Sexual Harassment Prevention in Field

SPH logo

Fieldwork is an important and often necessary component of many scientific disciplines, yet research suggests that it presents a high-risk setting for incidents of sexual harassment and assault. This 90-minute online workshop has been developed by a team of field researchers at UC Santa Cruz. It identifies the unique risks posed by fieldwork and offers a suite of evidence-based tools for field researchers, instructors, and students to prevent, intervene in, and respond to sexual harassment and assault. Through a series of practical intervention scenarios, this workshop guides participants on how to be an active and engaged bystander, how to report incidents, and how to plan field settings to minimize risk. Armed with these tools, participants can play a role in ensuring that field settings are safer, more equitable, and more welcoming for the next generation of field scientists.


Sexual Harassment in Field Resources

History of the workshop

In 2018, with support from the Thoreau Foundation and CAMINO at UC Santa Cruz, we developed a workshop, Preventing Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Field, that prepares students, field researchers, instructors and staff to maintain their and each other’s well-being in the field by addressing difficult areas such as avoiding and navigating harassment in the field (for both men and women, as targets, witnesses who can intervene, and unwitting or witting perpetrators) and understanding appropriate boundaries around team member relationships. This workshop has been delivered to over 500 participants and garnered significant national attention and praise. According to preliminary survey results, participants report greater knowledge about and confidence in intervening, preventing, responding to, and reporting sexual harassment and assualt in field settings after taking the workshop (Cronin et al., submitted). 

The next step to scale the impact of this training, and the positive outcomes on our field. The “train the trainers” program aims to create a nation-wide network of instructors in the model of other first-aid and safety trainings. This full-day workshop (over several sessions) trains new facilitator-instructors to deliver the Preventing workshop. Each trainer will receive a certification from the UC Santa Cruz Environmental Health and Safety Department, which will maintain a list of certified facilitators and workshop offerings.

What is the legal obligation for mandated reporters? What must they report? 

Reporting responsibilities are consistent across all UC campuses with regards to sexual violence and sexual harassment but may vary in other universities and university systems. 

At UC "any University employee who is not a Confidential Resource" must report prohibited conduct defined under the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Responsible employees must promptly notify the Title IX Officer or designee. The reporting obligation is specific to what is  learned, in the course of employment. For example if a Teaching Assistant receives a disclosure from a student in one of their classes then they must report. Conversely if a fellow graduate student discloses because they are peers or friends, then they are not obligated to report. UC defines anyone who receives money in exchange for services as an employee. Volunteers and students who serve as instructors for courses in exchange for course credit are generally required by their program to report to Title IX but this is not explicit in the policy and is subject to local policies specific to their position. 

Prohibited conduct that is reportable includes:

  • Sexual harassment
  • sexual assault  contact (contact above and below the clothing of an intimate body part) 
  • sexual assault penetration
  • relationship violence
  • stalking
  • invasions of sexual privacy
  • sex with a minor
  • Exposing one’s genitals in a public place for the purpose of sexual gratification. 
  • Failing to comply with the terms of a no-contact order, a suspension of any length, or any order of exclusion issued under this Policy.
  • Retaliation

What do I do if the incident involves a non-UCSC affiliated person?

If the incident involves at least one affiliated person, it is reportable. For example, if the complainant is an affiliate but the respondent is not, it is still reportable. If the respondent is an affiliate but the complainant is not, it is reportable as well. When in doubt consult! Title IX has an obligation to support affiliates regardless of the identity of the respondent, although they do not have authority over non-affiliates, they can still take action to support complainants.

What to do if someone makes a disclosure of SVSH, but begs me not to say anything to anyone else?

If you have a requirement to report, you need to let them know that you are required to report the information to the Title IX Office but they can choose if and how they want to work with the Title IX Office. Title IX will reach out with confidential resource information and invite them in but their participation is voluntary.

What to do if someone tells me about their experience of SVSH, but does not tell me the name of the perpetrator? Do I ask about this information before making a report to Title IX?

If they have not already shared the name of the respondent, you do not need to ask but you still need to report. We actually discourage people from asking questions about the details. Instead focus on being a supportive listener and ask what they need and how you can help? If they ask for something you can't do or are unsure of, this is a great opportunity to encourage them to work with TIX and/or a confidential resource.

What to do if someone comes to me and speaks about a hypothetical situation?

Hypotheticals can be problematic because they rarely involve sufficient clarity but they can be a helpful starting point. The person should refer them to a confidential resource and let them know they can pose hypotheticals and decline to share their own name with the Title IX Office as well. The person who learns of a hypothetical should make clear they can try to assist and answer questions but would encourage them to present the hypothetical to the Title IX Office for more information.

What to do if someone wants to talk but does not want to report?

Regardless of whether a person decides to file a report, the university has many resources available, such as counseling and academic support. If the person who approaches you is an undergraduate or graduate student, the campus CARE advocate may provide them with immediate confidential support, explain the campus resources available and help them access the ones they want. Here are some examples of resources and services:

  • Emotional support, including crisis intervention, long-term counseling, support groups and other resources on and off campus.
  • Academic support, including changing your academic class schedule and switching course sections.
  • Health care, such as a medical exam and help with other needs at campus health and counseling centers.
  • Housing, such as helping you obtain temporary housing or new housing.
  • Personal safety. You can consult with university police to understand your rights to physical protection, including restraining orders or a safety escort on campus at night. Advocates can help you obtain no-contact orders or temporary or permanent orders of protection.

If they are a faculty member, other academic appointee, or staff member, they can talk one-on-one with the trained professionals on the campus who can offer confidential support and help them identify other available resources.

What kind of documentation is helpful for a bystander to record for a future Title IX, if communications are delayed?

Bystanders should record any information that they observe or is relayed to them that they feel is relevant but the timing of this is important. In most situations if they are providing support to a survivor, their focus should be on listening, taking action to ensure safety, and providing appropriate support. Once they have a free moment, they can take notes and prepare their report. Not all complainants will want an investigation and only what is willingly shared  is reportable. It is important for bystanders to focus on being supportive of the survivor without investigating or prying for information. Important questions are how can I help? What do you need to feel safe? They may also want to ask: Do you want to call the police? and Is there anything that you want me to be aware of before I reach out for help?