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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

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University adopts revised anti-harassment policy

E-learning module available to provide additional information online

Princeton University has adopted a revised anti-harassment policy and related grievance procedures that apply to all members of the University community.

The new policy, available online, covers not only sexual harassment, but also other forms of unlawful harassment defined as "unwelcome verbal or physical behavior which is directed at a person because of his/her race, creed, color, sex, gender identity, age, national origin, ancestry, religion, physical or mental disability, veteran's status, marital or domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation or other classification protected by applicable law."

"The changes are largely consistent with existing rules and procedures for faculty, students and staff," said Provost Christopher Eisgruber. "Our objective has been to consider options for clarifying, disseminating and enforcing an anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure. We believe that the revisions will enable us to resolve harassment complaints more effectively, efficiently and fairly, and to protect the rights of all parties involved. The changes also represent an attempt to align us with the prevailing disposition of the courts and agencies that enforce anti-harassment laws and administer complaints."

The revisions were made in consultation with representatives from several campus offices, including those of the provost, general counsel, dean of the faculty, human resources, dean of undergraduate students and dean of the Graduate School. In addition to defining what constitutes harassment, the policy spells out options for addressing harassment, including identifying harassment resolution facilitators for each segment of the University community.

In response to requests made by faculty and staff, the University will begin offering an online "e-learning" module that provides information about its anti-harassment policy, along with examples on how to recognize, address and prevent sexual harassment in the work environment. The primary purpose is to familiarize employees with the information necessary for fulfilling their responsibility to protect the well-being of the University community.

Supervisors will be expected to complete a version of the module that highlights their obligations to address harassment in their role as agents of the University. Although the e-learning module is focused specifically on preventing sexual harassment, the concepts and strategies are applicable to other forms of harassment.

Produced by New Media Learning, the "Preventing Sexual Harassment" module has been used by many leading organizations, including 350 colleges and universities, and has been customized for Princeton employees. The program is interactive, with questions interspersed throughout that employees can answer and receive immediate feedback.

"We hope to support managers and employees as they sort out the subtleties and complexities of the subject of harassment, which are often misunderstood and highly charged, and clarify their responsibilities as they relate to complying with the University's policy and following the appropriate procedures," said Terri Harris Reed, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity. "Many members of our community have asked for clarification about specific behaviors and about their and their supervisor's obligations to report concerns. This e-learning program will answer some of these questions."

The offices of human resources and dean of the faculty will communicate with employees about how to access the module and will provide tips on how best to utilize the information provided there.

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