Nondiscrimination & Nonharassment

All members of the campus community are responsible for preventing discrimination, harassment, and retaliation and ensuring that the work and academic environments are free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

Nondiscrimination and Nonharassment Policy

 

I.  Purpose and Scope of the Policy

Hartwick College seeks to maintain healthy and supportive educational and work environments for all members of the Hartwick College community. This environment is that of a liberal arts college, which focuses on the development of the disciplines of thinking, learning, analyzing, communicating, and values-based judgment and where students, faculty, and staff are mutually engaged in intellectual, social, and personal learning inside and outside of the classroom. Central to this educational environment is the principle of open discourse; however, open discourse does not mean that all forms of expression are acceptable, particularly when such forms of expression infringe upon the rights of others.

Harassment is prohibited, and includes any physical or verbal action, expression, or other behavior based upon such characteristics as age, race, sexual/affectional orientation, disability, genetic information, predisposition of carrier status, ethnic or national origin, religion, military or veteran’s status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or other classes protected by applicable law, where the effect of such behavior is to degrade or humiliate an individual or individuals; or to deny an individual or individuals the full and free exercise of their rights or privileges; or to interfere with an individual’s work performance or the progress of the individual’s education; or to create an intimidating or hostile environment.

The College does not condone and will not tolerate harassment of any form, and if harassment is determined to have occurred, appropriate sanctions will be imposed, up to and including termination of employment.

The harassment prohibited by this policy includes any harassment based on an individual’s age, gender, race, sexual/affectional orientation, disability, genetic information, predisposition of carrier status, ethnic or national origin, religion, military or veteran’s status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or other classes protected by applicable law. Concerns or complains regarding sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct are governed by the College’s Sex Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct policy. This policy also prohibits any retaliation in any form against an individual who opposes a discriminatory practice, makes a good faith complaint of harassment, and/or furnishes information or otherwise participates in an investigation of any such allegations, regardless of the outcome of the case.

This policy applies to persons who perform work at Hartwick on behalf of other employers, visitors to the College’s facilities, and individuals attending College sponsored programs or events. All members of the College community have a responsibility to report promptly any conduct believed to violate this policy. When cases of suspected harassment are reported, the College will respond quickly and take steps to resolve the case as expeditiously as possible, which may include an investigation. All reasonable efforts will be used to ensure that the rights of all parties involved are protected. Informal resolution of a complaint is encouraged, but is not required before formal action is pursued.

II.  Required Education

Because Hartwick College is an educational institution, an important response to harassment or harm arising from insensitivity or ignorance is to educate the guilty party or parties and the rest of the College community to clarify the nature of the offending behavior and reduce the likelihood of the recurrence of such behavior. The responsibility for such education lies with the President or designated representative.

Preventing workplace harassment training is required of all employees, including all staff and administrators, and all faculty.  The objective of this education is to enable persons to understand and recognize the nature of harassment, its impacts and when it occurs in their own behavior and that of others. All employees are required to complete the trainings within 30-days of hire, and every three years thereafter.  In the event that an employee does not satisfactorily complete the trainings, written notice will be served that, unless and until they complete the trainings, the College will not provide the employee with any indemnification or defense in the event any workplace harassment charges are brought against them. The College will withhold annual pay increases to any employee who fails to participate in the trainings.  Also, the College will relieve an employee who refuses to participate in required trainings of all supervisory responsibilities.  The College may, at its discretion, terminate any employee who does not complete the required training(s).

III. Definitions

Discrimination is any distinction, preference, advantage for, or detriment to an individual compared to others that is based on an individual’s actual or perceived age, gender, race, sexual/affectional orientation, disability, genetic information, predisposition of carrier status, ethnic or national origin, religion, military or veteran’s status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or other classes protected by applicable law, that adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a college activity, or is used as the basis for or a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a college activity.

Discriminatory Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on an individual’s age, gender, race, sexual/affectional orientation, disability, genetic information, predisposition of carrier status, ethnic or national origin, religion, military or veteran’s status, marital status, domestic violence victim status, or other classes protected by applicable law, when:

  1. such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment; degrades, humiliates, or denies a person or persons the full and free exercise of their rights or privileges; or unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or the progress of the individual’s education; or
  2. the acquiescing to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic advancement, or
  3. the acquiescing to or resisting of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such an individual.

A single instance of inappropriate conduct may or may not be sufficient to create such an environment.  The determination depends on the severity of the conduct and related circumstances.  Inappropriate behavior that is repetitive and pervasive is normally deemed to create such an environment and thus will constitute harassment.

Harassment is not limited to prohibited behavior by a male toward a female, or by a supervisory employee toward a non-supervisory employee, or a faculty to a student.  The victim does not have to be the opposite sex of the harasser.  The gender of the complainant and/or the alleged harasser is irrelevant, even if they are the same gender.  Harassment may be student to student, faculty to staff, or any combination of student, faculty, staff, or visitor.

Retaliatory Harassment is intentional action taken by an individual or allied third party, absent legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons, directed at an individual because the individual opposed a discriminatory practice, made a good faith complaint under this policy or furnished information or otherwise participated in an investigation of such an allegation.

Sexual Harassment is the most common form of harassment on college campuses and workplaces. Examples of behaviors that can rise to the level of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Coercion of sexual activity, either implicit or explicit
  • Solicitation of sexual activity or other sexual behavior by promise of reward
  • Offensive and unwanted invitations to sexual activity, sexual advances, flirtations and/or propositions, not accompanied by threats or promises, offensive and unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature including graphic comments about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, and/or the use of sexually degrading stereotypes to describe a gender or class of individuals, regardless of whether the comments or words were merely intended to be amusing
  • The open display or publication, in any form, of sexually graphic objects or images for other than an educational purpose.

Concerns or complains regarding sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct are governed by the College’s Sex Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy, a copy of which can be obtained on the College’s website at http://www.hartwick.edu/about-us/employment/human-resources/title-ix

IV.  Bringing a Complaint or Reporting a Case of Suspected Harassment

A person who believes he or she is the victim of harassment at Hartwick College has the right to bring a complaint seeking either an informal or formal resolution. A person who suspects that another member of the College community is being harassed has a responsibility to report the case to an appropriate College official. This policy places an affirmative duty and responsibility on all members of the College community to report any suspected harassment of which they become aware.

No adverse action of any kind will be taken by the College against anyone for bringing a good faith complaint of harassment or in good faith reporting a suspected case of harassment, regardless of the final disposition of that complaint.

Hartwick College encourages, but does not require, individuals who believe they are being harassed to promptly notify the person that his or her behavior is unwelcome. If for any reason an individual does not wish to confront that person directly, or if such a confrontation does not successfully end the harassment, the individual is encouraged to seek the College’s intervention in accordance with this policy.

To bring a complaint or report a case of alleged harassment, students may contact the Chief Student Affairs Officer; faculty members may contact the Chief Academic Officer; and staff may contact the Director of Human Resources.  These College officials have experience and training in dealing with harassment related issues; however, a complaint may be reported to any College official who will then be required to contact the appropriate College administrator named above.  If the situation involves the appropriate College administrator, this report should be made to one of the other identified administrators.

Upon receipt of a complaint, the Chief Student Affairs Officer, Chief Academic Officer, or the Director of Human Resources will review the complaint and determine if the complaint falls within the purview of Title IX violations ( See Sex Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy) or within the purview of this policy.  If the complaint falls within the purview of Title IX, the complaint will be forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator for handling.  If the complaint falls within the purview of this Nondiscrimination and Nonharassment policy and Title IX, then two investigations may be conducted.

If the complaint falls within the purview of the Nondiscrimination and Nonharassment policy, then after being contacted, the appropriate College official (Chief Academic Officer; Chief Student Affairs Officer; Director of Human Resources) or designee will apprise the complainant or person reporting the concern of the College’s policies and procedures, the rights of all parties, and the possible outcomes. The Complainant has the right to present a written description of the allegations. In the event that the College receives an anonymous complaint or report, there will be a preliminary investigation based on the available information, and a determination as to the appropriate course of action.

As a result of the initial discussions between the complainant (or the person reporting the concern) and the College official, and if appropriate, the College will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into the matter, and will take any steps that it deems appropriate to remedy the situation. If the person reporting the concern is not the victim of the alleged harassment, the appropriate College official or designee will promptly contact that individual to explain the College’s policies and procedures, to request a written statement, and to obtain relevant information. The College may conduct an investigation regardless of whether the complainant chooses to file a formal complaint.

Whenever possible, the College’s investigation and all subsequent proceedings will be kept strictly confidential, including the identities of all parties involved, except to the extent that disclosure is required to selected persons for an effective investigation. The College will attempt to honor the complainant’s request for anonymity, unless an effective investigation cannot be conducted without disclosure of the complainant’s identity.  The College may take interim actions pending investigation or formal proceedings to stop the behavior, remediate the impact and prevent any reoccurrence.  Such actions may include residence hall restrictions, course changes, suspension from employment, removal from campus, or other appropriate actions.

V.  Retaliation

The College will not in any way retaliate and forbids retaliation against any employee who opposes a discriminatory practice, makes a good faith complaint of discrimination, including harassment, or furnishes information or participates in any manner in an investigation of such a complaint.  Retaliation includes any conduct, whether or not workplace or employment-related, directed at someone because he/she made such a complaint or participated in such an investigation, which might deter a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination or harassment.  Any such retaliatory act violates this policy and will result in appropriate disciplinary action. 

Any person who believes he or she is the victim of retaliation should report the matter to any of the individuals identified above.  Any other College official to whom a report is made or who otherwise becomes aware of a violation of this policy is expected to promptly report such to the appropriate College administrator.  If the situation involves the appropriate College administrator, this report should be made to one of the other identified administrators.

Retaliation is a serious violation of this policy and must be reported immediately by any employee who believes that he/she has been the subject of or has witnessed retaliation.    Any employee found to have retaliated against another employee will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

VI.  Informal Resolution

Informal resolution of a complaint is encouraged, but not required, before formal action is pursued. If both the complainant and the respondent agree to participate in informal resolution, the College official or designee with primary authority relative to the respondent will meet with both parties (separately or together, as appropriate) and attempt to facilitate an appropriate resolution.

If either party withdraws his/her consent to participate in the informal resolution process before the process is concluded; if the parties cannot agree on an appropriate resolution; or if the College official determines that the resolution agreed upon by the parties (with or without the assistance of a mediator) is not in the best interests of the College, the case will be referred to the Special Hearing Board.

VII.  Harassment Hearing Officers

The President will appoint a total of eight members of the Hartwick College community to serve as Harassment Hearing Officers. Persons shall be selected for their integrity, their ability to serve as honest hearing officers, and their approachability by students, faculty, and staff. The Hearing Officers will be drawn from College faculty and staff, and an attempt will be made to maintain balanced representation for all areas of the campus community.  Recognizing that it is critical that a number of the Harassment Hearing Officers have well-established and acknowledged expertise and familiarity with the College’s policies and procedures regarding harassment, the College, in making these appointments, will consider each individual’s expertise.

Harassment Hearing Officers receive special training so that they are enabled to carry out their responsibilities with fairness, sensitivity, and speed and so that they understand and are conversant in the College’s procedures, policies, and in explaining the definitions of harassment and the possible outcomes of a case. Through the Office of Student Affairs, the College will conduct special training on at least an annual basis consisting of a review of Hartwick policies and procedures and various aspects of dealing with harassment related issues. All Harassment Hearing Officers, Senior Officers and the Director of Human Resources are required to attend all special training sessions.

VIII.  Formal Procedures

A.  Formal Complaint

  1. When a formal written complaint is filed, the College official (Chief Academic Officer; Chief Student Affairs Officer; Director of Human Resources) or designee receiving the complaint will immediately (by the end of the next business day if reasonably possible) provide a copy of the formal complaint to the College official with supervisory responsibility of the respondent. Every effort will be made to protect the confidentiality of all parties to the extent that doing so will not impair the College’s obligation to conduct an investigation. If the respondent is a senior officer of the College, the President shall be notified of the complaint. If the respondent is the President of the College, the Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees shall be notified of the complaint.
  2. The College official or designee notified of the complaint will immediately (by the end of the next business day if reasonably possible) inform the respondent of the complaint and provide him or her with a copy. The College official will apprise the respondent of the College’s policies and procedures in such cases and the rights of both parties. The College will conduct or direct an effective, thorough and objective investigation into the allegations.
  3. Subsequent to the investigation, the College official will serve as the initial review officer who will explain the charges. If the allegation is determined to be unfounded, the respondent will be advised.  If the allegation is founded, the respondent will have the opportunity to acknowledge responsibility, waive their right to a hearing, and request an administrative recommendation of sanction. 
  4. Should the respondent plead “not responsible”, a hearing will be conducted by the Special Hearing Board.

B.  Special Hearing Board

  1. The College official notified of the complaint will convene a Special Hearing Board within ten (10) business days if reasonably possible. An initial slate of three (3) individuals, with at least one with established and acknowledged expertise in the College’s policies and procedures, will be selected from the pool of trained Harassment Hearing Officers to serve on the Special Hearing Board. Every reasonable effort will be made to have balanced representation on the Board and to select members who are not closely associated with the complainant or the respondent.  Any member invited to serve on the Special Hearing Board who feels that he/she cannot be completely objective in the given case should recuse himself/herself by so notifying the College official. The initial slate of Hearing Officers will be proposed to the parties who, for good cause as determined by the other Hearing Officers, can challenge any individuals proposed. This process will continue until a complete Special Hearing Board is assembled. The College official will then appoint one member of the Special Hearing Board to serve as its chairperson. 
  2. The Special Hearing Board will hear the evidence gathered through the investigation and will deliberate the case as thoroughly and as expeditiously as reasonably possible. The Board will make every effort to conduct its deliberations in such a way as to ensure that the rights of both parties are protected. The Hearing Board may call witnesses as they deem appropriate.
  3. The hearing will be convened as soon as practicable. All parties will be afforded a reasonable opportunity to present factual evidence and arguments in full, and may call other persons to testify. Formal rules of evidence will not apply; any evidence which the Special Hearing Board believes is relevant may be admitted. The Board may also exclude irrelevant or immaterial evidence. The chairperson will rule on all matters of procedure and admissibility of evidence.
  4. All proceedings before the Board are closed to the public. An audio recording will be made of the hearing conducted, and the recording will be made available to those officials responsible for the sanctions and the appeal process. The recording will be sealed in a locked file and will not be published or released by the College to anyone unless necessary in the context of legal proceedings.
  5. The alleged respondent shall be required to either attend the hearing or submit a statement. The hearing will be held even if the respondent does not attend or submit a statement.
  6. The Special Hearing Board will be guided by the College’s procedures for conducting a hearing consistent with training.

C.  Determination

  1. As a result of its deliberations, the Special Hearing Board will render a determination as to whether or not the respondent has violated this policy.. The Board will prepare a written report explaining its determination with findings, conclusions and recommendations for appropriate disciplinary sanctions. If the Board is divided over any issue, each individual member who chooses to do so may prepare a separate report explaining his or her individual assessment. The Board should make every effort to produce their final report(s) as soon as practicable after the close of the hearing.
  2. If the Special Hearing Board finds that the respondent has violated this policy, the College official with jurisdiction over the respondent, in consultation with the College official with jurisdiction over the complainant, will consider the Special Hearing Board’s recommendations and will determine the appropriate disciplinary sanctions. If the College determines that an employee has violated this policy, it will take effective remedial action commensurate with the circumstances.  Appropriate action will also be taken to deter any future harassment. 
  3. The College official will notify the complainant and the respondent in writing as soon as reasonably possible, after receiving the Board’s report, as to the determination, the essential findings supporting such determination, and a description of any sanctions to be imposed.

D.  Appeal Process

  1. Either party may appeal the determination or the imposed sanctions. Such an appeal must be made in writing to the President of the College within five (5) business days of the notification of the determination and imposed sanctions. If the respondent is the President of the College, the appeal would be made to the Chair of the Governance Committee of the Board, who would convene the Executive Committee of the Board to review the appeal.
  2. The President or Chair will have access to all materials presented to the Special Hearing Board, the recording of the hearing, and the report of the Board. Upon reviewing the record, the President or Chair may either return the case to the Board for further process or render a written decision that affirms the Board’s determination and the recommended sanctions or that modifies any aspect of the determination or sanctions imposed. The President’s or Chair’s decision will be final and binding on all parties. The President’s Office will notify all parties by providing them with a copy of the President’s decision. In the event of appeals involving the Chair of the Board or Executive Committee of the Board, the Secretary of the College will notify all parties by providing them with a copy of the decision.

IX.  Rights of Individuals Involved

A.  The Complainant

The complainant’s rights include:

  1. The right to remain silent during the hearing. If the complainant decides to exercise this right, the process will continue and a decision will be made based on the evidence presented.
  2. The right to confer with one advisor that the complainant chooses from the Hartwick College campus community (student, faculty or staff member) to help prepare information to present at the hearing. This advisor may be present at the hearing, but only to answer questions that the complainant may have during the course of the proceedings. The advisor may not speak directly to members of the Special hearing Board at the hearing unless specifically requested to do so by the chair of the Special Hearing Board. The advisor may not serve as a witness on behalf of the complainant.
  3. The right to seek legal advice if it is desired or if criminal or civil action is anticipated outside the College’s process. As the process is a College judicial process, legal counsel may not be present at or participate in the process or hearing.
  4. The right to make his or her statement without being in the presence of the respondent in the hearing.
  5. The right to make a “Victim Impact Statement”, which is an oral or written statement that describes the effect that the matter has had on the complainant emotionally or physically.
  6. The right to call witnesses to testify at the hearing. Character witnesses may not be called, nor will character witness statements be permitted. The Special Hearing Board may establish a reasonable limit to the number of witnesses.
  7. The right to read the written statements of all involved.
  8. The right to withdraw a complaint at any time prior to the imposition of sanctions. If the complaint is withdrawn, the College may still proceed to impose sanctions that the College deems appropriate based on the evidence presented.
  9. The right to be free of any retaliation as described in this policy.
  10. The right to appeal.

B.  Rights of the Respondent

The respondent’s rights include:

  1. The right to be informed of the charges in writing prior to the hearing, including the time(s) and place(s) of the alleged offense(s), and the identity of his or her complainant.
  2. The right to remain silent during the hearing. If the respondent decides to exercise this right, the process will continue and a decision will be made based on the evidence presented.
  3. The right to confer with one advisor that the respondent chooses from the Hartwick College campus community (student, faculty or staff member) to help prepare information to present at the hearing. This advisor may be present at the hearing, but only to answer questions that the respondent may have during the course of the proceedings. The advisor may not speak directly to members of the Special hearing Board at the hearing unless specifically requested to do so by the chairperson of the Special Hearing Board. The advisor may not serve as a witness on behalf of the respondent.
  4. The right to seek legal advice if it is desired or if criminal or civil action is anticipated outside the College’s process. As the process is a College judicial process, legal counsel may not be present at or participate in the process or hearing.
  5. The right to make his or her statement without being in the presence of the complainant in the hearing.
  6. The right to call witnesses to testify at the hearing. Character witnesses may not be called, nor will character witness statements be permitted. The Special Hearing Board may establish a reasonable limit to the number of witnesses.
  7. The right to read the written statements of all involved.
  8. The right to resign from the College; however, the College reserves the right to finalize the process.
  9. The right to be free of any retaliation as described in this policy.
  10. The right to appeal.

X.  Disciplinary Sanctions

Disciplinary sanctions will be imposed if the respondent is found to have violated College policy. Sanction may be imposed immediately, and may include the loss of campus privileges. The following sanctions include, but are not limited to:

A.  Sanctions Against College Employees

  • A letter of censure to be placed in the employee’s personnel file
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Transfer, reassignment or demotion
  • Restrictions in access to College facilities/resources or other losses of privileges
  • Suspension without pay
  • Dismissal

B.  Sanctions Against Persons Not Enrolled In or Employed by the College

  • Restrictions on access to College property, programs or events
  • Temporary or permanent denial of access to College property, programs, or events

XI.  False and Malicious Complaints

No adverse action of any kind will be taken by the College against anyone for bringing a good faith complaint of harassment or reporting a suspected case of harassment, regardless of the final disposition of that complaint.  False and malicious accusations of sexual or other harassment, as opposed to complaints, which, even if erroneous, are made in good faith, may be the subject of appropriate disciplinary action

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