Brown University Policies and Information Regarding Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Assault

Questions, Comments, and Assistance

Brown University (“Brown” or “University”) is committed to creating and maintaining an educational, research, working, and living environment free from all forms of unlawful harassment and sexual misconduct.  The University has created policies and procedures that describe the community standards of conduct as well as the procedures for grievances and complaints alleging violations of its discrimination and harassment policies.

In addition to University policy, Federal and State sponsors of Brown’s research have notification and reporting requirements related to sexual harassment, harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination.  Many of these sponsors have recently issued rules and guidance regarding these requirements and the importance of adhering to them. 

Federal Agency Specific Guidance

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF Requirements

Effective January 30, 2023, the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) is updated to incorporate Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research language (Chapter II.E.9) which describes the new requirement for the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) to certify that an organization has a plan in place for safe and inclusive research for any proposal that proposes to conduct off-campus or off-site research. This section also provides considerations for plan development, communication, and dissemination. 

From the 2023 PAPPG: "NSF’s policy recognizes that a community effort is essential to eliminate sexual and other forms of harassment in science and to build inclusive scientific climates where people can learn, grow, and thrive. Accordingly, for each proposal that proposes to conduct research off-campus or off site, the AOR must complete a certification that the organization has a plan in place for that proposal that describes how the following types of behavior will be addressed: 

a. Abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form; or  b. Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly."
Further information for Brown applicants to NSF can be found here.

On September 21, 2018, NSF published in the Federal Register a Final Notice of a new award “term and condition regarding sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and sexual assault.”   That term and condition requires the University to notify NSF promptly of findings or determinations of “sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault” concerning an NSF-funded principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI, as well as of any interim administrative actions imposed by the University (e.g., administrative leave or curtailment of certain University duties) relating to any finding, determination, or investigation of an alleged violation by a PI or Co-PI of the University’s policies relating to harassment and assault.  

The term and condition is effective for NSF awards and amendments made on or after October 22, 2018. 

Brown has established procedures that comply with these requirements.  Please contact OSP with questions or for more information.

NSF-Sponsored Conferences

NSF’s Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (effective February 25, 2019) sets forth a requirement that conference proposers have “a policy or code-of-conduct that addresses sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and sexual assault, and that includes clear and accessible means of reporting violations of the policy or code-of-conduct.”  Notably, “[t]his policy or code-of-conduct must be disseminated to conference participants prior to attendance at the conference and made available at the conference itself.” 

For more information on applicable Brown policies and how Brown can assist researchers with complying with NSF conference requirements, please contact OSP.

NSF Agency Information

NSF Notification Requirements Regarding Findings of Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment or Sexual Assault - Final Notice (Sept. 21, 2018)

Important Notice No. 144: Harassment (Feb. 8, 2018)

NSF, Office of the Director, Sexual Harassment

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National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIH Requirements

NIH requires that grantees have “policies and practices in place that foster a harassment-free environment.”  With respect to this rule, NIH has stated the following:

NIH expects that grantee institutions:

  • develop and implement policies and practices that foster a harassment-free environment;
  • maintain clear, unambiguous professional codes of conduct;
  • ensure employees are fully aware and regularly reminded of applicable laws, regulations, policies, and codes of conduct;
  • provide an accessible, effective, and easy process to report sexual harassment, and provide protection from retaliation;
  • respond promptly to allegations to ensure the immediate safety for all involved, investigate the allegations, and take appropriate sanctions; and
  • inform NIH of administrative actions that removes senior/key personnel on an NIH award.”

Brown has established policies and procedures that meet and provide mechanisms for researchers to comply with these expectations.  Please contact OSP for more information.

NIH Training Grant Applications

In addition to these expectations, NIH has established parameters relating to harassment that are specific to certain types of grants.  For Institutional Training (T) Applications (T15, T32, T34, T35, T36, T37, T90/R90, TL1, TL4), NIH requires as follows:

“As part of the Letters of Support on the PHS 398 Research Training Program Plan form, applications currently include a description of the applicant institution’s commitment to the planned program in order to ensure its success . . . .  In the same letter, applicants should include a description of the institutional commitment to the following areas: 

(i) ensuring that proper policies, procedures, and oversight are in place to prevent discriminatory harassment and other discriminatory practices; 

(ii) responding appropriately to allegations of discriminatory practices, including any required notifications to OCR . . .; and

(iii) adopting and following institutional procedure for requesting NIH prior approval of a change in the status of the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) or other senior/key personnel if administrative or disciplinary action is taken that impacts the ability of the PD/PI or other key personnel to continue his/her role on the NIH award described in the training grant application . . . .

The signed letter should be on institutional letterhead from a President, Provost, Dean, or other key institutional leader with institution-wide responsibilities.”

Brown has made the required institutional commitments.  Please contact OSP or Biomed Research Administration (BMRA) for more information or for assistance with or questions regarding Letters of Support.

NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (R13/ U13)

Effective April 12, 2022 applicants for NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings (R13/U13)  must include a plan to Promote Safe Environments (hereinafter referred to as a “safety plan”) as part of Just-In-Time materials should the application be recommended for funding.  “Consistent with NIH Grants Policy Statement (Section 4.1.2 Civil Rights Protections) and Federal civil rights laws, it is expected that organizers of NIH-supported conferences and scientific meetings take steps to maintain a safe and respectful environment for all attendees by providing an environment free from discrimination and harassment.”  (NOT-OD-22-074.html)

At a minimum, “safety plans” are required to include the following elements:

  • Statement of commitment to provide a safe environment

  • Expectations of behavior

    • Including list of behaviors considered harassing (specific emphasis on harassment, sexual, racial, ethnic, or otherwise)

  • Instructions on how to confidentially report alleged violations of the expectations of behavior to conference organizers

  • Description of how the organizers will assess allegations and the consequences for those who are found to violate the expectations of behavior

  • Information explaining that individuals who have questions, concerns or complaints related to harassment are also encouraged to contact the conference organizer or the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

  • Information about how to file a complaint with HHS OCR (see OCR’s webpage, Filing a Civil Rights Complaint).

  • Information explaining that filing a complaint with the conference organizer is not required before filing a complaint of discrimination with HHS OCR, and that seeking assistance from the conference organizer in no way prohibits filing complaints with HHS OCR.

  • Information explaining how individuals can notify NIH about concerns of harassment, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and other forms of inappropriate conduct1 at NIH-supported conferences (see NIH’s Find Help webpage).

Along with the safety plan to be shared with attendees, R13/U13 applicants recommended for funding must also provide to NIH as part of Just-in-Time materials:

  • describe the strategy that will be used to communicate the Safety Plan to conference attendees and a plan to document allegations and resulting actions.

  • provide information on the steps the organizers will take to ensure a safe and respectful environment for all attendees, free from discrimination and harassment

Brown has made the required institutional commitments.  Please contact OSP or BMRA with questions about this requirement or assistance with NIH conference grant applications.

1 “Inappropriate conduct” is defined at #7 here.  

NIH Agency Information 

Congress Strengthens NIH's Ability to Address Harassment in NIH-Funded Activities (May 10, 2022)

Updated Requirements for NIH Notification of Removal or Disciplinary Action Involving Program Directors/Principal Investigators or other Senior/Key Personnel found (NOT-OD-22-129)  (May 10,2022)

From the NIH Director (May 10, 2022)

All About Grants Podcast on NIH Anti Sexual Harassment Policies Dr. Jodi Black (August 8, 2019)

How to Notify NIH about a Concern that Sexual Harassment is Affecting an NIH-Funded Activity at a Grantee Institution (June 14, 2019)

Update on NIH’s efforts to address sexual harassment in science (Feb. 28, 2019)

NIH Director's statement on changing the culture of science to end sexual harassment (Sept. 17, 2018)

NIH Anti-Sexual Harassment Statement, including links to regulations, policy, and FAQs

Anti-Sexual Harassment: for NIH Awardee Organizations and Those Who Work There

Supporting a Safe and Respectful Workplace at Institutions that Receive NIH Funding

Updated Guidelines for Enhancing Diversity and Creating Safe Environments in Conferences Supported by NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (January, 2021)

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

In January 2016, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden published a letter to grantee institutions running NASA-funded programs regarding harassment policies, which stated as follows:

As a leader in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), NASA endeavors to make our collaborations with our grant recipient institutions as productive and successful as possible in all facets of our shared objectives. This means that we seek not only the most innovative and cutting-edge scientific and technological research from our grant recipients, we also expect strong efforts to create and sustain welcoming and inclusive educational environments. We view such efforts not as “something nice to do” if the time can be spared, or something that human resources or the diversity and equity offices are responsible for, but rather as an integral and indeed necessary aspect of all educational program environments. 

Let me be perfectly clear: NASA does not tolerate sexual harassment, and nor should any organization seriously committed to workplace equality, diversity and inclusion. Science is for everyone and any behavior that demeans or discourages people from fully participating is unacceptable.”

NASA Proposed Requirements

NASA published Final Notice of a NASA term and condition regarding sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and sexual assault on March 10, 2020 which states in part:

“As a U.S. funding Agency of scientific research and development, and the primary funding Agency for aeronautics and space research and technology, NASA is committed to promoting safe, productive research and education environments for current and future scientists and engineers.”

The award term and condition requires recipient organizations (Brown University) to report to NASA any findings/determinations of sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault regarding a NASA funded PI or Co-I. The term and condition also requires the recipient to report to NASA if the PI or Co-I is placed on administrative leave or if the recipient has imposed any administrative action on the PI or Co-I, or any determination or an investigation of an alleged violation of the recipient's policies or codes of conduct, statutes, regulations, or executive orders relating to sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, or sexual assault. Finally, the term and condition specifies the procedures that will be followed by NASA upon receipt of a report.

NASA Agency Information

NASA Administrator communicates harassment policies to grantees (Jan 15, 2016)

Compliance Requirements for NASA Grantees

NASA Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity_ Mission STEM

Harassment and Discrimination Reporting for NASA Employees, Contractors and Grantee Beneficiaries

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Brown University Policies and Information Regarding Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Assault

The below resources contain information on University policies and guidance regarding sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault.  This information will assist researchers in complying with agency-specific requirements and regulations.  In addition to adhering to the requirements in sponsored awards, all members of the University community must review, understand, and comply with these policies and procedures.

Code of Conduct (applies to corporation members, faculty, undergraduates, graduate and medical students, staff, volunteers and visiting scholars) 

Code of Student Conduct (applies to undergraduates, graduate, medical, school of professional studies students)

Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship and Interpersonal Violence and Stalking Policy

Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy

Gender Discrimination and Sexual Violence (Title IX)

Incident Reporting - Any Brown community member – whether a student, faculty or staff member, campus visitor or guest – who has experienced or witnessed an incident of bias, discrimination, harassment or retaliation is encouraged to report it.

Questions, Comments, Assistance

If you have any questions about the information contained in this statement or your responsibilities with respect to University or federal agency requirements, or if you would like assistance with your NIH, NSF, NASA, or other federally funded grants, please contact the following offices:

For questions or comments regarding federal agency rules and regulations and for assistance with federally sponsored grants and projects:

Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP)
Phone: (401) 863-2777
E-Mail: [email protected]

For questions or comments regarding Brown’s anti-harassment policies and harassment reporting and disclosure requirements:

Office of Equity Compliance Reporting/ Division of Campus Life 
Email [email protected] or call 401-863-1800.

Office of Institutional Equity & Diversity (OIED)
Phone: (401) 863-2216
E-Mail: [email protected]

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Owner: Office of Sponsored Projects
Date: 9/5/19

Updated: 3/1/2024