UC San Diego

Prohibited Discrimination

Following are descriptions of types of conduct prohibited by UC Nondiscrimination policies or other University policies.

Sexual Harassment
Race and Other Forms of Discrimination
Sexual Assault
Title IX
First Amendment

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a specific type of sex discrimination which is illegal under federal and state law and UC San Diego policy. It is defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile environment for a reasonable person. The phrase “hostile environment” refers to conduct that meets this definition.   A determination of whether particular conduct constitutes sexual harassment depends on the totality of the circumstances. Sexual harassment may occur between persons of differing power or between peers. It may also involve a female harassing a male, or a male or female harassing a person of the same gender.

Race and Other Forms of Discrimination

Discrimination is the unfair or unequal treatment of an individual or group of people based upon certain characteristics.  University Nondiscrimination Policies prohibit harassment or discrimination on a number of bases, including the following: 

  • Age (if 40 and over)
  • Ancestry
  • Citizenship
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Gender identity
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Medical condition
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Veteran’s status 

Individuals are also protected against bias based on their perceived membership in any of these categories. Types of discrimination may occur between members of the same group.  For example, a person of a particular national origin could discriminate against a person of that same national origin.

While the analysis of whether someone has been discriminated against frequently involves analyzing whether the member of one group has been treated the same as a similarly situated individual who is a member of a different group, there are times when Nondiscrimination Policies require that a person be treated differently in order to be treated fairly.  For example, the disability of an otherwise qualified individual must be reasonably accommodated, which might involve providing different work tools for employees or different testing timeframes for students.  Similarly, sincerely held religious beliefs must be reasonably accommodated unless they involve an undue burden to the University.

Sexual Assault

In 2009, UC San Diego adopted the UC San Diego Sex Offense Policy and Procedures for sex offenses involving UC San Diego students.  Key features of the policy include the following:

  • It distinguishes between sexual assault, which requires intentional conduct, and sexual misconduct, which does not require an intent to commit assault but includes conduct where there is an unreasonable failure to obtain consent to a sexual act.
  • It states that alcohol violations will typically not be pursued against those who have reported a sex offense. It does this in order to encourage the reporting of sex offenses by removing a possible deterrent to such reports.
  • It articulates that the University has the authority to exercise jurisdiction over sex offenses that occur off-campus between UC San Diego students.
  • It clearly delineates the difference between the criminal process that might be pursued by district attorneys, over which the University has no control, and the procedures for addressing reports of sex offenses by the University.
  • It provides both formal options for addressing reports of sex offenses and alternatives to those options.  Formal options include a hearing process that protects the due process rights of anyone accused of a sex offense and include specific rights of those who have reported a sex offense. For example, both the complainant and the accused may have a support person present at the hearing.  Alternatives may include opportunities for third party assistance in facilitating discussions or meetings, or a negotiated agreement reached with the assistance of the appropriate Dean.
  • It requires that investigations of reports of sex offenses be conducted by OPHD. 
  • It requires that any hearing officer in a student misconduct case involving a sex offense have appropriate training in issues specific to sex offenses.
  • It identifies campus resources for both students who wish to report a sex offense and for students who have been accused of a sex offense.

You may find the UC San Diego Sex Offense Policy and Procedures here.

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, in educational institutions that are recipients of federal funds. Title IX states: “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.” The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidelines outlining schools’ responsibilities for preventing sexual harassment and for resolving complaints when they arise. The OCR Sexual Harassment Guidance is available at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/sexhar00.html. OCR has also issued guidance regarding how Title IX affects University athletics programs, which is available at OCR’s website:  http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html


Threats, other forms of intimidation, and retaliation against anyone for reporting harassment or discrimination or for assisting another in bringing a complaint are prohibited. Retaliation is a violation of the law and UC San Diego policy, and it is a serious offense. UCSD takes measures to protect those who complain of or witness incidents of harassment or discrimination.

First Amendment

As community members of a public university, faculty, staff, and students at UC San Diego enjoy significant free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. The University encourages free inquiry and the collective search for knowledge. Freedom of speech and academic freedom are not limitless and certain types of speech or conduct are not protected by the First Amendment. For more information regarding the First Amendment, please visit UC San Diego's Freedom of Expression website.

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