This is a type of discrimination that is illegal, and is considered by the university to be any action that has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, threatening or offensive environment that interferes with their learning, working or social environment, on or off campus.
Differences of attitude, background or culture (and the misinterpretation of social signals) that lead to the perception of harassment are still considered under these rules. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not an excuse.
Any act of harassment that involves the abuse of a position of authority or trust will be regarded as very serious and could constitute gross misconduct.
Harassment because of sexual orientation
This includes actual or perceived (on the part of the receiver) harassment and can include harassing someone because of their actual or perceived (on the part of the perpetrator) sexual orientation or harassment because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation of those with whom they associate.
Here are some (but not all) forms of harassment because of sexual orientation:
- comments or gestures that emphasise sexual orientation
- shouting insults or making threats that are homophobic or biphobic
- making homophobic or biphobic jokes
- outing an individual without their permission
- ignoring or excluding someone because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual
- spreading rumours about someone's actual or perceived sexual orientation
- asking someone about their sexuality in an intrusive or unwelcome way
- verbally or physically abusing someone because of their sexual orientation
Harassment because of gender identity, expression and/or history
It is illegal to discriminate against someone who "has proposed, started or completed the process to change his or her sex" (commonly known as "gender reassignment"). The university's policy goes beyond this and protects all of those individuals whose gender identity does not align with those assumptions made about their sex at birth including those who are trans, genderqueer, intersex and any other term they wish to use.
Here are some (but not all) examples of harassment because of gender identity, expression and/or history:
- refusing to address someone by their preferred name and pronoun
- repeated and deliberate mis-gendering of someone
- stopping, or questioning someone about, using the appropriate toilet or changing room facility of their choice
- making transphobic jokes or comments
- outing an individual without their permission
- spreading rumours
Harassment because of race
In a multi-cultural community such as the University of Essex, harassment because of race will not be tolerated. It is also an illegal form of discrimination and is considered a hate crime. Any behaviour that negatively affects someone on the grounds of race, ethnicity or national origin is covered.
Here are some (but not all) examples of harassment because of race:
- derogatory name-calling or racial slurs
- racist gestures
- insults, threats or racist jokes
- racist graffiti, images or insignia
- mocking someone's appearance or clothing
- ignoring or excluding someone because of their race, ethnicity or national origin
Harassment because of religion or belief
There are a variety of religions practiced on the campuses of the University of Essex and everyone should be free to do so without harassment. Nobody should be harassed because they have, or do not have, a religious belief or practise.
Here are some (but not all) examples of harassment because of religion or belief:
- teasing or mocking someone because of a particular belief or religion
- persistently asking intrusive questions about someone's religion or belief
- ignoring or excluding someone because of a religious belief they do or do not have
- verbally or physically abusing someone because of a religion or belief
Harassment because of disability
There are people on our campuses with a wide variety of physical, emotional and cognitive abilities and all are welcomed and appropriate adjustments are made in order for everyone to study and work with us.
Here are some (but not all) examples of harassment because of disability:
- direct verbal abuse or comments that make a disabled person feel uncomfortable, intimidated or degraded.
- excluding a disabled person from activities without consultation
- refusing to consider reasonable adjustments that would enable a disabled person to take part in an activity
- refusing to consider dietary requests
- physically moving a disabled person when they have not requested you to do so
Harassment because of age
People of all ages study and work at the University of Essex and that means there is a wide variety of experiences and this adds great value to our community. No-one should be harassed or discriminated against because of the age they are.
Here are some (but not all) examples of harassment because of age:
- direct verbal abuse or comments about age that make someone feel uncomfortable, intimidated or degraded
- unjustified exclusion of someone because of their age
- making ageist jokes or comments
- using inappropriate language or phrases related to age (e.g. "over the hill" or "wet behind the ears")
Harassment or bullying via social media and other electronic means
Harassment or bullying via any electronic means is also unacceptable; this includes the use of any social media websites or apps as well as text message and email.
Here are some (but not all) examples of harassment or bullying via social media or other electronic forms:
- creating or using pages that identify and shame people
- images altered to degrade people
- posting photos or videos of harassment or bullying taking place
- sharing personal information to blackmail or harass someone
- repeatedly targeting someone with unwanted friend requests and/or messages
- non-consensual sharing of sexually explicit images
Stalking is another form of harassment and is defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pesteres and harassed. It includes behaviour that happens two or more times, directed at or towards you by another person, which causes you to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear that violence might be used against you.
Stalking can be particularly hard to cope with because it can go on for a long period of time, making you feel constantly anxious and afraid. Sometimes the problem can build up slowly and it can take a while for you to realise that you are caught up in an ongoing campaign of abuse. For more information and support, visit Paladin and the National Stalking Helpline.
What to do if you are affected by any of these issues
- experience serious assault or sexual violence and are hurt or in danger,
- witness a serious assault or sexual violence and the person involved is hurt or in danger,
then you must seek help immediately. If you are on campus then you should report it to the university in the first instance and they will call the emergency services if necessary.
If you are on
- Colchester campus contact the information centre on Square 2, either in person or by calling extension 2222 or 01206 872222
- Southend campus contact University Square Reception either in person or by calling 01702 328400 or 07827 988085
- Loughton campus contact reception during office hours on extension 5983 or 020 8508 5983 or security from 5pm til midnight (Monday to Saturday) on 07825 670709.
If it is a non-emergency then you can report it online and someone will contact you within 3 working days, or you may decide to report an incident anonymously. This means that the incident will be logged for statistical purposes, however we are unable to take any direct action on anonymous reports.