Are you or someone you know a victim of sexual discrimination, harassment or violence?

The Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office takes these matters very seriously and is available to help inform you about existing resources, confidential support and the reporting options available to you. Sexual violence affects people of any gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and ability

Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, is an attack on the dignity of individuals and the integrity of WashU as an institution of learning. Academic freedom can exist only when every person is free to pursue ideas in a nonthreatening, non-coercive atmosphere of mutual respect. Sexual harassment is reprehensible and threatening to the careers, educational experience and well-being of all members of the WashU community.

University policy on discrimination and harassment

  • Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that violates university policy. It is also illegal under state and federal laws. The university policy on discrimination and harassment applies to all members of our WashU community.
  • The policy allocates responsibilities for helping to ensure that university policy is fairly applied, explains the processes by which complaints of discrimination or harassment may be brought forward, and provides sanctions that may range from reprimands to termination or dismissal, depending on the severity of the offense.
  • If you have been sexually harassed, the policy describes options about what you can do and where you can get help. Those charged with implementation of the policy will, whenever appropriate, encourage and assist individuals who have been sexually harassed to pursue the assorted means outlined in the policy for securing the cessation of unwelcome and offensive conduct.

Potential sexually harassing behaviors

Examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Requests for sexual favors;
  • Hugging, rubbing, touching, patting, pinching or brushing another’s body;
  • Inappropriate whistling or staring;
  • Veiled suggestions of sexual activities;
  • Requests for private meetings outside of class or business hours for other than legitimate mentoring purposes;
  • Use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories or images in no way germane to the subject of the class;
  • Remarks about a person’s body or sexual relationships, activities or experience;
  • Use of inappropriate body images to advertise events; and/or
  • Sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion.

Determining sexual harassment

  • Members of our community should expect to be free from sexual harassment; thus, all members of our community should guard against it.
  • The fact that someone did not intend to sexually harass an individual is generally not considered a sufficient defense to a complaint of sexual harassment, although the perceptions of the accused may be considered.
  • In most cases, it is the characteristics of the behavior, effect on the Complainant, and whether a reasonable person similarly situated would find the conduct offensive that determine whether the behavior constitutes sexual harassment.


  • To the greatest extent possible, the Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office strives to protect the confidentiality of those reporting harassment and of those accused of harassment.
  • Because the university has a legal obligation to address sexual harassment, complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed where it would conflict with the university’s obligation to meaningfully investigate or take correct action if needed.
  • Any information disclosed will always be limited to the greatest extent possible.
  • Lastly, all records of complaints, responses and investigations are kept confidential, as permitted by law. 

Options for greater confidentiality

  • If you believe you might have been subjected to discrimination or harassment and want to discuss the matter in a more confidential setting or clarify your feelings about proceeding, the Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office recommends you consider consulting a social worker, therapist or member of the clergy. These individuals are permitted by law to assure greater confidentiality.
  • Employees can contact the Employee Assistance Program (1-844-365-4587) for assistance and, if desired, referral to other resources. Discussions with the Employee Assistance Program are confidential and are not considered notice to the university.
  • Victim services and other counseling resources are also listed in the Safety and Security brochure (PDF).

Seeking advice, making a complaint

  • If you believe you have been sexually harassed, you have a number of response options, both formal and informal. Some people wish to pursue informal means instead of or before making a formal complaint; others will not. If an informal procedure is ineffective, the formal procedures will remain open to you.
  • The Gender Equity and Title IX Compliance Office encourages you to select the route you feel is most appropriate to your circumstances. However, if you wish to proceed, you can consult at any time with the Title IX coordinator, whose responsibilities include assisting students, faculty and staff with sexual harassment issues, be they general or specific, formal or informal, or a Human Resources staff member. Or, you can meet with the coordinator or HR to select an approach.
  • The university’s policy outlines options for obtaining advice and making complaints.

University’s Title IX Coordinator

  • Jessica W. Kennedy
    All Campuses
    Title IX Coordinator
    Handles complaints against students, faculty, staff and others.

Human Resources Staff Members

  • Apryle Cotton
    Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
    Handles complaints against faculty, staff and others.
  • Leanne Stewart
    Employee Relations Manager, Medical Campus
    Handles complaints against faculty, staff and others

Additional Resources

  • Discrimination and Harassment Hearing Committee
    North Brookings Hall, Room 126, Campus Box 1184
  • Scot R. Bemis
    Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
  • Kim Webb
    Director of the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center

University nondiscrimination statement and policy against retaliation

The university will not tolerate retaliation or discrimination against persons who, in good faith, report or charge sexual harassment or against those who testify, assist, participate in, or are party to any investigation, proceeding or hearing involving a complaint of sexual harassment.

See the university’s nondiscrimination statement.