Discrimination Policies

Information for Teaching Assistants and Fellows

This document synopsizes four William and Mary policies that have application to teaching assistants and fellows. These policies protect you, and also prohibit certain conduct on your part.

I. Non-Discrimination Policy

II. Harassment Policy

III. Sexual Harassment Policy

IV. Consensual Amorous Relationship Policy

I. Non-Discrimination Policy

William and Mary does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex/gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, political belief, disability, veteran status, age, and all other categories protected by the Commonwealth or by federal law.

Students and employees at William and Mary are protected from unlawful discrimination by the College.

Teaching Assistants and Fellows at William and Mary ARE William and Mary for purposes of the prohibition against discrimination.  TAs and TFs thus may not discriminate against any of their students on the basis of any of the protected characteristics.

What does it mean to “discriminate”?  Disparate Treatment Discrimination: A person with decision-making authority takes the protected trait into account.


  • A professor bases an assignment or grade on an individual’s race.
  • A college administrator allows time off to attend services to members of one religion, but not to members of another.

Beware unconscious bias: be conscious of your own tendency, for example, to reach out more easily to people who share your gender, race, age, etc. Reach out to all students equally, even though it may be easier to interact with some than with others.

II. Harassment Policy

William and Mary forbids harassment. Harassment occurs when a person’s hostile words or actions create an abusive living, learning or work environment for another individual. If harassment is motivated by one of the traits protected under the Non-Discrimination Policy, then the harassment violates both the antiharassment policy and the antidiscrimination policy.

Hypothetical example of discriminatory harassment: During class, one group of students consistently uses derogatory language about the races of another group and openly exhibits ongoing hostility to the other group’s members. This renders classroom activities so pervasively hostile for the targeted group that they reasonably and legitimately are unable to focus on the class discussion.

As TA’s, you are affected by the Harassment prohibitions in three ways. The policy
  • Protects you from harassment
  • Prohibits you from harassing
  • Requires you to respond to serious student-on-student harassment
III. Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual harassment, like racial harassment, may consist of displays of hostile behavior because of the target’s sex or race, etc. In addition, though, sexual harassment may consist of unwelcome sexual advances or requests or other gender-motivated behaviors that interfere with the target’s activities at the College.

Hypothetical examples:

  • A student receives a poor grade for declining to accept a teaching assistant’s invitation to dinner.
  • Sexual innuendo renders a classroom discussion so pervasively hostile that a student reasonably and legitimately is unable to focus on the discussion.
To view the complete Sexual Harassment Policy, please see the Faculty Handbook, page 31 of 84, at http://www.wm.edu/about/administration/provost/index.php. The foregoing are just a few examples of the types of discriminatory behaviors that could interfere with a student's experiences at the College.
IV. Consensual Amorous Relationship Policy

Graduate and undergraduate TA's are prohibited from entering amorous relationships with any student in a class or lab in which the TA serves as an instructor or grader. If a TA has or has had an amorous relationship with an undergraduate or fellow graduate student who enrolls in a class or lab in which that TA is an instructor or grader, then it is the TA's responsibility to reveal that potential conflict of interest to the instructor of record.

When such potential conflicts become evident:

(1) if possible, the TA will be reassigned; but

(2) if there is no class or lab to which the TA can be reassigned, then s/he may lose her/his assistantship or be assigned to non-teaching responsibilities.

Requests for exceptions to this policy should be submitted to your dean or the Office of Equal Opportunity.

For more information or questions regarding the above policies, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity at:

Office of Equal Opportunity
Hornsby House
Tammy Currie, Director