Statement on Workplace Environment

The Duke University community is committed to the robust exchange of diverse perspectives, and acceptance of persons from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Duke expressly prohibits discrimination in its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sex, genetic information, or age. Harassment on any demographic basis is a form of prohibited discrimination.

In the Department of Sociology, we affirm these values of the university. We are committed to fostering free, open, and critical academic inquiry in an environment that is welcoming, respectful, and supportive of all of its members. This includes undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, visitors, staff, and faculty. We expect everyone in our community to act professionally, and to contribute to and maintain an inclusive and welcoming environment in which all are treated with courtesy, respect, and dignity. We also reject complicity that knowingly promotes, encourages, or protects discrimination or unprofessional behavior on the part of others.

No one in our sociology community is above accountability. We recognize the reality of an academic hierarchy reflected in formal and informal power structures. We understand that inequality of perceived or real power can inhibit individuals from airing grievances, concerns, or suggestions in response to actions that undermine a positive workplace environment. Mindful of this, we provide different mechanisms for voicing concerns within the department and call attention to channels outside the department. We take seriously the use of these mechanisms and will not tolerate retaliation against those who make good-faith use of them.

I. Within the department

Who to contact for help?

We encourage those with grievances, concerns, or suggestions to communicate with a trusted mentor or faculty member or with any of the officers or staff of the department noted below.

These departmental liaisons will read or listen to reports and have the responsibility to respond, when possible. While reports to the departmental liaisons may be anonymous, there may be instances in which the reported information cannot be held in confidence, as detailed in the next section.

Confidentiality and mandatory reporting

All of the individuals noted above will strive to respect confidentiality to the greatest degree possible, within the bounds set by university policy and law and the need to address concerns adequately. We must be clear, however, that reports about some sorts of actions require these individuals to report outside the department, providing names and report details, even if confidentiality is requested. In this context, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the policies in links below, including the definitions and examples that clarify the meaning of “harassment”. Timely reporting is essential; harassment by a student is actionable up to the time the accused student graduates; for reports against others, however, there is no time limit for filing a complaint.

A report of violations of the Duke University Student Sexual Misconduct Policy requires all university employees to notify the Duke University Office of Student Conduct. Note that graduate students who learn of violations of the policy while they are acting in a professional capacity, such as a teaching assistant, are not exempt from this reporting requirement. Read about the policy here:

In addition, the Duke University Policy on Consensual Relationships prohibits any relationships where there is a supervisory context:

However, there are professionals outside the department who are exempt from mandatory reporting requirements. Discussions with them about the sorts of actions described in the policies noted above can take place without the shared information being disclosed to others. These professionals are: Ada Gregory, University Ombudsperson for Students; Thomas B. Metzloff, University Ombudsperson for Faculty; staff in Student Health, the Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention (in the Women’s Center), and Counseling and Psychological Services; and clergy acting as such in their professional role at the university. Contact information for these professionals is provided in section II below.

What to expect from a report?

We will do our utmost to maintain the confidentiality and protect the interests of individuals reporting misconduct while pursuing a suitable response to that misconduct.

In cases of workplace conduct that is unprofessional but not discriminatory, departmental liaisons or other faculty or staff to whom misconduct has been communicated directly take action as appropriate in consultation with department officers. Department officers may also decide to consult with offices outside the department, such as Staff and Labor Relations (in Human Resources), in an effort to properly address concerns. Where reported misconduct involves more serious forms of violation, including discrimination, department officers report to the Office of Institutional Equity or Duke University Office of Student Conduct to cooperate on an appropriate response to a complaint.

The department will be informed in a timely manner, including through regular reports from its departmental liaisons, about actions taken in response to a complaint. If some time has elapsed without information about results, it is perfectly reasonable for a complainant to go through any of the channels listed above to inquire about progress.

II. Outside the department

Through its Office for Institutional Equity (, Duke University provides an avenue to address concerns. The OIE website is a useful place to begin. For example, the university nondiscrimination policy and grievance procedure appear on this site, as does a glossary of terms, and an elaboration of relevant university policy.

The Graduate School has also launched a new interactive guide to help Ph.D. and master’s students better understand the options, resources, and processes for addressing concerns of harassment, discrimination, and related problems.

Outside department channels, who to contact for help?