Bullying and harassment support

Keele believes that every student has a right to work and study in an environment which is free from bullying and harassment. Keele will not tolerate harassment or bullying of one of its community by another person. 

There are many different ways in which someone can experience bullying or harassment. Please see below the definitions and examples as defined in the University's  Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedures.

a. Harassment

Harassment is defined as “Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.[1]

Anyone can be the victim of harassment. The law specifically prohibits harassment in relation to the following protected characteristics, Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Sexual orientation, Religion or belief (including non-belief), Sex, Race, Pregnancy and maternity, Marriage and civil partnership as defined within the Equality Act 2010.

Allegations of harassment from an individual because of perceived possession of a protected characteristic or because of their association with someone who possesses, or is perceived to possess, a protected characteristic may also be raised through each of the procedures.

b. Bullying

Bullying is defined as “Offensive, intimidating or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.”

There is no legal definition of bullying.  An allegation in relation to alleged bullying is described as, repeated, unwelcomed, unwarranted behaviour which causes a detrimental effect on a person's well being.  Whilst harassment is legally defined and relates to treatment of an individual based on a protected characteristic, bullying is also unwanted conduct but is not necessarily related to a protected characteristic.  The University is committed to dealing with any allegation of bullying as it would harassment.

c. Victimisation

Victimisation is defined as “the subjection of a person to a detriment because he or she has made (or intends to make, or you beleive they have/will make), in good faith, an allegation of harassment or has supported someone else in making an allegation.” Victimisation is defined as specifically relates to someone being treated less favourably as a result of a ‘protected act’. A ‘protected act’ is:

  • Making a claim or complaint of discrimination (under the Equality Act).

  • Helping someone else to make a claim by giving evidence or information.

  • Making an allegation that you or someone else has breached the Act.

  • Doing anything else in connection with the Act. (Definition as within the Equality Act 2010)

d. Academic Debate and Management Action

Vigorous speech and comment, academic debate and legitimate management of staff performance should be distinguished from bullying behaviour.  Positive, clear management action which relates to conduct or performance or legitimate operational needs, providing this action is taken in a fair and consistent way and in line with University policies and procedures, does not constitute bullying or harassment.

e. Cyber and Electronic harassment/bullying

Cyber bullying involves using technology to bully people. It can include texting, instant messaging, and posting on social media and gaming websites. The University expects all staff and students to comply with the IT conditions of use http://www.keele.ac.uk/it/itpoliciesandprocedures/IT%20Regulations.pdf


f. Criminal behaviour

A number of serious incidents which constitute a criminal offence go beyond the scope of this policy, for example, physical violence, sexual violence and hate crime.  Details for dealing with such incidents are referenced in both the staff and student procedures.

Hate crime is defined as “any hate incident, which constitutes a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate” (The Association of Chief Police). If you have been the victim of hate crime you should contact campus security or the police.

Due to the serious nature of domestic violence, sexual violence and/or sexual harassment, a separate policy exists on the following link: http://www.keele.ac.uk/studentservices/supportandwellbeing/sexualviolence/ 

g. Unwarranted allegations

If an allegation is deemed to be malicious, vexatious this may result in disciplinary action being taken against the alleged complainant. No action will be taken if an allegation which proves to be unfounded is judged to have been made in good faith.

We encourage all members of our community to act as part of our #NeverOK campaign. If you ever see an act of bullying or harassment, we encourage all students to call this out and state that the behaviour is unacceptable.

If you are in a situation where there is a danger to yourself, someone else or you feel threatened, you can report this behaviour to Student Services or Security if on campus or the police if in the local area, who will be able to take appropriate action to ensure your safety.

Bullying and Harassment is against the University’s Code of Behaviour and any student found in breach of this may be subject to disciplinary action under Regulation B1.

You might have heard of terms like cyberbullying, peer pressure or hate crime. What is important is that if you ever feel victimised in any way, please don't try and deal with it alone. We have a really supportive community here at Keele University, which we put into action through our year-round #NeverOK campaign.

If you ever find yourself experiencing any behaviour which you think constitutes bullying or harrassment, there are many places you can go for support. Please get in touch with Student Services as soon as possible to access support from either Residence Life or Student Experience and Support, depending on where the behaviour is being experienced. They will be able to offer support and outline options to help address any issues.

There are also many external organisations who can offer specific support too. 

If you would like to make an anonymous report about bullying you can use the University's online anonymous reporting tool. 

Examples of behaviour which may amount to bullying and/or harassment under the staff and student procedure including (but are not limited to) the following:

  • offensive comments or body language, including insults, jokes or gestures and malicious rumours open hostility, verbal or physical threats;

  • insulting, abusive, embarrassing or patronising behaviour or comments, humiliating, intimidating, and/or demeaning criticism;

  • persistently shouting at, insulting, threatening, disparaging or intimidating an individual;

  • constantly criticising an individual without providing constructive support to address any performance concerns;

  • persistently overloading an individual with work that s/he cannot reasonably be expected to complete;

  • posting offensive comments on digital media, including using mobile communication devices;

  • threatening to disclose, or disclosing, a person’s sexuality or disability to others without their permission;

  • deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender person, or persistently referring to their gender identity history;

  • isolation from normal work or study place, conversations, or social events;

  • publishing, circulating or displaying pornographic, racist, homophobic, sexually suggestive or otherwise offensive pictures or other materials.

Stalking may also be a form of harassment and may be characterised by any of the following repeated and unwanted behaviours:

  • Following a person;

  • Contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means;

  • Publishing any statement or other material

    • Relating or purporting to relate to a person, or

    • Purporting to originate from a person;

  • Monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication;

  • Loitering in any place (whether public or private);

  • Interfering with any property in the possession of a person;

  • Watching or spying on a person including through the use of CCTV or electronic surveillance.

Supportive hands