Q: What does the Office of Gender Equity do?
A: The Office of Gender Equity has two principal missions: to educate the Medical University community regarding sexual harassment and gender equity issues, and to respond to and resolve complaints of gender discrimination or sexual harassment that involve faculty, students, or residents as either the complainant or the subject of the complaint.
Q: If I call the Office of Gender Equity about a situation, do I have to file a complaint?
A: No. The Office of Gender Equity welcomes all inquiries and requests for information. Individuals contacting our office may want to file complaints, inquire about options for handling certain situations, or simply ask questions about MUSC policy. In fact, most calls to our office are requests for information.
Q: What is "sexual harassment?"
A: Similar to federal law, MUSC policy recognizes two types of sexual harassment. The first, "quid pro quo" harassment, is characterized by coercion to engage in a sexual relationship either by the threat of negative consequences or the promise of positive ones. Coercion may be blatant or more subtle. The second type of harassment, "hostile work environment"” is characterized by the creation of a highly unpleasant workplace or academic environment by the introduction of sexual behaviors or materials. Determining when a particular behavior becomes harassment is a complex matter. If you have questions regarding these definitions as they apply to your work or school environment, please contact our office.
Q: Who should utilize Office of Gender Equity services? How is it different from Human Resources?
A: The Office of Gender Equity serves faculty, students, and residents within all six colleges at the Medical University. The Office of Gender Equity was established to address concerns solely related to gender-related discrimination and sexual harassment within or concerning the academic community of the Medical University. MUSC’s Human Resources departments handle a variety of employee issues, including benefits, retirement, labor disputes, and sexual harassment for employees who are neither faculty nor students. However, if a faculty member, student or resident is the subject of the complaint, any MUSC employee on campus should contact our office rather than Human Resources.
Q: What if I’m uncertain about whether a situation is sexual harassment or some other kind of inappropriate behavior?
A: Such distinctions can be complex. Although sexual harassment is always inappropriate, not all inappropriate behavior is sexual harassment. We recommend that individuals who have questions regarding a particular situation contact our office for assistance. Such consultation can help determine whether the behavior in question may be sexual harassment or something else. Even if the behavior is deemed not to be sexual harassment, the Office of Gender Equity will direct you to the appropriate office or official within your college, or the University, in order to attempt to resolve the situation.
Q: How can I be sure that I will not be retaliated against for making a complaint?
A: MUSC’s policy on sexual harassment includes very strict penalties, up to and including termination, for retaliation against individuals making complaints. The Office of Gender Equity is committed to enforcing these rules and protecting the confidentiality of ALL parties involved in complaints.
Q: If a faculty member or administrator becomes aware of sexual harrassment involving a student, resident, or trainee, are they required to contact the Office of Gender Equity?
A: Yes. Contacting our office does not necessarily mean that a complaint has to be filed. We will speak with the faculty member or administrator and determine what an appropriate course of action should be.