Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment
(Including Sexual Harassment)
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. 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 the relationships among students, faculty, and staff.
In accordance with University System of New Hampshire policy and applicable state and federal laws, 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, 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 due to a member's protected class status, including race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran's status, or disability. Discriminatory 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.
Federal and state laws define harassing behavior as occurring when:
- Such contact has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating a hostile or offensive working or academic environment;
- Submission to or reject of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting that individual; or
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic work.
Sexual harassment is one form of discriminatory harassment. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when the above conditions are met.
Keene State College places a high priority on preventing discrimination and discriminatory harassment, assisting individuals who believe that they have been the victims of such conduct, and ensuring that all individuals accused of prohibited conduct are treated fairly.
Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Complaint Procedures
Keene State College's procedures for responding to discrimination and discriminatory harassment are provided for internal resolution of complaints and for internal monitoring of informal reports and formal complaints. They do not constitute a legal forum.
The mission of Keene State College "promotes and sustains strong relationships among students, faculty, and staff" and asks all members of the campus community to conduct themselves with dignity and treat others with respect. These procedures support the mission by encouraging individuals to come forward with concerns about discrimination and harassment as well as timely institutional response to their concerns. They provide a process to clarify behavioral expectations, promote understanding of rights and responsibilities, and hold people accountable for violations of the policy.
Anyone who wishes to speak with someone knowledgeable about discrimination and harassment and campus support services, as well as the procedures for reporting discrimination and harassment and filing a formal complaint, is encouraged to contact one of the officials identified below for information and advice.
Any employee of Keene State College who observes discrimination 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.
II. Contacts for Assistance and Information (Intake Officers and Administrative Officers)
Individuals may contact any of the individuals listed below for information about the College's discrimination and harassment policies and support services, the procedures for making a complaint, and assistance in resolving the situation informally or pursuing a formal complaint:
- Intake Officers
- Administrative Officers
- The Vice President for Student Affairs when the alleged harasser is a student or a staff member in Student Affairs
The Vice President for Academic Affairs when the alleged harasser is a member of the faculty or teaching staff or a staff member in Academic Affairs
- The Vice President for Finance and Planning when the alleged harasser is a member of staff of the Finance and Planning division
- The President when the alleged harasser is a member of the staff of the Executive Division
III. 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
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.
V. Process for Handling Reports of Discrimination and Harassment by Keene State College Faculty or Staff Members or Contract Employees
A. Roles and Responsibilities
- The intake officer will:
- interview the complainant to obtain as much information about the alleged harassment as is possible.
- 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.
- protect the confidentiality of the complainant to the extent legally and reasonably appropriate. Only those who have a need to know for purposes of investigation or resolution of complaints will be informed.
- assist the complainant in pursuing a complaint, if appropriate, and serve as the liaison between the complainant and the College throughout the process.
consult with the appropriate administrative officer about how to proceed with the complaint.
- complete an intake form and send it to the appropriate administrative Officer (III above).
- The administrative officer will:
- review the intake form.
- take necessary interim measures to protect the complainant and prevent retaliation or interference with the investigation.
- appoint an investigator.
- seek informal resolution of the complainant where appropriate.
- if informal resolution is not possible, 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 and intake officer.
- The reviewer will:
- Conduct a full, fair and timely review of alleged complaint, including reasonable effort to corroborate sources of information.
- Prepare a written, dated report for the administrative officer.
B. The Intake Interview
If an alleged harasser is known but not named 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 administrative officer will evaluate the circumstances and initiate an appropriate investigation.
If an alleged harasser is known and named in the intake interview, the intake officer will encourage the complainant to submit a written statement describing the alleged behavior and a formal review process will be initiated (see C below). If the complainant does not wish 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. In some instances, the administrative officer will initiate an informal resolution, if the circumstances suggest that this type of resolution is appropriate.
C. Formal Complaint Process
Submission of Written Complaint
The complainant will submit a dated and signed complaint to the intake officer. The complaint should be as specific as possible, including dates, times, locations, a description of the alleged harassing 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 this complaint.
Upon receipt of a written discrimination and harassment complaint, the intake officer will consult with the appropriate administrative officer, who will review the complaint. If he or she determines that the complaint falls within the scope of this policly, he or she will appoint an independent reviewer. The administrator will take interim measures to protect the complainant and prevent retaliation or interference with the review.
If the alleged harasser is a member of the faculty bargaining unit, complaint procedures outlined in the collective bargaining agreement will be followed. If the alleged harasser is a student or a 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. The accused will be given 14 calendar days from the receipt of the complaint to respond in writing. An exception to the time requirements may be granted when both the complainant and administrative officer agree that the complaint should be handled after the close of the academic semester.
Identification of Facts
The College shall conduct a full and fair review of the alleged complaint, including a reasonable effort to corroborate sources of information identified by the complainant and the accused. The review will be completed as promptly as is possible, normally within 20 working days from the date the complaint is received. Written, dated, confidential records will be maintained throughout the review. At the conclusion of the review, the reviewer 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.
Informal Resolution of Formal Complaint
If appropriate, the administrative officer will seek an informal resolution of the complaint that satisfies all persons involved in the complaint. Such a resolution might be pursued in those situations where the accused is willing to apologize and to cease the discriminatory behavior and when the action sought by the complainant is for the behavior to stop. If a resolution is reached, both parties will sign dated copies of the terms of the resolution. Copies of the signed resolution will be given to the complainant, and the accused.
" If the accused is a non-faculty employee of Keene State College, the resolution will be kept in the individual's official personnel file for five years, at which time it will be destroyed if there are no recurring incidents.
" If the accused is a member of the faculty represented by a collective bargaining unit, the collective bargaining agreement will be followed.
" If the accused is a contract employee, Vice President for Finance and Planning will ask the contract administrator to provide documentation of the complaint outcome.
Formal Resolution of Formal Complaint
If an informal resolution is not possible or appropriate and 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, which will fall into one of two categories:
- 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, who will impose appropriate sanctions based on the nature and severity of the offense and the extent of the findings.
- 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. In this case the administrative officer will report the findings to the supervisor and 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, or termination. The principal administrator will communicate this decision in writing to the complainant, the accused, the direct supervisor of the accused, and the personnel file of the accused.
Appeals and Grievances
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the judgment and/or imposed sanctions, 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).
D. Informal Complaint Process
The complainant may choose to attempt to resolve his or her 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 and just 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.
- Intake Interview (see B above)
As in the formal process, the Intake Officer will consult with the appropriate Administrative Officer. The Administrative Officer will evaluate the information and determine the appropriate course of action in consultation with the intake officer. 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 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, beginning with a formal investigation (V(C)(2) above).
If the information does not suggest a pattern of conduct or if the conduct is judged not to rise to the level of discrimination but the behavior is still judged to be inappropriate, the administrative officer will discuss this complaint with the supervisor or dean, who in turn will then hold a discussion of the alleged incident with the accused to ensure that the accused understands expectations for appropriate behavior.
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 letter will be kept in the individual's official personnel file for five (5) years, at which time it will be destroyed if there are no recurring incidents.
- If the accused is a member of the faculty represented by a collective bargaining unit, the contract guidelines will be followed.
VI. Process for Handling Reports of Discrimination and Harassment by Keene State College Students
When a student is accused of discrimination or discriminatory harassment, the procedures outlined in the KSC Student Judicial Code will be followed.
If the alleged victim 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 victim of student harassment is a member of the staff, the Principal administrator who oversees the division in which the individual is employed and Director of Human Resources will be notified.
VII. 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. Time limits for filing a formal complaint are as follows:
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.
- For faculty and staff: 60 calendar days
- For students: 12 months
Retaliation against anyone making a harassment claim 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.
IX. 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.
X. Annual Report
The Vice President for Student Affairs, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Finance and Planning, and the Director of Human Resources shall submit a confidential annual report to the President by June 30 of each academic year. This report will list all informal and formal discrimination and harassment complaints received and describe their outcomes as well as all requests for training or information about discrimination and harassment, but 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 and training.