I've experienced harassment, bullying or discrimination

What you can do

This guidance applies to all students and staff of the School who are concerned that they, or a friend or associate of theirs, has or is being harassed or bullied by another individual or group of individuals

LSE is committed to providing a positive, inclusive, diverse and safe community for all of its members. The School will not tolerate harassment, bullying or discrimination and neither should you.

This guidance applies to all students or staff at LSE who are concerned that they, or a friend or associate of theirs, has or is being harassed by, bullied by or discriminated against by another individual or group of individuals.

Harassment and Bullying: What are they?

Harassment is an unwelcome behaviour which violates an individual’s dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.  Harassment may be physical, written, verbal, non-verbal, online or via social media.  It can be intentional or unintentional. 

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.

Harassment and bullying might be a series of different behaviours, repeated forms of the same unwanted behaviour or a one-off incident. 

The following list gives examples of behaviour that may also constitute harassment or bullying:

  • Offensive or inappropriate comments, body language, jokes, innuendos or gestures
  • Openly hostile, insulting, abusive or embarrassing comments or criticism
  • Persistently demeaning, ridiculing, excluding or isolating someone
  • Threats to disclose, or disclosing, private or personal information, including photographs
  • Comments, notes, publications or posts on social media that are derisory, disparaging, abusive, offensive or intimidating
  • Deliberately addressing or referring to someone using a pronoun (for example, he or she) with which an individual does not identify
  • Deliberately referring to a person who's transgender by the name they used before they transitioned.

Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Sexually explicit remarks, innuendos or banter
  • Sexual insults, jokes, teasing or songs
  • Wolf whistling, cat calling or making other offensive sexual noises
  • Offensive comments about someone’s dress, appearance or private life, including their sexuality or gender identity
  • Unwanted or inappropriate physical contact including touching, pinching, groping or smacking
  • Unwanted requests to engage in or discuss sexual activity
  • Lifting or removing clothing without consent
  • Display or distribution of sexually explicit material
  • Stalking.

You can find more information about the School’s definition of harassment and bullying in LSE's Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Policy.

Discrimination: What is it?

Discrimination takes place when an individual or a group of people are treated less favourably than others based on single or multiple protected characteristics. 

The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity (including people who are breastfeeding)
  • Race (including colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin)
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex or sexual orientation
  • Marriage and civil partnership (direct discrimination only)

Someone may experience different types of discrimination:

Direct discrimination - including by association or by perception

  • Direct discrimination occurs where an individual is treated less favourably because of one of the protected characteristic(s). Direct discrimination also can be by association, or by perception.
  • Discrimination by association (other than pregnancy and maternity) refers to a situation where an individual is discriminated against because of the protected characteristic of another individual(s), with whom they are associated.
  • Discrimination by perception (other than pregnancy and maternity) is discrimination against an individual because he or she is wrongly perceived to have a certain protected characteristic

Refer to LSE's Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Policy for further information on discrimination in relation to pregnancy and maternity.

Indirect discrimination

  • Indirect discrimination occurs where an individual is disadvantaged by an unjustified provision, criterion or practice that puts an individual with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage compared with others who do not share that characteristic.

    An example of a provision, criterion or practice could be a policy, or process.

Discrimination arising out of a disability

  • Discrimination arising out of a disability which occurs when a disabled individual is treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability and there is no justification for this treatment.

Refer to LSE's Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Policy for further information.

What to do

If you feel you are being harassed, bullied, or discriminated against - or if you think you have observed such behaviour taking place - you have a number of options. These range from reporting serious incidents such as rape, sexual assault or physical assault to the police, to talking to the individual yourself.

If you do not want to name an individual about whom you have concerns, the options for addressing the situation will be limited. However, the School will still be able to provide you with personal support and to advise on what options are available.

We recommend that you make a note of any incidents, including dates and times. Taking photos or screenshots of offensive written or visual materials can also be helpful.

The sooner the unwelcome behaviour is raised, the less chance there is that it will become habitual or will escalate.

The School will normally resolve allegations of harassment, bullying or discrimination under its Disciplinary Procedure for Students or its additional Anti-Harassment Procedure to deal with allegations of harassment by a student against a member of staff.

For staff, allegations will be resolved under LSE's discrimination, harassment, bullying and sexual violence policies. All procedures make provision for a case to be resolved either informally or formally. The approach will depend on various issues as your wishes as a complainant and the circumstances in question.

LSE and the Students’ Union have members of staff who can help you decide what to do, advise you on what would happen next and explain how you can be supported. Learn more about the various support options for students and support for staff

Informal Approaches and Outcomes

You might feel confident enough to tell the offender that their behaviour is not acceptable to you. Sometimes this will prompt them to think about their actions and change their behaviour. 

This approach will not always be appropriate because it can be difficult to confront someone, particularly if they are in a position of authority or are socially dominant. Students may want to seek an informal resolution under the School’s Disciplinary Procedure for Students. The Deputy Head of Student Services (Advice and Policy), or another appropriate nominee, can act on your behalf to find a mutually agreed outcome. If the incident is very serious, you or (s)he may decide to refer the case to the formal stage and / or notify the police.

Taking the informal approach first does not rule out using the formal procedure at a later date if informal agreement cannot be reached or if the terms of an agreement have not been followed.

Outcomes will vary from case to case, but here are some examples of actions which have been agreed to:

  • Apologising and showing a genuine insight into why the behaviour was not acceptable to the complainant
  • Making no further contact with the complainant, either in person, in writing or via mobile communications / social media
  • Moving out from shared accommodation, whether that is a hall of residence or private accommodation
  • Attending training or guidance sessions (possibly including counselling) to reflect on and gain a better understanding of the effect their behaviour had on others
  • Staying away from specified on- or off-campus communal/social spaces for a specified period of time.

Making a formal complaint

Taking the formal route may be more appropriate in serious cases or when attempts at informal resolution have failed.  The School has slightly different procedures for managing complaints against students and staff, but we can advise you on which to use and how to make your complaint. Formal complaints against a student are investigated by a member of staff who has not had prior involvement in the case or in any other case that involved the same individuals. 

A similar arrangement applies to an allegation against a member of staff, though a small team consisting of a Students’ Union member and two members of staff (one of whom may be a trade union member) will conduct an investigation.

Staff can instigate a formal complaint under the Grievance Policy and Procedure for Academic Support Staff, or by making a complaint in writing to Human Resources.

As with informal resolutions, outcomes will vary. They may range from the types of agreement more usually made at the informal stage to warnings placed on record to suspension, expulsion or staff disciplinary action.

Serious incidents: rape, sexual assault or physical assault

If you are assaulted on School premises, you are advised to:

  • Report the incident to a member of Security or, if the assault took place in a hall of residence, the hall Warden or their nominee
  • Report the incident to the police
  • Notify one of our LSE Contacts (below) who can help you get personal support.

There is no rule about how soon after an incident you should report a crime to the police.  However, an investigation will usually benefit from a report soon after the event. The police have specialist staff to look after victims of serious crime and there are a number of organisations, such as Rape Crisis and Survivors UK which can also support you.

Who to contact

Report it. Stop it.

Harassment, bullying and discrimination should not be tolerated. LSE’s inclusive working and social environment is all of our responsibility and it’s vital we encourage, support and behave appropriately to one another. 

You can report an incident online. The report will be confidential and followed up fairly by an independent team.

Alternatively, you can report it in person.

Harassment, bullying and discrimination: other LSE Contacts

You are encouraged to approach one of the following members of School staff if you have any concerns about harassment and bullying:

Harassment, bullying and discrimination: LSESU Contacts

The Students’ Union has Sabbatical Officers, Part-Time Officers and an Advice Team who will listen to you, represent your views on these issues and liaise with the School to tackle inappropriate behaviour.

External Contacts

The Harrassment Management Group

This Harassment Management Group has been created to deal with any instances of high-risk student / staff harassment cases that may be made by students, staff, the wider LSE community against another student / member of staff anywhere in the School. 

 The Group will assess the risks arising from such cases and consider what immediate and long-term action may be necessary.

 Anyone unsure whether their harassment case should be referred further, may seek confidential advice from the Group. 

 You may contact the following through email: 

Meet the EDI team

The whirling staircase in LSE Library

The Student Services Centre (SSC)

Two people talking in the Students Services Centre