Respecting Boundaries - guidelines for preventing harassment, discrimination, bullying, and stalking - Where do you draw the line?

Respecting Boundaries

The University of Bamberg has created guidelines for preventing harassment, discrimination, bullying, and stalking in order to maintain an open, interactive, and communicative working environment at the university. It outlines what any member of the university can do if they feel their boundaries have been crossed.

Harassment, discrimination, bullying, stalking, or any other kind of disrespect to another person's boundaries is not tolerated whatsoever and has no place at the university.

Those who are or have been impacted by such instances can always contact the Equal Opportunities Officer, the Academic Equal Opportunity Officer, the Faculty Equal Opportunity Officer, the Staff Council, the Office for Students with Disabilities, the legal department, or any other person they trust. All offices are obligated to treat your concerns confidentially.

More information is available at Grenzen Wahren (in German, only available via the Intranet)

The legal guidelines for these measures are outlined in the Guidelines for Respecting Boundaries

Sexual harassment begins when signaled boundaries are crossed.


Sexual harassment is any sexual behavior that is not desired and is perceived as disrespectful and hurtful.

For example: 

  • making offensive jokes
  • showing pornographic pictures
  • inappropriate staring
  • unwanted touching
  • saying derogatory/sexist remarks about appearance, behavior, or personal life
  • making unwanted requests or advances that are accompanied by promises of advantages or threats of disadvantages
  • committing criminal acts such as stalking, sexual coercion, and rape

Sexual harassment is always one-sided behavior that is fundamentally different than flirting or complimenting. It often leads to experiences such as stress, insecurity, fear, depression, other psychosomatic complaints, and—as a result—reduced performance or failure. There are women and men in all social contexts who are affected by sexual harassment—even at universities. Due to their hierarchical structure, existing relationships of dependency and power can be exploited, thereby making it easier to cross boundaries and introduce innappropriate advances. There are of course also cases in which sexual harassment occurs in the opposite hierarchical direction. In many cases, those affected have to fear negative outcomes such as harassment or discrimination if they defend themselves. In this way, they become double victims. This must be prevented.

Being able to sensitively handle issues of sexual harassment is a good leadership quality. Sexual harassment must not be tolerated, trivialized, or ignored by people in positions of authority. If you are aware of any instances of sexual harassment or are asked for help, you must take action. If you are not sure how to behave in such a situation, contact the specified contact points for advice.

The University of Bamberg is aware that sexual harassment does not stop at the doors of universities. We would like to offer all employees and students a respectful and considerate work and study environment. Therefore, sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence are not tolerated. Anyone who commits any of these acts will be punished accordingly, as we believe it is our duty to protect members of the university from sexual harassment.

The aim of the University of Bamberg is to create a work and study environment that allows everyone to move freely around the university. This means that boundaries you set remain intact. If this is not the case, please contact the specificed contact points for advice. All your information will be treated confidentially.

Part of our identity as a university is to be a work and study environment in which you can defend yourself against sexual harassment without fear of negative consequences.

Ignoring inappropriate language or behavior is the most ineffective way to deal with sexual harassment and is often interpreted as consent. Unfortunately, many victims deny or downplay sexual harassment out of fear of being perceived as prudish, sensitive, or humorless. Quick-witted and joking replies or mimicking the behavior of the harassing person may seem like a good solution, but these actions are equally as unsuccessful in stopping the behavior.

Those affected should create strict boundaries with clear words, understand that they are not an isolated case, and certainly not blame themselves for the harassment!

Don't wait for the misconduct to stop!

Don't isolate yourself or feel alone! Talk to people you trust and contact the appropriate counseling centers.

Clearly say and show that you do not accept this behavior!

For example:

"Never speak to me like that! Your comments are incredibly inappropriate.”

"Stop it! I am not interested in a relationship with you."

"Don't touch me! It makes me really uncomfortable.”

When someone in a higher position of authority than you sexually harasses you, they are breaking formal and professional boundaries. These examples are worded in such a way that tries to reinforce these boundaries, but you can and should still be clear in the what (i.e. tellling them to stop) and then the why (i.e. why it is inappropriate).

Document sexual harassment in a timely manner. In writing, state the place, time, and circumstances of the behavior, as well as anybody with whom you have already spoken about it.

Do not be afraid of negative consequences! This fear is the only thing that can give such perpetrators so much power.

In cases of sexual harassment, you can confide in and trust the offices listed below. The first thing they will do is listen to you, and if you want them to, they will then advise you on possible options. No steps will be taken without your consent!

Guidance at the University of Bamberg:

External Centers for Advice: