Overview of MIT Policies

Federal and state  laws require us to share certain information with all employees, below. We've also included information about some other key policies relating to personal conduct.

MIT policies applicable to faculty and staff are found in Policies & Procedures and additional policies for non-academic staff are found in the Employment Policy Manual. Both can be found at policies.mit.edu.

MIT Statement on Drug Free Schools and Campuses

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act requires every institution of higher learning that receives federal financial assistance to establish a drug and alcohol prevention program. As part of our compliance with this law, MIT has issued a statement to all employees and students. Alcohol abuse and the use of illegal drugs can significantly affect the MIT community. MIT has a comprehensive program intended to prevent substance abuse, as well as to provide support for those who may require intervention and treatment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this information, please contact your Human Resources Officer or MIT’s MyLife Services resource.

Complaint Resolution Procedures

Any MIT student, faculty or staff member who believes that he or she was unfairly treated or that an employment policy was violated or misapplied is encouraged to resolve the concern through MIT’s complaint resolution procedures, which are found at Section 9.8 of Policies & Procedures. Many concerns can be resolved informally and an investigation process can be used when warranted. 

MIT’s Policies on Harassment

In order to create a respectful, welcoming and productive community, the Institute is committed to providing a living, working and learning environment that is free from harassment. Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a verbal, nonverbal or physical nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a work or academic environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive and that adversely affects an individual’s educational, work, or living environment. In determining whether unwelcome conduct is harassing, the Institute will examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the conduct, including its frequency, nature and severity, the relationship between the parties and the context in which the conduct occurred. Below is a partial list of examples of conduct that would likely be considered harassing, followed by a partial list of examples that would likely not constitute harassment:

  • Examples of possibly harassing conduct: Public and personal tirades; deliberate and repeated humiliation; deliberate interference with the life or work of another person; the use of certain racial epithets; deliberate desecration of religious articles or places; repeated insults about loss of personal and professional competence based on age. 
  • Examples of conduct that is likely not harassment: Administrative actions like performance reviews (including negative performance reviews) and making work assignments; other work-related decisions like moving work areas or changing work colleagues; and isolated incidents (unless, as noted above, they are very severe, such as the use of certain racial epithets). 

Information on different ways to raise concerns about harassment can be found on the Complaint Process and Resolution website. Conduct that does not rise to the level of harassment may still violate Section 9.1. Even conduct that does not violate an MIT policy may be inappropriate and any inappropriate conduct should be addressed by the supervisor or department head. While MIT’s harassment policy is not limited to harassment based on the protected categories listed in Section 9.2, the Institute is particularly committed to eliminating harassment based on those categories. Harassment that is based on an individual’s race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, or national or ethnic origin is not only a violation of MIT policy but may also violate federal and state law, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Mass. General Laws Chapter 151B. For information on how to file complaints of violation of law with governmental agencies see Section 9.8.5.9 Legal Information.

9.4.1 Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Gender‐Based Harassment

The Institute’s policy against harassment specifically includes a prohibition against sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and gender-based harassment if the conduct meets the standards of harassment set forth above and has a connection to MIT as described in the introduction to this Section 9.0. Additional guidance is set forth on the Title IX website.

9.4.1.1 Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is 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:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing; or
  • 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
  • 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.

A partial list of examples of conduct that might be deemed to constitute sexual harassment if sufficiently severe or pervasive include:

Examples of verbal sexual harassment may include unwelcome conduct such as sexual flirtation, advances or propositions or requests for sexual activity or dates; asking about someone else's sexual activities, fantasies, preferences, or history; discussing one’s own sexual activities, fantasies, preferences, or history; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; suggestive comments; sexually explicit jokes; turning discussions at work or in the academic environment to sexual topics; and making offensive sounds such as "wolf whistles."

Examples of nonverbal sexual harassment may include unwelcome conduct such as displaying sexual objects, pictures or other images; invading a person's personal body space, such as standing closer than appropriate or necessary or hovering; displaying or wearing objects or items of clothing which express sexually offensive content; making sexual gestures with hands or body movements; looking at a person in a sexually suggestive or intimidating manner; or delivering unwanted letters, gifts, or other items of a sexual nature.

9.4.1.2 Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is a broad term that includes sexual assault (rape,sexual fondling, incest or statutory rape) as well sexual exploitation and sexual harassment. Further definitions can be found on the Title IX website. Domestic violence and dating violence by an MIT faculty, staff or other community member also violate this policy. Domestic violence and dating violence are defined on the Title IX website

9.4.1.3 Gender‐Based Harassment

Gender-based harassment is unwelcome verbal or nonverbal conduct based on gender, sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation, or gender identity that meets the definitions above of harassment. Gender-based harassment may also involve conduct of a sexual nature.

9.4.2 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.

MIT’s Policies on Protection for Pregnant Workers

MIT prohibits discrimination and harassment due to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child. These policies are found in Policies & Procedures Section 9.2 Nondiscrimination, Section 9.4 Harassment, and Section 9.4.1.3 Gender-Based Harassment; and in the Employment Policy Manual Section 4.5.1. MIT will make reasonable accommodations upon request for pregnant and nursing employees. For more information on protections for pregnant and nursing mothers, including FAQs, see this state website.

MIT’s Policy on Sexual or Romantic Relationships in the Workplace or Academic Environment

Sexual or romantic relationships may raise concerns of conflict of interest, abuse of authority, favoritism, and unfair treatment when both people are in the MIT work or academic environment, and one person holds a position of power or authority over the other. These relationships may also affect others in the work or academic environment, undermining the integrity of their supervision and evaluation as well. These concerns exist even when the relationship is considered consensual by both individuals. In some instances, consent may not be as freely given as the more senior person in the relationship believes. Also, consent may change and relationships may end, with possible adverse effects on the more junior party’s education or career. The full policy is found at Policies & Procedures Section 9.5.

MIT’s Code of Responsible and Ethical Conduct

MIT’s Code of Responsible and Ethical Conduct contains some other major policies at MIT, such as on conflict of interest and financial transactions.