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Bias Policy & Acts of Intolerance


Union College is proud to be a community comprised of diverse individuals from all backgrounds.  Union College values the social and intellectual vibrancy that occurs when individuals with different life experiences, viewpoints, and belief systems come together.  Our goal is to maintain a living and learning environment where all feel safe and respected. 

Acts of bigotry and prejudice are inconsistent with our mission.  To that end, this policy prohibits harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, military or veteran status, age, disability and any other characteristic protected by law.  This policy prohibits hate crimes.  Union College also prohibits sexual misconduct and sexual and gender-based harassment, but those issues are addressed in Union College’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment.

This policy uses the term “bias-related conduct” to refer to harassment and hate crimes collectively.  In this policy, the term “Union College community” is used to refer to faculty, staff, students, and others affiliated with the College by reason of employment or education. Although we have utilized pronouns referring to the male and female genders, we acknowledge that some individuals do not use these pronouns to describe themselves.  Despite the gendered nature of its language, this policy is inclusive of all students of the Union College community. 

The purpose of this policy is twofold: first, to establish clear procedures for the handling of bias-related allegations, and second, to educate the student community with respect to the limits of acceptable conduct.  By educating students about Union College’s expectations, this policy aims to prevent bias-related conduct and  harassment from occurring.  Students are urged to read this policy and to develop an understanding of the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. 

The use of alcohol or other drugs can impair judgment and self-control.  However, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not a defense to an allegation of a violation of this policy.

Union College encourages intellectual inquiry and debate and the open discussion of differing viewpoints.  This policy is not intended to stifle academic exchange even when it may be offensive to some.  While vigorous intellectual exchange is consistent with Union College’s mission, acts of bigotry that are not part of legitimate academic inquiry or are targeted at an individual or group within the community undermine Union College’s educational purpose.  An underlying premise of this distinction between acceptable and unacceptable conduct is the notion of respect for each individual as a unique member of the Union College community.

A student who believes that he or she has been the victim of harassment or a hate crime is encouraged to report it immediately.  The College has designated the following individuals to receive complaints:

  • Dean of Students Office (518-388-6116)
  • Campus Safety (518-388-6911 or 518-388-6358).

Or go to www.union.edu/offices/dean/sart/support/index.php  This policy explains Union College’s approach to investigating, adjudicating and disciplining bias-related conduct. 

Some bias-related conduct rises to the level of criminal conduct, and Union College strongly encourages the reporting of criminal conduct to the local police by dialing 911.  Campus Safety will assist a student in reporting an incident to the police if the student so requests.  The criminal process is separate and distinct from this policy.  The fact that a criminal complaint has been filed, prosecuted or dismissed will not prevent Union College from pursuing disciplinary action. 

The College has established a Bias Incident Team whose members are: Director of Campus Safety, Chief Diversity Officer, and Director of Multicultural Affairs.

When to Use this Policy

Complaints Against Students
This policy applies only in those instances when a student is accused of having engaged in bias-related conduct against another student.  This policy also applies where a prospective student or other visitor to the campus (e.g., a guest of another student, an alumnus or alumna, or a member of a visiting team) complains of a Union College student’s behavior.  If a faculty or staff member wishes to bring a complaint against a student, they should do so according to the College’s Student Conduct Code.  If a student is a victim of bias-related conduct by someone other than another student, then this policy does not apply, and the student should see the following. 

Complaints Against Faculty or Staff
If a student wishes to bring forward a complaint against a faculty or staff member, the policy that applies in those situations is the College’s Policy Prohibiting Harassment (found in the Faculty Manual FMII XIX), or Policy Prohibiting Harassment (found in Staff Manual paragraph 11.2) or Sexual Harassment And Harassment (found in Administrative Manual paragraph 11.3).  The student should follow the procedures outlined in that policy. 

Complaints Against Visitors or Non-Community Members
If a student wishes to bring forward a complaint against a visitor or non-community member (e.g., an alumnus or alumna, a prospective student, a guest of a student, a member of another College’s team, or a local resident), the complaint should be made to Campus Safety (518-388-6911 or 518-388-6358) http:www.union.edu/offices/safety/  For more information, see:www.union.edu/offices/dean/handbook/discrimination/ Campus Safety will investigate complaints against visitors and the College will determine the appropriate action to be taken in accordance with the Rules of Public Order. 

Timeframe for Making a Complaint
While there is no time limit for bringing forward a complaint, the passage of time may make an incident difficult or even impossible to investigate fairly or fully and to adjudicate.  Therefore, students are encouraged to make a complaint as soon as possible after the incident has occurred.  Although not an ideal situation given the passage of time, a former student may make a complaint against a current student.  However, the reverse is not true: the complaint of a current student against a former student is not subject to adjudication pursuant to this policy.  Nevertheless, Union College officials will help the complaining student to report the allegations to the appropriate off-campus authorities.