The Illinois Human Rights Act (“Act”) prohibits unwelcome advances or conduct of a sexual nature, and requests for sexual favors of students by an executive, faculty member, administrative staff member, or teaching assistant in an institution of higher education when such behavior interferes with the student’s performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. Institutions of higher education include public or private universities, colleges, community colleges, junior colleges, business schools, and vocational schools. The Act prohibits retaliation against a student for opposing sexual harassment in higher education or for participating in an investigation (internal or external) of sexual harassment in higher education or for filing a charge. “Sexual harassment in higher education” is defined in Section 5A-101(E) of the Act.
Following are examples of sexual harassment in higher education: 1) a professor who continually makes jokes of a sexual nature in the classroom; 2) a registration advisor who tells a student the student might be able to get into a class if the student dates the advisor; 3) an admissions advisor who tells a prospective student that the advisor will put in a “good word” for the prospective student if the student dates the advisor; and 4) a financial assistance advisor who tells a student that “if you have sex with me, I can look out for scholarships for you”. Any student who believes he or she is being subjected to sexual harassment, including sexual advances, should call 312-814-6200 or 217-785-5100.
The student may also contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights for further information or to file a charge. Charges must be filed within 180 days of alleged sexual harassment. The charge and complaint process is described in more detail at http://www.state.il.us/dhr/Forms/CIS-SXH.htm and http://www.state.il.us/dhr/charges/charge_1.htm.