Harassment Policy

5 min. readlast update: 10.19.2023

International Students House condemns any form of harassment, and undertakes to ensure that all staff, residents and non-resident members, alumni and guests are aware of and abide by both its policy and the established procedures for dealing with such instances.

Creating a safe environment

All staff and residents at the House have a responsibility to ensure a safe and comfortable environment, where everyone is treated with equal respect and dignity.

Everyone is expected to contribute to preventing unacceptable behaviour, including harassment, bullying or sexual misconduct, through self-awareness, by modelling positive behaviours, and raising any safeguarding issues or concerns. 

Definition of Harassment

In the Equality Act 2010, harassment is behaviour which is unwanted, uninvited and unacceptable to the recipient. 

At International Students House we do not tolerate any form of harassment based, for example, age, disability, gender, marital status, parenthood or caring duties, nationality, race, religion or belief, language, accent, sex or sexual orientation. Harassment can include unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that creates threatening, hostile or intimidating environment. Harassment is defined by the impact on the recipient, not by the intention of the behaviour.

Harassing behaviour includes:

  •  Physical conduct ranging from touching to serious assault.
  •  Verbal and written harassment through jokes, racist remarks, offensive language, gossip and slander, threats, letters.
  •  Visual display of posters, graffiti, obscene gestures.
  •  Isolation or non-cooperation at work, bullying.
  •  Coercion, including pressure for sexual favours.
  •  Intrusion by pestering, spying, following, etc.
  •  Attacks or other comments posted via any form of internet or social media site.

Sexual misconduct

Sexual misconduct is a form of harassment and is unacceptable behaviour of a sexual nature. 

It can include: 

  • sexual harassment;
  • sexual violence;
  • intimate partner violence;
  • sexual assault,
  • grooming;
  • coercion or bullying with sexual elements;
  • sexual invitations and demands
  • inappropriate comments;
  • non-verbal communication;
  • creation of atmospheres of discomfort;
  • and promised resources or advancement in exchange for sexual access.


Following a person, watching or spying on them or forcing unwanted contact with someone through any means, including social media, texts or WhatsApp messages is stalking. 

This behaviour curtails a person's freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful.

In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent (if taken in isolation), but when carried out repeatedly, it may cause significant alarm, harassment or distress to the recipient. 


Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, consent is legally defined as 'agreeing by choice and having the freedom and capacity to make a choice'. 

This means that for consent to be present, someone has to:

  • have a choice
  • agree to that choice freely
  • be aware of and understand what they're to.

The person seeking consent should always take steps to ensure that consent is freely given, that is informed and should recognise that it can be withdrawn by either party at any time.

Freedom to consent

A person is free to make a choice if nothing negative would happen to them if they said no. 

For example, a person may not feel free to make a choice if:

  • they are being threatened with violence (by perpetrator and/or by someone else)
  • they are being threatened with humiliation;
  • they believe that the continuation or assessment of their studies, or progression or advancement of their career, will be at risk if they refused;
  • they are being blackmailed;
  • there is a significant power; imbalance and the party without power feels pressured to continue in the relationship against their will.

Capacity to consent

Capacity is about whether someone is physically or mentally able to make a choice and to understand the consequences of that choice.

For example, a person does not have the capacity to give consent if:

  • they are drunk or under the influence of drugs - this means someone may still be physically able to have sex but they are not able to give consent;
  • they are asleep or unconscious;
  • a person may also not have the capacity to give consent if they have, for example, a cognitive or learning difficulty, a disability which impairs their speech, or are experiencing a mental health crisis.

Reporting Harassment

If you experience or witness any form of harassment or sexual misconduct, please report it. 

You can report it to your Resident Advisor, the Duty Manager (dutymanagers@ish.org.uk or 02076318375) or the Dean of Student Life (s.bolton@ish.org.uk or 02076318366), or by using our online reporting tool. 

You may also choose to report anonymously. Note this might mean we are not able to help you directly or take formal action, but it can help us provide support to others and inform prevention work at the House.

Depending on the situation, you may also want to file a report at your place of study or with the Metropolitan Police.  

Duty Manager


or dial 2 from any ISH phone


Dr Sharon Bolton





or scan the QR code below.



All reports of harassment and sexual misconduct will be investigated and dealt with appropriately, within the context of International Students House's Disciplinary Procedures and with the provision of support to the resident(s) affected.

Most formal investigations would involve stating the behaviour that you witnessed or experienced in writing. The individual concerned would then be contacted by the Dean of Student Life and asked for an account of their perspective of the incident. This might lead to further investigation and perhaps a hearing.

A written determination will be issues when the investigation has concluded. There is usually a chance to appeal to a higher authority against the outcome of the investigation. 

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