Sexual Harassment and Assault

What is

 In Emergency: Call RUPD at 713-348-6000 NOW if you or someone you know has just been sexually assaulted, or had their safety compromised by threat of harassment or assault. RUPD is here to protect and ensure your safety.  

Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that attempts to threaten, force, or otherwise compel you to do something without your consent, causing you to feel uncomfortable and unsafe in your daily environment.  Types of sexual harassment may be verbal, visual, or physical. Some common sexual harassment behaviors include:

  • Comments about clothing or your body
  • Requesting sexual favors
  • Sexual innuendos
  • Telling rumors about a person’s personal/sexual life
  • Inappropriately touching someone (i.e., kissing, hugging, stroking, etc.)
  • Stalking
  • Posters, drawings, or pictures of a sexual nature
  • Threatening you

Sexual Assault is a very serious form of sexual harassment. It’s defined as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that threatens, coerces, or forces sexual contact without your consent. Types of sexual assault include rape, vaginal, oral, or anal penetration, touching, intercourse, and oral sexual stimulation.  

Any type of unwanted sexual misconduct is NOT okay and should NEVER be tolerated. It’s against the law and is considered a federal CRIME. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way, it doesn’t matter how popular or powerful that person is, or how well you know them, SPEAK UP. We’re here to help you.

Everyone deserves to learn and live in a safe environment. 

Reduce Your Risk

Around Campus:   

  • Be aware of your surroundings – know where you are and locate possible “escape” routes just in case something goes wrong or you need to get somewhere fast.
  • Avoid isolated areas – Not only is it more difficult to get help when no one’s around, but you are more likely to be noticed and appear vulnerable if you’re in a deserted space. This includes stairways, basements, laundry rooms, and classrooms late at night. 
  • Walk with purpose – act like you know where you’re going, even if you don’t. The more confident you act, the stronger you look. 
  • Walk with a friend if you’re going somewhere late at night 
  • Trust your instincts – if something about a situation or place doesn’t feel right, then go with your gut, and leave. 
  • Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged 
  • Have the RUPD number saved on your phone – so you only have to press it to call for help. It’s 713-348-6000.
  • Know where the blue light emergency telephones are on campus – If you’re in distress, press the blue button at the nearest phone and help will be dispatched immediately. 
  • Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you still hear what’s going on, especially if you’re alone. 
  • Call RUPD for a night escort – If you’re on campus late at night, and feel unsafe going back to your dorm, RUPD will provide an officer to make sure you get back safely. 
  • Don’t jog or walk late at night
At your dorm:

  • Lock your door and windows when you go to sleep and when you’re away 
  • Know who’s outside your room before opening the door 
  • Watch your keys – don’t lend them or leave them unattended. If you’ve lost them, contact your college coordinator and get your door re-cored as soon as possible. 
At a party: 

  • Use the buddy system – go with a friend you trust so that you can watch out for each other, and don’t leave without the other person. Throughout the night, make sure your friend hasn’t had too much to drink, or is acting strangely, and vice versa. 
  • Don't leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, or using bathroom. Get another one if you do. 
  • Know your limits – and don’t go past them. You’re more likely to be careless, or wind up in a risky situation, the more your mental and physical abilities have been impaired by alcohol. 
  • Don't let yourself to be alone with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
  •  Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust
  • It’s okay to just say “no” - Know that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You don’t need an excuse to not do something you don’t feel comfortable with. 
  • Have a code word – come up with a code word, something that’s easy enough to slip into conversation so it’s not obvious, but not so common a word that it could easily be a false alarm. Come up with a plan for what happens if you or a friend uses the code word, so you can have a safe exit strategy for getting out of the situation. 
  • Come up with an excuse to leave – sometimes, it may be quicker, easier, and safer to lie in order to get out of an uncomfortable or unsafe situation. In that case, come up with an excuse that forces you and/or your friend to leave, and act on it – such as, a friend is sick, you have another event to go to, someone else needs to talk to you right now.  

Common Misconceptions

1) Myth: He/she was “asking for it.”
Fact: Seductive clothing and/or suggestive behavior does not mean someone’s “asking” for it. They’re not wearing or acting this way for you to seize upon your own interpretation of what they’re thinking. If the person didn’t explicitly consent to something, then it’s not okay to just “go for it” or try something beyond what the person said they’re okay with. For instance, intimate behavior – like making out – is not an automatic signal that he/she wants to go further. Ask first.

2) Myth: Guys don’t ever get sexually assaulted.
Fact: Guys can and do get sexually assaulted. Any man can be sexually assaulted regardless of size, strength, appearance or sexual orientation.

3) Myth: Sexual assault is my fault if I:
o don’t remember
o was drinking or doing drugs
o didn’t fight back
o have had sex with this person before
Fact: Sexual assault is never your fault.
Even if you engaged in one of the above or some other behavior that you think compromised your situation, or that you’re embarrassed to admit, sexual assault is inadmissible and incredibly traumatic. Although it’s common to feel ashamed or guilty, that doesn’t mean your thoughts are true. You are not responsible for the irresponsible, reprehensible, cowardly actions of someone who attempted to undermine your rights as an individual. No one should ever be put in that situation, and it’s not at all fair to assume what could or could not have happened.

4) Myth: It’s not rape if I know the person.
Fact: It can be rape regardless of whether you know the person or not.
In fact, the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the person. It can be a friend, an acquaintance, or even someone you’re intimate with.

5) Myth: Men can’t be assaulted by women.
Fact: Men can be sexually assaulted by women, although the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by males.

6) Myth: Sexual assault is always heteronormative (i.e., guy-girl or girl-guy)
Fact: Sexual assault can happen regardless of gender identity.
Heterosexual men can sexually assault other men, and women can assault other women. Either or both parties can be gay. Sometimes, someone who identifies as heterosexual commits a same-gender sexual assault. Thus, reasons for sexual assault are complex, and don’t necessarily have to do with “lust” or sexual feelings.

7) Myth: Rice is safe, so sexual assaults never happen here.
Fact: Although Rice strives to ensure your personal safety and wellbeing, it’s impossible to be 100% safe all the time.
Sexual assault can and does happen here. In fact, you may even be friends with/know a perpetrator or survivor of sexual assault without being aware of it. You can reduce your risk of sexual assault by being proactive about your safety and the safety of your friends. Remember, you deserve to live and learn in a safe environment, and Rice is here to protect your rights to do so.

If You've Just Been Sexually Assaulted

  • Get to a safe place NOW. – find a safe place away from the attacker, and immediately call someone for help.
  • Know that it’s not your fault.  
  • Call someone who can help you: - call RUPD, EMS, or someone you trust, like a friend, master, or RA, immediately
  • Don't shower, drink, eat or change your clothes – you could destroy physical evidence if you shift or move anything from the scene of the crime. If you’re still where the crime occurred, don’t clean, straighten, or take anything. Intact physical evidence may not only aid the investigation, but also help you if you decide to pursue legal action.
  • Get medical attention – even if you’re embarrassed, or don’t think you’ve sustained any physical injury, go to Health Services or the nearest hospital and get checked out. 
  •  Ask for testing if you suspect that you’ve been drugged or have possibly contracted an STD. It’s incredibly important that you do so, because you may have sustained an internal injury, or an STD, that could worsen if left untreated. Hospital staff are trained and accustomed to dealing with all kinds of infections and injuries, including those of the vagina, penis, or anus, and should treat you with the same professionalism as they do other patients.
  • Write down everything that you remember about the incident, with as much detail as you can provide, including what happened and what the perpetrator looked like. This can help you cope with the situation, may help investigators/law enforcement investigate the case, and may provide potential evidence for any legal action you decide to take. 

Potential Effects of Sexual Assault

Common Reactions after Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is traumatic, and can trigger a range of different emotional responses.

It’s normal to experience any of these emotions after a sexual assault:

  • Emotional Shock 
  • Disbelief – can’t believe that it happened, or that what happened is considered a “sexual assault”
  • Embarrassment – feeling like you can’t tell anyone for fear of being humiliated by what people may think
  • Shame – feeling dirty, like something’s wrong with you
  • Guilt – feeling like it’s your fault.
  • Depression  
  • Powerlessness:  
  • Disorientation – finding it difficult to concentrate, can’t remember things
  • Triggers – have flashbacks, feel like you see the perpetrator everywhere
  • Denial – don’t believe it was a rape
  • Fear – scared that you may be pregnant or have an STD, afraid to go outside, that you’re going crazy, having nightmares
  • Anxiety – panic attacks, jittery, nervousness
  • Anger – feeling like you want to have revenge on the person who did this to you
  • Physical Stress -  sleep, eating disruptions, back or headaches 

How Guys Can Help Prevent Sexual Assault

Though it goes both ways, men are more frequently accused of perpetrating sexual violence. On a college campus, the accessibility of drugs, alcohol, and a vibrant social scene can threaten to blur the lines when it comes to issues of sexual misconduct.
The way to prevent the possibility of perpetrating, or being accused of perpetrating sexual violence is to know, and always abide by, the definition of consent, to never make assumptions about the situation, and to intervene if you see someone else who’s threatened.

1) Always ask first.
Remember, consent is sexual permission, NOT the assumption of sexual permission. Silence or a failure to say no is not consent. If the person is physically or mentally incapable of giving consent, then the answer is always no. 

2) Don’t ever make assumptions:

Don’t assume that just because...  

  • You’re being/have been sexually intimate with that person
  • You’ve had sex before
  • You are friends with this person
  • You are dating this person
  • This person’s dressed or acting in a provocative manner
  • You bought this person dinner/drinks
  • She/he seemed really “into it”  

…That it’s okay to go farther. If there’s a situation that you’re unsure about, ask yourself: “Would I ever want to find myself in any way “unsure” of this situation if the possible ramifications for that uncertainty may include accusations of, and possible sanctions for, sexual misconduct?” If you have further questions or concerns, contact SJP.

3) Intervene if you see someone who’s threatened:
If you see someone who’s faced with the threat of sexual harassment or sexual violence, step in and intervene. Imagine if the person was someone you knew, like your friend, sister, or girlfriend/boyfriend: you wouldn’t just leave them in that situation, or just not do anything about it, would you?

However, remember to protect your safety. Do not try to intervene if doing so means endangering yourself. If the threat has escalated, call RUPD immediately. If the threat does not mean putting yourself in physical danger, then safely help the person get out of the situation. For more tips, check out the “Help a Friend” tips below.  

Help A Friend

 Here are some tips for ways you can intervene if you see something’s “off”:

  • Step in and offer to help. Note: Evaluate the risk. If stepping in means putting yourself in danger, call RUPD. If the risk hasn’t gotten to that point, interrupt the situation by asking if everything’s okay, or if you can help. By doing so, you’re insinuating that a) the situation looks suspicious, and something needs to change, b) you’ve noticed what’s going on and are watching.
  • Come up with an excuse to get the person away from the threat. If lying is a quicker, safer, easier way to get the person out of the situation, come up with something that compels both of you to leave, like saying you have to go to another event, or someone’s sick and needs attending to.
  • Don’t leave – the perpetrator is less likely to do anything if he/she knows there are people watching the situation.
  • Get your friends to join – have them help you out so that you’re not the only person in the room trying to prevent something bad from happening.
  • Call RUPD – if there’s an immediate threat, or the situation escalates, call RUPD. 

Coping with Sexual Assault

If you’re a survivor:
Healing from a traumatic incident is a process, and takes time. Be attentive to your own needs and realize that there is no timeline for your coping process. Here are some tips for ways to take care of yourself after surviving a sexual assault:  

  • Surround yourself with people you trust to support you - find people with whom you feel safe and who can support you throughout the healing process. Consider including not only friends and family, but also counselors, as well as other important members of your college experience – such as a master or RA – as people you can turn to when you need them. 
  • Choose how you approach talking about what happened - when, where and with whom you choose to share details of your sexual assault is up to you, and while for some people it may be helpful, others may want to avoid talking about it for some time. 
  • Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, massage, music, etc. 
  • Exercise – find a form of exercise that you enjoy, and stick to it, such as running, walking, bicycling, yoga, pilates, team sports, etc. 
  • Try to maintain a balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible; avoid overusing stimulants like caffeine, sugar, and nicotine. 
  • Explore creative outlets - Discover your playfulness and creativity. These can be helpful parts of the healing process. Find time for play or take part in a creative activity like piano, painting, gardening, handicrafts, etc. 
  • Write or keep a journal to express your thoughts and feelings 
  • Give yourself time and space to heal – it’s going to take time for you to be 100%, again, and you can’t rush the process. Accepting and acknowledging that your healing pace and process is unique, and making sure you’re taking care of yourself, is key. 
  • Give yourself quiet time – time when you can take a break, or engage in a reflective or relaxing activity by yourself, somewhere you feel safe. 
If someone you know has been assaulted:
  • Listen – listen attentively, and try to avoid judgmental responses. 
  • Be there for them – Being available to talk, hang out with, or share the same space with them may help them feel safe, especially right after the assault. Be willing to accompany them if they need to seek additional medical assistance or report the assault. 
  • Don’t judge – judging your friend’s situation only exacerbates the pain and potential feelings of doubt and denial about the assault, impeding the healing process. Accepting and believing what they say is crucial to supporting them in the aftermath. Remember that no matter what the circumstances, it wasn’t their fault. 
  • Be patient – it will take your friend time to cope with the trauma and fallout from the crime. 
  • Offer other support resources – such as medical, legal, and counseling options. You can suggest things, but be careful not to impose your opinion of what they “should” do, even if you disagree with their decision. It’s important that your friend feels like he/she has control and respect over how they decide to proceed. 
  • Encourage them to report it to SJP or RUPD - They’re here to protect and help students through precisely these kinds of traumatic incidents. They want to help, and they will work to ensure confidentiality, safety, and justice during and after the process. 
  • In addition, sexual assault is a crime, one that threatens the wellbeing of not only your friend, but anyone else who crosses the path of the perpetrator. Tell your friend that reporting his/her case may prevent this from happening to someone else. 
  • Take care of yourself – if dealing with your friend’s sexual assault has made it difficult for you to cope with the demands of your own life, then you need to back off and seek support for your own wellbeing. If you’re not well, then you can’t help your friend get better.     

Report a Sexual Assault

Pursuing Action:
If you are a victim of harassment or sexual violence you can pursue university action. Filing a report with RUPD and SJP is a step you can take to get support from the university, provide yourself with as many options as possible and work to care for yourself. RUPD and SJP will work to ensure the safety of other community members.

You should also know that under Rice’s investigative processes:
1. There will be a reliable, impartial investigation of any complaint
2. Prompt action will be taken, with specific timeframes
3. Each party will have equal opportunity to present witnesses and evidence
4. Steps will be taken to protect a complainant while an investigation is occurring
5. A complainant will receive written notice of the outcome of the complaint
6. Each party will have an opportunity to appeal the outcome
7. A student can pursue a criminal complaint even while an internal Rice complaint is pursued.

Emergency Resources:

RUPD – 713-348-6000
REMS – 713-348-6000

RUPD and REMS are campus resources that will provide students immediate medical assistance. Students should make sure they talk to one of the trained RUPD responders because RUPD offers Rice students immediate and professional assistance.
Talking to RUPD right away means that a confidential report is created but the student is not committing to pressing charges through Harris County or perusing internal action through the university. Students can make this decision as they go through the process, and SJP and RUPD help with that. If you have concerns, you should contact RUPD (Rice University Police) or SJP (Student Judicial Programs).

Judicial Resources:

Student Judicial Programs - Student Judicial Programs offers the student options and resources throughout their process that no other Rice official or office can provide. RUPD works closely with Student Judicial Programs to offer the student confidential support from the university

Other Support Resources:
For other sources of support, don’t hesitate to contact the Counseling Center, your Masters, RAs, HRFs or other college personnel, or the Women’s Resource Center. Even if you don’t plan on pressing charges, make sure you are informed about all the courses of action you can take by contacting RUPD and SJP. 


Located at Entrance 8
713-348-6000 (24 hrs)
The Rice University Police Department is here to provide a safe and secure environment for the Rice community. If you feel that you or a friend is in immediate danger, or have experienced or witnessed a violation of the law, call 713-348-6000 NOW.

Located at Entrance 8
713-348-6000 (24 hrs)
Rice University Emergency Medical Services (REMS) strives to provide the Rice Community with quality emergency medical care through rapid response to calls for emergency service, standby coverage at special events, education of the Rice community, and a commitment to compassionate patient care, quality improvement, and professionalism. If you or a friend is experiencing an urgent health issue or crisis, call x6000 NOW.

Student Judiciary Programs
Located in the Ley Student Center in the RMC
SJP enforces and articulates the codes of conduct and policies that govern the university at a campus-wide level. In the cases of policy violations or misconduct, SJP strives to ensure safety, confidentiality, and justice for the parties involved.

Rice Counseling Center
Located in two different places, at 1) 1)The Morton L. Rich Health Service Center( Located next to the Brown Masters House). 2)  First floor of the Barbara & David Gibbs Recreation & Wellness Center.
713-348-4867 (24 hr)
Professional psychologists provide consultation and therapy support.

The Wellness Center
Located at the Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center building across from the Jones Graduate School of Business.
The Wellness Center promotes the health and wellbeing of Rice students by providing programs, services, and resources geared toward empowering a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle. You may also schedule an appointment to talk with a health educator who can help you and provide you with resources for change.


 “Sexual Assault Statistics.” 

“Help a Loved one.”

"Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Sexual Assault.” 

 “Sexual Assault Fact Sheet.” 

“Facts about Sexual Harassment.”