Harassment on the Basis of Race, Disability, Age, Religion, Gender, Ethnicity, Gender Identity or Expression, or Sexual Orientation
Harassment of any kind is not acceptable at Union College whether it is sexual harassment ( ) or on the basis of age, color, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, race, religion, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Harassment is inconsistent with the College’s commitment to excellence and to respect for all individuals. Union College is also committed to the free and vigorous discussion of ideas and issues, which the College believes will be protected by this policy. This policy is intended to complement Union College’s Equal Opportunity Policy. If you believe you are a victim of a hate crime, please see Bias Policy/Acts of Intolerance for information on filling a complaint.
This Harassment Policy applies to all persons who are enrolled or employed at Union College while they are on College property or are participating in a College-sponsored activity off-campus. The Procedures for Resolution of Claims of Harassment, described below, apply to situations in which both complainant and respondent are enrolled or employed at Union College.
Situations that involve others, including applicants for admission or employment who believe they have been harassed by employees of Union College and students and employees who believe they have been harassed by contractors or vendors serving the College, will be resolved through procedures for complaints of discrimination. Persons who believe they have experienced these situations should contact the Director of Multicultural Affairs at (518) 388-6030.
Union College has established informal and formal harassment grievance procedures that you may elect to follow at any time.
All members of the College community are responsible for creating a working, learning, and living environment that is free of harassment. It is important to contact the Dean of Students Office or the Director of Multicultural Affairs if you:
This policy against harassment shall be applied in a manner that protects the academic freedom and freedom of expression of all parties to a complaint. Academic freedom and freedom of expression include but are not limited to the expression of ideas, however controversial, in the classroom, residence hall, and, in keeping with different responsibilities, in workplaces elsewhere in the College community. The coverage of this Policy extends to all faculty, staff, and students.
(please see The Sexual Misconduct and Sexual harassment Policy for more information on procedures relation to sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or sexual harassment complaints)
Definition of Harassment
“Harassment” is the creation of a hostile or intimidating environment in which verbal, visual communication-based, or physical conduct as more particularly described below, because of its severity and/or persistence, is likely to interfere with an individual’s work or education or affect adversely an individual’s living conditions.
The conduct alleged to constitute harassment under this Policy shall be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person similarly situated to the complainant and considering all the circumstances.
In considering a complaint under the Union College Harassment Policy, the following understandings shall apply:
The following behaviors are also prohibited by the Harassment Policy:
2. Knowingly filing false or malicious complaints: Knowingly filing a false or malicious complaint of harassment or of retaliation is a violation of the Harassment Policy. Such conduct may be pursued using the steps followed for a complaint of harassment. A complaint under this provision shall not constitute prohibited retaliation.
3. Intentional breaches of confidence: All participants in the harassment complaint resolution process, including the complainant and respondent, witnesses, advisors, mediators, members of hearing panels and officers, shall respect the confidentiality of the proceedings. Breaches of confidentiality jeopardize the conditions necessary to the workings of internal procedures for resolution of claims of harassment. Participants are authorized to discuss the case only with those persons who have a genuine need to know. A complaint alleging an intentional breach of confidentiality may be pursued using the steps followed for a complaint of harassment. Such a breach may also constitute an act of retaliation. A breach of confidentiality may void the outcome of any previously agreed-upon resolution to a complaint.
Any member of the College community who believes that he or she has been a victim of harassment has a number of options, including taking self-initiated actions, attempting to resolve the problem informally with the assistance of a College officer, utilizing mediation, or bringing a formal complaint.
This Harassment Policy and the procedures for resolution of claims of harassment are only part of Union College’s effort to prevent harassment in our community. In addition to spelling out steps for making and resolving complaints, the College will endeavor to raise the level of understanding concerning the nature of harassment and ways to prevent its occurrence.
NOTE: This Harassment Policy replaces previous statements on sexual harassment in employment and sexual harassment of students.
Procedures for Dealing with Cases of Harassment
Members of the Union College community who feel they have been harassed may speak with the Director of Multicultural Affairs who is prepared to provide support and information. In addition, students may seek help from a College official(s) in the Student Affairs Office as designated by the Dean of Students. If a person feels uncomfortable going alone to one of the designated persons for help, she/he can bring a friend along for support. Whether or not a person consults with a College official, he or she will have the option of bringing the complaint under the informal or formal grievance procedures.
Union College hopes that accessibility and fairness inherent in these procedures will encourage all employees and students to use each step outlined in the Informal and Formal Grievance Procedures prior to instituting any proceeding regarding the subject matter of the grievance in any State or Federal court or agency.
The grievance procedure is provided for the internal resolution of differences and is not a legal forum. Those wishing to use legal counsel in the search for redress should do so within a judicial system. Pursuit of the College’s grievance procedure shall not be construed as the waiver of any right that would be provided to one under the jurisdiction of outside agencies, including courts of law. However, the filing of a grievance does not postpone any deadlines for filing of complaints with outside agencies.
Multiple Options for Dealing with Harassment
Rationale for the Multiple Option System
Union College’s system for handling reports and complaints of harassment is designed to provide a choice for you so that you can find an option for stopping harassment that is appropriate for you. Importantly, the objective of providing multiple options is to encourage you to come forward if you have a concern. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. By reviewing the Policy itself and this Guide, you may find one option preferable to you. If you feel you are having a problem, we encourage you to trust your feelings and tell someone who has the ability to help solve the problem and with whom you feel comfortable.
Frequently, the most effective way to stop harassment is to tell the harasser that you object to his or her behavior and that you want it to stop. Say it firmly without smiling and without apologizing. The goal here is to stop any harassment that has occurred or is occurring without pursuing a fact-finding process or seeking sanctions. The direct approach has the advantage of giving you control over how the complaint is handled and may produce quicker results than an intervention by a third party. It is also possible for you to subsequently pursue other options if dealing directly with the harasser does not achieve the desired results.
One way to document that unwelcome, offensive behavior is occurring is to keep a diary or log. Write down what is happening to you. Include direct quotes, the names of any witnesses, and patterns to the harassment. Have your log witnessed periodically. Save any letters, cards, and notes in a secure place. Save a hard copy of any e-mails and the original electronic copy of the e-mail in secure places. Each document can be especially useful if the Direct Approach does not work and you later need to recount the events accurately to a mediator.
Prior to meeting with the person who offended you, consider telling the harasser in writing that you object to his or her behavior and ask that it stop. Describe the specific things that offend or upset you. Keep a copy of the letter. Remember that once the letter is sent, that copy belongs to the recipient. Your letter should be accurate and to the point since it may be used against you if it is not accurate or is abusive. Discuss the letter with a counselor if you need assistance.
College Counseling Center....................... 518-388-6161
College Health Services............................ 518-388-6120
In addition, consider talking with your co-workers or fellow students to find out if they, or anyone they know, have been bothered by the harasser. Other individuals who have experienced this behavior may provide valuable support if you decide to take the Direct Approach or seek other options.
If you want to speak directly with the person who offends you, use your own judgment, and do it only if you feel comfortable doing so. You can take a friend or colleague with you, tell a friend or colleague about the meeting afterwards, or write notes on the meeting.
If you feel the harasser may be dangerous or may engage in retaliation, you should seek advice from Campus Safety.
Informal Discussion occurs with your supervisor (if you are an employee), the Dean of Students or designee (if you are a student), and/or the Director of Multicultural Affairs (each individually referred to as a “College advisor”). The goals of Informal Discussion are to record specific information about the incident(s) and to allow you to explain the issues to your supervisor, the Dean of Student or designee, and/or the Director of Multicultural Affairs. If you do not wish to give the name of the person against whom the charge is being made at this stage that is acceptable. However, the College advisor may inquire as to the name of the Department or Division with which the harasser is associated.
At the Informal Discussion stage, your identity will not be revealed to the person (if identified) against whom the complaint is made.
If you decide to try to deal with the problem yourself, using strategies provided by the College advisor, the College advisor will follow-up with you as deemed necessary and appropriate to determine the status of the matter.
If you believe the problem is resolved, the College advisor will consider the matter closed. However, he or she will want to document and confirm that the matter has ended to your satisfaction.
If you cannot, or choose not to, resolve the problem based on advice from the advisor, the College advisor will strongly recommend to the College that further action be taken.
In Informal Intervention, the College advisor (your supervisor, if you are an employee; the Dean of Students’ designee, if you are a student; and/or the Director of Multicultural Affairs need not come to a conclusion about whether harassment has or has not taken place but should take reasonable steps to prevent harassment or reprisal in the future. Examples of problem solving solutions that might come about through Informal Intervention are agreement by the accused to change his or her behavior or agreement by the accused to cease all social contact with you. In other cases, the College advisor may separate the work assignments for you and the accused, change the work area of the accused, or work out some other non-disciplinary solution in the course of discussions with you and the accused.
You or the College advisor should consider whether or not Informal Intervention is appropriate under the circumstances. Informal Intervention often works quickly. This method sometimes works relatively well with issues of harassing speech and expression.
However, if the alleged harassment is criminal behavior, you and the College advisor should consider talking with Campus Safety. If the behavior is egregiously offensive, is a matter of reprisal, is repeated after a warning, or would clearly be unwelcome to anyone, Mediation or a Formal Grievance is more appropriate. In the case of a Formal Grievance, the case would be formally investigated. The College advisor should discuss this matter thoroughly with you.
Advice for the Complainant
You should prepare a clear explanation of the situation for the College advisor. You may want to write about the situation or talk with a friend to clarify it before you approach the College advisor. You should be prepared to describe what happened, when it happened, if there were others around at the time, if you indicated that the behavior was unwelcome, and if the behavior was repeated. The College advisor will probably ask you what you want to have happen and will try, if possible, to accommodate your wishes. The College advisor will probably talk with the person who offended you and may talk with possible witnesses. The College advisor will try to protect your privacy as much as possible. Consider going back afterward to the College advisor at least once to inform him or her how things are going. Go back right away if things do not work out appropriately.
One definition of mediation is “a process through which two or more disputing parties negotiate a voluntary settlement of differences with the help of a third party (the mediator) who typically has no stake in the outcome.”
Mediation involves the parties meeting, together or separately, with a College official who has been trained as a mediator. You may request from the Dean of Students or Vice President of Academic Affairs information about Mediation. The mediator attempts to work out a voluntary, written Agreement between you and the accused. If there is a settlement, it is worked out between the parties with the help of the mediator in joint and/or individual sessions. Mediation is a voluntary, private option for dispute resolution. Mediation is not a disciplinary proceeding.
Any of the Participants can stop the Mediation process at any point by leaving and adopting a different option. The power to stop the Mediation process and then pursue a different option has sometimes been helpful when the person complaining otherwise has less power than the accused. If Mediation or the written Agreement fails, then either party may turn to another option as if the Mediation had not taken place. However, the mediator may not be called upon as a witness in a subsequent formal process.
Participating in Mediation may not be imposed on anyone at Union College. Mediation requires the free participation of both parties to a dispute. If any person thinks he or she is being intimidated into Mediation, then that person should get help and not agree to participate in Formal Mediation.
The written Agreement may be kept private to the parties or may be on record (for example, it could be kept on file at a “department head’s” office).
If Mediation is tried to resolve your complaint of harassment and the unwanted behavior of the person against whom you lodged a complaint continues, you have the option to agree to have the case go through Mediation again.
If you refuse to go through Mediation again or to pursue the Formal Grievance option, the College may, on its own initiative and with or without your cooperation, take appropriate action.
For peer harassment (e.g., student against student) or for complaints against students by faculty or staff members, please refer to the Conduct Code procedures contained in the Student Handbook.
For formal complaints of a student against a faculty member, the process is outlined in the Faculty Manual, which can be found in the Dean of Faculty’s Office: http://www.union.edu/academic/academic-affairs/index.php
For complaints of students against staff members refer to the Staff Manual, which can be obtained in the Human Resource Office. http://www.union.edu/offices/human-resources/policies/staff-manual/index.php
Any retaliatory action of any kind taken by an employee or student of the College against you as a result of your seeking redress under these procedures is prohibited and shall be regarded as a separate and distinct cause for complaint under these procedures.