person about their medical history
  • isolation from normal work or study place, conversations, or social events
  • publishing, circulating or displaying pornographic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexually suggestive, sexist, xenophobic or otherwise offensive pictures or other materials.

14. Stalking may also be a form of harassment and may be characterised by any of the following repeated and unwanted behaviours:

  • Following a person;
  • Contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means;
  • Publishing any statement or other material –
    • Relating or purporting to relate to a person, or
    • Purporting to originate from a person;
  • Monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication;
  • Loitering in any place (whether public or private);
  • Interfering with any property in the possession of a person;
  • Watching or spying on a person including through the use of CCTV or electronic surveillance.

Application of the Policy

15. Harassment is a serious offence. Any member of the College community who feels they have been subject to harassment can make a complaint via the appropriate Procedure. See Annexe A for the Procedure in relation to complaints about students.

16. When a criminal offence may have been committed, the relevant harassment Procedure may not be appropriate. These cases will include, but not be limited to, serious assault or threat of serious assault. Student members can seek advice from the Dean, other members of the College Welfare Team or approach the Police directly.

17. Any member of the College community who feels they have been subject to harassment can contact the University Harassment Advisory Service or any of the St Hilda’s harassment advisors for support. The support of harassment advisors is also available to those against whom an allegation of harassment has been made. Other sources of help and advice can be found at:

18. If a complainant is deemed to have known or to have reasonably been expected to know that a complaint was unfounded, the allegation of harassment may be judged to be vexatious or malicious, and disciplinary action may be taken against them. No action will be taken if a complaint which proves to be unfounded is judged to have been made in good faith.

19. All parties involved in a complaint (including any witnesses who may be interviewed as part of any investigation, or trade union representatives supporting any of the parties) should maintain confidentiality in all stages of the process. Those involved in advising complainants should, where possible, seek the explicit consent of the individual for the onward disclosure of relevant information to those with a clear need to know. Where such consent is not forthcoming, the person entrusted with the information should make it clear that, in exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to disclose the information, taking account of the duty of care which may be owed to the individual and/or others.