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Washington State University Office for Equal Opportunity

Graduate TA Training

Audio Transcript

PDF Link: Graduate TA Training audio transcript

Slide 1.1

Washington State University’s Response to discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.  This training is intended for use by graduate students.

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There are several policies graduate students should be aware of.  First, Executive Policy #15, the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct governs all students, faculty, staff, and others having an association with the university.  This policy will be discussed in more detail in upcoming slides.  The Office for Equal Opportunity (or OEO) is authorized to act and investigate under this policy.

Students are also subject to the Standards of Conduct for Students.  Violations of the Standards of Conduct for Students are processed by the Office of Student Conduct, or OSC.

Human Resource Services (or HRS) also utilizes policies that may affect graduate students.  First, Executive Policy 28 discusses the rules regarding faculty-student and supervisor-subordinate relationships.  This policy will be discussed in a later slide.  In addition, HRS enforces the Workplace Violence and Bullying prohibitions; the policy is available for your review in WSU’s Business Policies and Procedures Manual.

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Executive Policy 15, the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and SExual Misconduct, prohibits discrimination when it is on the basis of a recognized protected class.  The protected classes listed in EP 15 include  race, sex and/or gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, age, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical, mental or sensory disability, including the use of a trained service animal, marital status, genetic information, or status as an honorably discharged veteran or member of the military.  All students, faculty, and staff are members of more than one protected class.

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Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that is based on a person’s sex and/or gender.  Examples of sexual harassment include: 1.) comments of a sexual nature, 2.) sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes, unwelcome sexual advances, persistent attempts to convert a professional relationship to at romantic relationship, 3). harassment of a non-sexual nature that is based upon a person’s sex and/or gender, and 4). harassment based on a person’s nonconformity with sex and/or gender stereotypes.  Another form of sexual harassment is “quid pro quo” harassment, translated as “something for something.”  This type of harassment occurs, for example, when a person implies or states that a benefit will be given in exchange for a sexual favor.

Not all conduct related to a protected class is a violation of EP 15.  The discriminatory conduct must be sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment, or unreasonably interfering with work, academic performance, living environment, personal security, or participation in any WSU activity.

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Sexual and Gender Based Violence is a form of sexual harassment in which one instance is considered sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive to rise to the level of sexual harassment.  Sexual misconduct includes non-consensual sexual contact, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, and stalking.

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Statistics suggest that many college age men and women experience assault, and that sexual assaults are dramatically underreported.  Please take a minute to review the statistics on this slide.

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Students should be aware that alleged conduct does not have to occur on campus for the university to address it.  Conduct on or off campus, which involves WSU students, can be addressed by WSU.  WSU may be limited in the actions it can take if the alleged perpetrator is a non-student, but WSU will ensure that the complainant receives care, support, and information about safety measures, interim educational measures, law enforcement options, and advocacy and counseling support.

WSU’s process to address sex and gender based violence are separate from the criminal process and can be pursued simultaneously.  Survivors of sex and gender based violence are empowered to choose an option or options that work best for them.

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Consent must be clear, knowing, and voluntary.  The person responsible for obtaining consent should be able to answer the question, “What specific words and/or actions by the other person gave you a clear indication that s/he wanted to engage in specific sexual actions in which you engaged?”  Consent can be given and taken away at anytime. Consent for one act is not necessarily consent for all acts.  Consent is not implied simply because two people have engaged in a sex act before.  Consent cannot be given if the person lacks the mental capacity to understand the nature or consequences of the act (this can be due to drugs and alcohol).  Finally, even if a person affirmatively consents, the consent can be negated when force, threats, intimidation, or coercion are present.

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Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person takes nonconsensual or abusive sexual advantage of another.  Invading another person’s sexual privacy or voyeurism are examples of sexual exploitation.  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 other’s, fear for harm to their property or the property of other’s, or suffer substantial emotional distress.  Relationship violence is also referred to as dating violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or emotional abuse.  Relationship Violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, economic, or psychological in nature, and it can include actions or threats of actions which influence or harm an intimate partner.

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All employees, with limited exceptions, are required to report incidents of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct to OEO or the WSU Title IX Coordinator, Kimberly Andersen.   The following employees are not required to report these incidents:  (1) employees who are statutorily barred from reporting (for example, health care and mental health care providers acting in their capacities as health care and mental health care providers), (2) employees, interns, professional trainees, and other similar individuals who are not statutorily barred from reporting but who provide services to students in WSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services or are otherwise designated by WSU to provide mental health services; or who provide services to students in WSU’s Health and Wellness Services, (3) Employees participating in a preventative education program for students regarding sex and gender-based violence or a related program, during which a student discloses having experienced sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, and (4) employees who have no authority to take action to redress sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and who could not reasonably be viewed by students as having such authority (for example, certain nonsupervisory custodial or dining services staff); such employees are nonetheless strongly encouraged to report all instances of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct to OEO.

Employees should NOT attempt to investigate on their own.  Employees should not guarantee confidentiality to students.  Employees may have other state mandatory reporting requirements, including making reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. For more information, visit our website,

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How does WSU support students?

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In most instances, care providers from the following resources can confidentially discuss student concerns regarding these issues.   WSU Counseling and Psychological Services, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, WSU Health and Wellness Services, and Pullman Regional Hospital.  If you are located in an urban campus or a member of the global campus, confidential resources are listed on our website, please visit  The Office for Equal opportunity (OEO) can also help you identify resources in your home area, if desired.

Slide 1.13

The Dean of Students’ Office can assist students in coordinating resources and support, including academic and/or residential arrangements.  For example, the Dean of Students can speak with professors on behalf of students or can assist with adjusting class schedules and/or campus housing arrangements.

The Office of Student Conduct works closely with OEO during the initial investigation and will attend investigatory interviews.  The Office of Student Conduct will address any disciplinary action, as appropriate, after the preliminary investigation is complete.  More information is available on their website,  For urban campuses, urban campus administrators may also be involved in determining appropriate sanctions.

For resources on urban campuses, global campus, extension programs, or for students studying abroad, visit the OEO website:

Slide 1.14

The Office for Equal Opportunity, the Dean of Students, and the Office of Student Conduct strive to provide care and support for all persons participating in a university discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct complaint process.  If there are safety concerns, students are encouraged to share those with administrators, who have the ability to take interim measures to contribute to participant’s safety during the investigation.    For example, if a student who is experiencing intimate partner violence resides in the same residence hall as the aggressor, steps can be taken to modify housing arrangements.  Similarly, class and work schedules can be adjusted, and the Dean of Students is a good resource for other academic concerns impacted by discriminatory or harassing conduct.

These resources are available for ALL students involved in the investigative process.

Slide 1.15

Once WSU learns of a concern, the university will ensure that the complainant has access to resources and information about the university’s process to address discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.  If a complainant chooses to speak with OEO about a concern, OEO is authorized to take steps to resolve the matter or to conduct an investigation or inquiry into the concern.  The complainant’s desired outcome is always a factor in this decision; however, in some cases, depending on the alleged conduct, OEO may be required to conduct an investigation, even if this is not the complainant’s preference.

If a formal investigation is warranted, OEO will send a notice of the allegations to the respondent.  The complainant and respondent can provide witnesses and documentary evidence.  OEO is a neutral fact-finding office, and after review of the available evidence will summarize the investigative and make findings of fact, based on the preponderance of the evidence standard.  That is, OEO will make findings that it was “more likely than not” that these things occurred.

In the case of a student respondent, the findings will be provided to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) and/or relevant urban campus administrators.  In the case of an employee respondent, the findings will be provided to Human Resource Services and relevant supervisors.

Slide 1.16

Retaliation is defined as an act that would dissuade a reasonable person from making or supporting a complaint, or participating in an investigation, under this policy.  Interference is defined as actions that dissuade or attempt to dissuade complainants or witnesses from reporting or participating in an investigation, or actions that delay or disrupt, or attempt to delay or disrupt an investigation.

Slide 1.17

Executive Policy #28 covers relationships between faculty and students and supervisors and subordinates.   These relationships are not prohibited by the university; however, having supervisory authority over someone with whom you are in a relationship is prohibited.  If a relationship is likely to develop, or has developed, report the relationship promptly to Human Resource Services or your supervisors.  HRS may take steps to prevent persons in a relationship from having authority over each other.

Slide 1.18

As discussed before, employees can report incidents of discrimination to the Title IX Coordinator, Kimberly Anderson, the Director of the Office for Equal Opportunity.  There are two deputy Title IX Coordinators located on the Pullman campus, and there are Title IX Liaisons at the urban campuses.  Please visit for their contact information.

Slide 1.19

Students with disabilities have the right to full and equal participation; reasonable accommodations, and privacy.  Students with disabilities have the responsibility to meet qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards, demonstrate and/or document how the disability limits their participation in courses, programs, services, and activities, and follow published procedures for obtaining reasonable accommodations.

Washington State University has the right to establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge and standards, confirm disability status and use an interactive process to determine whether requests are reasonable, and refuse unreasonable accommodations.  Washington State University has the responsibility to provide information in accessible formats upon request; respond to requests on a timely basis, provide or arrange reasonable accommodations, and maintain appropriate confidentiality.

Slide 1.20

In order to have an equal opportunity to convey their knowledge, students with certain disabilities or chronic medical conditions require reasonable accommodations.  Without these accommodations, they are at a distinct disadvantage as they would be competing on an unequal playing field.   Students requesting accommodations will be referred to the WSU Access Center, who can assist the students with documentation and reasonable accommodation recommendations.  Students can then present their accommodation forms to their instructors for implementation.

As graduate teaching assistants, you may be asked to sign and acknowledge a student’s accommodations. Instructors should not request information or documentation about the disability.  In very rare circumstances, a reasonable accommodation might fundamentally alter the academic program – if this is the case, the instructor should contact the Access Center to discuss the situation.

Slide 1.21

Students with certain disabilities benefit from the assistance of a trained service animal (dogs or miniature horses, as defined by the ADA).  Service animals are not required to be approved through the Access Center.  Instructors may ask a student with a service animal two questions:  Is this animal required due to a disability? (yes/no); and What task is the animal trained to perform?  Instructors may not ask the animal to perform the task.  Service animals must be behaved at all times.  If they are not behaved Instructors have the right to ask the student to remove the animal.

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