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PENN STATE - ADMINISTRATIVE

Policy AD85 - DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT, SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RELATED INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT

Policy Steward: Vice President for Administration

Contents:

  • Purpose
  • Policy
  • Definitions
  • Addressing Complaints
  • Sanctions
  • Amnesty for Student Drug or Alcohol Possession and Consumption Violations
  • Additional Services for Victims
  • Reporting Prohibited Activity
  • Free Expression and Academic Freedom
  • External Complaints
  • Further Information
  • Cross References

  • PURPOSE:

    To establish the University’s policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment in all forms, sexual misconduct, relationship violence and retaliation related to reports of such conduct.

    POLICY STATEMENT:

    The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons.  It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas.  Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated.

    This policy shall not be construed to restrict academic freedom at the University, nor shall it be to restrict constitutionally protected expression.

    Conduct prohibited by this policy may also violate Title IX and Title VII, and other applicable federal and state law. Dr. Kenneth Lehrman III, Vice Provost for Affirmative Action is the Title IX Coordinator.  Deputy Title IX Coordinators include Danny Shaha, Senior Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Kim Lantz Yoder, Equity Officer, Penn State College of Medicine.  Additional information about how to contact these individuals, or to otherwise pursue or report a violation of this Policy, is set forth below.

    DEFINITIONS:

    (a)       Discrimination is conduct of any nature that denies an individual the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or living environment, because of the individual’s age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas.    

    (b)      Harassment means behavior consisting of physical or verbal conduct that substantially interferes with an individual’s employment, education or access to University programs, activities or opportunities.   Harassment may include, but is not limited to, verbal or physical attacks, graphic or written statements, threats, or slurs. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes prohibited Harassment depends on the totality of the particular circumstances, including the nature, frequency and duration of the conduct in question, the location and context in which it occurs and the status of the individuals involved.

    Any type of Harassment is prohibited at the University. To constitute prohibited Harassment which can lead to discipline under this Policy, however, the conduct must be such that it detrimentally affects the individual in question and would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances.

    (c)       Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwanted, inappropriate, or unconsented to.  Any type of Sexual Harassment is prohibited at the University.

    Sexual harassment when committed by a student can lead to discipline under the Code of Conduct.  The precise definitions of the Code of Conduct should be reviewed and applied when a student is accused of or commits harassment.  (See Student Code of Conduct).

    Sexual Harassment committed by an employee or third party can lead to discipline or corrective action when:

    1. Submission to such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a condition for employment, promotion, grades, academic status, or participation in the University’s activities; or
    2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic or other decisions affecting an individual; or
    3. Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to substantially interfere with the harassed individual’s employment, education or access to University programs, activities and opportunities, or creates a hostile or offensive environment for that individual or others.

    (d)       Consensual Relationships

    Romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty and students, staff and students or supervisors and subordinate employees are strongly discouraged.  Such relationships have the potential for adverse consequences, including the filing of charges of sexual harassment.  Given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship where one party has the power to give grades, thesis advice, evaluations, recommendations, promotions, salary increases or performance evaluations, the consensual nature of the relationship is inherently suspect.

    Even when both parties have consented to the relationship, there may be perceptions of conflicts of interest or unfair treatment of others. Such perceptions undermine the atmosphere of trust essential to the educational process or the employment relationship. Accordingly, the person in the position of supervision or academic responsibility must promptly report the relationship to his or her immediate supervisor.  Once the consensual relationship is reported, the immediate supervisor is responsible for eliminating or mitigating the conflict of interest to the fullest feasible extent and ensuring that fair and objective processes are in place for decisions relative to grading, thesis advice, evaluations, recommendations, promotions, salary increases, or performance evaluations.  The new supervisory or academic arrangement should be documented.

    (e)       Sexual Misconduct is a form of sexual harassment and refers to sexual offenses including but not limited to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual exploitation, sexual coercion and any other forms of nonconsensual sexual activity.  Sexual misconduct can be committed by strangers, acquaintances and family members, as well as casual and long-term dating partners.

    Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, attempted or unwanted sexual activity, such as sexual touching and fondling.  This includes the touching of an unwilling person’s intimate parts (defined as genitalia, groin, breast or buttock, or clothing covering them), or forcing an unwilling person to touch another’s intimate parts.

    Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, prostituting another person, non-consensual visual or audio recording of sexual activity, non-consensual distribution of photos, images or information of an individual’s sexual activity or intimate body parts, non-consensual voyeurism, coercing someone against their will to engage in sexual activity, or knowingly transmitting sexually transmitted disease (STD) without disclosing STD status.

    Consent must be informed, freely given and mutual.  If coercion, intimidation, threats or physical force are used there is no consent.  If a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that such person cannot understand the fact, nature or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent: this includes impairment or incapacitation due to alcohol or drug consumption, or being asleep or unconscious.  Inducement of incapacitation of another with the intent to affect the ability of an individual to consent or refuse to consent to sexual contact almost always, if not always, negates consent.  Silence does not necessarily constitute consent.  Whether a person has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent.

    (f)       Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his/her safety or the safety of others, or to suffer emotional distress.  Stalking may include repeatedly following, harassing, threatening, or intimidating another by telephone, mail, electronic communication, social media, or any other action, device or method.

    (g)       Dating Violence means violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.  The existence of such a relationship will be based on the length and type of relationship and the frequency of interaction with the persons involved in the relationship.  It is important to recognize that emotional, verbal, and economic abuse are part of the web of dating violence and can exist without the presence of physical abuse.

    (h)       Domestic Violence includes crimes of violence committed against a victim by:  (i) a current or former spouse; (ii) a person with whom the victim shares a child; (iii) a person who is or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse; (iv) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim; or (v) any other person against whom the victim is protected under Pennsylvania’s domestic and family violence laws.  It is important to recognize that emotional, verbal, and economic abuse are part of the web of domestic violence and can exist without the presence of physical abuse.

    (i)      Retaliation, as defined in University Policy AD67, is also prohibited by this policy and may subject the individual who retaliates in violation of this or other University policy to discipline or sanctions.

    ADDRESSING COMPLAINTS:

    Concerns about conduct by a student or student group that may violate this policy may be reported to:

    Danny Shaha, Senior Director, Office of Student Conduct and Deputy Title IX Coordinator
    120 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802
    Phone:  (814) 863-0342
    Email: jds49@psu.edu

    Concerns about conduct by an employee or third-party that may violate this policy, should be reported to the Affirmative Action Office / Title IX Coordinator at:

    Dr. Kenneth Lehrman III, Vice Provost for Affirmative Action and Title IX Coordinator
    328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802
    Phone:  (814) 863-0471
    Email:  kfl2@psu.edu

    Concerns about conduct by a student or student group may also be reported to the Title IX Coordinator in addition to or in lieu of contacting the Deputy Title IX Coordinator.

    Concerns about conduct by an employee, third-party or student at the Penn State College of Medicine that may violate this policy should be reported to the College Deputy Title IX Coordinator at:

    Kim Lantz Yoder, Equity Officer
    Office for Diversity, C1747N
    Penn State College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA  17033-0850
    Phone: (717) 531-0003 ext. 283353
    Email: kyoder1@psu.edu

    Concerns about conduct by an employee, third party or student at the Penn State School of Law that may violate this policy should be reported to the Affirmative Action Office / Title IX Coordinator at:

    Dr. Kenneth Lehrman III, Vice Provost for Affirmative Action and Title IX Coordinator
    328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802
    Phone:  (814) 863-0471
    Email:  kfl2@psu.edu

    Concerns about conduct by an employee, third party or student at any Commonwealth Campus or other University Location should follow the reporting procedures set forth above and on the Title IX Website.

    Prompt and equitable corrective measures will be taken to stop discrimination or harassment, to remedy the effects of the discrimination or harassment, and to prevent future instances of discrimination and harassment.  The Title IX Procedures Document, available at the University’s Title IX website, http://www.psu.edu/dept/title-ix/, and the Office of Student Conduct Procedures document sets forth in detail the University’s procedures for resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence) and for complaints involving crimes of violence (including sexual assault, rape, and aggravated assault) brought against students.

    The Affirmative Action Office Website (http://www.psu.edu/dept/aaoffice/ ) sets forth in detail the University’s procedures for resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment (including sexual harassment) and for complaints involving crimes of violence (including sexual assault, rape, relationship violence, and stalking) brought against third parties and non-student employees of the University.

    SANCTIONS:

    Against Students:  Disciplinary sanctions for student violations of this policy will be imposed in accordance with the “Code of Conduct & Student Conduct Procedures Manual".  Sanctions may include expulsion.

    Against Employees: Disciplinary sanctions for employee violations of this policy, which may range from a disciplinary warning to termination from the University, will be imposed in accordance with applicable University policies.

    AMNESTY FOR STUDENT DRUG OR ALCOHOL POSSESSION AND CONSUMPTION VIOLATIONS:

    The University strongly encourages students to report incidents violating this policy.  Therefore, students who act responsibly by reporting to the appropriate authorities information about conduct violating this policy typically will not face University disciplinary action for their own drug or alcohol possession or consumption in connection with the reported incident.

    ADDITIONAL SERVICES FOR VICTIMS:

    Primary care services and/or appropriate referrals to community services will be provided to victims of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence and/or stalking.  Information about how to best support and identify available services for students and/or employees at all University campuses and locations may be accessed at http://www.psu.edu/dept/title-ix/ and the Affirmative Action Office website.  Confidential and non-confidential resources are available and listed on the websites.

    REPORTING ACTIVITY PROHIBITED BY THIS POLICY:

    Employees should immediately report incidents of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and retaliation to the Title IX Coordinator, the Affirmative Action Office, the Office of Student Conduct and/or Penn State University Police & Public Safety.   The Title IX website provides a form and mechanism for reporting these violations.  (See http://www.psu.edu/dept/title-ix/).   Regardless of the nature of the underlying incident, if there is any danger to person or property, you are strongly encouraged to additionally, and first, report the incident to the applicable police or public safety department.

    If the apparent victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the offense and there is any potential of child abuse, University employees should also consult University Policy AD72, Reporting Suspected Child Abuse, which addresses the procedure for mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.

    FREE EXPRESSION AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM:

    The University is committed to its long-standing tradition of academic freedom and free expression.  The University is an institution whose members may express themselves, while protecting and respecting the rights of others to learn, to do research, and to carry out the essential functions of the University free from interference or obstruction.  When addressing complaints of violations of this policy, the University will take all permissible actions to respond appropriately while respecting the rights of free expression and academic freedom.  See HR64, AD47 and AD51.

    EXTERNAL COMPLAINTS:

    The University encourages all individuals with a pertinent complaint to follow the process in this Policy.  However, individuals may always choose to make a discrimination complaint directly with outside agencies, including, but not limited to, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education based in Philadelphia, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Harrisburg Regional Office.  Contact information for these agencies can be found at the Affirmative Action Office website.

    FURTHER INFORMATION:

    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the General Counsel.

    CROSS REFERENCES:

    Affirmative Action Office Website

    Code of Conduct & Student Conduct Procedures Manual

    Penn State College of Medicine Web Site

    Sexual Harassment and Assault Reporting and Education (SHARE)

    University Title IX Website

    AD29 - Statement on Intolerance,

    AD67 - Disclosure of Wrongful Conduct and Protection From Retaliation

    AD72 - Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

    HR01 - Fair Employment Practices

    HR11 - Affirmative Action in Employment at The Pennsylvania State University

    HR76 - Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

    HR79 - Staff Grievance Procedure


    Effective Date: January 27, 2014
    Date Approved: January 20, 2014
    Date Published: January 27, 2014

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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