Bullying and harassment of any kind will not be tolerated at the School. Bullying and harassment are contrary to the Equality Act 2010 and the University Respect@SOAS Policy.
Bullying and harassment are not necessarily confined to the behaviour of senior staff towards more junior staff, or indeed staff towards students; it can take place between persons at the same level or involve staff or students behaving inappropriately towards more senior members of the School.
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, which may include an abuse or misuse of power, through means that threaten, undermine, humiliate, denigrate, take advantage of, or injure the recipient. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.
Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. Non-verbal conduct includes postings on social media outlets. Bullying may include, by way of example:
- shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others
- physical or psychological threats
- overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision
- inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about someone's performance
- abuse of authority or power by those in positions of seniority
- deliberately excluding someone from meetings or communications without good reason.
Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions given to staff in the course of their employment, will not amount to bullying on their own.
Harassment is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment which relates to one of their protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation. At the SOAS we believe harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories. Find out more about sexual harassment.
Some forms of harassment are considered a Hate Crime. A hate incident or crime is any act of violence or hostility against a person or property that is motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person due to a particular protected characteristic. Find out more on hate crime.
Harassment may include, for example:
- unwanted physical conduct or ‘horseplay’, including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, brushing past someone, invading their personal space and more serious forms of physical or sexual assault
- offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks
- mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability
- racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender
- outing or threatening to out someone as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans
- ignoring or shunning someone, for example, by deliberately excluding them from a conversation or a social activity.
A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended "target". For example, a person may be harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if they create an offensive environment.
Find out more
- Equality and Human Rights Commision (EHRC) provide further information on unlawful harassment