Overview & Definitions | For Allegations Against Staff | Policies & Procedures

Overview & Definitions for Allegations Against Staff

MIT’s Policies & Procedures (P&P) set forth Institute-level policies and procedures that apply broadly to MIT faculty, other academic staff, research staff, non-academic staff, and, for some policies, to unpaid affiliates and other members of the MIT community. Institute policies on standards of conduct are found in Section 9; these include prohibitions on harassment, discrimination, racist conduct, retaliation, and violence against community members.

The complaint resolution process for complaints against faculty and staff is described in Policy 9.8.  The process is available for any complaint by an MIT community member that an MIT faculty member, staff member, or postdoctoral scholar (fellow or associate) engaged in conduct that violates one of the following policies.

Please note: Although MIT broadly prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct, federal Title IX regulations require MIT to follow specific processes when the Institute has knowledge of a report of certain categories of sexual misconduct, referred to as “Title IX Sexual Harassment.”

Discrimination or Discriminatory Harassment  

A violation of any of the following Conduct Policies, when the alleged conduct is based on an individual’s protected class:

Other Inappropriate Conduct 

A violation of any of the following Conduct Policies, when the alleged conduct is not based on an individual’s protected class:

  • Harassment not based on an individual’s protected class (Section 9.5)
  • Personal Conduct and Responsibilities Towards Students and Employees (Section 9.2)
  • Relations and Responsibilities Within the MIT Community (Section 9.0)
  • Retaliation not based on an individual’s protected class (Section 9.7)
  • Violence against Community Members (Section 9.6


Administrative Complaint: A Complaint filed by the Institute Harassment & Discrimination Response office where a concern is raised by a non-MIT community member or by an MIT community member who does not want to be a Complainant, and where, in the judgment of the IDHR, the concern warrants investigation.

Advisor: A member of the MIT community, chosen by the Complainant or Respondent, who may accompany them to meetings or interviews and otherwise provide support or advice.  An advisor may not be a family member, subordinate, or attorney, nor be a witness or a party to the Complaint. In any matter alleging sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, or Title IX Sexual Harassment, that parties may select an advisor of their choice, including an attorney.

Complainant: The member of the MIT community who files a Complaint. Complainants can be faculty, staff, students, fellows, individuals with visitor appointments, affiliates and any other individual who conducts business with or on behalf of the Institute.

Complaint: A written statement filed online or with the Institute Harassment & Discrimination Response office (IDHR) alleging a violation of one of the Conduct Policies.  A Complaint may be filed by any member of the MIT community (defined in Section 9.0). 

Dating Violence: Defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship is determined based on the reporting party's statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. For the purpose of this definition, "dating violence" includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence. 

Domestic Violence: Defined as a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by a current or former spouse or dating/domestic of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or dating/domestic violence, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred. To be considered domestic violence, the relationship must be more than just two people living together as roommates.

Preponderance of the Evidence: The evidentiary standard used when making findings of fact.  Preponderance of the evidence is proof by information that, compared with the information opposing it, leads to a conclusion that the fact at issue is more probably true than not.

Protected Class: An individual’s race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, or national or ethnic origin.

Respondent: The MIT faculty member, staff member, or postdoctoral scholar who is alleged to have violated one of the Conduct Policies.

Retaliation: Retaliation is any adverse action, harassment, threats or other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from making a complaint or otherwise participating in a complaint resolution process. Retaliation may occur even where there is no finding of a policy violation, and a complaint of retaliation will be addressed independently through MIT’s complaint resolution process.

Sexual Harassment: Defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic standing; or 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for significant employment decisions (such as advancement, performance evaluation, or work schedule) or academic decisions (such as grading or letters of recommendation) affecting that individual; or 3) the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would consider it intimidating, hostile, or abusive and it adversely affects an individual's educational, work, or living environment. For examples of conduct that may meet this definition, see Policy 9.5.1.     

Sexual Misconduct: Sexual misconduct is a broad term used to encompass a range of behaviors including sexual harassment, nonconsensual sexual contact, nonconsensual sexual penetration, and sexual exploitation. This definition of sexual misconduct includes sexual assault (rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape) as defined by the Clery Act. Sexual misconduct can occur between individuals who know each other, individuals who do not know each other, individuals who have an established relationship, and individuals who have previously engaged in consensual sexual activity. Sexual misconduct can be committed by persons of any gender identity, and can occur between people of the same or different sex. The Clery Act is a federal law on campus safety and security – more information on the Clery Act can be found in MIT’s Annual Security Report.

Stalking: Stalking, whether or not sexual in nature, is prohibited by MIT. Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking can take many forms. Examples include, but are not limited to, two or more instances of the following conduct (that also meet the definition of stalking above): following a person; appearing at a person’s home, class, or work; continuing to contact a person after receiving requests not to; leaving written messages, objects, or unwanted gifts; vandalizing a person’s property; photographing a person; and other threatening, intimidating or intrusive conduct. Stalking may also involve the use of electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices (often referred to as cyber-stalking). Such conduct may include, but is not limited to, non-consensual communication, telephone calls, voice messages, emails, texts, letters, notes, gifts, or any other communications that are repeated and undesired.

Title IX Sexual Harassment: Although MIT broadly prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct as described in Policies and Procedures, Section 9.4 and in the Mind and Hand Book, federal Title IX Regulations impose a legal obligation on MIT to apply specific processes when it has knowledge of a report of certain categories of sexual misconduct, defined below and referred to as “Title IX Sexual Harassment.” Title IX Sexual Harassment means:

Conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

  1. An employee of MIT conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of MIT on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
  2. Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to MIT’s education program or activity; or
  3. “Sexual assault,” “dating violence,” “domestic violence,” or “stalking,” as defined by federal law and set out on the IDHR website.

MIT must follow the specific processes cited below when it receives a formal complaint of Title IX Sexual Harassment and where all of the following apply:

  1. At the time of filing a formal complaint, the Complainant was/is participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity at MIT;
  2. The alleged conduct occurred in an education program or activity controlled by MIT; and
  3. The alleged conduct occurred against a person in the United States.