Tips for Faculty to Help Protect Yourself from Claims of Harassment and Discrimination

  • Ensure that you make accurate statements that avoid group stereotyping.
  • Use humor with care, ensuring that your use of humor does not rely on stereotypes of certain groups.
  • Check yourself to make sure you do not give more time or serious consideration to certain groups of students or individuals over others.
  • Be careful about your interactions with students/co-workers in and out of the classroom.
  • Senate policy prohibits dating a current student.
  • Dating any student or co-worker can be problematic down the line — be careful.
  • Socializing with students can lead to complaints — drinking, partying, doing drugs with students, going out to lunch/dinner with students to get to know them better.
  • Don’t show favoritism: always calling on the same person in class, going to coffee with certain students, flirting even if “harmless.”
  • Don’t give preferential treatment to anyone — stay consistent.
  • If you give one student an extension on a paper for a particular reason, give all students in similar circumstances the same courtesy.
  • Be aware of your unconscious physical cues.
  • Don’t wink, stare, look people up and down, etc.
  • Make sure that the use of “sensitive” (e.g. sexually charged materials, racially charged material, etc.) material is related to the class.
  • Paintings of nudes in an art class is different from an off-color joke in an accounting class.
  • Be careful about voicing your personal views on certain protected classes — try to remain neutral. If discriminatory remarks are made in your class, it is your responsibility to interrupt them and point them out as such. If you do not, students may think that you either approve of or are unaware of the impact of the comment or behavior.
  • Be careful when discussing sensitive topics in your class. Anticipate that some topics or readings may lead to heated discussions. Ensure that controversy is handled in a way that does not privilege the viewpoints of majority group students. Many instructors begin with setting ground rules for respectful class discussion. If a few students are creating a disrespectful or hostile environment, speak with them individually outside the classroom.