What can I do if I am aware of sexual harassment on campus?

If you are a witness to harassing behaviour, you can use the 5D method, designed for cases of sexual harassment in public:

1. Distract. You can protect the harassed person by entering the situation under some pretext, interrupting it and diverting the harasser’s attention. Since you are not confronting the harassing person directly, you minimise the risk of endangering yourself and the person being harassed. Always see to your own safety, too. You can, for example ask what time it is, whether there will be an early exam date, or what was discussed at the last meeting.

2. Delegate. You can try to find someone nearby in a position of authority and ask for a solution (depending on the situation and the position of the harassing person, this can be someone from the ranks of teachers, the head of the department, etc.).

3. Document. Carefully observe the situation and take notes. Then give the record to the harassed person and offer to testify if they choose to file a complaint.

4. Direct. If you feel it is sufficiently safe for you and the harassed person, intervene directly and tell the harassing person that you consider their behaviour inappropriate. When doing this, you can refer to the CU Rector’s Directive on handling cases of sexual harassment at CU and the CU Code of Ethics.

5. Delay. Even if you do not want to intervene during the incident, you can support the harassed person by going to them afterwards and telling them what you saw, condemning the behaviour while reassuring them that it was not their fault. Provide the person with support and ask if you can help in any way. Inform the person about the CU sexual harassment policy or direct him/her to support services outside of the University (see External organisations and information sources). Respect the decision that the harassed person takes to deal with their situation. You can leave the person your contact details in case he/she needs your testimony in the future. Alternatively, you can also contact a trusted person from the position of a witness.


If someone tells you of their experience of sexual harassment:

  • listen to that person,
  • show the person that you believe them,
  • do not question the person’s claims and experience,
  • do not trivialise their experience (“it happens”),
  • do not evaluate their actions (“but you should have...”),
  • do not change the subject,
  • do not promise things you cannot deliver (“they'll definitely fire that person”),
  • maintain confidentiality,
  • if there is no reporting obligation, respect the harassed person’s decision,
  • inform the given person about the Rector’s Directive on dealing with cases of sexual harassment at CU and about trusted persons at the CU,
  • inform the person about this website and about the organisations that can be contacted.