• Report
  • Higher Ed

Lessons From Claims: Higher Ed Employee-on-Student Sexual Harassment and Assault

Hillary Pettegrew, Esq.
March 2023

Why Read This

Although sexual misconduct between students continues to receive most of the attention from the government, public, and media, another critical risk area for higher education institutions is preventing and, when necessary, responding to and remedying the sexual harassment and assault of students by employees. This report describes United Educators’ (UE’s) review of higher education claims involving alleged sexual misconduct against students by employees and provides recommendations to help institutions address these incidents.

Key Takeaways

  • Of the employee-on-student higher education sexual misconduct claims UE received from 2015-21, almost 60% involved allegations against employees in a teaching role, including permanent and adjunct faculty.
  • Serial perpetrators — employees alleged to have committed sexual harassment or assault against multiple students — were a serious problem, accounting for a quarter of claims reviewed.
  • Institutions should be vigilant about training adjunct faculty on sexual misconduct prevention requirements and in conducting regular performance reviews for them, as our review suggests many adjuncts receive neither.

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