College Policy on Harassment

The purpose of this document
The College intends to provide an environment for students, staff and Fellows free from unlawful or otherwise unjustifiable discrimination (which can include harassment) and to foster mutual respect and consideration.  It repudiates any form of harassment of either women or men on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, colour, nationality or national origin.   The College regards harassment of any form as unacceptable and seeks with this document to ensure that such harassment does not arise.  Hence the College seeks to:
  • Inform each member of the College, and member of staff, of the College's determination to eliminate harassment.
  • Prevent incidents of harassment that do occur from adversely affecting the work of any individual.
  • Emphasise the responsibility of each member of the College, and member of staff, to assist in the implementation of this policy.
  • Take such measures within the power of the College deemed necessary and as outlined in this policy.
By these means, the College seeks to promote a policy of equality and opportunity in which all members of the College, and members of staff, can have confidence.

What is harassment?
Incidents of harassment can take a variety of forms and the indications given here are not exhaustive.  Any such incident can be the effect of conduct that has the purpose or the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work within the College, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working, educational or social environment, about which a person can justifiably complain because that person is thereby adversely affected.

An incident of harassment can take the form of a single act or expression, or of a number of different kinds of behaviour.  Behaviour (whether directed at an individual or a group in general) which can be shown to have adverse effects on racial grounds or grounds of his or her sex will be harassment even if such behaviour was not intended to have this effect.   Such unacceptable behaviour can include belittling, degrading, upsetting, vulgar or insinuating comments or acts.   It is recognised that differences in attitude and culture can lead to problems of this sort and counselling to educate in this regard will be undertaken when necessary.

Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can take many forms.   While this account of some of the forms of such harassment is not exclusive, it may be broadly understood as including comments (e.g. of an insinuating or vulgar nature), intimidating or unwanted sexual advances or attentions, requests for sexual favours, any behaviour containing a sexual element that belittles the person at whom it is directed, or otherwise treats such a person less favourably on grounds of sex.  Any behaviour that makes a woman or man feel herself or himself to be the object of unjustifiable sexual attentions may cause offence, even if offence is not intended.
Racial harassment
Racial harassment can take many forms, including derogatory name-calling or insults, verbal abuse and threats, incitement of others to behave in a racist way, physical abuse, other forms of provocative behaviour and behaviour which belittles the person at whom it is directed on racial grounds.  Racial harassment, no less than racial discrimination, may not depend simply on the intention of the offender, but on the impact of the behaviour on the person at whom it is directed.

Harassment on grounds of sexual orientation
Harassment on grounds of sexual orientation is equally regarded by the College as unacceptable behaviour.  Such harassment can take many forms and can include derogatory name-calling or insults, verbal abuse and threats, incitement of others to behave in a similar prejudicial way.  It may involve repeated behaviour or isolated incidents.  Any behaviour that unjustifiably constrains a person to hide his or her sexual orientation, when they otherwise would not, may amount to harassment on grounds of sexual orientation.
Preventing harassment in Darwin
The College seeks to foster mutual respect by requesting members of the College and members of staff to cultivate an awareness of the effects of their conduct on others.   The educational and other work of the College takes many diverse forms and there is no area of work or social activity within the College to which this policy does not apply.  In each of these various areas, members of the College and members of staff are urged and required to follow the guidelines set out in this document in order to curtail harassment should it occur and to endeavour to prevent harassment from arising.  Teaching arrangements in the College are founded on the professional relationship between supervisor and student.   Abuse of authority or trust within this relationship, or any abuse of authority held by virtue of office or employment within the College, is regarded by the College in a serious light.   In social activity within the College, it is important to ensure that thoughtless behaviour does not lead to harassment.
Action to take in the event of harassment
Any member of the College, or member of staff, who feels that he or she is being subjected to harassment should follow the advice given in this paragraph.  It is important not to allow the behaviour to continue to a point where it becomes intolerable.   By taking action early it is often possible to minimise or alleviate the harmful effects of harassment on the individual.  If you think that you are being subjected to harassment in any form, do not feel that it is your fault or that you have to tolerate it.  The problem will be treated sympathetically and in confidence. 

This is what you can do:
  • You can seek help from any of the persons listed in the section on 'Seeking help'; it would be advisable to do this before taking any other steps.
  • You may not wish to speak to the person, or persons, causing the offence about their behaviour but, if you are able to do so, approach the person, or persons, explain that their behaviour is unacceptable to you, and ask them to stop.  You may wish to have support from a friend or adviser in taking this action.
  • It is important to remember that the possibility of counter-accusation or recrimination exists.  Given that this is so, it may be wise to alert someone else to your problem before you approach the person concerned.
  • If you feel that you cannot make a direct approach, if the behaviour does not stop, if it resumes or if you are still unhappy and believe you have cause for complaint, keep a record of the details of any relevant incidents which distress you, including a note of the ways in which the incidents cause you to change the pattern of your work or social life.
  • If you do not feel able to tackle the person concerned, this does not constitute consent to the harassment, nor will it prejudice any complaint you may later bring.
Seeking help

The College regards harassment of any kind as contrary to its own best interests and those of its members and employees.   In dealing with cases of harassment and with complaints that arise from them, the College will seek to remedy the effects of harassment.  Any person within the College who feels that she or he is being subjected to harassment should not hesitate to seek advice and help from one of the following people:

Students and Fellows: Dr Duncan Needham, Dr Matthew Jones or Dr Sara Baker (
Staff: Giles Greenfield

These people will advise those who look to them for help on a course of action.   They may take the matter further on behalf of, and with the consent of, a person who feels that he or she has been subjected to harassment.    You may, of course, also come to the Deanery and we will assist in making an appointment with one of the people listed above.  Anyone, against whom a complaint of harassment has been made, is also entitled to seek a private interview with one of the above in order to present his or her side of the case.

Action to take in cases of physical assault, whether involving a racial or sexual element or not

If you have been physically attacked it is very important to seek help immediately.  In particular, you should report the attack to the police and, should you wish, to a trusted member of the College staff, a Fellow or to the DCSA.   If you have been sexually assaulted or raped you should also seek medical help and advice immediately.

You may wish to approach either of the people listed in the previous section, who will willingly give you support, and will help you to decide what to do next.  Advice will be given but the choice of action will be yours.  Confidentiality will be respected and further action will not be taken without your express permission. The only exception to this would be if the police required the College to give further information in the event of criminal proceedings being taken.  If you decide to go to the police or a senior member of the College you need not go alone, unless you so wish.

Furthering this policy

No member of the College, or member of the College staff, should hesitate to consult either of the persons listed above about any aspect of this guidance, or about any aspect of the problem of harassment that might otherwise be neglected.  All members of the College, and of the staff, are urged to assist the College so that it can more easily further its policy of equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination.

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