Title IX Information on Sexual Harassment and Assault

Title IX is not just about sports!  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. It reads: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Sexual harassment in education is an unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a student’s ability to learn, study, work or participate in school activities. Sexual harassment involves a range of behavior from mild annoyances to sexual assault and rape.

Title IX also protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and employees from discrimination, harassment, sexual assault and sexual violence including discrimination, physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex, sex-stereotyping or failure to conform to stereotypical gender norms.

Governors State University (GSU) has committed itself, unequivocally, to ensuring a working and learning environment in which the dignity of every individual is respected. GSU is committed to providing an environment for employees, students, and campus visitors that is free from illegal harassment based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran status.  Likewise the University prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in all University activities and programs.  Any form of sexual harassment, including sexual assault and sexual violence, is a violation of University policy 52 and the Code of Student Conduct.

At GSU, we strive to comply with all applicable legal requirements prohibiting harassment against any member of the GSU community. In addition to facing University consequences, those who engage in sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or sexual violence may also be prosecuted criminally.

The University has a duty to prevent harassment, to have policies against it, to investigate complaints, and to take prompt action to stop harassment when it occurs.

If you experience sexual harassment or assault or know someone that has, we encourage you report it so that we can help maintain a work and academic environment free of unlawful harassment. Contact the Title IX Officer to report the incident:  

Joyce Coleman

Title IX Officer

1 University Parkway


University Park, IL 60484

Telephone Number:   708-235-7169

Fax:    708-534-1642

Email:  jcoleman7@govst.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or academic environment.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. A student can be harassed by teachers, other students, or anyone else with whom the student interacts while at school or while engaging in school-related activities.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual’s work or educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working and/or learning environment; or of interfering with one’s ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity.
  • The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

What are the examples of Sexual Harassment?

  • Pressure for sexual activity
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unwelcome patting, hugging or touching of a person’s body, hair or clothing, intentionally brushing up against someone
  • Sexual innuendos, gestures, looks, jokes or comments
  • Disparaging remarks to a person about his or her gender or body; claiming that a person is gay or lesbian
  • Spreading sexual rumors about a person
  • Displaying or transmitting sexually suggestive electronic content, including emails and texts
  • Giving unwelcome personal gifts
  • Sexual assault

What should I do if I am being sexually harassed?

  • Sexual harassment which is ignored often escalates. It is helpful to directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Alert other people about the behavior. Doing this will provide you with support and can be important evidence later. Use any complaint mechanism or grievance system available and/or in place.
  • Keep a detailed written record of the harassment. Record what happened, when, where, who else was present, and how you reacted. Save any notes, pictures, or other documents you receive from the harasser.
  • Report the problem. Contact Human Resources Department to schedule an initial appointment to discuss your situation. We normally set aside an hour to speak with you. When you visit the Human Resources Department, we will ask you to describe your situation and your view of what is going on, so that we can fully understand the situation. No one will force you to take any action you do not want to take.

What should I do if I am assaulted?

If the incident(s) involve sexual assault or rape, you are encouraged to immediately contact Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (708) 534-4900 or dial 911. You should go to the nearest emergency room and ask to be seen by a health care professional who specializes in examining sexual assault victims.  

What do I do to preserve evidence of sexual assault?

For information on preserving evidence, please see the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) http://www.rainn.org website regarding what to do in the aftermath of a sexual assault.

What do I do if I believe a friend or myself have been harassed?

If you experience, observe, hear about or believe someone has been sexually harassed in any way, you should make a report of the facts of the incident(s) in a timely manner by contacting the Title IX Officer at 708-235-7169.

Governors State University (GSU) will not tolerate sexual harassment of its students or employees and will investigate all allegations of harassment. Reports will be investigated promptly. As stated above, please retain any notes, pictures, or other documents you receive from the harasser that may relate to the complaint. Where sexual harassment is found, steps will be taken to end it immediately.

What if I’m not sure if my experience truly constitutes harassment?

If you believe you may have experienced harassment or assault, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of GSU sexual harassment policy, you should contact the Title IX Officer.  It is imperative that all accounts of harassment are reported and investigated, in order to maintain the safety of the GSU community. The Title IX Officer will help clearly define acts that constitute sexual misconduct, and provide information regarding options.

What if other students discover I’ve filed a report?

Students who, in good faith, report what they believe to be sexual harassment, or who cooperate in any investigation, will not be subjected to retaliation.  Any student who believes he or she has been the victim of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or cooperating in an investigation should immediately contact the Title IX Officer.

What if I want to report something, but I know I broke a rule under the GSU Student Code of Conduct?

GSU encourages the reporting of harassment whenever it occurs. Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report to University officials because they fear that they may be charged with policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident.

Will the complaint remain confidential?

Before reporting, it is important to know that different people on campus have different reporting responsibilities and different abilities to maintain confidentiality, depending on their roles.  We encourage you to contact the Title IX Officer because he/she is best equipped to help.  Please rest assured that if you contact the Title IX Officer only people that need to know will be told.

Will my parents be told?

No, not unless you tell them.  Whether you are the complainant or the accused, the University’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent.  However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents.  University officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by the student.  The University also reserves the right to inform parents where permitted by FERPA, including in a life threatening situation.

Do I have to name the perpetrator?

While you are not required to name the perpetrator, the University still has an obligation to investigate.  Without the name of the accused, the University is limited in its ability to respond to allegations, offer remedies for the complainant, and to sanction the accused.  Sometimes victims are hesitant to report for fear of retaliation.  GSU vigorously enforces a policy of no retaliation.

What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

Do not contact the alleged victim.  If you have not already been contacted by the Title IX Officer, you may want to contact that office, which can explain the University’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints.  You may also want to talk confidentially to a counselor or seek other community assistance.

In Case of Emergency:

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual harassment and/or assault or other misconduct and are in need to of immediate help, please contact one of the following.

Department of Public Safety (DPS)
C- 1375
(Next door to Human Resources Dept.)
24-Hour Number: (708) 534-4900

Campus Emergencies:

Dial ext. 2911 from any campus phone (not pay phones). Calls go directly to DPS dispatch.

  • Dial 911 on any cell or pay phone. Calls will go directly to University Park Police and DPS will also be notified.
  • From any of the emergency phones located throughout campus buildings and in the parking areas, push the emergency button. Calls go directly to DPS.

St. James Hospital
1423 Chicago Rd.
Chicago Heights, IL 60411
(708) 756-1000

St. James Hospital and Health Center

20201 Crawford Ave.

Olympia Fields, IL 60461

Main Number:  708-747-4000

YWCA South Suburban Center
320 West 202nd Street
Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411

Filing A Report

Filing a Report

If you have experienced any form of sexual harassment or assault, please contact the Title IX Officer to report the incident:

Joyce Coleman

Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity

Title IX Officer                 

1 University Parkway


University Park, IL 60484

Telephone Number:  708-235-7169

Fax:  708-534-1642

Email:  jcoleman7@govst.edu

DPS can also assist you filing criminal charges.

Department of Public Safety (DPS)
C- 1375
(Next door to Human Resources Dept.)
24-Hour Number: (708) 534-4900

If you choose, you may file an anonymous report by calling the GSU Title IX Hotline at 708-534-4571, available 24 hours a day. Please see Board Policy 52 for additional information. 

Information for Supervisors

Information for Supervisors, Managers, Administrators, Faculty and any other people who are responsible for others.

Guidelines for Handling Harassment, Sexual Harassment or Discrimination

1. Thank the person for coming to you, and let him or her know that you take the matter seriously.

2. Provide the person with information about Board Policy 52 and contact information for the Title IX Officer. Be sure to let him or her know where to pursue a formal complaint, even if the person says he or she does not wish to do so. You can tell the person that you're neither encouraging nor discouraging a formal complaint, but that you just want the person to have the information.

3. Explain that you will keep the matter private, but do not promise confidentiality, even if the person requests it. Tell the person that if any information needs to be shared, it will be on a need-to-know basis only. Be sure to respect that promise.

4. Promptly contact the Title IX Officer and discuss the matter, even if the next step seems obvious.

Do not offer any comments, guesses or opinions about possible outcomes.

Do not offer any comments, guesses or opinions about the respondent (person complained of).

5. Doing nothing is always the wrong thing, and time is of the essence

6. Treat all complaints seriously.

It is a major error to assume that a complaint has no merit or is unimportant, and fail to do anything about it. The Title IX Officer is available to help determine what response is necessary for any given situation and what disposition is consistent with University practice.

7. Be aware that the complainant’s requests do not control how a case is handled.

8. Guard against retaliation.

Assure the complainant that retaliation is prohibited under the policy and warn the respondent of this same principle. Determine whether the complainant has any concerns that there will be negative consequences for disclosing the complaint, and ask him or her to inform you if retaliation occurs.

9. Actively protect the safety and well-being of both parties.

As a rule, parties on all sides experience great distress in harassment matters. It is advisable routinely to provide both parties with information about GSU support services, including counseling services and other services that may be needed.

10. Carefully document all actions and communications.

11. Corrective action must be appropriate.

Decisions about disciplinary action should be made in consultation with Human Resources.

For more information, see the following materials:

US Department of Education "Dear Colleague Letter" of April 2011

U.S. Department of Education Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance of 2001

Notice of Title IX Officer



Title IX Officer

Pursuant to Public Law 92-318, notice is hereby given that the Title IX Officer for Governors State University and the contact information for the Title IX Officer is:

Joyce Coleman, Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity
Title IX Officer

c/o Governors State University

Mailing Address:

1 University Parkway


University Park, IL 60484

TelephoneNumber:   708-235-7169

Fax:  708-534-1642

Email:  jcoleman7@govst.edu

Inquiries, complaints and information regarding Title IX should be directed to the Title IX Officer at the address, email or phone number listed above.