Discrimination and Harassment
Resource Guide for Graduate Students
Advice, information, and support for graduate students and those who want to help. What you should know about:
- Sexual Misconduct
- Bias Incidents
- Ethnic Intimidation
- Discriminatory Harassment
What to Do
If you are a victim of a hate crime or bias incident
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a hate crime is a “crime of violence, property damage, or threat that is motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.” Within the State of Michigan, a person is guilty of ethnic intimidation if that person maliciously threatens or physically contacts a person with intent to intimidate, harass, or damage the property of that person because of that person’s race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. Bias-related incidents are non-criminal activities that harm another because of that person’s race, color, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, height, weight, marital status, and veteran status.
If you are the victim of a hate crime and it is an emergency situation, dial 9-1-1 to be connected to the University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security (on-campus) or Ann Arbor Police Department (off-campus). If you believe you have experienced a hate crime, you may report it directly to the University of Michigan Police Department (on-campus) at 734-763-1131 or the Ann Arbor Police (off-campus) at 734-994-2911. The Expect Respect website requests that reports to UMPD or AAPD are also reported to the university’s bias incident reporting system for statistical and follow-up purposes.
If you are a victim of discrimination or harassment
Hate crimes and bias-related incidents are not necessarily discrimination. Unlawful discrimination or discriminatory harassment refers to specific conduct prohibited by law that unfairly treats people differently because of their race, sex, gender identity or gender expression, color, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, height, weight, or Vietnam-era veteran status.
If you are the victim of discrimination or harassment, or think you may be, talk to someone. Discrimination or harassment for any reason is not tolerated at the University of Michigan. If you have been made to feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or targeted, you should talk to someone about your concerns. There are several resources available for consultation related to discrimination and harassment. If you would prefer to talk to someone in a confidential setting, see the section on Confidential Counseling for suggested resources. If you are interested in information about informal or formal resolution, see Advice for informal resolution for suggested individuals to talk to.
Where to Go for Help
- Confidential Counseling
- Specific Issue Support Services
- Advice for Informal Resolution
- File a Formal Complaint
The University of Michigan offers a variety of counseling services for its students, faculty, and staff who wish to discuss their concerns in a confidential and safe environment. Confidential counseling is an excellent resource if you are not sure that what you have experienced constitutes discrimination and/or you would like to consult with someone confidentially to sort out what you have experienced and options for addressing the matter, should you choose to take action.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) services are free, confidential, and available to currently enrolled students. Services include: brief counseling for individuals, couples, and groups; consultation to students, faculty, staff, and parents; assistance with referrals to community resources; and crisis interventions.
The Rackham Resolution Officer is a confidential resource available to Rackham graduate students and postdocs. The Resolution Officer provides a neutral and safe environment to discuss personal concerns, or help resolve problems or conflicts involving the university. Services include connecting individuals to campus resources, providing information about graduate school or university policies and procedures, and assistance identifying and evaluating available options.
The Ombuds office is a place where student questions, complaints, and concerns about the functioning of the university can be discussed confidentially in a safe environment. The office offers informal dispute resolution services, provides resources and referrals, and helps students consider the options available to them.
Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office (FASCCO) is a University of Michigan program that offers a number of services designed to help staff, faculty, and their immediate family members with personal difficulties encountered at both work and home. A student, who is also a university employee (i.e., a GSI/GSSA/GSRA) is eligible for assistance from FASCCO. Free services provided by FASCCO include:
- Short-term counseling services to all staff, faculty, and their immediate family members on personal, emotional, family, and work place issues
- Personalized coaching services to assist with achieving professional or personal goals such as overcoming procrastination, improving work organization, and completion of specific projects
- Critical incident, trauma, and grief counseling
In addition to confidential counseling resources, students may seek advice and support on matters related to discrimination and harassment or bias from the following offices:
The Center for the Education of Women+ provides professionally trained and experienced counselors who work within a developmental framework to help women and men consider their options, make informed choices, and both define and resolve problems, while focusing on issues of achieving balance between work and family responsibilities.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center provides services for the U-M community related to sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking. SAPAC offers crisis intervention, outreach, counseling, advocacy, consultation, training, awareness, and prevention. 24-Hour Crisis Line: (734) 936-3333
The Spectrum Center provides a comprehensive range of education, information, and advocacy services to create and maintain an open, safe, and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and similarly-identified students, faculty, and staff, their families and friends, and the campus community at large.
It is often difficult to confront a person who is engaging in discrimination or harassment. There are occasions, however, when you feel able to speak to the person engaging in discrimination or harassment to tell that person that the behavior is inappropriate and to stop. This can be done in person, by telephone, e-mail, or letter, and may resolve the matter without further intervention. Self-help resources are available to assist with managing difficult or sensitive discussions.
Informal resolution is an optional method of addressing concerns. Although it is not an appropriate option in all situations, it can offer a number of benefits such as preserving relationships, correcting misunderstandings, and giving you control over the outcome. If you feel that you have been discriminated against or harassed, and would like to explore options for informal resolution, consult with any of the resource persons listed below:
Within Your School or College
- Talk to your advisor or a trusted faculty member, graduate chair, or department chair; or
- Talk to your program director; or
- Contact the dean of your school or college.
- Talk to the Rackham Graduate School Resolution Officer regarding available options for addressing incidents of bias, discrimination, or harassment
- Talk to a representative in the Office of Student Conflict Resolution for concerns related to bias-incidents or harassment involving other students
- Talk to a representative in the Office of Institutional Equity for concerns regarding bias incidents and harassment issues
We recognize that it may be difficult to report suspected discrimination and harassment or bias incidents, but doing so is essential to maintain an inclusive community characterized by civility and respect. Should you choose to file a formal complaint, there are supports in place to explain what to expect and assist you through the process. You may decide to seek informal resolution of the matter at any time in the process.
File a Report Online
To report a bias-related incident online, please use the Online Hate Crime and Bias Incident Reporting form or call (734) 615-BIAS (2427) during regular business hours.
File a Complaint Regarding Bias Incidents and Harassment Issues
The Rackham Graduate School Dean’s Office provides a Resolution Officer to assist with questions regarding graduate school and university policies and procedures, complaints, concerns, and advocacy. The Resolution Officer offers dispute resolution services, provides resources and referrals, and can offer alternative resolutions in consultation with other offices as appropriate.
The Office of Institutional Equity serves as a resource to the university community on issues of diversity, respect, and inclusiveness, provides training on these issues as well as discrimination and harassment, investigates or provides assistance with discrimination and harassment complaints, and assists with reasonable accommodations for employees and general accessibility issues.
File a Complaint Against Another Student
The Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) provides information about the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities and processes complaints of violations of the statement. The office also provides mediated discussion to help students resolve conflict and helps students learn skills for managing conflict in daily life.
The University of Michigan, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. Inquiries or complaints may be addressed to the Senior Director for Institutional Equity, and Title IX/Section 504/ADA Coordinator, Office of Institutional Equity, 2072 Administrative Services Building, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1432, (734) 763-0235, TTY (734) 647-1388.
The Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities sets forth the rights and responsibilities of university students regarding, among other things, discrimination and harassment.
The University of Michigan believes that educational and employment decisions should be based on individuals’ abilities and qualifications and should not be based on irrelevant factors or personal characteristics which have no connection with academic abilities or job performance. It is the policy of the University of Michigan that no one should be subjected to discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation. For information about programs and services, visit the Spectrum Center website.
The University of Michigan strives to create a community of and for learning. To do so requires an environment of trust and openness. Discrimination, as defined in Regents’ Bylaw 14.06 and a Presidential Policy Statement issued in March 1984, is unacceptable on University of Michigan campuses. Such behavior threatens to destroy the environment of tolerance and mutual respect that must prevail if the university is to fulfill its purpose.
The university is firmly committed to these policies prohibiting discrimination. Discriminatory harassment is one form of discrimination. The university is prepared to act to prevent or correct discrimination and discriminatory harassment on the part of its faculty and staff. Although discriminatory harassment described and prohibited by this policy includes a wide range of behaviors, it does not include certain discriminatory conduct even though that conduct may be otherwise unlawful, offensive, or prohibited by university policy. For example, sexual harassment (see the University of Michigan Policy on Sexual Harassment by Faculty and Staff, SPG 201.89-0), unequal pay, and denial of access to educational programs based on gender are unlawful discrimination not addressed by this policy.
Definition of Discriminatory Harassment
For the purposes of determining whether a particular course of conduct constitutes discrimination or harassment under this policy, the following definition will be used:
Conduct that is based upon an individual’s race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran’s status that:
- adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university activity;
- is used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university activity; or
- has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university activity.
This policy provides information regarding the university’s prevention and education efforts related to sexual misconduct by students, as well as how the university will proceed once it is made aware of student sexual misconduct in keeping with our institutional values and to meet our legal obligations under Title IX and other relevant laws.
It is the policy of the University of Michigan to maintain an academic and work environment free of sexual harassment for students, faculty, and staff. Sexual harassment is contrary to the standards of the university community. It diminishes individual dignity and impedes equal employment and educational opportunities and equal access to freedom of academic inquiry. Sexual harassment is a barrier to fulfilling the university’s scholarly, research, educational, and service missions. It will not be tolerated at the University of Michigan.
Sexual harassment violates the university’s long-standing policy against discrimination on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment is also illegal. It is prohibited in the employment context by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, in the education context by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 and, in both employment and education contexts, by Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, adopted in 1976. Sexual harassment can be a very serious matter having far-reaching effects on the lives and careers of individuals. Intentionally false accusations can have similar impact. Thus the charge of sexual harassment is not to be taken lightly by a charging party, an accused party, or any member of the university community. A person who knowingly and intentionally files a false complaint under this policy is subject to university discipline.
Definition of Sexual Harassment
For the purposes of determining whether a particular course of conduct constitutes sexual harassment under this policy, the following definition will be used:
Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes harassment when:
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university activity;
- submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university activity; or
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a university activity.
Conduct alleged to be sexual harassment will be evaluated by considering the totality of the particular circumstances, including the nature, frequency, intensity, location, context, and duration of the questioned behavior. Although repeated incidents generally create a stronger claim of sexual harassment, a serious incident, even if isolated, can be sufficient. For example, a single suggestion that academic, other educational, or employment rewards or reprisals will follow the granting or refusal of sexual favors, will constitute sexual harassment and grounds for action under this policy. Sexual harassment most often occurs when one person has actual or apparent power or authority over another; however, it may also occur 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.
This policy addresses intentional conduct. It also addresses conduct which results in negative effects even though such negative effects were unintended. Sexually-related conduct forms the basis of a sexual harassment claim if a reasonable person, in view of all the surrounding circumstances, would consider it sufficiently severe or pervasive to interfere unreasonably with academic, other educational, or employment performance, or participation in a university activity or living environment.
The university strongly discourages its faculty and staff from engaging in romantic and/or sexual relationships with students. In such relationships, voluntary consent by the student is suspect because of the inherently unequal nature of the relationship. Such relationships can lead to a complaint of sexual harassment when the student feels exploited. When a faculty member engages in such a relationship with a student over whom the faculty member has supervisory responsibility, the faculty member is obligated to disclose the relationship to the university. Similarly, when a staff member has such a relationship with a student and the staff member’s professional responsibilities make it possible for the staff member to influence the student’s status or circumstances, the staff member is obligated to disclose the relationship to the university. Upon disclosure, the university will take action to eliminate any real or perceived conflict. For more information, please refer to SPG 601.22, Faculty-Student Relationships and SPG 601.22-1 Employee-Student Relationships.
Disability discrimination can occur whenever a qualified individual with a disability is denied the same equal opportunities as other university students, faculty, and staff because of their disability status.
Under applicable disability laws, an individual with a disability is a person who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- has a record of such an impairment; or
- is regarded as having such an impairment. Temporary, non-chronic impairments that do not last for a long time and that have little or no long-term impact usually are not disabilities. The determination of whether an impairment is a disability is made on a case-by-case basis.
For additional information about this topic, please visit the Campus Commitment website.
The university strictly prohibits and will not tolerate reprisals or retaliation against persons due to their assertion of their protected civil rights, including the filing of internal complaints of discrimination, filing complaints with Federal or State civil rights enforcement agencies, or participation in an investigation of such a complaint (e.g., serving as a witness). Individuals who believe they are experiencing this form of retaliation are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate university office, including Rackham Graduate School. For additional information about retaliation, visit the Campus Commitment website.