Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy


About this policy

  1. St Catherine’s College (the College) is committed to providing an environment free from harassment and bullying, in which all staff and students are treated, and treat others, with respect and dignity.
  1. This policy covers harassment or bullying that occurs in the context of work or study at the College, whether or not on its premises. It covers bullying and harassment by members of staff, students and third parties, including:
  • As ‘members of staff’, any tutor, fellow, Director of Studies, College Advisor, Senior Common Room member, employee, or other person engaged by the College in any capacity or to whom the College offers any of the privileges or facilities normally available to its employees;
  • As ‘students’, any matriculated, visiting or associate student of any category; and
  • As ‘third parties’, any suppliers or visitors to the College, or members of the University.
  1. This policy does not form part of any person’s employment or student contract with the College and may be amended by the College at any time. It has been made by the Governing Body of the College as a Regulation under Clause 3 of College Statute I.

What are harassment and bullying?

  1. Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. It also includes treating someone less favourably because they have tolerated or refused to tolerate such behaviour in the past. It does not include the expression of ideas and opinions in the course of or contribution to genuine academic or intellectual debate and deliberation.
  1. Harassment may involve conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment) or be related to age, disability, gender reassignment, gender identity, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity/paternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, but is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories. A single incident can amount to harassment, as can a series of incidents over any period of time. A person may be harassed by conduct of which they were not immediately aware or to which they did not immediately object, or by conduct of which they were not the intended target (such as racist jokes about a different ethnic group that create an offensive environment). Harassment may also include the following conduct:
  • Unwanted physical conduct or ‘horseplay’, including touching, pinching, pushing and grabbing;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour (which the harasser may perceive as harmless);
  • Offensive e-mails, text messages or social media content;
  • Mocking, mimicking or belittling a person or something about them, such as their disability.
  1. Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated or threatened. Power may derive from a position of actual or perceived authority, or from the ability to coerce through fear or intimidation. It may take the form of physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct, and involve a single incident or a series of incidents over any period of time. A person may be bullied by conduct of which they were not immediately aware or to which they did not immediately object. Bullying may include the following conduct:
  • Physical or psychological threats;
  • Overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision;
  • Inappropriate derogatory remarks about a person’s performance or behaviour.
  1. Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of a person’s performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions given to a person in the course of their work or studies, will not amount to bullying on their own.

If you are being harassed or bullied

  1. If you are being harassed or bullied, you should consider whether you feel able to raise the problem informally with the person responsible. If you do, explain clearly to them that their behaviour is not welcome or makes you uncomfortable. If this is too difficult or embarrassing, or if you are unsure of how to proceed, you should speak to a College or University Harassment Advisor (details at, or alternatively:

all of whom will be able to provide you with confidential advice and assistance in resolving the matter and accessing any counselling or other support you may need. You may also wish to speak with your union representative (if you are a member for example of the University and College Union or of the Oxford Student Union).

  1. If you feel that informal steps of the type described in paragraph 8 are not appropriate, or have not been successful, you should raise the matter under the relevant College grievance procedure. For students this is contained in paragraph 1.3 of the Information and Regulations for Student Members; for members of non-academic staff it is contained in the Policy and Guidelines Relating to Raising a Grievance; and for members of academic staff it is contained in Part VI of the College Statutes and XII of the College By-Laws.
  1. The person responsible under these procedures for investigating your complaint will do so in a timely and confidential manner, with support from someone with appropriate experience where possible. Details of the investigation and the names of the person making the complaint and the person accused will only be disclosed on a ‘need to know’ basis. Consideration will be given to whether any steps are necessary to manage any ongoing relationship between you and the person accused during the investigation.
  1. Once the investigation is complete, you will be informed of the decision. If you are found to have been harassed or bullied by a member of staff or student of the College, the matter will be dealt with under the appropriate College procedure as a case of possible or serious misconduct. If the harasser or bully is a third party such as a supplier, visitor to the College or member of the University, the College will consider what action would be appropriate to deal with the problem. Whether or not your complaint is upheld, consideration will be given as to how best to manage any ongoing working or academic relationship between you and the person concerned.

Protection and support for those involved

  1. Any member of staff or student who makes a complaint or who participates in good faith in any investigation must not suffer any form of retaliation or victimisation as a result. Anyone found to have retaliated against or victimised someone in this way will be subject to action under the relevant disciplinary procedure.


  1. Information about a formal complaint by or about a member of staff or student may be placed on the person’s personnel or academic file, along with a record of the outcome and of any notes or other documents compiled during the process. These will be processed in accordance with the College’s Privacy and Data Protection Policies.

Approved by the Governing Body on 16 June 2021 and 1 December 2021



All staff and students are responsible for upholding this policy and should act in accordance with the policy guidance in the course of their day-to-day work or study, ensuring an environment in which the dignity of other staff, students, and visitors is respected. Offensive behaviour will not be tolerated.

Heads of department and their equivalents, those with significant supervisory duties, and others in positions of responsibility or seniority, including students who fall into these categories, have specific responsibilities. These include setting a good personal example, making it clear that harassment will not be tolerated, being familiar with, explaining, and offering guidance on this policy and the consequences of breaching it, investigating reports of harassment, taking corrective action if appropriate, and ensuring that victimisation does not occur as a result of a complaint. Instances of harassment should be brought to the attention of an appropriate person in authority, such as a head of department or a senior college officer.

Staff should also bring to the attention of their head of department any form of harassment or victimisation committed by third parties using College facilities (e.g. conference delegates, contractors, etc.).



St Catherine’s is committed to promoting awareness and understanding of this policy (and the accompanying guidance) amongst staff and students, and has therefore made this information available via its website.

This policy and the accompanying guidance, which should be read in conjunction with the College’s Equal Opportunity Policy and Race Equality Policy, will be the subject of regular review by the Governing Body in consultation with other appropriate committees, including the Equality Committee.