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Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment

Approved June 25, 2013

  1. Overview
  2. Contacts for Assistance and Information
  3. Formal Complaint Process
  4. Informal Complaint Process

Overview

In accordance with University System of New Hampshire policy and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination and discriminatory harassment are expressly prohibited at Keene State College.

All students, staff, and faculty at Keene State College have the right to work and learn in an environment free of discrimination and discriminatory harassment as such conduct interferes with the mission of the College by diminishing access to education and employment; compromising the free and open exchange of ideas; and impeding relationships among students, faculty, and staff.

All persons shall have equal access to the College's programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, veteran's status, or disability. No member of the campus community may engage in behavior within the jurisdiction of the College that unjustly interferes with any individual's required tasks, career opportunities, learning, or participation in campus life. All members of the campus community share responsibility for preventing and reporting discrimination and harassment, cooperating in any investigation which might result, and maintaining confidentiality.

Definition: Discrimination refers to actions which deny a member (or in some cases, a potential member) of the community employment, promotion, transfers, access to academic courses, housing, or other College benefits and entitlements because of a member's protected class status, including race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, veteran's status, or disability. Discrimination may take many forms, and can include:

  • in the hiring process: failure to consider a candidate because he is too old, or because she has a partner, or because he is transgender, or because of her religion, or because he is disabled yet can do the job, with or without an accommodation;
  • in the academic realm: failure to take students seriously in particular academic classes because of their gender, race, or national origin; or assignment of a lower grade to a qualified student with a learning disability because the student received academic adjustments or modifications; or singling a student out in class for ridicule; or on the basis of being an underrepresented student and being asked to represent his/her race or religion given a presumption of familiarity with the works of underrepresented thinkers; or
  • on the job: lack of acceptance by a supervisor of a woman in a construction trades position, or failure to promote a gay employee because of his sexual orientation.

Discriminatory Harassment is verbal or physical conduct that demeans or shows hostility, or aversion, toward an individual because of his/her race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, age, disability, or because of retaliation for engaging in protected activity and that:

  • Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning or working environment; or
  • Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's learning or work performance; or
  • Otherwise adversely affects an individual's employment opportunities or ability to be successful academically. Harassing conduct includes, but is not limited to the following:
  • Epithets, slurs, jokes, negative stereotyping or threatening, intimidating or hostile acts that relate to a person's race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability.
  • Written or graphic material which demeans or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability and is posted on walls, bulletin boards, e-mail or elsewhere on the campus.
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting an individual's employment or grades.

Harassment may take the form of unwelcome sexual advances, graffiti, jokes, pranks, slurs, insults, threats, remarks made in the person's presence, interference with the person's work or academic life, vandalism, assignment of unpleasant duties, or even physical assault directed against any member of a protected class. Further examples include: repeatedly directing racial, homophobic, or sexual epithets at an individual; hanging a noose in an African-American's work place or residence hall; painting a Nazi swastika on the door of a Jewish student, professor, or staff member; repeatedly sending unwelcome, sexually-explicit e-mail messages to another; surrounding with a group and taunting another student about his or her sexual orientation or religion; making unwelcome sexual propositions, especially by a person in a supervisory or instructor relationship; repeatedly telling derogatory gender- or ethnic-based jokes; displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures in the workplace except as those items may be part of legitimate pedagogical pursuits; giving unwelcome hugs or repeatedly brushing or touching another's body; mimicking the manner of speech or movement of an individual with a disability, or interfering with that person's necessary auxiliary aids or services (e.g., interpreter, assistive service animal).

Contacts for Assistance and Information

Individuals who have a concern about incidents or behaviors which may constitute harassment or discrimination should contact any of the Intake Officers listed below for information about the College's discrimination and harassment policies, available support services, procedures for making a complaint, and/or assistance in resolving the situation informally or formally.

Intake Officers

Confidentiality

Keene State College will maintain confidentiality where, and to the extent, legally and reasonably appropriate, with the facts made available only to those with a compelling need to know for purposes of investigation or resolution of complaints. Confidentiality cannot be unconditionally guaranteed under any circumstances. The College has a responsibility to act where it knows of a policy violation. All parties including intake officers, responsible administrative officers, investigators, aggrieved parties, accused parties, and witnesses are required to maintain confidentiality.

Process for Handling Reports of Discrimination and Harassment by Keene State College Faculty or Staff Members or Contract Employees

Step One: The Intake Interview

Members of the community who have been impacted by unwanted behaviors are encouraged to seek relief from such behavior. Complainants should contact an Intake Officer as noted below. The Intake Officer will interview the complainant to obtain as much information about the alleged harassment as is possible and will inform the complainant about the policies and procedures for handling discrimination and harassment complaints, including the College's responsibility to take action in situations where it believes discrimination and harassment may have occurred. If an alleged harasser is known and named in the intake interview, the Intake Officer will encourage the complainant to either submit a written statement describing the alleged behavior or identify the desired outcomes if the complainant desires to pursue an informal resolution.

The Intake Officer will protect the confidentiality of the complainant to the extent legally and reasonably appropriate and, assist the complainant in pursuing a complaint, through either this policy if there is a potential violation of this policy or through other avenues if the behaviors are not covered by this policy. The Intake Officer will complete an Intake Form on all intakes; and send to the appropriate Administrative Officer.

Step One-B Submission of Written Complaint

The complainant may submit a dated and signed complaint to an Intake Officer. The complaint should be as specific as possible, including dates, times, locations, a description of the alleged harassing or discriminatory behavior, and the name(s) of the alleged harasser(s). The statement should identify any person(s) who may have information that would be helpful to the resolution of the complaint.

Upon receipt of a written complaint, the Intake Officer will make report to the appropriate Administrative Officer, who will review the complaint.

Step Two: Routing of Intake for Complaint Resolution

Depending on the desires of the complainant, the specificity of the report, and the nature of the allegations, a process will be identified for resolving the complaint:

  • If an alleged harasser is known but not identified in the intake interview, the information will be recorded on the intake form and the needs of the complainant will be addressed.
  • If the alleged harasser is unknown to the complainant, the intake information will be shared with the Administrative Officer who will evaluate the circumstances and if appropriate, order an investigation and address the needs of the complainant.
  • If a written complaint is submitted, a formal review process will be initiated (see below).
  • If the complainant does not choose to submit a statement in writing, the College's response will depend on the circumstances and the complainant's willingness to cooperate with an investigation.
  • If the Administrative Officer overseeing the complaint feels that the alleged behavior may constitute discriminatory harassment, an investigation will be conducted without a signed statement and the complaint will be handled through the "Formal Complaint" process described below.
  • In some instances, the Administrative Officer will initiate an informal resolution, if the circumstances suggest that this type of resolution is appropriate. If so, the complaint will be handled by the "Informal Complaint" process described below.
  • When a student is accused of discrimination or discriminatory harassment, the procedures outlined in the KSC Student Judicial Code will ollowed.
  • If the alleged target of student harassment is a member of the faculty, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Director of Human Resources will be notified.
  • If the alleged target of student harassment is a member of the staff, the Principal Administrator who oversees the division in which the individual is employed and the Director of Human Resources will be notified.
  • If the responsible administrator is unable to assume the duties as defined, the President will assign an alternate Responsible Administrator.
  • If the described behaviors are not a violation of this policy, a referral to other policies will be made, such as the KSC Complaint and Grievance process.
Roles and Responsibilities

Regardless of whether an informal or formal process is accessed for processing a complaint, the responsibilities of the institutional representatives are defined as follows:

The Administrative Officer assigned to a complaint will

*review the intake summary *take necessary interim measures to protect the complainant and prevent retaliation or interference with the investigation *appoint an investigator if necessary *seek informal resolution of the complainant where appropriate *determine the extent to which the complaint meets the criteria for discrimination and discriminatory harassment and render the appropriate administrative judgment *determine the appropriate course of action *communicate appropriately with the complainant, the accused, and Intake Officer

An Investigator assigned to assist with a complaint will:

  • Conduct a full, fair and timely investigation of alleged complaint, including reasonable effort to corroborate sources of information.
  • Prepare a written, dated report for the Administrative Officer.

Formal Complaint Process

The formal complaint process is used when either a written complaint is submitted or when an initial review of an informal complaint suggests that the nature of the incidents may be serious, pervasive, or severe and when the accused is an employee of Keene State College.

  1. The Administrative Officer will coordinate interim measures to protect the complainant and prevent retaliation or interference with the review.
  2. If the alleged harasser is a member of a faculty bargaining unit, complaint procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement will be followed. While the procedures for managing the complaint are subject to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the standards by which the complaint will be reviewed or determinations made will be consistent with this policy and are the same for all members of the community.
  3. If the alleged harasser is campus employee other than faculty, the following procedures will be followed: A copy of the signed complaint will be given to the accused within 14 calendar days of its receipt. An exception to the time requirement may be granted when both the complainant and Administrative Officer agree that the complaint should be handled after the close of the academic semester.
  4. In all Formal Complaint responses, the College shall conduct a full and fair investigation of the alleged complaint, including a reasonable effort to corroborate sources of information identified by the complainant and the accused. The investigation will be completed as promptly as is possible. Written, dated, confidential records will be maintained throughout the investigation.
    1. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will present a written report which will include the allegations, the review process, the evidence in the case, the persuasiveness of the evidence, the consistency of the testimony, and the credibility of the witnesses and supporting documentation.
    2. In cases where the accused acknowledges responsibility for the behaviors reported, the Administrative Officer may choose to suspend the investigatory step.
  5. If the accused is a Keene State College employee, the Administrative Officer shall review the investigation report, determine the extent to which the complaint meets the criteria for harassment, and render a judgment about the case.
    1. In determining whether discriminatory harassment exists, the Administrative Officer will evaluate the evidence from the standpoint of a reasonable person's reaction and perspective under the circumstances presented and may consult with legal counsel and other administrators to determine a "reasonable person standard."
    2. The Administrative Officer will consider the totality of the complaint and its circumstances, the private or public environment of the behavior, the intensity or severity of the actions, the pattern of behavior and the power relationship, if any, between the parties.
  6. Judgment will be defined as either unfounded or founded.
    1. Unfounded, i.e., in the informed judgment of the Administrative Officer, the behavior did not meet the criteria of discrimination and harassment and/or the accused did not commit the offense. In this case, the Administrative Officer will report this finding in writing to the complainant, the accused, and the supervisor of the accused. If the Administrative Officer determines that the behavior in question is inappropriate, even though it may not meet the criteria of discrimination and harassment, the Administrative Officer will report the findings to the supervisor. The Administrative Officer may impose appropriate sanctions based on the nature and severity of the offense and the extent of the findings. Any sanctions imposed should be done so only in consultation with Director of Human Resources.
    2. Founded, i.e., in the informed judgment of the Administrative Officer, the behavior did meet the criteria of discrimination or harassment and was committed by the accused. The Administrative Officer will communicate this decision in writing to the complainant, the accused, the direct supervisor of the accused, and the personnel file of the accused. The Administrative Officer will determine appropriate sanctions based on the nature and severity of the offense and the extent of the findings. Sanctions may include but are not limited to an oral or written reprimand, reassignment of duties, mandatory counseling, suspension with or without pay, probation, or termination.
  7. Appeals and Grievances If the complainant is dissatisfied with the judgment, he or she may submit a written appeal to the Keene State College President within 14 calendar days of receipt of the written finding. The President will review all documentation and materials and make a final determination. Accused individuals have the right to appeal the judgment against them using the appropriate grievance procedures. These procedures are described in the KSCEA collective bargaining agreement (faculty) and the employee Complaint and Grievance Resolution Policy (staff).

Informal Complaint Process

The complainant may request that the College seek to address the complaint informally. This process, while not "formal" in terms of this policy, is not casual or taken less seriously. It is often used in those circumstances when a complainant does not wish to submit a signed complaint but wants the behavior to stop, when an analysis reveals that the situation can be resolved through conversation or other informal and direct steps, or when the report of discrimination or harassment is received from a third party and the alleged victim is unwilling to participate in the complaint process.

As in the formal process, the Intake Officer will report the concern to the appropriate Administrative Officer. The Administrative Officer will evaluate the information and determine the appropriate course of action. Keene State College has a responsibility to take action in situations where it believes discrimination and harassment may have occurred, even when no written complaint has been filed. Courses of action may include:

  • assisting the complainant in addressing the problem directly with the person whose behavior is in question. This may be accomplished either through a one-on-one meeting, phone call, or letter. A complainant is never required to confront the person believed to be discriminating or harassing.
  • addressing the person whose behavior is in question directly or indirectly through that individual's supervisor.
  • appointing an investigator and proceeding with the formal process described above.

If the information indicates a possible pattern of inappropriate conduct or if the conduct is judged to be serious, the Administrative Officer will:

  • advise the supervisor or dean of this judgment.
  • appoint an investigator and proceed with the formal process described above.

If the information does not suggest the conduct rises to the level of discrimination or discriminatory harassment but the behavior is otherwise judged to be inappropriate, the Administrative Officer will discuss this complaint with the supervisor or dean, who in turn will address the alleged incident with the accused to ensure that the accused understands expectations for appropriate behavior and to assure appropriate sanctions are imposed.

  • If the named individual is an employee other than a faculty member, the supervisor will document his or her discussion with the employee in a letter to the employee's permanent personnel file. The Administrative Officer or direct supervisor may choose to impose sanctions for the inappropriate behavior in consultation with Human Resources
  • If the accused is a member of the faculty represented by a collective bargaining unit, contract guidelines will be followed.
Time Limits

Prompt reporting of discrimination and harassment is in the best interest of the entire Keene State College community and individuals are encouraged to report incidents of alleged discrimination and harassment in a timely fashion. Faculty and staff are provided with 60 days to file a formal complaint. Students are provided with 12 months to file a formal complaint.

Under special circumstances, the principal administrator may waive the time limits, when doing so serves the purposes of this policy. The principal administrator will document the reasons for such a decision and convey the information, in writing, to the complainant and the accused.

Non-retaliation

Retaliation against anyone reporting a harassment issue is strictly prohibited. Reprisals or retaliation against any person reporting discrimination and harassment or bringing a complaint of discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated, whether or not the complaint is ultimately judged to be consistent with the criteria determining harassment. Keene State College reserves the right to discipline individuals who engage in any activity determined to be retaliatory.

False Claims

Intentionally false claims of discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. No complaint will be considered false solely because it cannot be corroborated.

Keene State College reserves the right to discipline members of the College community who intentionally bring false complaints of discrimination and harassment. If evidence is presented that exonerates an individual who had been found responsible for engaging in harassing behaviors, Keene State College will take action to restore the status of that individual, including removing documentation about the original complaint from his or her personnel file.

Employee Obligation to Report

Any employee of Keene State College who observes discriminatory or harassing behaviors or who receives information that such conduct may have occurred is responsible for discussing this information with an administrative contact. Employees in Health Services and the Counseling Center, as well as the psychiatric nurse practitioner, are exempt from this reporting requirement when the information is provided to them within a privileged medical or counseling relationship.

Intake Forms

Keene State College will maintain records of all discrimination and harassment reports to identify campus needs for information and training and possible patterns of discrimination or harassing behavior. Intake forms will remain confidential and will be maintained by the following individuals:

  • The Vice President for Student Affairs when the alleged harasser is a student
  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs when the alleged harasser is a member of the teaching staff
  • The Director of Human Resources when the alleged harasser is a staff member
  • The Vice President for Finance and Planning when the alleged harasser is a member of contract staff
Annual Report

Responsible administrators will provide reports of each incident as described. The Director of Human Resources and the Chief Officer for Diversity and Multiculturalism will prepare an annual summary to be reviewed by the President. It should list all informal and formal discrimination and harassment complaints received, the general nature of the concern, and outcomes or continuing status. It will not include information which identifies the complainant or accused. The purpose of this report is to identify possible patterns of inappropriate behaviors and to identify campus needs for information, education, training, and policy changes.


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About this Policy

Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment
Ownership: Human Resources
Last Revised: September 24, 2013
Categories: HR
For questions regarding this policy, please contact the policy owner.