FAIRMONT STATE COLLEGE POLICIES & PROCEDURES















NO. 40





GENERAL HARASSMENT POLICY





Effective August 1992



Revised June 1996









In an effort to develop a racial harassment policy and in revising the existing sexual harassment policy, a committee including students, faculty, and staff developed this general harassment policy addressing all forms of harassment. Because the most common forms of harassment have historically been racial and sexual, clarifying statements accompany this general harassment policy to further define these two forms of harassment and outline the college's educational approaches to these areas.



For more information or to file a complaint call: 304-367-4247 (Director of Affirmative Action, Room 224 Hardway Hall, Fairmont State College, Fairmont, WV 26554.)





INTRODUCTION



Fairmont State College is dedicated not only to learning but also to enhancing and enriching the quality of life for all of its students and campus personnel. Fairmont State College seeks to educate and support an environment which prepares individuals for participation in an increasingly diverse world, one in which academic freedom prevails cohesively with respect for and acceptance of differences of race, national origin, color, ethnicity, age, veteran status, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and association with persons different from oneself.



The college embraces the principles of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It also abhors the deliberate abuse of this freedom by those who would provoke hatred and violence. Even though principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech require tolerance of some ideas and opinions which may be offensive, harassment cannot and will not be tolerated at Fairmont State College. Those categories of speech which are protected under First Amendment freedom of speech protections, but which have negative connotations, are however considered inappropriate and offensive behaviors at Fairmont State College and will be addressed through educational measures.



Fairmont State College is aware of the potential "chilling effect" which a harassment policy might have on the free exchange of ideas, the right of free speech and the tradition of academic freedom. It is not the intent of this policy to legislate a "hate speech code" or to impact in any way on verbal discourse in any campus activity at Fairmont State College where ideas are exchanged, differences expressed, opinions shared, etc., even when these verbalizations may be repugnant or repulsive to certain parties or individuals who are involved or privy to the discourse in question.



It is only when these expressions breach the context of the exchange of ideas and enter the domain of harassment as defined by the Fairmont State College Harassment Policy that the college could be compelled to respond in a way that demonstrates its abhorrence of such expressions, and renders either a prescriptive sanction, educational response, or supervisory action defined as appropriate with reference to the guidelines of the Harassment Policy and which is in compliance with the right of free speech in accordance with Supreme Court interpretations of the First Amendment.













The responsibility for understanding and respecting diversity is campus-wide, not the sole responsibility of any one office or person. Emphasis is given to supporting an environment which values students, faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds and encourages the fulfillment of educational objectives and potentials free from harassment.



Every incident of harassment undermines the mission and goals of this institution. Conduct which tends to degrade or demean the self-worth, dignity or character of any individual or group is an offense against the whole campus community.



Fairmont State College's harassment policy unequivocally deplores any and all forms of intolerance. The policy prohibits acts of written and/or physical abuse and harassment, which deny, prohibit, or violate the human rights or civil rights of any member of Fairmont State College's community of employees and students.



The policy also prohibits verbal harassment that would tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace or provoke violent reaction, and is directed at the hearer.



Fairmont State College prohibits conduct intentionally directed toward any individual or group of individuals with the intent to harass, intimidate, or demean an individual or group of individuals, and/or have the effect of creating a hostile working, living, educational, academic, or social environment.



Administrators, faculty, and staff shall respect the rights of others. Employees of Fairmont State College shall avoid extraneous considerations in the evaluation of peers or students, or in the assignment of duties and responsibilities within the college. Campus personnel shall promote the ideals of a learning environment which foster individual rights and encourage the acceptance and affirmation of differences.



In some cases, the "harasser" may not realize that his or her actions are offensive. Employees and students who believe they have been subjected to harassment are encouraged to make it clear to the harasser that such behavior is offensive to them.





DEFINITION OF HARASSMENT



For the purposes of college policy, the term harassment is defined as any verbal, written, or physical conduct directed toward an individual or group of individuals which a person knows or has reasonable grounds to know would intimidate, demean, or degrade the individual's or group's character, self-worth or dignity.



Harassment is further defined as that conduct which has the effect of limiting or denying equal opportunity or treatment and is conducted in disregard for that individual's or group's human or civil rights and which may result in their mental, emotional, or physical discomfort, ridicule or harm. Offensive language or behavior which interferes with a person's employment, educational status or performance or otherwise creates a hostile environment shall fall within the meaning of harassment.



Threats or other forms of intimidation or retaliation against complaining witnesses, other witnesses, any reviewing officer, or any review panel shall constitute a separate violation of this policy which may be subject to direct administrative action or judicial action.























EXAMPLES OF HARASSMENT



Examples of harassment which are subject to sanctions under the Harassment Policy include but are not limited to the following:



Physical or verbal attack upon or interference with an FSC person which prevents the person from conducting his/her customary or usual college-related affairs; additionally, conduct which is intended to, or by inference can be construed as intended to, interfere with a person in the conduct of his/her customary or usual affairs, i.e., threatening letter, use of threatening language, vandalism of a person's room or property by graffiti, etc.,



Conduct or expressive behavior that puts the person in fear for his/her safety and/or causes the person to suffer actual physical or mental injury or harm,



Intentionally or inadvertently creating an intimidating, hostile or demeaning environment for education, college related work, or other college authorized activity,



Utilizing an actual or implied position of authority or power to exclude or deny an individual or group equal access or equal opportunity to compete in or avail themselves of college facilities or resources,



Utilizing an actual or implied position of authority or power to intimidate, or otherwise subject or cause to be subjected to acts of harassment, or otherwise cause an individual or group to be subjected to adverse causes of action which are directed on the basis of that individual's or group's race, national origin, color, ethnicity, age, veteran status, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or association with persons different from oneself,



Physical aggression directed by one individual toward another, related to the individual's dating relationship or association with a person or persons different from oneself,



The issue of a verbal threat of possible physical violence or designed to restrict access to any program, facility, activity, or college official at FSC on the basis of any of the characteristics listed above, or



Foreclosure of promotions or other career opportunities to certain individuals because of any of the characteristics listed above.





EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS RELATED TO HARASSMENT



The Harassment Policy and the two clarifying statements alone will not accomplish elimination of harassment. Policy efforts must be coupled with proactive educational efforts throughout the college community. Such educational efforts are a shared community responsibility. See the clarifying statements on sexual harassment and racial harassment for specifics regarding institutional responsibility for development of educational efforts related to teaching tolerance for and valuing of differences.





COMPLAINT PROCEDURES



Confidential consultation mechanisms are provided to enable accusers to assess their options and decide upon alternative action mechanisms prior to following through on an accusation. Both informal resolution mechanisms as well as formal judicial procedures are available to enforce the harassment policy. These informal and formal mechanisms protect the rights of and afford due process to all parties involved, including the accuser and the accused.













Any member of the college community (student, faculty, staff, or administrator) may initiate contact with one of the designated persons for the purpose of clarifying or interpreting a matter about which he/she is concerned, to seek resolution of a harassment matter through informal means, or to seek resolution through the formal complaint procedure. All members of the college community are expected to address observed incidents of harassment and bring them to the attention of the appropriate individuals.



Persons wishing to register a complaint about an off-campus incident over which the college may not have jurisdiction may approach those listed below for advice and referral to the appropriate municipal authorities, including local law enforcement agencies and the Fairmont Human Rights Commission.





A. CONSULTATION



Consultation is available for the purpose of providing information about this policy and related procedures. Consultations shall be kept strictly confidential, and only at the discretion of the individual seeking consultation may the staff/faculty member actively bring the complaint to the attention of the accused, or assist the accuser in doing so. Also, only after the filing of a written complaint by the accuser to the appropriate office, shall there be an initiation of action by an informal or a formal mechanism.



The persons designated as available to provide consultation or to assist in informal resolution are the following. Formal complaints should be initiated with the Director of Affirmative Action.



1. If the person charged is a student: The Vice President for Student Affairs, the Director of Affirmative Action, the Judicial Administrator, the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, the Coordinator of International Student Advising, or a campus minister.



2. If the person charged is a faculty member: The Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Director of Affirmative Action, the supervisor of the accused, the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, the Coordinator of International Student Advising, or a campus minister.



3. If the person charged is a classified staff member or administrator: The Vice President to whom the accused reports, the Director of Affirmative Action, the accused's immediate supervisor, the highest level supervisor in the accused's unit, the Director of Human Resources, the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs, the Coordinator of International Student Advising, or a campus minister.





B. INFORMAL RESOLUTION MECHANISMS



Any member of the college community may seek an informal resolution of a harassment incident, or may discuss the possibility of filing a formal (written) complaint with any of the above persons. Neither a consultation nor seeking an informal resolution shall be a prerequisite to making a formal complaint. Whenever possible, informal handlings of complaints should be tried before a formal means with hearings, etc. This is particularly appropriate when the accused and accuser are within the same department and/or same category (e.g., both students, both classified, etc.)



Mediation or conflict resolution approaches may be utilized. If possible or appropriate, the accuser should be assisted in trying to resolve the issue with the individual whose action is being questioned.

















C. FORMAL RESOLUTION MECHANISMS



Formal charges are initiated by consulting with the Director of Affirmative Action and filing a formal (written) complaint with the Director of Affirmative Action. The complaint should specify the behavior which violates the harassment policy, and related details, and name the person(s) charged.



Response to harassment complaints is to be speedy and confidential. However, the college recognizes the right of the accused to face the accuser. The steps in the procedure for processing harassment complaints are as follows.



Any person accused by formal complaint of conduct in violation of the college's harassment policy shall be notified by the Director of Affirmative Action that a complaint has been lodged against him/her.



A prompt initial investigation of the complaint by the Director of Affirmative Action and/or the appropriate Vice President will be conducted within ten days of receipt of the formal complaint. As a component of this investigation, the Director of Affirmative Action shall explore reconciliation possibilities with the parties involved. If reconciliation efforts are not successful, the Director of Affirmative Action shall then refer the case as outlined below to the appropriate judicial body for a hearing.



Written notice of a formal hearing must be provided to the parties involved. Procedures for formal hearings will be as outlined in the respective governing documents.



1. FOR STUDENTS: When the accused is a student, the formal complaint shall be referred by the Director of Affirmative Action to the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee, who will initiate student disciplinary procedures. The governing procedures are the College Standards of Personal & Group Conduct, the Student Rights and Responsibilities of Fairmont State College, and Interpretive Rules - State College System of West Virginia Board of Directors - Series 57, all of which are contained in the Student Handbook. These include hearing procedures, available sanctions, and appeal procedures.



2. FOR FACULTY: When a formal complaint is against a faculty member, the complaint should be referred by the Director of Affirmative Action to the faculty member's immediate supervisor and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Following an initial investigation by the supervisor, the Vice President for Academic Affairs shall convene a conciliation meeting with the supervisor, faculty member, and the complainant. If conciliation results, the matter shall terminate. If conciliation does not result, the matter shall be forwarded for a formal hearing. Following the formal hearing, if the claim of harassment is considered to have been verified, the Vice President will impose appropriate sanctions.



Faculty grievance procedures set forth in the Faculty Handbook may be used by faculty to appeal imposed sanctions.



If the complaint relates to an academic evaluation which the affected student believes to be the result of discrimination, the complainant may appeal the final grade in accordance with grade appeal procedures of the college which are set forth in the Faculty Handbook and the Student Handbook.



3. FOR CLASSIFIED STAFF AND ADMINISTRATORS: When a formal complaint is against a classified staff member, supervisor, or administrator, the complaint should be referred by the Director of Affirmative Action to the staff member's immediate supervisor and the Vice President to whom the accused reports. The procedures to be used in such cases are outlined in the Conduct, Discipline and Grievances section (pp. 24-27), and the Employee Conduct section (pp. S12-S13) of the Classified Employees' Handbook.





















If the charges are placed by a classified staff person against a classified staff person, the grievance procedure provided through West Virginia Code, Chapter 18, Article 29 would be used. (Reference to Series 52 has been deleted because it is no longer in effect.)



4. FOR VISITORS OR GUESTS: Complaints against visitors or guests should be directed to the Campus Security or local police.





SANCTIONS



Violations of this policy may result in disciplinary action taken by the appropriate authority. Sanctions may include but are not limited to oral or written reprimands, written reprimands maintained in the person's file requiring explicit reference to the nature of the reprimand in any letter of reference provided, educational requirements, suspension, expulsion, or termination. Sanctions assigned shall be in accordance with the terms and guidelines of the applicable college procedures.





APPEALS



Following the outcome, any accused party who is the subject of an adverse determination may file a written appeal, stating the grounds for such an appeal. The appeal must be filed in accordance with the applicable procedures outlined in the appropriate document for students, faculty, or staff. Once the appeal process is completed, any applicable sanctions will be applied and the accuser will be formally notified of the outcome.





CONFIDENTIALITY



The right of confidentiality for any party involved in a harassment allegation will be respected insofar as it does not interfere with the obligation to investigate allegations of harassment misconduct and/or with the requirement to take corrective action where appropriate. The Director of Affirmative Action will provide summary reports each semester to the campus community, including the President's Council on Equity and Human Relations, indicating the number and type of accusations resolved by informal resolution or consultation, and the number and type of formal harassment complaints filed against students, faculty, staff and administrators; such reports will exclude personally identifiable information.



Once the charges have been filed formally, it is expected that all involved parties will keep the process confidential and within channels. If the harassment charge has been withdrawn or has not been proved following these proceedings and any subsequent appeal or grievance procedure, no part of these proceedings will be recorded in the employee's personnel file or in the student's records. Provided, however, that an agreed decision resulting from settlement and/or conciliation efforts may be included in an employee's file as a matter of settlement; for students, any written agreed on conditions for reconciliation that do not involve an admission of guilt will be maintained in the judicial system files, but will not be included in the individual student's file.





NOTE: The Social Justice Policy, Interpretive Rule, Series 56, adopted in March 1992 by the State College System of West Virginia Board of Directors, provides additional guidance in the interpretation and implementation of this harassment policy.

















STATEMENT ON RACIAL HARASSMENT





INTRODUCTION



This statement should be used in conjunction with the Fairmont State College Harassment Policy, which describes in detail the college's philosophical approach to embracing diversity and multiculturalism, and outlines the college's approach to addressing incidents of harassment.



This Statement on Racial Harassment provides clarifying language regarding one form of harassment, racial harassment.





DEFINITION OF RACIAL HARASSMENT



For the purposes of college policy, the term racial harassment is defined as any verbal, written, or physical conduct directed toward an individual or group of individuals on the basis of race, national origin, color, ethnicity, or association with persons of a different race, which a person knows or reasonably should have known would intimidate, demean, or degrade the individual's or group's character, self-worth or dignity.



Racial harassment is further defined as that conduct which, when based upon race, national origin, color, ethnicity, or association with persons of a different race, has the effect of limiting or denying equal opportunity or treatment and is conducted in disregard for that individual's or group's human or civil rights and which may result in their mental, emotional, or physical discomfort, ridicule or harm. Offensive language or behavior which interferes with a person's employment, educational status or performance or otherwise creates a hostile environment shall fall within the meaning of racial harassment.



Threats or other forms of intimidation or retaliation against complaining witnesses, other witnesses, any reviewing officer, or any review panel shall constitute a separate violation of this policy which may be subject to direct administrative action or judicial action.





EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS RELATED TO RACIAL HARASSMENT



The Harassment Policy and the Statement on Racial Harassment will not by themselves accomplish elimination of racial harassment. Policy efforts must be coupled with proactive educational efforts throughout the college community. The Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the President's Council on Equity and Human Relations, work to achieve racial and multicultural harmony through the development of educational programs, policies and procedures designed to encourage independence, maturity and an appreciation for racial and cultural diversity.



The President's Council on Equity and Human Relations is charged, as a component of its mission, to develop and deliver educational programs for students, faculty, and staff to reduce and eliminate prejudice and racial intolerance, and teach multicultural perspectives and the valuing of other cultures. Other campus entities which are also expected to provide such educational efforts include the Faculty Development Committee, the Staff Development Committee, Student Government, and each supervisor of staff, faculty, or student workers.





COMPLAINT PROCEDURES, AVAILABLE SANCTIONS, AND APPEALS



Complaint procedures, which include options for consultation, informal resolution mechanisms, and formal resolution mechanisms for students, faculty, classified staff and administrators, are outlined in the Harassment Policy, as are examples of harassment situations. The Harassment Policy also describes available sanctions, the appeal process, confidentiality measures, and mechanisms for providing statistical summaries of reported incidents. See also FSC Harassment Policy, Sections V - VIII.



STATEMENT ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT



INTRODUCTION



This statement should be used in conjunction with the Fairmont State College Harassment Policy, which describes in detail the college's commitment to prevent harassment of any form and outlines the college's approach to addressing incidents of harassment.



Fairmont State College, as an employer and an educational institution, has responsibility for establishing an environment free from sexual harassment. As an employer, the college must meet the obligations of the EEOC guidelines that define sexual harassment and recognize it as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As an educational institution, the college must provide protection from and access to redress for sexual harassment against students, as suggested in language in Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments. Sexual harassment in any manner or form is expressly prohibited.



DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT



Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct 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 or education,

2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual,

3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment, educational, social or living environment.



EXAMPLES of harassment may include but are not limited to:

verbal harassment or abuse, including sexually offensive jokes;

subtle pressure for sexual activity;

sexist remarks about an individual's clothing, body, or sexual activities;

unnecessary touching, patting, or pinching;

demanding sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning one's job, grades, or letter of recommendations, etc;

physical sexual assault.



EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS RELATED TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT



The Harassment Policy and this statement on Sexual Harassment will not by themselves accomplish elimination of sexual harassment. Policy efforts must be coupled with proactive educational efforts throughout the college community. It is the responsibility of the college in cooperation with the State College System Board of Directors to provide educational opportunities to create this free environment and to take immediate and appropriate corrective action when sexual harassment is reported or becomes known. Supervisors at every level are of primary importance in the implementation and enforcement of this policy. The Affirmative Action Committee, Faculty Development Committee, the Staff Development Committee, Student Government, the President's Council on Equity and Human Relations, and each supervisor of staff, faculty, or student workers are expected to provide educational efforts to reduce and eliminate any form of sexual harassment.



COMPLAINT PROCEDURES, AVAILABLE SANCTIONS, AND APPEALS



Complaint procedures, which include options for consultation, informal resolution mechanisms, and formal resolution mechanisms for students, faculty, classified staff and administrators, are outlined in the Harassment Policy, as are examples of harassment situations. The Harassment Policy also describes available sanctions, the appeal process, confidentiality measures, and mechanisms for providing statistical summaries of reported incidents. See FSC Harassment Policy, Sections V-VIII.