Community Standards

Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation by Students; Policy Prohibiting

Important Note

(Updated August 2023)

For the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, Bias and Retaliation in Employment, please consult the Title IX website, or visit this link.


Union College is committed to creating and maintaining an educational, working, and living environment free from discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, as described in this Policy. Union College’s Policy prohibits any such discrimination and applies to everyone in the campus community.

Scope and Definitions

This Policy applies to discrimination, including harassment, based on a student’s protected characteristics. This Policy does not cover misconduct committed by third parties (including parties who are not current students, faculty, or staff). Where a respondent is a third party, contact Campus Safety, the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Intercultural Affairs or a Chief Diversity Officer. Please note that this Policy does not apply to complaints of Title IX violations or Gender-Based Misconduct, including sexual harassment. For any complaints alleging a Title IX violation or Gender-Based Misconduct, including sexual harassment, see the Title IX Policy and/or Gender-based Misconduct Policy.

Protected Characteristics

Protected characteristics for the purpose of this policy are those personal traits, status, and/or beliefs that are defined by applicable law as protected from discrimination and/or harassment. They include race, creed, color, sex (including pregnancy), gender identity or expression, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, religion, physical or mental disability, genetic predisposition, military status, marital or domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, familial status, status as a victim of domestic violence, and/or other characteristics protected by applicable law.


Discrimination is considered the adverse or different treatment of an individual based on a protected characteristic, rather than individual merit, which is sufficiently severe that it interferes with, limits, or denies the ability to participate in, or benefit from, a program or activity. Examples of conduct that can constitute discrimination if based on an individual’s protected characteristic include but are not limited to:

  • Singling out or targeting an individual for different or less favorable treatment (e.g., more severe discipline, lower salary increase) because of their protected characteristics.
  • Failing or refusing to hire or admit an individual because of their protected characteristic.
  • Terminating an individual from employment or an educational program based on their protected characteristic.


Harassment is the unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct which is directed at a person based on a protected characteristic and violates this policy when:

  1. an individual’s acceptance or rejection of such conduct explicitly or implicitly forms the basis for an employment or educational decision affecting the individual; or
  2. these behaviors are sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's educational experience, working conditions, or living conditions by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Whether conduct is sufficiently severe and/or pervasive is determined by using the objective standard of a reasonable person as well as the subjective standard of the individual at whom the unwelcome conduct is directed. Union College strives for a respectful classroom and living environment at all times and prohibits any harassing conduct.

Examples of conduct that can constitute harassment if based on an individual’s protected characteristic include but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome jokes or comments about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., racial or ethnic jokes);
  • Disparaging remarks to a person about a legally protected characteristic (e.g., negative or offensive remarks or jokes about a person's religion or religious garments);
  • Displaying negative or offensive posters or pictures about a legally protected characteristic;
  • Electronic communications such as derogatory email, text messaging, websites, and postings on social media.

Any conduct alleged to constitute harassment under this Policy shall be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person, considering all of the circumstances, including the frequency, nature, severity, intensity, location, context, and duration of the conduct in question as well as the effect of the conduct on the individual or individuals at whom the conduct was directed. Prohibited harassment will be distinguished from behavior which, even though unwelcome, is appropriate to the carrying out of certain instructional, advisory or supervisory responsibilities.


Retaliation is considered any conduct, whether or not workplace, employment, or education-related, that is directed at a student because he or she opposed a discriminatory practice, made a complaint of discrimination, or participated in such an investigation which might deter a reasonable worker or student from making or supporting a charge of discrimination or harassment. Retaliation can take many forms including abuse or violence, threats, and intimidation. Actions in response to a good faith report or response under this Policy are considered retaliatory if they have a materially adverse effect on the working, academic, or College-controlled living environment of a student and could well dissuade a reasonable student from bringing or supporting a charge of discrimination or harassment. Retaliation is unlawful and will not be tolerated. Any individual or group of individuals including, but not limited to: clubs, organizations, and athletic teams; can engage in retaliation and will be held accountable under this Policy.

Anti-Harassment Policies & Freedom of Speech and/or Expression

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. Union College is committed to protecting the academic freedom and freedom of expression of all members of the College community. This Policy 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.

If the conduct in question is legally protected by academic freedom in accordance with the Academic Freedom Policy statement contained in the Faculty Manual (FM V.II), which is adapted from the AAUP “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” it is incapable of legally creating a hostile environment in and of itself. To the extent allowed by applicable law, a determination of whether speech serves a pedagogical purpose is initially guided by the faculty speaker and his/her faculty peers (defined as members of the FEC).

Students with Disabilities

If a student with a disability needs a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in any aspect of the judicial process, then the student must submit a request through Accommodative Services (518) 388-8785.

Confidential Resources

Individuals who serve as Confidential Resources are trained to understand issues of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Information shared with Confidential Resources (including information about whether an individual has received services from a Confidential Resource) will only be disclosed to other College officials or any other person with the individual’s express written permission, unless there is an imminent threat of serious harm to the individual or to others or a legal obligation to reveal such information (e.g., if there is suspected abuse or neglect of a minor).

Confidential Resources are not authorized to engage in fact-finding or take action on behalf of the College nor will they maintain formal or detailed records of confidential consultations.

If, after speaking with a Confidential Resource, a member of the campus community does not wish to initiate an internal complaint, the Confidential Resource will take no action. If a member of the campus community does wish to make a complaint, these individuals are knowledgeable about the College’s policies and procedures and will assist in making connections with an appropriate College administrator.


● Counseling Center-Wicker Wellness Center: (518) 388-6161

● Campus Minister: (518) 388-6618

The College encourages prompt reporting of complaints because late reporting may limit the College’s ability to investigate and respond to conduct. However, the College will respond to all reports in accordance with this Policy.

Complaint Reporting, Investigation, and Resolution Involving Complaints Against Students

  • Complaint Process

    All concerns of discrimination, harassment or retaliation by a student should be reported immediately to the Office of Community Standards. Complaints may be verbal or in writing.

    The College offers both informal and formal resolution options which apply to complaints by a student against another student or by an employee against a student. A student with concerns about behavior by an employee should contact the Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity.

    Allegations of violations of this policy are resolved through the disciplinary procedures described in the Code of Student Conduct section of this Handbook, or may be found on the Community Standards website. These procedures may include investigation, informal and formal methods of resolution, and mediation.Protection from Retaliation

    The College will not tolerate retaliation of any kind against anyone who opposes a discriminatory practice, makes a good faith complaint about discrimination or harassment, or furnishes information or participates in any manner in an investigation of such a complaint. Retaliation includes any conduct, whether or not workplace, employment-related, or in a classroom environment, directed at someone because he or she opposed a discriminatory practice, made a complaint of discrimination, or participated in such an investigation, which might deter a reasonable worker or student from making or supporting a charge of discrimination or harassment.

  • Protection from Retaliation

    Retaliation is unlawful and will not be tolerated.

    • Prior to the conclusion of an investigation and findings, a complaint of discrimination or harassment does not constitute proof of prohibited conduct. As such, the complaint shall not be taken into account during reappointment, tenure, promotion, merit or other evaluation, or review until a determination has been made that the College’s Policy has been violated.
    • Any individual who believes that he or she has been subject to retaliation should file a complaint using the complaint procedure set forth above. Retaliatory conduct may result in serious disciplinary sanctions.
  • Protection from Bad Faith Complaints

    It is the responsibility of the College to balance the rights of all parties. Therefore, if the College’s investigation reveals that the complaint is malicious or knowingly false, such charges will be dismissed and the person who filed the complaint may be subject to discipline.