According to many investigations and reports, college students, particularly graduate students are at higher risk of being victims of sexual harassment. Moore & Associates is a Houston, Texas sexual harassment law firm that works with individuals who have suffered from harassment at work. Many graduate students are hired by universities as faculty members, researchers, lecturers, or teachers assistants, so they may be subject to the same kinds of robust protections individuals receive when facing workplace sexual harassment including protections under Title IX, a federal law that protects women against discrimination in education.
When it comes to graduate students, power dynamics and the small community of which many students are a part, contribute to the challenges that graduate students might face when it comes time to report sexual harassment. Graduate students often work with only one or two professors and they may rely on these professors for important recommendations that would allow them to further their teaching careers. Researchers who work under professors also rely on these professors for funding and for important recommendations to further their careers in science and in other fields. When a work relationship crosses the line, it can be difficult for a student to speak up because he or she could face reprisal or the loss of opportunities. According to WGBH, graduate students are more likely to be sexually harassed than undergraduates because of the close relationships these students have with their professors.
Universities have a responsibility to protect their students, especially graduate students from sexual harassment. While it can require immense courage to speak up, students who don’t speak up sometimes leave the field altogether, or face other career setbacks for their silence. Students who stick around or suffer in silence without speaking up may suffer psychologically. And they may still suffer career setbacks if they are punished for not engaging sexually with a professor who is behaving badly. Moore & Associates is a Houston, Texas sexual harassment law firm that may be able to help you if you are a graduate student, hired by a university or research department, and faced sexual harassment on the job.
What Can You Do If You Suffer Sexual Harassment in Graduate School
What can you do if you suffer sexual harassment in graduate school? First of all, because of the small community of researchers and scholars that compose many graduate programs, it can be very frightening for a graduate student to speak up against sexual harassment, especially if the harasser is an advisor. Students have reported that they have faced serious disadvantages and setbacks when they spoke up. What are some things you can do to protect your rights? According to Inside Higher Ed, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Record all instances of harassment. Keep all emails and text messages. Take notes of all phone calls and comments or conversations that make you feel uncomfortable. If there were witnesses, get their names and contact information. Take notes and names of anyone who witnessed what happened.
- Talk to your peers and to other faculty about your experience if you feel comfortable doing so. Because academia involves such a small community, having support can make an immense difference when it comes to stopping the behavior and when it comes to holding perpetrators accountable. Sometimes others in your department may already be aware that there is a problem.
- Be prepared to provide lots of evidence if you do plan to speak up. According to Inside Higher Ed, colleges and universities may strongly support a tenured professor, especially a “star” professor or one who brings in significant research grants for the institution. If you do choose to move forward with filing a complaint with your university, it may also be helpful to file a lawsuit. Filing a complaint can lead to difficulty in your academic or scientific career, so it may be helpful to have professional and personal support. A lawsuit against the university or department may be able to help you recover lost time and money. Lawsuits may also have the added benefit of giving other students who have been victims the courage to step forward. Of course, before taking any action that can impact your career, you may want to speak to a sexual harassment lawyer, like Moore & Associates in Houston, Texas.
- Consider speaking to the student union or to the graduate student union. These groups may be able to offer you additional support.
These are just some things to consider if you are facing sexual harassment in college. Taking steps to confront or hold an abuser accountable can take immense courage. But before you step forward, you may want to speak to a sexual harassment lawyer, like Moore & Associates in Houston, Texas that may be able to assist you. Our attorney can review your situation and help you plan a road map forward. Reach out to our firm today or connect with us through USAttorneys.com.