The University applies the Equality Act 2010 definition of harassment to its Dignity at Work and Study Policy, which states that harassment is unwanted behaviour relating to a protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect of violating someone's dignity or which creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

For more information, please see the University’s Dignity at Work and Study webpages.

Content warning

Some of the terminology and definitions used in this glossary relate to subject matter that may be upsetting or triggering for some people.

Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice or malicious acts against individuals, communities or organisations because of their Jewish identity or heritage. An act of Antisemitism may be considered a hate incident or a hate crime.

The University has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

The University has also added the following caveats to its definition, recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee:

  • It is not antisemitic to criticise the government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
  • It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli government's policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.15

There is ongoing debate about different definitions of antisemitism and other groups have provided alternative and/or complementary definitions and associated resources for tackling antisemitism, for example the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism.

15UoY Dignity at Work and Study Policy - definitions

Bigotry refers to an intolerance towards those who hold different opinions to you, and particularly what might be considered as an unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices about other individuals and groups.

A social movement created to empower individuals no matter their physical weight, shape or size. It exists in opposition to the ways in which society often presents and views the ‘ideal’ physical body, along with the expectations that are placed on both men and women to adhere to such body types. Body positivity places a greater emphasis on the individual as a whole, celebrating the diversity and uniqueness of all body types and encouraging people to appreciate what they have and who they are, rather than striving for a particular body shape or size that may be either unattainable, not preferable or linked to unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices.

The act of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical remarks based on the shape, size, or appearance of their body. This can be in the form of overt insults, jokes and/or subtle comments that have the effect of incrementally chipping away at someone’s confidence and self esteem, often leading to someone feeling ashamed of their body type. Some related terms are ‘sizeism’, ‘fatphobia’ and ‘lookism’.

Bullying may be broadly defined as behaviour which is: usually persistent, unwarranted and unwelcome, offensive, intimidating, humiliating, malicious or insulting. It undermines another person’s confidence, leading to reduced self-esteem and self-worth.16

16UoY Dignity at Work and Study Policy - definitions

A bystander or an ‘active’ bystander is a person who witnesses prejudice or discrimination against another person and who has the opportunity to take action by challenging the behaviour. For more information on this see our Speak up and report racism webpage.

Biased attitudes and beliefs that result in negative treatment toward people and groups, based on their social class or perceived social class. Classism is the systematic oppression of subordinated class groups and can also be expressed as public policy or institutional practice that prevents individuals from overcoming poverty, causes social injustice or results in a lack of opportunities related to such things as education and housing.

form of bullying which takes place online including via social networking sites, messaging apps, gaming sites and chat rooms. It involves sending offensive, hostile, rude, insulting or threatening messages or sending fake information about another person that is damaging and untrue.17

17 UoY Dignity at Work and Study Policy - definitions

Discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly, in relation to a protected characteristic, in one or more of the following ways: 

  • Direct discrimination refers to discrimination because of a person's protected characteristic.
  • Indirect discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice is applied in the same way for everyone but creates disproportionate disadvantage for a person with a protected characteristic as compared to those who do not share that characteristic.
  • Discrimination by perception occurs due to the belief that someone has a protected characteristic, whether or not they do have it.
  • Discrimination by association occurs against a person who does not have a protected characteristic but is discriminated against because of their association with someone who does.

Also see the ‘Harassment’, ‘Bullying’ and ‘Victimisation’ definitions.

A fear or dislike of fat or people who are perceived to be overweight, often leading to harassment and discrimination of individuals and groups. Fatphobia is considered as a structural issue as it manifests in denial of access to certain facilities and services, including healthcare, social stigmatisation and the normalising of bullying and hatred. Some related terms are ‘sizeism’, ‘body-shaming’ and ‘lookism’.

Gaslighting can be described as a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or group either consciously or unconsciously sow seeds of doubt in an individual or group, making them question their own memory, judgement or interpretation of a particular event. This often refers to a situation where someone minimises or denies the impact of a particular offensive comment or behaviour that someone else has been the victim of. The term gaslighting is often used in reference to liberation and activism work, but is also associated with forms of domestic abuse.

The University applies the Equality Act 2010 definition of harassment to its Dignity at Work and Study Policy, which states that harassment is unwanted behaviour relating to a protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect of violating someone's dignity or which creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Harassment may occur where an individual or group is targeted on the grounds of:

  • an actual protected characteristic, for example, a disabled person,
  • a perceived protected characteristic, for example, a manager decides not to support the advancement of a member of staff because they believe they have a disability,
  • a person who is linked to one of the protected characteristics via association, for example, a student who has a disabled child is not allowed to attend a graduation ceremony because of fears about the child's behaviour.

Harassment may be a single event, sporadic events or a continuing pattern, and can include behaviour via any means including verbal, non-verbal, physical, written or by means of electronic communication including social media.

Harassment (or bullying) may not be deliberate or intentional. In some cases the person being accused of the harassment may be unaware that their behaviour is having a detrimental impact on another person, has caused offence or has been interpreted in a particular way. 

For more information see the University’s Dignity at Work and Study webpages.

Hate incidents are instances of bullying or harassment, which appear to an individual, group or anyone else to be based on prejudice, based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity. Examples of hate incidents are verbal abuse, intimidation, abusive phone calls, online abuse, graffiti or threats of violence. Where there is an overlap with criminal law, a hate incident may also be a criminal offence and if so, is referred to as a 'hate crime' (see below).18

18 Universities UK - Changing the Culture report

Hate crimes denote criminal acts such as assault, harassment, sexual offences, criminal damage and hate mail, which are perceived to be motivated by hostility or prejudice that is based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.19

19 UoY Dignity at Work and Study Policy - definitions

Hate speech, which differs from verbal abuse, is a subset of a hate crime and is described as using 'threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviours, or displaying writing, signs or other visual representations that causes or is likely to cause another person harassment, alarm or distress' and which may be deemed a criminal offence.20

20  UoY Dignity at Work and Study Policy - definitions

Negative associations expressed automatically by people and which affect a person’s attitudes and actions towards other individuals, therefore creating real-world implications for others. Also see the ‘Unconscious Bias’ definition.

Islamophobia is discrimination, prejudice or malicious acts against individuals, communities or organisations because of their Muslim identity or association.21 An act of Islamophobia may be considered a hate incident or a hate crime.

21 UoY Dignity at Work and Study Policy - definitions

Lad culture is a term associated with toxic masculine behaviours that are commonly - but not exclusively - linked to excessive alcohol consumption, male chauvinism, sexual harassment and violence towards others. Lad culture is a UK-specific term, but the attitudes and behaviours associated with it - including sexism, sexual harassment and violence - are not UK-specific.22

22 Lad Culture in Higher Education: Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Violence

Lookism is discrimination or prejudice based on an individual’s physical appearance, for instance when they are considered to be physically unattractive and may be treated unfavourably as a result of this perception. Some related terms are ‘sizeism’, ‘body-shaming’ and ‘fatphobia’.

Marginalised is a term used to describe communities that may have societal disadvantages placed upon them, often based on their identity or social class. People may belong to more than one marginalised community due to their intersectional identity.23

23 LGBT Foundation - A guide to being a Trans ally

These represent daily verbal and non-verbal indignities that occur in the form of subtle insults or demeaning comments, whether intentional or unintentional, that amount to a form of abuse. 

Microaggressions are often, but not always, associated with racial abuse and have been described in the following way:

Microaggressions provoke distress because they dismiss a person of colour, leading to isolation, perplexity and a lack of belief in oneself. They are subtle forms of racism and more challenging and difficult to identify because they operate against the typical understanding of racism as something that is easily identifiable and blatant. As such, the vague nature of subtle racism makes it less recognisable and more insidious.24

24Being black in a white world: understanding racism in British universities

Oppression refers to the systemic and pervasive nature of social inequality woven throughout institutions as well as embedded within individual consciousness. Oppression fuses institutional and systemic discrimination, personal bias, bigotry and social prejudice in a complex web of relationships and structures that saturate most aspects of life in our society.25 Oppression also signifies a hierarchical relationship in which dominant or privileged groups benefit, often in unconscious ways, from the disempowerment of subordinated or targeted groups.

25University of Washington - College of the Environment DE&I Glossary

Language or behaviour that implies or openly refers to a separation between individuals and among particular groups. ‘Othering’ is a process of power play, whereby one individual or group establishes themselves and their attributes as ‘normal’, and in doing so distances themselves from those they perceive to be different. This can expose individuals or groups to stereotypes and discrimination, and often reduces people to little more than generalised collective identities that fails to account for nuance and an individual’s specific identity. Those making the distinctions often do so with the purpose of asserting their superiority over the ‘other’ group.

In an ED&I context, power refers to the ability to control, coerce or influence other people and groups via the means of another person’s individual privilege. Examples of individual privilege and social mechanisms through which power operates are said to be: wealth, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism and education.

Prejudice refers to judging, perpetuating stereotypes or making assumptions about people without knowing them as individuals. Prejudice is often undertaken on the basis of what an individual looks like or what group they belong to.26

26 Equality and Human Rights Commission

Often used in the context of ‘white privilege’, privilege refers to the unearned social power (set of advantages, entitlements and benefits) afforded by the formal and informal institutions and structures of a society to the members of a dominant group.

Privilege tends to be invisible to those who possess it, because its absence (lack of privilege) is what calls attention to it. For example, men are less likely to notice or acknowledge a difference in advantage because they do not live the life of a woman, who is more likely to experience sexism; white people are less likely to notice or acknowledge racism because they do not live the life of a person of colour, who is more likely to experience racism; heterosexual or straight people are less likely to notice or acknowledge heterosexism because they do not live the life of a gay/lesbian/bisexual person who may experience homophobia etc.27 It is worth noting that a person may possess privilege as a result of one aspect of their identity, eg the colour of their skin, while lacking privilege and therefore being more likely to experience discrimination as a result of their gender identity (for example).

27 University of Washington - School of Public Health ED&I Glossary

In England and Wales, the legal definition of rape is when someone intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with their penis, without the other person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated or is below the legal age of consent.28

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is defined as rape. Many people have experiences of sexual assault or sexual abuse that do not fit the legal definition of rape. However, it is important to note that this does not mean their experience is less traumatic or not 'as bad'.28a

28 Survive - North Yorkshire

28a The Rape Crisis Centre

Revenge Porn is a term to describe the non-consensual distribution of nude or sexual images via mobile phones or the internet (typically by a former sexual partner). 'Revenge porn' is a form of image-based sexual abuse.

This term includes creating, disclosing or threatening to disclose nude, sexual or sexually explicit photographs, films or messages without consent and with intent to cause distress. The perpetrator may be a partner, an ex-partner, a friend, family member, acquaintance, colleague or a stranger. 

The offence applies both online and offline and to images which are shared electronically or in a more traditional way, including the uploading of images onto the internet, sharing by text message and email, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.29


Sexual assault is a criminal offence and is defined under section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The offence can be committed by any individual and is physical assault of a sexual nature involving intentional touching without consent where the touching is sexual.30 For more information about sexual assault, including support, see the University’s sexual violence webpage.

30Universities UK - Changing the Culture report

Sexual consent refers to when a person chooses to engage in sexual activity. Examples of when someone may not be able to give their consent include if they are being threatened, asleep, drunk and a variety of other reasons. For more information about consent, see the University’s consent webpage.

Sexual harassment is defined as an incident where a person engages in unwanted conduct of a sexualised nature that has the purpose or effect of violating someone's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.31 This can include making sexual comments or unwanted sexual advances. For more information about sexual harassment, including support, see the University’s sexual violence webpage.

31EHRC report: Sexual harassment and harassment at work

Sexual offence is the term used to describe sexual acts which are criminal offences that can be reported to the police, such as sexual assault or rape. This can also be described as an unwanted sexual act. 'Sexual offence' is more widely used if the act is reported to the police.

Sexual violence is a non-legal term that is used as an umbrella term to refer to all incidents of unwanted sexual activity and acts, including sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. For more information see the University’s sexual violence webpage.

The mistreatment of or discrimination against people based on their perceived (or self-perceived) body size or shape. Some related terms are ‘fatphobia’, ‘body-shaming’ and ‘lookism’.

Slut shaming’ is when someone uses derogatory names and makes comments to make another person feel guilty or ashamed about their (supposed) sexual activities and encounters.

Stalking is unwanted and/or repeated surveillance by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviours are interrelated to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them.

Stalking could involve someone you know such as an ex partner or a person you were friends with, or it might be a stranger. If it's someone you know, or knew, it doesn't mean that it's your fault; it's still stalking and it's an offence.

Stalking may include:

  • regularly following someone
  • repeatedly going uninvited to their home
  • checking someone’s internet use, email or other electronic communication
  • hanging around somewhere they know the person often visits
  • interfering with their property
  • watching or spying on someone
  • identity theft (signing-up to services, buying things in someone's name)

It's stalking if the unwanted behaviour has happened more than once.31a

31a What is stalking and harassment? Police.UK


Having a fixed mental impression of particular groups or individuals, for instance believing that all people belonging to a certain group are the same and labelling them in the same way, eg all young people who wear hoodies are thugs and all effeminate men are gay.32

32 Equality and Human Rights Commission

An instance where someone may, as part of an argument or discussion, focus primarily on the emotions expressed or displayed by another person rather than what they are saying. This is used as a tactic to silence the other person and deflect from the message they are attempting to convey.

The University defines victimisation as treating someone less favourably because they have taken or intend to take action under a particular policy or procedure, or because they are supporting someone else who is taking action.33

33 UoY Dignity at Work and Study Policy - definitions

Voyeurism involves a person observing or recording, for their sexual gratification, another person engaged in a private act.

Xenophobia is used in reference to hatred or fear of foreigners/strangers or of their politics or culture.34

34 Pacific University Oregon ED&I Glossary

Victim blaming is when the victim of an offence is held responsible or partly responsible for what happened to them.