Sexual Harassment in Higher Education is Illegal
Everyone has the right to attend a college or university free from sexual harassment. The Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") makes it unlawful for teachers, professors, facility members and other employees of colleges and universities to sexually harass their students. The Act specifically prohibits unwelcome advances or conduct of a sexual nature, and requests for sexual favors of students by an executive, faculty member, administrative staff member, or teaching assistant. The Act covers all public or private universities, colleges, community colleges, junior colleges, business schools, and vocational schools.
Examples of Sexual Harassment in Higher Education
- A professor who continually makes jokes of a sexual nature in the classroom;
- A registration advisor who tells a student he or she might be able to get into a class if the student dates the advisor;
- An admissions officer who tells a prospective student that the advisor will put in a "good word" for the prospective student if he or she dates the advisor;
- A financial assistance advisor who tells a student that "if you have sex with me, I can look out for scholarships for you;"
- A teaching assistant who promises a student a better grade if the student does not resist any inappropriate touching or sexual advances.
Protection Against Retaliation
It is also unlawful for a teacher or professor, or for the college or university to retaliate against a student because the student reported sexual harassment, participated in an investigation of sexual harassment, or because the student filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
What to Do
Any student who believes he or she is being subjected to sexual harassment or retaliated against should contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights for further information or to file a charge. Students may contact the Department by calling the Department at 312-814-6200 (Chicago) or 217-785-5100 (Springfield), 866-740-3953 (TTY); or by visiting the Department's website at www.illinois.gov/dhr. Any charge alleging sexual harassment in higher education must be filed within 180 days of the alleged incident(s). Charge forms are available on the Department's website at the following link:Illinois Dept. of Human Rights | Charge Form