The following policies address three different aspects of inappropriate conduct or behavior: Discriminatory Harassment, Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault and Consensual Sexual or Romantic Relationships in the Workplace and Educational Setting. Collectively, the policies apply to all students, faculty, staff, and others who participate in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s programs and activities.
General Policy Statement for Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment
It is the policy of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College to provide an educational and workplace environment free from Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment. It is our goal to promote respectful behavior and interactions across our campus. No type of Sexual or Discriminatory Harassment will be tolerated and all incidents of intolerant or discriminatory behavior will be addressed. Individuals who violate this policy are subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment, dismissal from the College, and/or other appropriate sanction or action.
The College encourages a workplace and learning environment free of discrimination, harassment and/or inappropriate treatment of any student, employee or guest because of any person’s race, sex, color, creed, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, gender identity, gender expression, disability or any category protected under federal, state or local law. This policy applies to all students, faculty and staff of the College, as well as to persons employed by contractors or vendors who provide routine daily services to the College.
This policy encompasses all college activities including all academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic and other programs of the College. These activities may take place in a college facility, during college-sponsored trips, or at a class, training program or event sponsored by the College at another location.
The College is committed to reviewing any and all sexual and discriminatory harassment charges and to handle such matters in a professional and timely manner. The College is obligated to communicate this policy to all members of the community and to provide educational programming and resources to ensure awareness and compliance with this policy.
Responsibility of the Community
It is the responsibility of each employee of the College to report any suspected violation of this policy.
Every suspected violation of Sexual Harassment including sexual assault or misconduct must be reported directly to the Title IX Coordinators, Kari Wolfe, 812-535-5220 or BJ Riley, 812-535-5267. The “responsible employee” is required to convey all pertinent information to the coordinator.
All other suspected violations of Discriminatory Harassment involving campus students should be reported to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, 812-535-5219, violations involving all other students should be reported to the Executive Director of Student Success, 812-535-5114 and incidents involving employee-employee violations should be reported directly to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, 812-535-5284.
Any student, campus visitor or person participating in a College activity, whether on or off-campus, who has experienced or witnessed discrimination and/or harassment is required to report the incident(s) promptly. Prompt reporting of complaints is vital to the College’s ability to resolve the matter.
The College will make a reasonable effort to conduct all investigations and proceedings related to Sexual or Discriminatory Harassment allegations in a manner that will protect the confidentiality and privacy interests of all parties. Examples of situations where confidentiality cannot be maintained include circumstances where the College is required by law to disclose information when disclosure is warranted by the College in order to protect the rights of others, or in order to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. In addition to these efforts by the College, all parties to the alleged complaint should treat the matter under investigation with discretion and respect for the reputation of all parties involved.
Retaliation and/or reprisals against an individual who in good faith reports or provides information about behavior that may violate this policy will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or dismissal from the institution.
Required Training and Educational Programming
All employees of the College, including student employees, are required to complete the online course assigned by the human resources department once every two years. New employees will complete the online course during the first two weeks of employment. The College is required to identify and train a Title IX Coordinator and designate other qualified individuals as resources for all members of the community. Students must be offered educational programs and/or resources that promote personal safety, procedures for filing harassment complaints, and specific information regarding sexual violence.
Discriminatory Harassment is any unwelcome interpersonal conduct or comments, written, spoken or transmitted electronically, which would threaten a reasonable person, for reasons including but not limited to their race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), gender expression, national origin, older age (beginning at age 40), disability, veteran status or genetic information (including family medical history). Similarly, any behavior that creates an offensive, demeaning, intimidating or hostile environment for a reasonable person constitutes harassment. A “hostile work environment” is defined as any setting in which another’s (others’) behavior is sufficiently severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that creates a work environment that is abusive. The level of “sufficient discomfort” must meet the legal test for “reasonableness” behavior that would cause any “reasonable” similarly employed person to be adversely impaired in performing assigned duties and responsibilities.
A “hostile educational environment” is defined as any educational setting in which another’s (others’) behavior causes or interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program.
Reports or complaints of Discriminatory Harassment should be filed with the Associate Vice President of Human Resources as soon as possible after the alleged offense has occurred and should be brought within a reasonable time frame.
Complaint Procedures for Discriminatory Harassment
Inquiries and complaints about discriminatory harassment involving employees may be brought to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, 812-535-5284, Guerin Hall, Room 110. Complaints involving employee-campus students will be addressed by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources and the Associate Vice President of Student Life, 812-535-5219, LeFer Hall, Room 018, or the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, 812-535-5181. Complaints involving employee-WOL/Graduate students will be addressed by the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, 812-535-5181. The management of all complaints of harassment and the implementation of these procedures is the responsibility of the Associate Vice President of Human Resources. In the instance that a Vice President is the subject of a discriminatory harassment charge the President will be requested to designate another individual to fulfill responsibilities normally filled by an appropriate Vice President.
The complainant or the person reporting the alleged violation will complete a written report containing all pertinent information of date, time, location, persons involved, and description of the incident. There are both informal and formal processes for resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment. A Complainant may elect to invoke either the informal or formal resolution process. If the Complainant finds that initial informal efforts are unsatisfactory, the Complainant may then seek formal resolution.
The College may initiate an investigation of circumstances that may involve discrimination and/or harassment even where no complaint, formal or informal, has been filed. In such situations, the College may elect to investigate and, if warranted, impose disciplinary sanctions pursuant to these or other established College procedures.
To protect both the Complainant and the Respondent, every effort will be made to protect the privacy interests of the persons involved in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review of a report or complaint.
If the Complainant requests that his or her name or other identifiable information not be shared with the Respondent, or requests that the College take no formal action in response to a report, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources in consultation with the appropriate Vice President(s) shall evaluate such request and notify the individual of the College’s response to the request. The College will honor the Complainant’s request to the extent possible based on a careful balancing of such requests with any legal reporting requirements, the risk of harm to any individual and the College’s duty to maintain a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all.
If the College honors the request for confidentiality, the College’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against a Respondent may be limited. Complainants are advised, however, that the College may be obligated to move forward with a College – Initiated Investigation and potential disciplinary action if there is an individual or public safety concern and sufficient independent information exists to establish that the Discriminatory Harassment Policy has been violated.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the College will take interim measures to address concerns regarding safety and well-being. If necessary, the College will assist the Complainant in making reasonable efforts to avoid contact with the Respondent(s). Interim measures may include no-contact directives, changes in class or work schedules, changes in College-owned living arrangements, interim suspension, College-imposed leave or any other measures that the College deems appropriate. Interim measures are available under both Informal and Formal Resolution Processes, although the ability to impose certain protective measures against a Respondent may require that the report be resolved through the Formal Resolution Process.
The College encourages prompt reporting. Persons who have experienced or witnessed discriminatory harassment are encouraged to report the incident involving employees to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources or incidents involving students, to the Associate Vice President of Student Life or the Executive Director of Student Success as outlined above. Complaints must be filed within a reasonable timeframe of the incident of discriminatory harassment or, where the discrimination or harassment is of an ongoing nature, within a reasonable timeframe from the most recent incident. To file an Informal or Formal Complaint, a Complainant must complete a Complaint Information Form online, in person, or via electronic mail.
The College will make a good faith effort to complete the resolution process within a sixty-to-ninety (60-90) business day timeframe.
Expectations Regarding Participation by the Parties
All employees and students have an obligation to cooperate in the conduct of these Procedures. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action. In the event that a Complainant chooses not to participate in an interview or declines to provide information requested by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources or the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, the appropriate Vice President(s) and the Associate Vice President of Human Resources or the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs may dismiss the Complaint. The Associate Vice President of Human Resources or the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and the appropriate Vice President shall provide written notice of such dismissal to the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s). In the event that a Respondent chooses not to participate in an interview or declines to provide the information requested by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs or the Vice President, it may be determined that such information or interview, if provided or conducted, would be adverse to the Respondent. Where the Complaint or the circumstances involve potential criminal conduct, however, a party may choose to remain silent during the process, and such silence will not be held as an admission or considered to be adverse to the party.
Informal Resolution Process
The Informal Resolution Process is designed to empower the parties to an Informal Complaint to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. For employee-related incidents, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources in consultation with the appropriate Vice President may take steps to resolve the Informal Complaint. For incidents involving students, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs will confer with the Associate Vice President of Human Resources. Possible resolutions by agreement of the parties may include but are not limited to, the following: an apology to the Complainant, assisting the Respondent to better understand the effects of his or her conduct and ways in which this behavior could be changed, participation in educational programs about equal opportunity or harassment, verbal or written reprimands, or other interventions or actions aimed at ending the discrimination or harassment, preventing its recurrence and addressing its effects.
The Informal Resolution Process will be concluded by one of the following: 1) a decision to stop further action on the Informal Complaint, 2) a resolution of the Informal Complaint by agreement of the parties or 3) initiation of the Formal Resolution Process.
Formal Resolution Process
A Formal Complaint may be filed as the first course of action or following an Informal Complaint if there is no mutually acceptable resolution during the Informal Resolution Process. The College may also initiate an investigation in the absence of a Formal Complaint by a Complainant.
To file a Formal Complaint, a Complainant must complete a written statement in person, or via electronic mail. The Complaint must be dated by the Complainant and describe the alleged incident(s) with the relevant date(s), name(s) of the Respondent(s) and name(s) of witness(es). For incidents involving employees, The Associate Vice President of Human Resources can provide assistance in completing the Complaint Information Form.
Investigations of Formal Complaints
As soon as practicable, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources/Associate Vice President for Student Life/Executive Director of Student Success will interview the Complainant. Following the completion of his or her interview with the Complainant, the appropriate Vice President will be notified in writing as to whether or not the allegations set forth in the Complaint, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of College policy.
In the event that this notification indicates that the allegations set forth in the Complaint if substantiated, would constitute a violation of College policy, or if the appropriate Vice President determines that the matter should be investigated, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources will conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation and will meet separately with both the Complainant and the Respondent(s), interview pertinent witnesses and review relevant documents regarding the Formal Complaint. The Associate Vice President of Human Resources may consider all relevant information, including evidence of a pattern or prior misconduct by the Respondent, credibility of the parties and witnesses, and in very limited circumstances, the prior history of the Complainant with the Respondent. Both parties will be provided the opportunity to provide information and names of witnesses to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources.
Within a reasonable time following the conclusion of the investigation, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources will prepare and deliver a report to the appropriate Vice President. The report will include a finding based upon clear and convincing evidence that 1) the allegations cannot be substantiated, 2) some or all of the allegations are substantiated or 3) the Formal Complaint was knowingly false or malicious. No violation of College policy will be presumed unless a clear and convincing evidence standard supports the finding of a violation. This clear and convincing evidence standard requires that the evidence being presented must be “highly” and substantially more probable to be true rather than untrue. The report will include the basis upon which the Associate Vice President of Human Resources reached his or her conclusions. The report will also include the determination of whether a violation of any College policy has occurred and a recommendation of the sanctions to be imposed if any.
Formal Complaints or College-Initiated Investigations in which a student or recognized student organization is named as a Respondent will be decided by the adjudicator.
Formal Complaints or College-Initiated Investigations against employees, including faculty and staff, will be decided by the adjudicator.
Sanctions and Remedial Measures
Sanctions will be decided by the Associate Vice President of Human Resources or the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and the appropriate Vice President. Sanctions will be decided on a case-by-case basis and will be in accordance with College policy. Possible sanctions for employees include but are not limited to, the following: a letter of reprimand, suspension or leave of absence without pay, reassignment of teaching or other responsibilities, denial of a pay increase, demotion, probation or termination. Sanctions for students are listed in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities and may include without limitation verbal or written warnings, restrictions, probation, probated suspension, suspension or dismissal.
Remedial measures for students, faculty and staff will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Such measures may include providing an escort to ensure safe movement on campus, ensuring that the Complainant and Respondent do not share classes or extracurricular activities, reassignment in the residence hall, tutoring or other academic support, arranging for extra time to complete or re-take a class or withdraw from a class without academic or financial penalty, job reassignment, targeted training for a group of students, faculty or staff and other remedies that can be tailored to the needs of the parties.
The appropriate Vice President will communicate in writing the final sanctions and/or remedial measures for the complainant/respondent employee(s) and/or complainant/respondent student.
The Complainant and the Respondent each have the right to appeal the decision of the appropriate Vice President and imposition of any sanction to the President of the College. The appeal must be in writing and filed in person, via courier, or via postal or electronic mail within ten thirty (30) days of the issuance of notification of the decision with all supporting materials attached. Decisions not appealed within such time are deemed final.
Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault/Sexual Violence
Title IX Coordinators
SAINT MARY OF THE WOODS COLLEGE
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR TITLE IX SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS
Effective August 14, 2020
WHEREAS, the United States Government has issued new directives for higher education procedures addressing sexual harassment,
WHEREAS, these procedures may be subject to immediate and constant improvement and amendment to implement a fair process for all participants, and
WHEREAS, Saint Mary of the Woods College (SMWC) wishes to provide a fair process to resolve or adjudicate such allegations:
THEREFORE, SMWC hereby adopts the following policies and procedures, effective August 14, 2020:
DEFINITIONS AND APPLICATION
Participants must be separate individuals appointed and subject to removal and replacement by the SMWC President at any time, and include:
An individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
An individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
If during the grievance process a party does not have an advisor present at the live hearing, the school must provide, without fee or charge to that party, an advisor of the school’s choice who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney.
“Title IX Coordinator(s)”:
The employee(s) designated by SMWC to coordinate its efforts to comply with Title IX responsibilities.
An individual who compiles evidence regarding the allegations.
An individual who presides over the grievance process if a formal complaint is filed, and issues a written decision. The decision maker may also provide objective and unbiased advice to staff during the course of a Title IX complaint.
Sexual harassment is defined broadly to include any of three types of misconduct on the basis of sex, all of which jeopardize the equal access to education that Title IX is designed to protect. This includes any instance of quid pro quo harassment by a school’s employee, any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access, and any instance of sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act), dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
These are individualized services reasonably available that are nonpunitive, non-disciplinary, and not unreasonably burdensome, and which are designed to ensure equal educational access, protect safety, or deter sexual harassment.
These procedures apply when sexual harassment against any person occurs in SMWC’s education program or activity.
An education program or activity includes locations, events, or circumstances over which SMWC exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment occurred, and also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by SMWC.
Application includes programs or activities that occur on-campus or off-campus.
These procedures may supplement previous SMWC policies and procedures, but to the extent the procedures herein contradict previous policies and procedures, these procedures control due to the recently promulgated directive from the United States Department of Education.
REPORTING AND RESPONSE
Any person may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment (whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment), in person, by mail, by telephone, or by e-mail, using the contact information listed for the Title IX Coordinator, or by any other means that results in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report. Such a report may be made at any time, including during non-business hours, by using the telephone number or e-mail address, or by mail to the office address, listed for the Title IX Coordinator.
SMWC will respond to all complaints promptly and in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent when viewed in the totality of the circumstances.
The Title IX Coordinator will promptly contact the complainant confidentially to discuss the availability of supportive measures, consider the complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures, inform the complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a formal complaint, and explain to the complainant the process for filing a formal complaint.
SMWC will provide supportive measures (see definitions) to the complainant.
SMWC will keep confidential the identity of complainants, respondents, and witnesses, except as may be permitted by FERPA, as required by law, or as necessary to carry out a Title IX proceeding.
(Informal Resolution and Formal Complaint)
SMWC may, in its discretion, choose to offer and facilitate informal resolution options, such as mediation or restorative justice, so long as both parties give voluntary, informed, written consent to attempt informal resolution. Any person who facilitates an informal resolution must be well trained.
A “formal complaint” is a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a respondent and requesting that the school investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. This written document must state the complainant was participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of SMWC.
A formal complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail.
The written complaint must include the complainant’s physical or digital signature, which may be inferred from an email address or otherwise, or which otherwise indicates that the complainant is the person filing the formal complaint. The complaint must also include the complainant’s telephone number and physical address, if available, in order for the Title IX Coordinator to respond.
Where the Title IX Coordinator signs a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator is not a complainant or a party during a grievance process, and must comply with requirements for Title IX personnel to be free from conflicts and bias.
SMWC will investigate sexual harassment allegations in any formal complaint, which is filed by a complainant, or signed by a Title IX Coordinator.
Written notice to both parties (complainants and respondents) of the allegations upon receipt of a formal complaint shall be made by the Title IX Coordinator.
A complainant’s wishes with respect to whether the school investigates will be respected unless the Title IX Coordinator determines that signing a formal complaint to initiate an investigation over the wishes of the complainant is not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.
If the allegations in a formal complaint do not meet the definition of sexual harassment in the Final Rule, or did not occur in the school’s education program or activity against a person in the United States, SMWC is required by law to dismiss such allegations for purposes of Title IX, but SMWC may still address the allegations in any manner SMWC deems appropriate under SMWC’s code of conduct and/or policies. This decision will be made by the Title IX Coordinator, Decision Maker, or SMWC President.
During the investigation and grievance process:
– The burden of gathering evidence and burden of proof remains on SMWC, not on the parties.
– SMWC will provide equal opportunity for the parties to present fact and expert witnesses and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence.
-SMWC will not restrict the ability of the parties to discuss the allegations or gather evidence (e.g., no “gag orders”).
– Parties will have the same opportunity to select an advisor of the party’s choice who may be, but need not be, an attorney.
– SMWC will send to the parties written notice of any investigative interviews, meetings, or hearings.
– SMWC will send the parties, and their advisors, evidence directly related to the allegations, in electronic format or hard copy, with at least 10 days for the parties to inspect, review, and respond to the evidence.
– SMWC will send the parties, and their advisors, an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence, in electronic format or hard copy, with at least 10 days for the parties to respond.
– SMWC may, in its discretion, consolidate formal complaints where the allegations arise out of the same facts.
– Parties’ medical, psychological, and similar treatment records may not be accessed by SMWC unless SMWC receives written consent to do so.
SMWC may, in its discretion, dismiss a formal complaint or allegations therein if the complainant informs the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the complainant desires to withdraw the formal complaint or allegations therein, if the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the school, or if specific circumstances prevent the school from gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination.
SMWC will give the parties written notice of a dismissal (mandatory or discretionary) and the reasons for the dismissal.
The grievance process shall be an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence, inculpatory and exculpatory, and avoid credibility determinations based on a person’s status as a complainant, respondent, or witness.
All SMWC personnel participating in the grievance process, including the Title IX Coordinator, investigators, decision-maker, and/or people who facilitate any informal resolution process, will be free from conflicts of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents.
Following American jurisprudence, there will be a presumption that the respondent is not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process.
The standard of proof required to support a finding of sexual harassment must be clear and convincing evidence.
The grievance process will operate in a reasonably prompt time frame towards, including appeals and informal resolutions, with allowance for short-term, good cause delays or extensions of the time frames.
Should the respondent be found to have violated this standard of proof, remedies and penalties shall include, but are not limited to: dismissal from SMWC, a written reprimand placed in the respondent’s file, an oral reprimand, or other penalties imposed by the Decision Maker, all subject to appeal by the respondent to the SMWC President.
SMWC’s grievance process will provide for a live hearing.
Informal and general rules of protocol and evidence may be followed, but only to provide a framework of procedure. At the live hearing, the decision-maker will permit each party’s advisor to ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility.
Such cross-examination at the live hearing will be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by the party’s advisor of choice and never by a party personally.
At the request of either party, the recipient must provide for the entire live hearing (including cross-examination) to occur with the parties located in separate rooms with technology enabling the parties to see and hear each other.
Only relevant cross-examination and other questions may be asked of a party or witness. Before a complainant, respondent, or witness answers a cross-examination or other question, the decision-maker must first determine whether the question is relevant and explain to the party’s advisor asking cross-examination questions any decision to exclude a question as not relevant.
If a party does not have an advisor present at the live hearing, the school must provide, without fee or charge to that party, an advisor of the school’s choice who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party.
Live hearings may be conducted with all parties physically present in the same geographic location or, at the school’s discretion, any or all parties, witnesses, and other participants may appear at the live hearing virtually.
SMWC will create an audio or audiovisual recording, or transcript, of any live hearing.
Furthermore, there shall be rape shield protections for complainants, deeming irrelevant questions and evidence about a complainant’s prior sexual behavior unless offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the alleged misconduct or offered to prove consent.
The Decision Maker will issue a written determination regarding responsibility with findings of fact, conclusions about whether the alleged conduct occurred, rationale for the result as to each allegation, any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the respondent, and whether remedies will be provided to the complainant. – The written determination will be sent simultaneously to the parties along with information about how to file an appeal.
SMWC offers both parties an appeal from a determination regarding responsibility, and from a SMWC’s dismissal of a formal complaint or any allegations therein, on the following bases: procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter, newly discovered evidence that could affect the outcome of the matter, and/or evidence that Title IX personnel had a conflict of interest or bias that affected the outcome of the matter.
An appeal may be made to the President of SMWC, solely in writing, and within 30 days of the Decision Maker’s decision. A party opposing an appeal shall be provided a copy of the other party’s written appeal, and be permitted to file an opposing written document within 15 days. The President may make any finding, and in any manner, deemed to be appropriate under the circumstances. Parties shall not otherwise contact the President on appeal issues.
AMENDMENT OF PROCEDURES
Amendments to these procedures may be made upon approval of SMWC President.
Consensual Sexual or Romantic Relationships in the Workplace and Educational Setting
Saint Mary of the Woods College has a detailed policy regarding consensual sexual and romantic relationships between people in inherently unequal positions. If you are in such a relationship—or thinking about becoming involved in one—there are important risks, prohibitions, and requirements that you should understand.
This policy highlights the risks in sexual or romantic relationships in the SMWC workplace or academic setting between individuals in inherently unequal positions; prohibits certain relationships between teachers and students; and requires recusal (from supervision and evaluation) and notification in other relationships.
There are special risks in any sexual or romantic relationship between individuals in inherently unequal positions, and parties in such a relationship assume those risks. In the College context, such positions include, but are not limited to, teacher and student, supervisor and employee, senior faculty and junior faculty, adviser and advisee, coach and athlete, and individuals who supervise the day-to-day student living environment and their students.
Because of the potential for conflict of interest, exploitation, favoritism and bias, such relationships may undermine the real or perceived integrity of the supervision and evaluation provided. Further, these relationships are often less consensual than the individual whose position confers power or authority believes. In addition, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a sexual or romantic involvement, this past consent does not remove grounds for a charge based upon subsequent unwelcome conduct.
Such relationships may also have unintended, adverse effects on the climate of an academic program or work unit, thereby impairing the learning or working environment for others – both during such a relationship and after any break-up. Relationships in which one party is in a position to evaluate the work or influence the career of the other may provide grounds for complaint by third parties when that relationship gives undue access or advantage, restricts opportunities, or simply creates a perception of these problems.
For all of these reasons, sexual or romantic relationships–whether regarded as consensual or otherwise–between individuals in inherently unequal positions should in general be avoided and in many circumstances are strictly prohibited by this policy. Since these relationships can occur in multiple contexts on campus, this policy addresses certain contexts specifically. However, the policy covers all sexual and romantic relationships involving individuals in unequal positions, even if not addressed explicitly in what follows.
At a College, the role of the teacher is multifaceted, including serving as intellectual guide, mentor, role model and advisor. This role is at the heart of the College’s educational mission and its integrity must be maintained. The teacher’s influence and authority can extend far beyond the classroom and into the future, affecting the academic progress and careers of our students.
Accordingly, the College expects teachers to maintain interactions with students free from influences that may interfere with the learning and personal development experiences to which students are entitled. In this context, teachers include those who are entrusted by SMWC to teach, supervise, mentor and coach students, including faculty and academic advisors.
The College does recognize that the compensation benefit of tuition remission for spouses and/or dependent children of faculty and staff may create instances where the student/spouse/child and the teacher/spouse/parent are confronted with the issue of the exercise of academic authority over the spouse/child and the potential of impairing the learning or working environment for the spouse/child and others. Every effort will be exercised by the College to limit the academic and work related interactions thereby minimizing the potential for actual or perceived bias, favoritism or undue advantage.
If there is any doubt whether a relationship falls within this policy, individuals should disclose the facts and seek guidance rather than fail to disclose. Questions may be addressed to your supervisor or the appropriate Vice President or to the Title IX Coordinator. In those rare situations where it is programmatically unfeasible to provide alternative supervision or evaluation, the appropriate Vice President or supervisor must approve all evaluative and compensation actions.
Employees who engage in sexual or romantic relationships with a student or other employee contrary to the guidance, prohibitions and requirements provided in the policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, depending on the nature of and context for the violation. They will also be held accountable for any adverse consequences that result from those relationships.
Employment by a related person in any position (e.g. regular staff or faculty, temporary, casual, third party, etc.) within a department can occur only with the approval of the appropriate Vice President or his/her designee. Under no circumstances may a supervisor hire or approve any compensation action for any employee to whom the supervisor is related. An individual may not supervise, evaluate the job performance, or approve compensation for any individual with whom the supervisor is related.
All College proceedings are conducted in compliance with the requirements of Title IX, the Clery Act, the Campus SaVE Act, FERPA, state and local law, and College policy. No information shall be released from proceedings under the Policies, the Procedures or this Standard except as required or permitted by law and College policy. The College reserves the right to notify the parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any conduct situation, particularly probation, suspension, and dismissal.
As a general proposition, the College believes that a sexual or romantic relationship between a teacher and a student – even where consensual and whether or not the student is subject to supervision or evaluation by the teacher – is inconsistent with the proper role of the teacher. Not only can these relationships harm the educational environment for the individual student involved, they also undermine the educational environment for other students. Furthermore, such relationships may expose the teacher to charges of misconduct and create a potential liability, not only for the teacher, but also for the College if it is determined that laws against sexual harassment or discrimination have been violated.
Consequently, the College has established the following parameters regarding sexual or romantic relationships with SMWC students:
First, sexual or romantic relationships between teachers and undergraduate students are prohibited – regardless of current or future academic or supervisory responsibilities for that student.
Second, whenever a teacher has had, or in the future might reasonably be expected to have, academic responsibility over any student, such relationships are prohibited. This includes, for example, any faculty member who teaches in a graduate program. Conversely, no teacher shall exercise academic responsibility over a student with whom he or she has previously had a sexual or romantic relationship. “Academic responsibility” includes (but is not limited to) teaching, grading, mentoring, advising on or evaluating research or other academic activity, participating in decisions regarding funding or other resources, clinical supervision, and recommending for admissions, employment, fellowships or awards. In this context, students include graduate and professional school students.
Third, certain staff roles (including deans and senior administrators, coaches, supervisors of student employees, student life staff, as well as others who mentor, advise or have authority over students) also have broad influence on or authority over students and their experience at SMWC. For this reason, sexual or romantic relationships between such staff members and undergraduate students are prohibited. Similarly, relationships between staff members and other students over whom the staff member has had or is likely in the future to have such influence or authority are prohibited.
When a preexisting sexual or romantic relationship between a College employee and a student is prohibited by this policy – or if a relationship not previously prohibited becomes prohibited due to a change in circumstances – the employee must both recuse himself or herself from any supervisory or academic responsibility over the student, and notify his or her supervisor, department chair or administrator about the situation so that adequate alternative supervisory or evaluative arrangements can be put in place. Failure to disclose the relationship in a timely fashion will itself be considered a violation of policy.
In Other Contexts
Consensual sexual or romantic relationships between adult employees (including faculty) are not in general prohibited by this policy. However, relationships between employees in which one has direct or indirect authority over the other are always potentially problematic. This includes not only relationships between supervisors and their staff, but also between senior faculty and junior faculty, faculty and both academic and non-academic staff, and so forth.
Where such a relationship develops, the person in the position of greater authority or power must recuse him/herself to ensure that he/she does not exercise any supervisory or evaluative function over the other person in the relationship. Where such recusal is required, the recusing party must also notify his/her supervisor, department chair, dean or human resources manager, so that person can ensure adequate alternative supervisory or evaluative arrangements are put in place. Such notification is always required where recusal is required. Failure to disclose the relationship in a timely fashion will itself be considered a violation of policy.
The College has the option to take any action necessary to insure compliance with the spirit of this policy, including transferring either or both employees to minimize disruption of the work group.