SUNY Cortland - Sexual Harrassment Policies
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Sexual Harassment Policies


What is sexual harassment?

Academic sexual harassment (student-to-student harassment is handled under the Student Judicial System) is the use of authority to emphasize the sexuality or sexual identity of the student in a manner which prevents or impairs that student's full enjoyment of educational benefits, climate, or opportunities.

It includes such categories as

  • Seductive Behavior: Unwanted, inappropriate, and offensive physical or verbal sexual advances.
  • Sexual Bribery: Solicitation of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by promise of reward or benefit of some kind.
  • Sexual Coercion: Coercion of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by threat of punishment.


Women often feel guilty or believe that they have done something wrong. But no one has the right to invade your space or your body without your permission. Sexual harassment happens to many women, but most incidents are never reported.

What to do:

If you think you've been harassed, tell someone. It is beneficial to you and to the College for you to report incidents of sexual harassment. The College has trained people who will listen sympathetically and in confidence.

What you can do on your own:

If you would rather deal with the problem on your own:

  • Talk to the offending person honestly and directly, stating that the behavior is offensive and that you want it to stop.
  • Take your own notes detailing when and where offenses occur.
  • Talk to friends or others you trust.

Your Rights:

  • You control the process of the sexual harassment complaint. You can choose an informal or a formal process.
  • You can stop the process at any point.
  • Your identity will be protected in the informal process.
  • The institution protects you from retaliation.
  • You are entitled to have someone go through the process with you to provide you with support.

The Informal Process

  1. Talk to the Affirmative Action Officer in confidence.
  2. Tell the Officer how you would like the situation handled. Some possibilities are:
    • The AA Officer can talk to the person accused and explain why the behavior is unacceptable.
    • The AA Officer can help you write a letter to the person accused.
    • The AA Officer can require a letter of apology to you from the person accused.
    • The AA Officer can suggest supportive counseling for you and/or remedial counseling for the person accused.
    • The AA Officer can meet with the person accused and his/her department chair or supervisor to discuss the behavior.
    • A letter describing a meeting in which the person accused is prohibited from certain behaviors can be placed in the file of the person accused, with his/her knowledge.

The Formal Process

  1. A signed complaint is completed and shared with the person accused.
  2. A Tripartite Committee is formed to hear the allegations. The three-person committee is jointly selected from a pre-trained panel.
  3. The Tripartite Committee has the right to all evidence and the right to interview the accused, the accuser, and any other witnesses.
  4. The Tripartite Committee submits a written report to the President of the College that, in their judgment, discrimination did or did not occur. (Remember, sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination.)
  5. If the committee believes that discrimination occurred, the President meets with the AA Officer and the victim to determine the next step.
  6. If the next step is disciplinary action against a member of a bargaining unit, that course of action must be pursued under the contract, which requires an independent investigation.

People to talk to

The following people know the processes, the law on sexual harassment, and can help you:

Wendy McAllister
Affirmative Action Officer/Senior Human Resources Associate, Human Resources Office

Karla Alwes
Chair and Professor, English Department

Marley Barduhn
Associate Dean, School of Education

Marie Blanden
Secretary, Student Affairs

William Buxton
Interim Chair and Assistant Professor, Literacy Department

Sheila Dai
Assistant Director, Counseling Center

Jeff Dovi
Carpenter, Structural Maintenance

Patricia Francis
Executive Assistant to the President, President's Office

Gretchen Herrmann
Reference Bibliographer, Memorial Library
Lecturer, Sociology/Anthropology


Michael Holland
Director, Residential Services

Denise Knight
Professor, English

Joan Sitterly
Associate Professor, Physical Education
Interim Director, Athletics
Head Volleyball Coach

Cathy Smith
Health Educator, Student Development

Deborah Spencer
Assistant Professor, Economics

Jeffery Swartwood
Assistant Professor, Psychology

Carol Van Der Karr
Director, Advisement and First Year Programs

Residence Hall Directors

Remember: nothing can happen to the harasser unless you make a complaint.