Stevenson University is committed to equal opportunity for its faculty, staff, and students. In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals, employment, and admission decisions at the University will be based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. The University strongly condemns and does not engage in discrimination or harassment in employment, admissions, or academic opportunities or practices on the basis of an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital or veteran status, disability status, citizenship, pregnancy, or any other characteristic or status protected by federal, state, or local law in admission, treatment or access to, or employment in, its programs or activities.
Stevenson is subject to the provisions of “Title IX” and related regulations (45 C.F.R., Subtitle A, Part 86), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs receiving federal financial assistance. The prohibition extends to employment practices. Inquiries concerning the application of “Title IX” should be addressed to the office of the Vice President, Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator.
The procedures set forth in this policy are not applicable to complaints of sexual misconduct, relationship violence, or stalking, which are processed under the Sexual Harassment/Title IX Policy of the University.
Individuals with questions or concerns about any type of discrimination in the campus community are encouraged to bring these issues to the attention of their immediate supervisor, Department of Human Resources, the Vice President, Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator or the Dean of Students as appropriate. Any member of the campus community can raise concerns and make reports without fear of reprisal. Anyone found to be engaging in any type of unlawful discrimination may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from the University or termination of employment.
Discrimination and Harassment Are Prohibited
The University is committed to maintaining and strengthening an environment that upholds standards of respect, civility and human dignity in an environment fostering learning and professionalism. It is the policy of the University to maintain an educational and work environment free from all types of discrimination and harassment, an open environment that values and protects individual dignity and the integrity of human relationships. Accordingly, all forms of discrimination against or harassment of any member of the University community, whether based on an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital or veteran status, disability status, citizenship, pregnancy, or any other legally protected characteristics, are prohibited. The above includes discrimination or harassment that is based upon the legally protected status of an individual with whom an employee, applicant or student associates.
A. Relationship to Freedom of Expression. The educational process at the University is based on mutual trust, freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression, and the absence of intimidation and exploitation. Such an atmosphere of respect and regard for individual dignity among members of the academic community is essential for the University to function as a center of academic freedom and intellectual advancement. In addition, the University has a compelling interest in assuring the provision of an environment in which learning and work may thrive. Such an environment requires free and unfettered discussion of the widest possible nature, one that encourages expression of all points of view. Discrimination and harassment, however, are not legally protected expression and are not an appropriate exercise of free inquiry or free expression. Discrimination and harassment compromises the integrity of the University and its standards of academic freedom and mutual trust, and will not be tolerated.
B. Discriminatory Harassment. Discriminatory harassment is strictly prohibited by this policy and by federal, state and local law. It is verbal, written, visual, physical or other conduct that demeans, humiliates, embarrasses, abuses, denigrates or shows or creates hostility towards a person based on an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital or veteran status, disability status, citizenship, pregnancy, or any other legally protected characteristics when:
1. Submission to such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or participation in an educational program;
2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual; or
3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or learning environment.
C. To constitute a hostile environment under this Policy, the harassment must be sufficiently severe, pervasive, persistent, or patently offensive that it creates an employment, admissions or educational environment which would be considered intimidating, hostile or abusive by a reasonable person. In some instances, a single incident or isolated incidents may be sufficient to create a hostile environment.
D. Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment is strictly prohibited by this policy and by federal, state and local law. The University’s Sexual Harassment/Title IX Policy addresses sexual harassment and applies to sexual harassment reports, investigations, and resolution. All forms of sexual violence are prohibited forms of sexual harassment.
Reporting, Investigating, and Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment
The University must be made aware of discrimination and harassment in order to prevent or stop it. Complaints that may be addressed under this policy include complaints based on the conduct of University students, faculty, staff, volunteers, visitors and other persons acting in official University capacities.
Any manager or supervisor who knows or has reason to know about discrimination or harassment and takes no action to stop it or report it may be subject to discipline.
A. Informal Resolution. In many instances, counseling, advice, or informal discussion may be useful in resolving concerns about allegations of discrimination or harassment. Individuals who wish to resolve their concerns informally should bring them to the attention of the Vice President Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator (or designee). Students who wish to resolve their concerns about discrimination and harassment informally should bring them to the attention of the Vice President Student Affairs (or designee).
In working to resolve the matter, the appropriate University representative will interview the reporting individual and, as appropriate, others who may have knowledge of the facts underlying the complaint. At any point, including while the informal process is ongoing or afterward, the reporting individual may elect to end the informal process in favor of filing a formal report.
If the individual feels that reporting to the individual identified above is not appropriate or does not feel comfortable doing so, concerns should be addressed to the appropriate Vice President or supervisor. If the Vice President, Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator is the subject of the complaint, the complaint should be reported to the President of the University.
B. Formal Reports of Discrimination and Harassment. Reports of discrimination and harassment should be made to the Vice President, Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator (if the complaint is against an employee, contractor, or other individual affiliated with University operations) or the Vice President, Student Affairs (if the complaint is against a student). While there is no time deadline for making such a report, the earlier the better as important information or evidence may become unavailable due to delayed reporting. It is also recommended that a report be made by the person reporting in writing. Those who make initial reports orally will be asked to also put the report in writing in order for it to be classified as a formal complaint and for the procedures below to commence.
Individuals who want to remain anonymous may make reports of discrimination/harassment using the university’s confidential Ethics Hotline via 24/7 access by phone (844-709-6000) or website click here. Any reports made to the Ethics Hotline by phone or online will go to a third party vendor, then be communicated to the appropriate officials at the University; as such the reporter may remain anonymous and still be able to communicate back-and-forth with University officials through the third party vendor.
Investigating and Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment
Investigation and resolution of all discrimination and harassment complaints will be pursuant to the procedures set forth below.
A. Investigation. After the Vice President Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator or Vice President, Student Affairs has received a complaint, the investigation of the complaint will normally begin within five (5) business days after a notice has been issued to the complainant and the respondent that a complaint has been received. The complainant and respondent will be informed regarding who will be investigating the complaint and what to expect during the investigation process. Investigations will be handled as follows:
· If the complaint is against a faculty, staff or third party, the Vice President Human Resources/ Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will appoint the investigator(s);
· If the complaint is against a student, the Vice President Student Affairs (or designee) will appoint the investigators(s).
Depending on the circumstances, a second investigator may be appointed. The investigation will normally include interviewing the complainant(s), respondent(s), witnesses, and other relevant individuals. Both the complainant and the respondent may provide the investigator(s) with the names of witnesses, documents, and other information. Relevant information and documentation, if any, will be obtained by the investigator(s). The interviews, meetings, and other proceedings are not recorded by Stevenson and may not be recorded by others. Stevenson will make reasonable efforts to complete the investigation promptly.
B. Assertions and Evidence. The complainant will describe their allegations and provide pertinent witnesses, records, exhibits, and witness statements as evidence for consideration at the discretion of the investigator(s). The respondent will have the allegations described to him or her and the investigators will request that the respondent respond in detail to the assertions and provide pertinent witnesses, records, exhibits, and witness statements as evidence for consideration at the discretion of the investigator(s). The complainant and the respondent are afforded equal procedural rights during the investigation. The investigator(s) will exercise their discretion in deciding which other individuals identified as witnesses during the investigation should be interviewed. No expert witnesses shall be permitted. All investigatory interviews with the complainant, respondent and witnesses shall be conducted in private with the pertinent investigator(s) and/or other Stevenson administrators, if any, as determined by the investigator(s). The respondent will not be present for the complainant’s interviews. The complainant will not be present for the respondent’s interviews.
C. Advisors. Complainants and respondents may be accompanied throughout the investigation and appeal process by an advisor of their choice from the University community who agrees to keep the matter confidential. However, the advisor may not be a practicing attorney, parent, guardian, family member, a witness or a possible witness in the case, a person involved in the University’s disciplinary process, or a complainant or respondent in the case. The purpose of the advisor is to provide advice to the student or employee in a quiet manner that is not disruptive to the proceedings. The advisor may not provide verbal, written, or other input during the investigation or appeal process other than to the student or employee being advised.
D. Written Decision. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator(s) will prepare a document containing the investigative findings and the rationale for the findings. The investigation may result in one of two outcomes set forth in a written decision: (1) a decision that the respondent did not violate this policy, or (2) a decision that the respondent violated this policy. The investigator(s) (or designee) will base the decision on the evidence presented and use the preponderance of the evidence standard in reaching the decision. The document will be provided to the Vice President who appointed the investigators to the case.
1. When a Student is the Respondent. When the respondent is a student and no policy violation is found, the Vice President Student Affairs will communicate the findings to the complainant and respondent at the same time and in the same manner. If the decision of the investigator(s) is that the respondent violated this policy, the Vice President Student Affairs will provide the written decision to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students (or designee) will make a decision regarding the discipline or remedial action to be imposed. The discipline or remedial action will be based upon the nature and severity of the offense, prior violations by and disciplinary history of the respondent, the impact of the conduct on the complainant and the community, whether the respondent is likely to engage in the conduct in the future, providing a remedy for any effects on the complainant or any other members of the community, and other mitigating or aggravating factors. Drug use or alcohol use are not mitigating factors. Discipline for students may include, but is not limited to, verbal or written warnings; loss of rights or privileges; requirement to attend coaching or training sessions or to receive counseling or other support; changes to the respondent’s living arrangements; academic, social or other probation; and suspension or expulsion from activities, residence halls, academic classes, programs, schools, or the University. The Dean of Students will provide the complainant and respondent with appropriate written notification of the outcome of the University’s investigation which will be given at the same time and shall be delivered in the same manner. The notification will include the finding that the respondent violated this policy, a summary of the manner in which it was violated, and a description of the sanctions or discipline that the respondent has or will receive to the extent that they pertain to the complainant.
2. When a Faculty or Staff Member is a Respondent. When the respondent is a faculty or staff member of Stevenson University or third party, the investigator(s) will provide the written decision to the Vice President Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator. If the decision of the investigator(s) is that the respondent did not violate this policy, the Vice President Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator will communicate the findings to the complainant and respondent at the same time and in the same manner. If the decision of the investigator(s) is that the respondent violated this policy, the written decision will be sent by the Vice President Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator to the appropriate administrator (the “Administrator”) for a decision regarding the discipline or remedial action to be imposed. In consultation with the Vice President, Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator, the Administrator will make a decision regarding the discipline, sanctions and/or remedial action to be imposed, based on applicable University policy. Discipline for faculty and staff may include but is not limited to: written warnings, probation, demotion, suspension or termination of employment. The Administrator will provide the employee with appropriate written notification of the outcome of the University’s investigation, and discipline, if any, that will be imposed. The Administrator will also provide the complainant with written notification of the outcome of the University’s investigation, which will be given at the same time and shall be delivered in the same manner. The notification will include (1) that the respondent violated this policy, and (2) a summary of the manner in which it was violated and a description of the sanctions or discipline that the respondent has or will receive to the extent that they pertain to the complainant.
E. Written Appeal. Written appeals are permitted only as set forth in this section. In cases in which a student is the respondent, an appeal of the decision and/or the sanction may be made to the Vice President, Student Affairs. In cases in which a faculty member is the respondent, an appeal of the decision and/or the sanction may be made to the Executive Vice President, Academic Affairs. In cases in which a staff member is the respondent, an appeal of the decision and/or the sanction may be made to the Vice President to whom the staff member ultimately reports. The appeal of a staff member who is a respondent and who ultimately reports to the Vice President Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator, may be made to the Executive Vice President, Academic Affairs. The administrator authorized in this section to decide the appeal is referred to herein as the “appeals official.” The appeal request must be in writing and made within seven calendar (7) days of notification of the decision. For the purposes of this section, the date of notification shall be the date of the letter of notification. An appeal may be submitted by the complainant or the respondent or both.
F. Grounds for Appeal. There is a presumption that the decision and any sanction or discipline were made properly. The sole grounds for appeal that will be considered are: (1) a procedural error that significantly impacted the final decision; (2) previously unavailable, substantive and relevant information that could materially impact the final decision; and (3) the sanction or discipline imposed is substantially disproportionate for the facts of the case or the violation that was found to have occurred. The burden of proof during the appeal is on the party appealing.
G. Notice. When a party requests an appeal, the appeals official shall notify all other parties involved of the appeal. All other parties shall be provided with a written summary of the appeal and notified of their right to respond in writing within a timeframe set by the appeals official, normally 10 calendar days.
H. Decision. The appeals official will review the written decision and any responses made by the parties, and may exercise the discretion to request further information or documents from the parties and/or the person who issued the original decision and/or to meet with the parties. If the appeals official elects to meet with the complainant or respondent, a meeting will be held with each separately. A complainant or respondent who is invited to meet with the appeals official in connection with the appeal may bring an advisor as described above.
I. Final Determination. The decision of the appeals official shall be Stevenson’s final determination regarding the decision and the sanction. There are no further appeals.
Intentionally making a false report or complaint or initiating a discrimination or harassment complaint in bad faith may result in disciplinary action. A finding that there was no reasonable basis to believe that a violation of the policy occurred does not constitute a finding that the complaint or report was intentionally false or in bad faith.
Protection Against Retaliation
Stevenson considers retaliation against the complainant or others involved in the process to be as serious as an act of discrimination or harassment. Retaliation of any kind against any person, who in good faith reports discrimination or harassment, assists another in making a complaint, participates in an investigation, or provides information in connection with a complaint or investigation, is prohibited.
Good faith initiation of a complaint of discrimination or harassment will not adversely affect a complainant’s grades, class selection, or any other matter pertaining to student status, or in the case of employees, the individual’s employment, compensation, or work assignment. Someone who believes that they are the victim of retaliation, or is aware of someone else who is the victim of retaliation, is encouraged to report this immediately to either the Vice President Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator or the Vice President Student Affairs.
(Approved November 2020)