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Paths to Resolution

To address situations involving sexual harassment, the Sexual Harassment Policy Office coordinates resources by acting as the liaison between the primary parties and those helping to resolve the situation. While the Office does not play an advocacy role, it is available to provide support and resources for all parties involved, including those who participate in the resolution process.

Sexual Harassment Advisers

Each school, administrative unit and student housing unit has at least one adviser, who will be able to hear your concern and discuss available options. You are free to seek consultation from any adviser listed. A sexual harassment adviser will address your concern promptly and with discretion. 

The specific action taken in any particular case will depend on the nature and gravity of the conduct reported.  In appropriate situations, the parties may be able to resolve the problem by following the advice of a sexual harassment adviser. Several possible informal remedies may be considered, depending on the situation.

Fact-Finding or Investigation

If the situation calls for it, fact-finding or an investigation may be conducted by someone unrelated to the parties involved. Depending on the situation, this may be a sexual harassment adviser, an experienced university professional, or an independent outside investigator.  

The investigator will review documentation and interview relevant individuals, but does not represent any of the parties involved. Based on that review, the investigator will make an impartial finding as to whether any university policy was violated. While absolute confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, all information submitted during a review process will be considered private and handled with discretion. Information will be shared only with those who have a clear need to know.

The University will be sensitive to the feelings and situation of the target of alleged harassment or person who reports sexual harassment. However, Stanford has a compelling interest to address all allegations of sexual harassment brought to its attention. In some circumstances it may be necessary to take appropriate action, even if the complainant is reluctant to proceed.

Preserving anonymity

It may be possible to stop problematic behavior without letting the alleged harasser know who complained or was involved in the investigation.  However, disclosing the complainant’s identity may be necessary in order to

  • investigate the matter fully, and/or
  • enable the alleged harasser to respond fully to the allegations.


The circumstances may call for an intervention in the workplace, student residence, or academic setting. The intervention may be carried out by a Sexual Harassment Adviser, human resources professional, Ombuds, other faculty or staff, or sometimes a mediator from outside the University.

Typically, the third party meets privately with each person involved, tries to clarify their perceptions, and attempts to develop a plan for future interactions that is acceptable to all the parties.

Record Keeping

The Sexual Harassment Policy Office (SHPO) tracks reports of sexual harassment for statistical purposes. An annual report concerning the number, nature, and disposition of complaints is submitted to the University President through the Dean of Research.

The SHPO may keep confidential records of reports of sexual harassment and the relevant actions taken. These records may be used to identify individuals or departments likely to benefit from training. Identifying information will be retained only in cases where the individual accused was informed that there was a complaint concerning his or her conduct.

External reporting

Both state and federal law prohibit sexual harassment.  You may file a complaint directly with any government agency that deals with unlawful harassment and discrimination claims:

  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education
  • State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)