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Anti-Discrimination Policy

Colorado College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sex, age, religion, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or sexual orientation in its educational programs and activities or employment practices. Discrimination includes harassment, which includes a wide range of abusive and humiliating verbal or physical behaviors that are directed against a particular person or persons because of one of the above named qualities. This includes creating a “hostile environment” where the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the person’s employment or educational experience at the college. Members of the college community have a responsibility to report discrimination and those in supervisory roles have a special responsibility to take action to correct it. Any person found to have violated this anti-discrimination policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

Definition of Discrimination

Discrimination occurs when race, national origin, color, gender, sex, age, religion, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or sexual orientation are used as (inappropriate) irrelevant criteria for action. Discrimination is particularly condemned when it exploits and jeopardizes the trust that should exist among members of an educational institution. To preserve a work and study atmosphere that fosters such trust, Colorado College affirms the principle that students, faculty, and staff must be treated equitably and evaluated on the basis of merit rather than irrelevant criteria. When a person intentionally or inadvertently abuses the power and authority inherent in his or her position, there can be negative consequences both to the individuals involved as well as to the educational and working environment of the college.

Students, faculty, or staff who believe they have been discriminated against may obtain redress through the complaint procedures adopted as a part of this Anti-Discrimination Policy. They may choose to pursue the matter through informal consultation or formal grievance procedures, or both. The college will respond promptly and equitably to both informal and formal complaints, and will respect, insofar as possible, the right to confidentiality of all members of the college community. Retaliation against persons who bring complaints of discrimination in good faith is prohibited and is, in itself, a form of discrimination that is actionable under this policy.

Harassment

Harassment is a special form of discrimination. It may be based on a person’s race, color, national origin, gender, sex, age, religion, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or sexual orientation. It includes a wide range of abusive and humiliating verbal or physical behaviors that are directed against a particular person or persons. In some cases, the conduct may be such that it is clear that it is directed against a particular person or persons, even though the person(s) may not be explicitly identified. While the college considers all discriminatory slurs and conduct to be reprehensible, the creation of a hostile climate for the person(s) against whom the behavior is directed requires more than a casual comment or incidental behavior. The conduct must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the person’s employment or educational experience at the college.

Sexual harassment is a unique form of harassment. It may be similar to other types of harassment in that unwelcome sexual remarks or conduct are directed at a particular person or persons, and this conduct persists despite the target’s lack of encouragement of the conduct. It may also take the form of quid pro quo harassment, which occurs when submission to sexual advances is made, or threatened as a condition of employment or educational benefits.

Members of the college community should understand that standards of civility, consideration, and tolerance must shape our interactions with one another, regardless of whether the violation of such standards subjects one to sanctions under this Anti-Discrimination Policy. Certain types of behavior may be inappropriate even though they may not be violations of the policy. Such behaviors will be dealt with by suasion rather than sanctions. In keeping with the need to protect academic freedom, it should also be understood that a greater degree of latitude will be permitted in academic settings than in performing the college’s administrative support functions. Sanctions for the creation of a hostile climate in the workplace, unlike in academic settings, will be imposed without regard for faculty members’ right to determine the appropriate content and presentation of academic material.

Procedures for Resolving Complaints

The college’s methods of handling complaints of discrimination include informal consultation and formal grievance procedures. Regardless of the procedure selected by the complainant, prompt reporting is important; formal complaints must be filed within six months after the last alleged incident of discrimination.

A. Informal Consultation Procedures

  1. Persons who believe that they have been discriminated against (hereinafter referred to as the “complainant”) may seek information and advice from specially designated advisors. A list of these advisors is circulated to the college community at the beginning of each academic year. It usually includes the following persons: exempt staff designated by the Staff Council; associate dean of the college; chairperson of the Minority Concerns Committee; Sexual Assault Response Coordinator; chairperson or co-chair of the Women’s Concerns Committee; college chaplain; college vice presidents; dean of the college; associate dean of the faculty; dean of students; associate deans of students; director of human resources; director of minority student life; faculty advisor to QSA/Equal; international students advisor; members of the Student Organization for Sexual Safety; Residential Life and Housing professional staff; non-exempt staff member designated by the Staff Council.
  2. The purpose of the initial informal consultation is to discuss possible courses of action available to the complainant. These include:
    1. The complainant may communicate directly, orally or in writing, with the person who has engaged in the allegedly discriminatory behavior (hereinafter referred to as the “respondent”), and ask that person to cease the behavior.
    2. With the agreement of the complainant, the advisor may contact the respondent in an effort to reach an acceptable resolution without recourse to the formal grievance procedures outlined in this policy. The name of the complainant need not be disclosed.
    3. The complainant and/or the advisor (with the agreement of the complainant) may discuss and attempt to resolve the matter with the respondent’s supervisor, or with the dean of the college, associate dean of the faculty (for complaints by or against faculty), the president of the college (for complaints by or against the senior staff), the dean of students or the associate dean of students (for complaints by or against students), or the director of human resources (for complaints by or against exempt or non-exempt staff). The name of the complainant need not be disclosed.
    4. The advisor may encourage the complainant and the respondent to seek mediation by a member of the college community acceptable to both parties. The mediator shall not have punitive power, but shall attempt to resolve the complaint by mutual agreement of the complainant and respondent.
  3. All complainants are strongly encouraged to avail themselves of the benefits of informal consultation before pursuing formal grievance procedures. Students who have complaints about faculty conduct in the classroom and in other academic contexts must consult informally with the dean or associate dean of the college, or the vice president for student life/dean of students, or the either of the associate deans of students, before they may file a formal complaint. If any one of these administrators determines that the behavior complained about is within a faculty member’s academic freedom and/or does not come within this policy’s definition of harassment, the administrator will attempt to resolve the problem by means of the informal procedures outlined in this policy. If this is not possible, the administrator will issue a written report of his or her findings. This report will be available to the grievance committee, if a formal complaint is filed.
  4. All aspects of the informal consultation process shall remain confidential. Advisors may not reveal any details of a particular case except to a counselor at Boettcher Health Center, the college's Title IX Coordinator, a college chaplain, or an investigating committee, if the complainant files a formal complaint. In each case of an informal complaint, the advisor will file a report with the college’s Title IX coordinatorl, outlining (a) the names of the complainant and the respondent, (b) the date of the alleged discrimination, (c) the nature of the incident, (d) the relationship of the parties involved, e.g., student and faculty, and (e) the resolution or outcome. No copies of the report shall be retained anywhere else, including the advisor’s file.
  5. The college's Title IX coordinator may determine that a particular informal complaint is sufficiently serious to be referred to the dean of the college, the appropriate vice president or the president for possible disciplinary measures, or to a trained mediator for resolution.

B. Formal Grievance Procedures

  1. Colorado College Employees
    1. Persons who believe that they have been discriminated against by a Colorado College employee may file a formal written complaint with the college’s Title IX coordinator. Although informal resolution is highly encouraged, formal complaints may be filed without first proceeding through informal consultation (except as noted in Section (A)(3) of this policy). The formal complaint should be filed as soon as possible after the allegedly discriminatory conduct but, in no event, later than six months after the last alleged incident of discrimination.
    2. Upon receiving the formal complaint the college's Title IX coordinator immediately contacts the respondent. The respondent ordinarily has ten days to respond in writing. If no response is received within ten days, the formal process proceeds (the response time may be extended in special circumstances, e.g., the respondent is on temporary leave from the college). The college's Title IX coordinator then forwards the complaint and the response to an ad hoc grievance committee (described below). If more than one complaint has been filed against a respondent, the complaints may be investigated by the same grievance committee.
    3. Formal complaints are investigated by a five-person committee selected by the college's Title IX coordinator. With due attention to racial and gender balance, at least two of these persons are selected from the same college constituency (i.e., student, faculty, exempt or non-exempt staff) as the complainant, and at least two are from the same constituency as the respondent. The director of human resources serves as a staff person to the grievance committee but does not vote. The committee selects its own chairperson at the beginning of its deliberations. The identities of the persons selected are made known to the complainant and the respondent, who will have the opportunity to provide information which might indicate bias or conflict of interest on the part of any person selected.
    4. The five-person grievance committee is selected from a panel of sixteen persons: four faculty, four exempt staff, four non-exempt staff and four students. These sixteen persons are selected by the president on the basis of recommendations from the following committees: (a) the Faculty Executive Committee, which solicits nominations from the faculty at large and from these nominations recommends tenured faculty members, (b) the Staff Council, which recommends exempt and non-exempt staff members, and (c) the Colorado College Student Government Association (CCSGA), which recommends students.
    5. All persons on the panel serve for staggered renewable terms of two years, with initial appointments to be divided equally between one- and two-year appointments. All members of the panel are expected to understand the problems related to discrimination and harassment, as well as the potential tension between academic freedom and harassment. All are expected to become familiar with federal, state and local non­discrimination laws and with the college’s Anti-Discrimination Policy, as well as with the proper investigation of formal complaints. This training is provided annually prior to hearing any cases. The names of the persons on the panel are made known to the college community at the beginning of each academic year.
    6. The grievance committee consults with the college's Title IX coordinator regarding its responsibilities, reviews the matter, examines the relevant evidence, hears at least the complainant and the respondent and may also call other witnesses. The complainant and the respondent shall each have the right to request that the committee interview up to three additional witnesses. The complainant and the respondent may each be accompanied by a personal representative of their choice, who shall not be permitted to participate in the hearing, and who may be a specially designated advisor under this Anti-Discrimination Policy. The complainant and the respondent may also consult the college’s Title IX coordinator or the director of human resources, either of whom will ensure that both parties are treated equitably, are not subject to retaliation, and are minimally disrupted in their continuing relationship with the college.
    7. When the grievance committee completes its investigation, it reports its findings in writing to the dean of the college or the appropriate vice president, or the president (for cases involving senior staff), and to each of the parties. If the respondent is found to have violated this Anti-Discrimination Policy, the grievance committee recommends disciplinary action appropriate to the nature of the conduct, and may also recommend a remedy for the complainant. Considerations affecting the committee’s recommendation should include:
      • The severity of the respondent’s conduct.
      • Whether the conduct was intentional or unintentional.
      • Whether the conduct involved a single incident or repeated acts of discrimination.
      • Any mitigating or aggravating circumstances with respect to either party.
    8. If the grievance committee reports a finding of discrimination, the dean of the college, or the appropriate vice president, or the president (for cases involving senior staff) takes appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal or discharge from the college. The complainant is informed of the administrator’s action. If the grievance committee determines that there were insufficient grounds for the complaint, it recommends that no disciplinary action be taken against the respondent. In all cases, the committee’s final report and a record of the administrator’s action, if any, are placed in the respondent’s personnel file.
    9. If the grievance committee finds that the complaint was not brought in good faith, and that the charges of discrimination were fabricated or malicious, it may recommend that the dean, or the appropriate vice president, or the president (for cases involving senior staff) take appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal or discharge of the complainant from the college. However, grievance committees should keep in mind that charges of discrimination cannot always be substantiated, and that lack of corroborating evidence should not be interpreted as lack of good faith on the part of the complainant.
    10. Whenever possible, the grievance committee’s recommendation is arrived at by the unanimous vote of its members. In cases where a unanimous vote is not possible, that fact shall be stated in the committee’s report.
    11. The confidentiality of all parties to a discrimination complaint must be strictly observed, insofar as it does not interfere with the college’s obligation to investigate fully allegations of discrimination and to take corrective action. Dissemination of information or written materials to persons not involved in the formal grievance procedure is not permitted. Violations of this paragraph by either the complainant or the respondent may lead to disciplinary action against either party.
    12. Either party may appeal the grievance committee’s findings but only the respondent may appeal the disciplinary action taken by the dean of the college or a vice president. Appeals must be submitted in writing to the president, whose decision in all cases is final.
    13. The application of the formal grievance procedures to any particular case must be concluded within ninety days, excluding periods when classes are not in session, or as otherwise agreed by both the complainant and the respondent. Charges of retaliation resulting from the filing of a formal complaint shall be considered as separate complaints for purposes of this provision.
  2. Colorado College Students
    1. When the respondent is a Colorado College student, the complainant may pursue student judicial charges. College judicial sanctions for students range from oral warnings to permanent expulsion. Two judicial procedures are available to persons alleging discrimination by a student: an administrative hearing and a Student Conduct Committee hearing. Both types of judicial hearings are supervised by the associate dean of students for programs and standards. If the respondent denies the charge, the complainant may pursue the complaint through either an administrative hearing or the Student Conduct Committee. If the respondent admits the charge, the complaint is forwarded to the associate dean of students for programs and standards, who determines an appropriate sanction. In making a decision as to which judicial procedure to follow, complainants are encouraged to consult with a student life administrator and/or a member of the Student Conduct Committee, all of whom can provide more specific information about the college’s judicial system for students.
    2. Persons alleging discrimination by a student may also file a formal complaint pursuant to Section (B)(1) of this policy. In the event that the complainant first pursues student judicial charges, the formal complaint shall constitute an appeal from the results of the student judicial procedure and shall not be filed until the student judicial procedure has been completed. The student judicial system is not available for purposes of appeal from the results of the formal grievance procedures set forth in this policy.

Education of College Community

  1. The college's Title IX coordinator and the director of human resources have the responsibility of educating the college community regarding the negative consequences of discrimination. Among their responsibilities, they conduct workshops and train the informal advisors under this Anti-Discrimination Policy and the grievance committees appointed to investigate formal complaints of discrimination.
  2. The college's Title IX coordinator and the director of human resources submit an annual report to the college community, outlining the number of informal and formal complaints filed, the college constituencies involved, and the outcome of each case. The identities and positions of the parties are not included in the report.

Academic Freedom

While strongly condemning discrimination, Colorado College also affirms the principle that an academic environment is necessarily an arena in which controversial points of view may be freely expressed. Freedom of thought and expression is essential to any institution of higher education. Such institutions exist not only to transmit existing knowledge but also to expand that knowledge by testing the old and proposing the new. This mission often inspires vigorous debate on social, religious, economic and political issues that arouse the strongest passions. On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful that it may not be expressed. Nothing in this Anti-Discrimination Policy should be construed to interfere with the academic freedom of all persons at the college to express and debate diverse ideas. Persons who object to the expression of certain ideas should generally counter with refutation, not demands for sanctions or disciplinary action against the person who has expressed the controversial ideas.

Inquiries regarding this Anti-Discrimination Policy may be directed to the college's Title IX coordinator Gail Murphy-Geiss (Office: Palmer 131A. Phone: 719-389-6868. E-mail: gmurphygeiss@coloradocollege.edu).