POLICY ON DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT
Wesleyan is an institution devoted to learning, openness, and the life of the mind; it follows that its character can be measured in part by the kind of human relationships built and sustained within this small but complex environment. The community itself will flourish only to the degree that the virtues of mutual respect, generosity, and concern for others are maintained. It is vitally important, therefore, that harassment and discrimination in all their forms not be tolerated.
I. DISCRIMINATORY HARASSMENT
Harassment of students, staff and faculty that can be construed as discriminatory violates federal and state law. The courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interpret federal civil rights laws to prohibit harassment based on race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, or any other protected class. The University is required to act promptly so as to assure that if such harassment is, in fact, occurring, or has occurred, the problem will be dealt with effectively. The University itself prohibits any form of harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, or any other class protected by applicable law. All complaints will be taken seriously and investigated as appropriate. An investigation will be initiated within 30 days of notice of a complaint and will be completed within 60 days. The time frames listed here are guides and may be extended because of extraordinary circumstances. Each case is unique and the process for handling the incident will be impacted by factors such as the complexity of the investigation, the scope of the allegation, the parties’ schedules and availability, and the academic calendar. In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the University will notify all parties of the need for additional time and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner. The totality of the circumstances and the context in which the behavior is alleged to have occurred will be considered in determining whether this policy has been violated. This approach is intended to ensure the protection of academic freedom. Wesleyan University will not tolerate retaliation against individuals bringing a complaint or participating in an investigation. The ultimate responsibility for maintaining an environment free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation rests with the University. (Non-discriminatory harassment is treated in Section V below.)
Sexual harassment is a form of discriminatory harassment occurring within an employment or educational context that federal and state law addresses with very specific provisions. In cases where sexual harassment is alleged, the University has a duty to act promptly, so as to assure that if such harassment is, in fact, occurring or has occurred, corrective action is taken, and further harm is prevented.
The University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs and activities or in the context of employment. Sexual harassment, including all forms of sexual misconduct as defined in this policy, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX requires that: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Sexual harassment is also prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Connecticut law, and other applicable laws.
Sexual harassment is defined as:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests of sexual favors, and other verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employ- ment decisions affecting such an individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of a complainant.
A single or isolated incident of sexual harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to provide a hostile environ- ment, particularly if the harassment is physical.
The designated Title IX/Section 504 coordinator for Wesleyan University is Antonio Farias, chief diversity officer, who you may reach at 860-685-4771.
II. ADDRESSING COMPLAINTS OF DISCRIMINATORY HARASSMENT
The University will address any complaint alleging discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment, and will take appropriate disciplinary action, which in employment situations includes up to the termination of employment.
Attempts to resolve concerns or complaints involving discriminatory harassment informally are encouraged. Experience has shown that most harassment concerns or complaints, whether perceived or real, may be resolved by prompt action.
Any member of the Wesleyan University community who becomes aware of an incident that might create a discriminatory, hostile, or harassing working or learning environment or believes that he or she is, or may have been, the object of discriminatory harassment should report it to the appropriate person listed below. All complaints will be investigated and handled in as private a manner as possible.
Complaints may be adjudicated by different bodies, depending on the nature of the complaint and the position of the individual against whom a complaint has been made. Given the sensitive and often difficult nature of bringing complaints or raising concerns regarding discriminatory harassment, a student or member of the faculty or staff who prefers may bring a harassment concern or complaint to the attention of an administrator different from those listed below. For example, a student may prefer to discuss a concern about harassment with, and seek counsel from, the vice president for student affairs, the dean of students, or a class dean, regardless of the position of the person alleged to be engaging in harassment. Similarly, a staff member may prefer to discuss a concern about harassment with, and seek counsel from, the vice president for institutional partnerships and chief diversity officer or the director of human resources, regardless of the position of the person about whom the concern exists. Regardless of where the complaint is made, all university employees are required to share share the complaint with the Title IX coordinator or the appropriate vice president who will confer with the Title IX coordinator.
A. MAKING A COMPLAINT AGAINST A STAFF MEMBER
A complaint of discriminatory harassment against a staff member may be made orally or in writing to any of the following:
- the staff member’s supervisor;
- the department or program chair;
- the chief diversity officer; or
- the director of human resources.
The director of human resources should be notified of any complaint of discriminatory harassment against a staff member that is submitted to one of the above officials and is responsible for ensuring that an appropriate investigation takes place and that the chief diversity officer is consulted during the investigation.
B. MAKING A COMPLAINT AGAINST A FACULTY MEMBER
A complaint of discriminatory harassment against a faculty member may be made orally or in writing to any of the following:
- the department or program chair;
- the dean of the division;
- the vice president for academic affairs; or
- the chief diversity officer; or
- the director of human resources.
The vice president for academic affairs should be notified of any complaint alleging discriminatory harassment by a faculty member that is submitted to one of the above officials and is responsible for ensuring that an appropriate investigation takes place and that the chief diversity officer is consulted during the investigation.
The Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities may play a role in case of discriminatory harassment after the University has acted as required by law, and is always involved when it is determined that the alleged offense might result in dismissal or suspension without pay. Thus, in circumstances in which a complaint of discriminatory harassment is made by or against a faculty member, the procedures described under the Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities should also be consulted.
C. MAKING A COMPLAINT AGAINST A STUDENT
A complaint of discriminatory harassment against a student may be made orally or in writing to any of the following, depending on the student’s status:
- the vice president for student affairs, the dean of students, the director of graduate student services, and the director of graduate liberal studies program;
- a class dean; or
- the chief diversity officer; or
- the director of human resources, who should be notified of any such harassment complaint against a student that is submitted by a faculty or staff member.
The appropriate dean or director should be notified of any such harassment complaint against a student that is submitted to one of the above officials and is responsible for ensuring that an appropriate investigation takes place and that the Chief Diversity Officer is consulted during the investigation.
At any time after submitting a harassment complaint to one of the above officials, the complainant may also submit a formal complaint to the Student Judicial Board or the Graduate Judicial Board, pursuant to the procedures described in the Student Handbook.
D. MAKING A COMPLAINT AGAINST SOMEONE WHO DOES BUSINESS WITH THE UNIVERSITY
A complaint of discriminatory harassment against someone who does business with the University, for example, ven- dors, may be made orally or in writing to the vice president for finance and administration, the chief diversity officer, or the director of human resources.
E. COMPLAINTS BY CAMPUS VISITORS
A visitor to Wesleyan’s campus who feels he or she has been subject to discriminatory harassment by a member of the Wesleyan University community should direct a complaint to the chief diversity officer or the director of human resources.
III. INVESTIGATIONS OF COMPLAINTS AND CONFIDENTIALITY
When the University receives notice of conduct that appears to be discriminatory harassment, it will promptly review the allegation to determine an appropriate course of action. While this may typically mean the allegation will be investigated in a fair and expeditious manner, there may be circumstances that allow for an informal resolution without notifying the respondent. During an investigation, the respondent will be informed of the substance of the complaint by the individual conducting the investigation, and he/she will be given an opportunity to respond. The complainant and the respondent may seek the advice of a counselor who is a member of the Wesleyan community (faculty, administration, or staff), so long as the investigation is not delayed. The counselor must agree to observe confidentiality. In order to determine the facts and views of both parties, the investigator may, as appropriate, conduct interviews with the complainant, witnesses, and the respondent. When the investigation is completed, the complainant and the respondent will be informed, to the extent appropriate, of the results of the investigation. It should be noted that this process may not be appropriate in every circumstance and should be considered a flexible one that can be modified to suit the situation, with advance notice to all parties.
Because complaints of discriminatory harassment will be investigated by the University, strict confidentiality with respect to such harassment complaints cannot be guaranteed.
IV. SUPERVISORY TRAINING
In accordance with Connecticut law, all faculty and staff members who have supervisory responsibilities are required to attend a sexual harassment prevention training program within six months of their assumption of those responsibilities. This training should include guidance regarding the investigation of sexual harassment complaints.
V. NON-DISCRIMINATORY HARASSMENT
The University also prohibits harassment not specifically based on a person’s or persons’ membership in a protected category. Attempts to resolve concerns or complaints involving non-discriminatory harassment informally are encouraged. If, however, the complaint is not resolved informally, it may be adjudicated by different bodies, depending on the nature of the complaint and the position of the individual against whom a complaint has been made. Complaints regarding non-discriminatory harassment by faculty, students, administrators, staff, vendors, or visitors should be directed to the Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities, the Student Judicial Board, the Graduate Judicial Board, the Office of Human Resources, or the Office of Diversity and Institutional Partnerships as appropriate.
Any questions regarding this policy should be directed to the chief diversity officer or the director of human resources.