September 30, 2016

To:  All Faculty, Staff, and Students

From:  Diana Natalicio

Subject: University Policy Statement on Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment and Consensual Relationships

The University of Texas at El Paso (“University” or “UTEP”) is committed to an academic and employment environment free from inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature.  Sexual misconduct and sexual harassment are unprofessional behaviors.  Sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, which is a form of sex discrimination, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual intimidation, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.  The University policy is applicable to faculty, staff, students, and third parties. It applies to conduct regardless of where it occurs, including off University property, if it potentially affects the individual’s education or employment with the University.  The University strictly prohibits and condemns such conduct and will take prompt disciplinary action against individuals within its control who are found to have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or sexual harassment against employees and/or students.

Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing a range of non-consensual sexual activity or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. 

Sexual harassment has been defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Rights Division, as interpreted by state and federal courts, in the following manner.  Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

•  The submission by an employee or student to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or scholastic achievement.

•  The submission to or rejection of such conduct by an employee or student is used as the basis for employment or scholastic decision affecting that individual. 

• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or scholastic environment.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Title IX also applies to issues of program equity such as in athletics and also to sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.  Sexual violence may include rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual coercion, stalking, and relationship violence.

UTEP is also committed to maintaining a learning and work environment as free as possible from conflicts of interest and favoritism.  UTEP’s Consensual Relationship Policy applies to all University administrators, faculty, staff, and students.  The following consensual relationships, even if a single event, are prohibited:

a) A consensual relationship between a supervisor (defined to also include faculty members) and supervisee regardless of whether the supervisory relationship is direct or indirect, unless the supervisor discloses the relationship in advance and a management plan is in effect.

b) A consensual relationship between a coach or athletic staff and any student athlete or student assigned to or associated with the athletics department, such as interns and student employees.

c) A consensual relationship between a faculty member and a student who is enrolled in the faculty member’s course or otherwise under the supervision of the faculty member, notwithstanding item (a) included above.

This policy is not intended to discourage the interaction of faculty and students or supervisors and employees where it is appropriate and ethical; however, it is intended to clarify that romantic or sexual relationships in the academic and employment environments often create situations that lead to sexual harassment, conflicts of interest, favoritism, and low morale.

Complaints of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, or Title IX should be made to the Equal Opportunity (EO) Office, Kelly Hall, Room 302.  To the extent legally possible, complaints will remain confidential, and information will be provided only to those persons who must know in order to achieve a timely resolution of the complaint.  Harassment and retaliation against an individual filing discrimination charges is illegal and will not be tolerated.  A copy of the complaint procedure is available at the EO Office or via the web: www.admin.utep.edu/eoaa

Complaints regarding a possible violation of UTEP’s Consensual Relationship Policy should be made to Chief Human Resource Officer.