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POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

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Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Effective Date: August 01, 2013
Policy Number: 1051

Hutchinson Community College (“the College”) is committed to maintaining an environment that supports educational programs to develop individuals capable of applying enlightened judgment in their professional, personal, and social lives. In the furtherance of this objective, it is the official policy of the College to prohibit discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment and sexual violence), and retaliation against individuals or groups of individuals based on race, color, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, genetic information, religion, age, ancestry, disability, military status, or veteran status in all aspects of College life and /or employment with the College. 

To prevent discrimination, the College has established procedures which are outlined in its Affirmative Action Plan and EEO policies. The goal of these procedures and policies is to prevent the occurrence of these discriminatory acts, to assist victims in obtaining relief, and to provide appropriate consequences for those who by their actions practice, promote, or condone such discrimination.

Discrimination: In this Policy, discrimination is treating an individual adversely in employment, housing, or academic decisions based on race, color, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, ancestry, disability, genetic information, military status, or veteran status without a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the treatment, or maintaining seemingly neutral policies, practices, or requirements that have a disparate impact on employment, on-campus housing, or academic opportunities of members of protected groups without a valid business or academic reason.

Harassment: In this Policy, the term "harassment" can have two different definitions, depending on where the alleged conduct takes place and its context. Harassment meeting either of these definitions is considered discrimination.

  1. In the work and on-campus housing environment, "harassment" is:

Conduct toward a person or persons based on race, color, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, ancestry, disability, genetic information, military status, or veteran status that: (1) has the purpose or effect of: (a) creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment or on-campus housing environment for the person(s); or (b) unreasonably interfering with the work or on-campus housing of the person(s); and (2) is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the terms, conditions, or privileges of a person's employment or use of on-campus housing.

  1. In the academic environment, "harassment" is:

Conduct toward a person or persons based on race, color, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, ancestry, disability, genetic information, military status, or veteran status that: (1) has the purpose and effect of: (a) creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment for the person(s); or (b) unreasonably interfering with the academic performance or participation in any College-sponsored activity of the person; or (c) threatening the academic opportunities of the person; and (2) is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it alters the terms, conditions, or privileges of the person's academic opportunities or participation in College-sponsored activities.

Whether conduct is sufficient to constitute "harassment" is evaluated under the totality of the circumstances, including the frequency of the conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or merely an offensive utterance. These factors are evaluated from both subjective and objective viewpoints, considering not only the effect that conduct actually had on the person, but also the impact it would likely have had on a reasonable person in the same situation. The conduct must subjectively and objectively meet the definition to be "harassment" under this Policy. Repeated incidents, even where each would not, on its own, constitute harassment, may collectively constitute harassment under these definitions.

Depending on the circumstances, some occurrences may require evaluation under both definitions.

Sexual harassment: Like harassment on the basis of race or religion, sexual harassment is a form of prohibited discrimination. Sexual harassment on campus or in other settings related to College employment or enrollment, is unlawful as well as unethical, and will not be tolerated. The College will respond promptly to complaints of sexual harassment, and, where it is determined that sexual harassment has occurred, will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose such corrective action as is necessary, including disciplinary action where appropriate. This Policy applies to all activities of the College, whether on campus or off campus. With the adoption of this Policy on sexual harassment, the College reaffirms its commitment to maintaining an environment free of intimidation, fear, reprisal, and coercion—one in which staff, faculty, and students can develop intellectually, professionally, personally, and socially.

While this Policy sets forth the College’s goal of promoting a work and educational environment that is free from harassment and/or prohibited discrimination, the Policy is not designed or intended to limit the College’s authority to discipline or take remedial action for conduct that the College deems inappropriate or unacceptable, regardless of whether that conduct satisfies the legal definition of harassment and/or prohibited discrimination.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

Both federal and state laws define and prohibit sexual harassment in employment and in providing educational services to students. Sexual harassment is any behavior which, through inappropriate sexual content or disparagement of members of one sex, interferes with an individual's work or learning environment. Behavior, whether verbal or physical, constitutes sexual harassment if:

A.  a person is intimidated by the threat, overt or implicit, that any education or employment decision may be affected by an unwillingness to tolerate or accept sexual attentions (those           decisions may involve grades, recommendations, evaluations, and all decisions about the requirements, terms, and conditions of employment or learning);   

B.  a person is required to tolerate or accept sexual attentions as a condition of employment or learning;

C.  the behavior creates an environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive for members of one sex, and thus interferes with a person's ability to work or learn;

D.  any educational or employment decision has been affected by a person's refusal to comply with or tolerate inappropriate sexual behavior; or

E.  any reprisals are taken for reporting or objecting to sexual harassment.

Under (A) above, direct or implied requests by a supervisor, professor, athletic coach or trainer, or other individual responsible for work or academic evaluations for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job or academic benefits constitutes sexual harassment. Benefits include grades, academic assignments, research opportunities, favorable reviews and recommendations, salary increases, promotions, increased benefits, and continued employment or enrollment.

Sexual harassment can occur between individuals of the same gender and regardless of sexual orientation. The same standards that apply to harassment between individuals of the opposite sex apply to harassment involving individuals of the same sex.

Prohibited is any behavior that represents repeated or unwanted sexual attention or sexual advances, including that between co-workers or students.

Examples of Conduct

While it is not possible to list all circumstances that constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances, including severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances—whether they involve physical touching or not;
  • Threats or insinuations that a person’s employment, wages, academic grade, promotional opportunities, classroom work assignments or other conditions of employment or academic life may be adversely affected by not submitting to sexual advances;
  • Dissemination of sexually explicit voicemail, email, graphics, downloaded material or web sites;
  • Unwelcome sexual epithets, sexual jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life;
  • Unwelcome comments about an individual’s sexual activity;
  • Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or cartoons;
  • Unwelcome leering, sexual behavior, or sexual gestures;
  • Unwelcome inquiries into another’s sexual experiences;
  • Unwelcome discussion of one’s sexual activities;
  • Sexual violence;
  • Creating a hostile environment for others by engaging in harassing conduct that affects the workplace, or the teaching or research environment, or affects others’ ability to compete for grades, research opportunities, academic or work assignments, compensation, and/or employment benefits. In addition to the conduct described above, romantic involvement (even if consensual) between supervisors and subordinates or between a faculty member and a student may create a hostile environment. Depending on the totality of the circumstances and the nature of the complaint, the fact that a relationship began as a consensual relationship may not be a defense to a claim of sexual harassment.

Definition of Sexual Violence

In this Policy, the term "sexual violence" refers to a physical act perpetrated against a person's will, or where a person is so incapacitated that he or she is incapable of giving consent due to the use of drugs or alcohol, or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. Use of alcohol or other drugs by a perpetrator or victim does not excuse acts of sexual violence.

The determination regarding the presence or absence of consent shall be based upon the totality of circumstances in a particular case, including the context in which the alleged incident(s) occurred. Consent will not necessarily be inferred from silence or passivity alone.

Sexual violence meeting this definition is considered sexual harassment, and is therefore considered to be discrimination.

Informal Resolution

An individual who believes he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment is advised to make it clear to the offender that such behavior is offensive. Early informal methods are often effective in correcting questionable behavior or resolving incidents of possible harassment.

If such methods are not possible or have not resolved the matter, then the matter should, as soon as possible, be brought to the attention of the Affirmative Action Officer or designee. This will ensure that prompt efforts will be made to help assess the situation, and determine what informal or formal steps are necessary.

Formal Complaint

A formal complaint is considered a written complaint filed with the College's Affirmative Action Officer. A formal complaint should include as much information as possible regarding the alleged conduct or incidents, including but not limited to: the dates and locations of the conduct; the effect the conduct has had on employment, learning or living environment, or the complainant's ability to participate in College programs or activities; and the name of the person alleged to have engaged in the conduct. The individual with a compliant must file his/her written complaint with the College's Affirmative Action Officer.

In the event of a sexual violence complaint, the Vice President of Student Services should interview the complainant, with the understanding that the College is obligated to investigate if it has enough information to do so. The Vice President of Student Services should explain to the complainant that the College may not be able to ensure confidentiality. The Vice President of Student Services should also encourage the complainant to file a complaint with the City Police or County Sheriff with appropriate jurisdiction.

If the Vice President of Student Services determines there is not sufficient information for an investigation, the Vice President of Student Services submits a written report to the College's Affirmative Action Officer explaining why the information was insufficient, and should document whether the complainant refused to provide information that would be necessary for a College investigation.

When the College's Affirmative Action Officer receives a formal complaint, the Affirmative Action Officer will promptly investigate the allegation. An investigator will determine facts that support findings about the complaint. The investigation generally will include interviews with (1) the complainant; (2) the respondent; (3) witnesses (if any and if deemed necessary by the College); and others as determined by the investigator.

All employees are expected to cooperate fully in efforts to investigate and enforce this Policy. When the College has completed the investigation, the findings of the investigation will be shared with the complainant, the respondent, and others involved only to the extent appropriate. 

Confidentiality

The College recognizes that in the investigation of a sexual harassment and/or prohibited discrimination complaint in most circumstances it will be important to protect the confidentiality of and/or information about the complainant, the accused, and/or witness(es). In each investigation, the need for confidentiality in the investigation will be determined by the investigator. The investigator will take into consideration whether confidentiality is necessary to:

A.   protect the confidentiality of and/or information about an individual (such as the complainant, the accused, a student, another employee);

B.   protect evidence (emails, documents, or other things) that might be destroyed or modified;

C.   protect a witness (such as a student or another employee) from being pressured to change or fabricate a statement; or

D.   avoid an attempt to cover up improper conduct.

Actions taken in each investigation shall be conducted with as much privacy, discretion, and confidentiality as determined necessary by the investigator (using the factors described above) without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation. The investigator will instruct all persons involved in an investigation concerning the degree of confidentially determined necessary (as outlined above) for the investigation. Information about individual complaints and their disposition will be shared only on a “need to know” basis. However, even informal efforts to end harassment may require that an accused harasser learn of the identity of the complainant. The College will work closely with students and/or employees to ensure their ability to complete their academic program or continue to work during all stages of investigating a formal complaint of sexual harassment.

Disciplinary Action

If it is determined than an employee or student has engaged in sexual harassment or other inappropriate conduct, the College will take action appropriate under the circumstances. Such action may include written warnings, required counseling, probation, suspension, termination, or expulsion, and it may include such other forms of disciplinary action as the College deems appropriate. Likewise, if it is determined that a complainant invoked the investigatory process in bad faith or knowingly presented false or misleading information, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken.

Grievance Procedure

Reference current published grievance procedure.

No Retaliation for Filing or Assisting with a Complaint of Sexual Harassment

Retaliation against any individual for making a good faith complaint of sexual harassment or for assisting in good faith in the investigation of such a complaint is illegal and will not be tolerated. All acts of retaliation are subject to disciplinary action. Individuals who believe they have been subject to retaliation should immediately report their concerns to the Affirmative Action Officer.

Commitment to Awareness and Response Training

The College provides regular sexual harassment awareness and response training programs for supervisors and individuals identified with responsibilities in this Policy.

State and Federal Agency Complaints

In addition to the above, an individual who believes he or she has been subjected to harassment may file a formal complaint with government agencies with jurisdiction. Using the College’s complaint process does not prohibit an individual from filing a complaint with any of these agencies:

  • The Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC) (www.khrc.net)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (www.eeoc.gov)
  • Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education (www2.ed.gov/ocr)

Specific requirements and time frames exist for filing with these agencies.

Christopher Lau, Affirmative Action Officer
Hutchinson Community College – Student Success Center
1300 North Plum
Hutchinson, KS 67501
1-800-289-3501 x3583
lauc@hutchcc.edu

 

1300 North Plum, Hutchinson, KS 67501
1-888-GO-HUTCH or (620) 665-3500
info@hutchcc.edu