Discrimination, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policies
The University is committed to providing a work and academic environment that is free of unlawful discrimination and harassment of any type. In keeping with this commitment, the University maintains a strict policy prohibiting all forms of unlawful discrimination (and discouraging conduct that, while not unlawful, could reasonably be considered discrimination as defined below). Unlawful discrimination and harassment of any kind is not appropriate at the University, whether it addresses harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, age, disability, veteran’s status, or any factor that is a prohibited consideration under applicable law. At the same time, the University recognizes the centrality of academic freedom and the University is determined to protect the full and frank discussion of ideas and the use of instructional materials for scholarly purposes regarding race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, age, disability, and other protected classes for scholarly purposes appropriate in the academic context, such as class discussions, reading assignments, academic conferences or meetings.
This policy applies to all students, faculty and staff members of the University. Furthermore, it prohibits unlawful harassment in any form, including verbal, physical and visual harassment. It also prohibits retaliation of any kind against individuals who file valid complaints or who assist in an University investigation. The deadlines set forth in this policy may be extended in extraordinary circumstances only with the express written consent of the President of the University.
This policy applies to all students, faculty, and staff members of the University and to third parties. Furthermore, it also prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment in any form, including verbal, physical, and visual harassment. It also prohibits retaliation of any kind against individuals who file valid complaints or who assist in a University investigation. The deadlines set forth in this policy may be extended in extraordinary circumstances only with the express written consent of the President of the University.
Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment of a Non-sexual Nature
The regulations defining sexual harassment state that the same principles apply to harassment on the basis of any characteristic that is protected by law. Thus, it is the University’s policy to prohibit unlawful discrimination and harassment of a non-sexual nature, which includes verbal, physical, or graphic conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, age, disability, veteran’s status, or other status protected by applicable law and that:
- Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment; or
- Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or a student’s academic performance.
Prohibited behavior may, for example, include conduct or material (physical, oral, written, or graphic, including e-mail messages posted or circulated in the community) involving epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts, that serves no scholarly purpose appropriate to the academic context and gratuitously denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, gender, age, disability, veteran’s status, or any factor protected by applicable law.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual contact of any nature, communication (either verbal or pictorial) of a sexual or gender-based nature, or solicitation of sexual contact of any nature, when any of the above contacts or communications is not mutually agreeable to both parties and any of the following conditions apply:
- The submission to such contact, communication, or solicitation is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic process;
- Submission to or rejection of such contact, communication, or solicitation by an individual is used or threatened as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the individual;
- Such contact, communication, or solicitation has the purpose or effect of being sufficiently severe, pervasive/persistent and objectively offensive that it could alter the conditions of education or employment, by interfering with an individual’s work, academic performance, living conditions, or status.
Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments or conduct of a socially acceptable nature. Nor does it refer to the use of materials or discussion related to sex and/or gender for scholarly purposes appropriate to the academic context. It does refer to any non-academic remarks or actions of a sexual nature that are not welcome and are likely to be viewed as personally offensive. This can include but is not limited to any of the following activities that are unwelcome by the recipient: physical or verbal advances; sexual flirtations; propositions; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; vulgar talk or jokes; degrading graphic materials or verbal comments of a sexual nature about an individual or the individual’s appearance; the display of sexually suggestive objects outside a scholarly context and purpose; and physical contact of a sexual or particularly personal nature. Cartoons, pictures, or other graphic materials that create a hostile or offensive working, academic, or residential environment may also be considered harassment. In addition, it is never acceptable for anyone to imply or threaten that an employee’s, applicant’s, or student’s acquiescence with unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors (or refusal thereof) will have any effect, positive or negative, on the individual’s employment, assignment, compensation, advancement, career development, grades, or any other condition of employment or status as a student or other member of the campus community.
Reporting and Redress of Complaints
All faculty, staff, and students associated with the University and third parties are subject to and responsible for complying with this policy. Any member of the University community who believes to have been subjected to unlawful discrimination and harassment in violation of this policy or suspects the occurrence of forbidden harassment shall report the matter at once so that the University may promptly address the situation. The University provides a variety of avenues by which an individual who believes to have been harassed may proceed, so that each person may choose an avenue appropriate to the particular situation. These are the Informal and Formal Resolution processes described below. Sanctions and other disciplinary measures will follow the procedures set forth in the respective manuals published for students, faculty and staff.
Informal procedures are designed to work out a mutually agreeable solution to a problem. At the option of the complainant only, it may be possible to resolve a harassment or discrimination complaint through a voluntary conversation between the complainant and the alleged harasser or discriminator, which conversation is facilitated by a University designee appointed by the: (i) vice president for student development in the case of students; (ii) director of human resources in the case of non-faculty employees; or (iii) applicable dean, department chair or the vice president for academic affairs in the case of faculty members. If the complainant, the accused, and the University designee feel that a resolution has been achieved through this informal procedure, then the conversation may remain confidential and no further action need be taken. Written results of any informal resolution prepared by the designee shall be signed by the complainant and the accused, and will be kept in a file in the Office of Human Resources.
If the complainant, the accused, or the University designee, chooses not to participate in the informal procedure, or feels that the informal procedure is inadequate or has been unsuccessful, the complainant may utilize the formal procedure. No informal resolution will have precedential value with regard to future cases.
Complaints that may be addressed under this policy include complaints based on the conduct of University students, faculty, administrative and staff members, other persons acting in official University capacities, and third parties. Individuals who believe that they have been harassed or discriminated against shall address their concerns to the appropriate administrative official at the University as set forth below:
Complainant Appropriate Administrator
Faculty Member Department Chair, Dean or VPAA as appropriate
Staff Member (including Administrative Staff) Supervisor or Director of Human Resources
Students Vice President for Student Development
The University will also initiate a thorough investigation and take corrective or disciplinary action as appropriate against incidents of harassment that come to the University’s attention, regardless of whether a formal complaint is made by an alleged victim.
If the administrator listed above is the subject of the harassment allegations, or the complainant is otherwise uncomfortable approaching a designated administrator, the complainant should direct the complaint to one of the other appropriate administrators.
In order to maintain a level of consistency in all investigations and dispositions at the University, the appropriate administrator, once contacted, will frequently consult with the other individuals identified above.
Official allegations of harassment are to be made to the appropriate administrator in writing as soon as possible, but in all cases within 30 calendar days of when the complainant knows of or should have known of the allegedly harassing or discriminatory event. The complaint must include the following information: name, address, and telephone number of the complainant; the nature of the complaint; date(s) and location(s) of the alleged occurrences(s); evidence on which the complaint is based; and the redress sought by the complainant.
The appropriate administrator shall have 15 calendar days in which to appoint an ad hoc review committee of three individuals to conduct an investigation of the complaint. The appropriate administrator or a designee shall be the ex officio chair of this committee, without vote. The members of the ad hoc committee shall be familiar with the appropriate sanctions that might be imposed against the individual against whom the complaint is made in the event that harassment or discrimination is found to have occurred. The ad hoc committee’s report will be provided to a University officer or supervisor with the requisite authority to impose such sanctions.
The purpose of the investigation is to establish: (1) whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that the alleged violation of the policy has occurred; (2) the factual circumstances surrounding the claim; and (3) the appropriate sanction to be imposed on an individual found to have engaged in prohibited conduct. The ad hoc committee shall promptly provide the person against whom the complaint is made with a copy of the formal complaint and shall notify the appropriate University officer or supervisor of the nature of the complaint and of the identity of the parties.
In conducting the investigation, the ad hoc committee may interview the complainant, the person against whom the complaint is made, and any other persons believed to have relevant factual knowledge. Both the complainant and the person against whom the complaint is made may bring witnesses and submit relevant evidence to be considered by the committee. At all times, the ad hoc committee shall make a demonstrated and documented effort to maintain confidentiality. The parties and any notified University officer or supervisor shall maintain strict confidentiality as well.
The investigation shall afford the person against whom the complaint is made an opportunity to respond to the allegations of the complaint. The ad hoc committee shall be in communication with the complainant until the complaint is resolved. The complainant shall be informed of general actions taken, but shall not be informed of specific conversations held with the person against whom the complaint is made.
Upon the expiration of the 15 calendar day period the ad hoc committee shall have an additional 30 calendar days to produce a written report summarizing the findings of fact and providing recommendations as to the appropriate administrative action to be taken. This report will be provided to the parties, to the appropriate University officer or supervisor and to the President of the University. If sanctions are imposed, this report will become a part of the personnel file of the individual against whom the complaint was made.
Recommended sanctions may include, but are not limited to, written reprimand of the person against whom the complaint is made, suspension or dismissal of the person against whom the complaint is made, a change of course section, a change of reporting line for an employee, or any other appropriate sanction(s) under the circumstances. Sanctions will be imposed in accordance with the provisions set forth in handbooks published for faculty, staff and students.
As part of the University’s attempt to remedy a complaining party’s concerns, the complaining party may be informed of the remedial measures undertaken and disciplinary actions imposed against the violator. No formal resolution will have precedential value with regard to future cases.
Investigations under this policy shall be conducted in a manner that will protect, to the extent possible, the confidentiality of all parties. The University, however, cannot guarantee complete confidentiality where it would conflict with the University obligation to investigate meaningfully and, where warranted, to take corrective action.
If, after completing the formal procedure set forth above, either party disputes the findings or is dissatisfied with the procedures or recommendations of the report of the ad hoc committee, the party may appeal such findings by filing a written appeal with the president within 15 calendar days of receipt of the written report. The president will review the record of the matter and will issue a final determination as to any action to be taken within 10 calendar days of receipt of the appeal.
The determination of the president is final and is not precedential.
Retaliation against anyone who files a complaint, serves as a witness, or otherwise participates in the enforcement of this policy is strictly prohibited. Initiating a complaint of harassment or discrimination will not affect a complainant’s employment, compensation or work assignments or, in the case of students, grades, class selection, or any other matter pertaining to student status. Distinguishing between harassing or discriminatory conduct and conduct that is purely personal or social without a harassing or discriminatory work or educational effect requires a determination based on all of the facts pertaining to the situation.
False accusations of harassment or discrimination can seriously injure innocent people. It is a violation of this policy, therefore, for anyone knowingly to make false accusations of harassment. A determination that a complaint is not meritorious, however, is not necessarily equivalent to a false allegation. A finding for the accused does not constitute a finding the complaint was in bad faith.
Hostile Environment in Absence of Complaint
If the University has credible notice – either direct or indirect – of possible discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment of a member of its community or notice of a sexually hostile, harassing or discriminatory environment as defined in paragraph 126.96.36.199, then it will take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred and take steps reasonably calculated to end any harassment and/or discrimination, eliminate a hostile environment if one has been created, and prevent harassment and/or discrimination from occurring again.
Sexual Assault and Rape
Sexual assault includes all forms of sexual contact – rape, inappropriate touching, etc. carried out against the will of, and/or without the consent of the victim(s). Also, assaults include both the actual use of force and/or the threat of force upon the victim(s).
Rape is forced, manipulated or coerced sexual intercourse. On most college campuses, the term “acquaintance rape” or “date rape” is use to define coerced sexual intercourse by a friend, date, or acquaintance.
All sexual assaults alleged to have occurred on campus or in Baltimore City must be referred to Mercy Hospital or Franklin Square Hospital. Assaults alleged to have occurred in Baltimore County must be referred to Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC). When an incident of sexual assault is reported, the procedures are as follows:
Filing a Report
In the case of rape or sexual assault, the primary responsibility is for the physical safety of the victim. Second, the concern is assisting in the apprehension of the assailant and prosecution, if the victim so desires. If an individual is raped or sexually assaulted, these guidelines and procedures should be followed so that immediate assistance can be provided.
Call public safety, the resident assistant on duty, the residence hall director, or the director of student life who will contact public safety (if not already contacted) and the vice president for student development. (The police may be called if there is reason to believe that a suspect is still in the area and could be a threat to others.)
Preserve all evidence that may be useful in the criminal investigation or the prosecution of the assailant.
A victim will be encouraged to go to the hospital for several reasons: treatment for injuries, check for internal injuries, treatment for possible venereal disease or pregnancy in the case of rape, and gathering evidence that may be of value in the event of prosecution.
Although the hospital usually is required to report a rape to the police, the victim’s name will be withheld, if requested. Prosecution is not required. The student victim will be accompanied to the hospital by a residence hall director, a member of the residence life staff or the vice president for student development.
Whoever is called will inform the vice president for student development that a rape of assault has occurred, but will not give the victim’s name without permission.
Counseling services will be provided immediately by a University counselor or rape crisis counselor. The University will provide support by providing counseling service, referral for counseling, if desired, and support during investigation.
Public safety may notify the campus community with a Security Alert. This is done to inform others of potential danger and will be worded to maintain confidentiality and protect privacy. Anyone who knows a victim who has decided to do nothing about a rape or assault, but thinks the incident presents a danger to the community, should report it to public safety, the resident assistant, the residence hall director, the dean of students or the vice president for student development.
Deliberate Filing of False Accusations
The deliberate filing of a false accusation of sexual harassment, assault or rape will not be tolerated by the University, and the University will take appropriate action to prevent and address such behavior. A false accusation is subject to the same procedures and penalties described above and those procedures shall apply as if the words “false accusations of sexual harassment, assault or rape” are substituted for “sexual harassment.”
In the event that the complainant deliberately filed a false accusation, the penalty sanctioned by the President, depending on the severity and/or frequency of the offense, may be:
1. A verbal or written reprimand. The reprimand may include conditions such as that future violations of these policies will result in the imposition of additional sanctions or that it will be removed from the University files after a certain amount of time.
2. Suspension for up to two (2) weeks. In the event that the offender is an employee or member of the faculty, the suspension shall be without pay.
3. Expulsion or termination.
If the President believes that a crime has been committed and if the complainant requests, the President may notify the police.
The University prohibits reprisals against a person who has reported or filed a complaint regarding sexual harassment, assault or rape. If a person believes she is being subjected to reprisals, she may institute the same procedures as described above, and they shall apply as if the term “reprisals” were substituted for the term “sexual harassment”.
If either party wishes to appeal the decision based on procedural grounds or new evidence, an appeal should be submitted, in writing, to the President within five (5) working days of the decision. The President will determine if the case warrants further review and within ten (10) working days inform the Review Committee and parties involved.
In any case both parties have the option to file an appeal with the President. This appeal may be based on decisions or actions relative to the case. A written request for appeal must be filed within five (5) working days of the decision. The President will review the case, including procedures, evidence, decision, and resulting sanctions. The President will deliver a written decision to both parties and to the Review Committee. This decision is final.
The University recognizes the sensitive nature of information that it receives in the course of discussing complaints of sexual harassment, assault and rape. (All information disclosed to a member of the University faculty, administration, or staff during reporting, counseling, investigation, hearings or other proceedings). All correspondence, reports, memoranda, given to the University during the course of counseling, or as part of the previously described procedures, will be kept in a secure location with access restricted to the parties and those persons involved in the counseling, investigation, informal or formal procedures. In addition, the outside folder of all files containing the confidential information will display the warning “CONFIDENTIAL” in a conspicuous place.
If revisions are recommended, the revisions shall be discussed by the Faculty Senate, the Staff Council, and the Student Senate, prior to submission to the President and subsequent approval by the Board of Trustees.
Social Norms Statement
As an institution of higher education in the Catholic tradition, Notre Dame of Maryland University is committed to the vision of human sexuality consistent with the teachings of the Church. Because a genuine and complete expression of love through sex requires a commitment of a total living and sharing of two persons in marriage, these teachings call students, whatever their sexual orientation, to chastity. This sets the expectation that those who are unmarried refrain from sexual union. In our contemporary society, it is a call that has little societal reinforcement, but it is a clear call of the Gospel in respect to sexual morals.
Students are expected to exhibit appropriate behavior throughout the campus community and, in particular, within the residence halls. While the University recognizes the role of conscience in human decision-making and respects the right to privacy, inappropriate sexual behavior will be addressed.