Sexual Misconduct

Yale School of Public Health and Yale University strive to be a community free of sexual misconduct by promoting the essential values of respect and responsibility, providing education, and working with students, faculty, and staff. Our goal is a community that is safe and supportive for all. 

Yale takes all complaints and accusations of sexual misconduct seriously.

The Sexual Misconduct Response website  is the University's central informational resource. If you are a student and have been subject to sexual misconduct of any kind—or if you simply have questions or concerns—you may contact Yale's  Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center (SHARE). The University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct  is an alternate venue for information and informal complaints and is the only venue for formal complaints. Interns and residents employed by Yale-New Haven Hospital and other affiliates have additional options explained on this website.

Anyone in the community who is uncertain of his or her options, or simply needs help, may call the SHARE Center at (203) 432-2000. If you are in an emergency or immediate danger, call 911 or the Yale Police Department at 203-432-4400.

SHARE has counselors available to talk to students or meet with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, SHARE offers guidance on what to do in an emergency and how to respond to unwanted sexual behavior.

Click here for a list of Title IX coordinators.

Definition of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct incorporates a range of behaviors including rape, sexual assault (which includes any kind of nonconsensual sexual contact), sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, stalking, voyeurism, and any other conduct of a sexual nature that is nonconsensual, or has the purpose or effect of threatening, intimidating, or coercing a person.

Much sexual misconduct includes nonconsensual sexual contact, but this is not a necessary component. For example, threatening speech that is sufficiently serious to constitute sexual harassment will constitute sexual misconduct. Making photographs, video, or other visual or auditory recordings of a sexual nature of another person without consent constitutes sexual misconduct, even if the activity documented was consensual. Similarly, sharing such recordings or other sexually harassing electronic communications without consent is a form of sexual misconduct.

Violations of Yale’s Policy on Teacher-Student Consensual Relations are a form of sexual misconduct.

Definition of Sexual Consent

Sexual activity requires consent, which is defined as clear, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity. Consent cannot be inferred from the absence of a "no"; a clear "yes," verbal or otherwise, is necessary. Although consent does not need to be verbal, verbal communication is the most reliable form of asking for and gauging consent, and individuals are thus urged to seek consent in verbal form. Talking with sexual partners about desires and limits may seem awkward, but serves as the basis for positive sexual experiences shaped by mutual willingness and respect.  Read more ...

Definition of Sexual Harassment 

Sexual harassment is antithetical to academic values and to a work environment free from the fact or appearance of coercion. It is a violation of University policy and may result in serious disciplinary action. Sexual harassment consists of nonconsensual sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature on or off campus, when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual's employment or academic standing; or (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating or hostile academic or work environment.  Read more ...

NOTE: Faculty, staff, and administrators who receive reports from students of alleged sexual misconduct must promptly share that information with one of the Title IX Coordinators (listed on the reverse). The information shared will be treated as confidentially as possible. The Title IX Coordinator may need to consult with other administrators, particularly in cases that involve a risk to campus safety, and may need to take immediate action. In planning any response, the wishes of the complainant are given full consideration. 

Strategies for responding to a student report of sexual misconduct:

• First, feel free to call a Title IX Coordinator or SHARE for assistance before or during your meeting with the student.
• Recognize that the student is likely in need of support as well as information. Listen attentively and non-judgmentally. Affirm the student’s choice to disclose the incident. To the extent you can, allow the student to make decisions about what happens next.
• Assure the student that Yale treats sexual misconduct as a serious matter and that University policy prohibits retaliation against anyone who reports sexual misconduct.
• Describe the available resources. 

o SHARE’s 24-hr hotline is usually the best place to start. SHARE’s services are entirely confidential. SHARE will help the student make informed decisions and, if the student wishes, will coordinate additional services and action.
o The student can also go directly to the UWC, the Yale Police, or the Title IX Coordinators. All of these entities will coordinate with one another—the student can start wherever he or she feels most comfortable.
o Inform the student that there are internal disciplinary procedures for sexual misconduct (both formal and informal), as well as the option for a criminal investigation with the Yale Police.
o Offer to make the connection if the student would like. E.g., you can call SHARE, start the conversation, and hand over the phone. 

• Inform the student about the fact that you are required to report the incident to one of the Title IX Coordinators. The student may be concerned about the loss of confidentiality and/or control. Assure the student that the Coordinators are mindful of these concerns; they will not take action or share information without the student’s knowledge and (except in rare cases) consent.
• If appropriate, arrange a time for a follow-up meeting with the student to offer ongoing support.

The integrity of the teacher-student relationship is the foundation of the University’s educational mission. This relationship vests considerable trust in the teacher, who, in turn, bears authority and accountability as a mentor, educator, and evaluator. The unequal institutional power inherent in this relationship heightens the vulnerability of the student and the potential for coercion. The pedagogical relationship between teacher and student must be protected from influences or activities that can interfere with learning and personal development. 

Read more ...

What to do...  Whether sexual harassment comes from a person in authority, a colleague, or peer, it is always inappropriate. Any gesture or remark of a sexual nature that makes you feel uncomfortable, threatened, intimidated or pressured may be a sign that you are experiencing sexual harassment. Trust your instincts. If you are harassed, do not blame yourself. Do not remain silent. Act quickly. Do not delay.

Say no  and tell the person that his or her behavior toward you is making you uncomfortable.

Tell someone, a friend or colleague. The Office for Women in Medicine is a resource for discussing and helping clarify questions of sexual harassment in a confidential atmosphere. The OWM is interested in learning about experiences at Yale and, along with the rest of the administration, in creating an environment free of sexual harassment.

Contact any  Melinda Pettigrew or any other Title IX Coordinator. Members of the board are selected for their sensitivity and concern and are specially trained in sexual harassment issues.

Keep a record  of events, with dates and witnesses. Consider confronting the harasser in a letter.

Document your work  and evaluations so that you can attest to the quality of your performance if the accused harasser questions your abilities.

Most people just want offensive behavior, of any kind, to stop . If it is unwanted  sexual behavior, it may be illegal  not to stop.

Lesbians, gay men, minority group members, and older women are frequently targets.

In general, if you treat every person with respect  and dignity, you are less likely to have something you do or say be misunderstood.

Members of the University Community are responsible for their actions on or off campus.

The above examples of behavior which may constitute sexual harassment are based on suggestions from The Project on the Status and Education of Women, Association of American Colleges.

Although men can be and are sexually harassed, it is overwhelmingly women who are affected. The growing body of literature and advocates in the field describe no specific age or rank as prime targets of harassment. However, there is evidence that minority women, lesbians, gay men and older women students are somewhat more likely to be the recipients of disparaging language and pressure.

Although sexual harassment is most frequently thought of as senior male faculty members harassing junior women faculty or students, it is known that harassment occurs at all levels. Some verbal and/or physical interactions between peers or colleagues when not asked for, not welcomed, or not returned, may be interpreted as sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment frequently involves an expression of sexual conduct that seeks to exploit a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power, but it may also occur in other situations including relationships between individuals of equal status or rank within the University. Sexual harassment may occur between males and females and between persons of the same gender.

Additional Resources

It is sexual harassment if you are the subject of...

  • Verbal harassment or abuse
  • Display of sexually offensive photographs drawings or graffiti
  • Subtle pressure for sexual activity
  • Sexist remarks about clothing, body, or sexual activity
  • Unnecessary touching
  • Leering or staring at one's body
  • Demanding sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning work, grades, promotions or tenure
  • Sexual assault including rape