Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures Involving Students

Objective

To provide students with guidelines on how to file sexual harassment/sexual assault complaints.

Authority

Board of Trustees Policy 1.1.96, Delegation of Authority to the President of the University.

Responsibility for Implementation

  • Deputy Title IX Coordinator
  • Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life
  • Dean of Students
  • Director of Women's Center
  • Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officer, Title IX Coordinator

Effective Date

September 24, 1998
Approved by: President's Executive Council
Date approved: September 23, 1998


Contents

I. Introduction

A. Definition

  1. Quid Pro Quo Harassment
  2. Hostile Environment Harassment

B. Consensual Relationships
C. Confidentiality
D. Retaliation
E. Groundless or Malicious Allegations

II. How to File a Complaint of Sexual Harassment

A. Informal Complaints /Conciliation
B. Formal Complaints
C. Record of Complaint and Decision

III. Conduct Process

IV. External Complaint Process

V. Other Resources

VI. Attachments

A. Montclair State Board of Trustees' Resolution Prohibiting Sexual Harassment
B. Intent to File An Internal Sexual Harassment Complaint
C. Internal Sexual Harassment Complaint Form for Students


I. Introduction

Montclair State University is committed to the principles of academic and professional excellence and to fostering a positive learning and working environment for its students and employees. The civil and respectful treatment of one another is a foundation of this principle, and antisocial behavior such as sexual harassment is prohibited and will not be tolerated by the University. On March 2, 1989, the Board of Trustees approved a Resolution Prohibiting Sexual Harassment. (Herein includes Sexual Assault) This resolution remains in full force and effect.

The University seeks to eliminate sexual harassment through education and by encouraging students to report concerns or complaints. Prompt corrective measures will be taken to stop sexual harassment whenever it occurs. Students or employees who violate the University's policy against sexual harassment are subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including dismissal or termination.

Sexual harassment is a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq., Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended in 1991) and Montclair State University's Statement on Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, Sexual Harassment and Tolerance. Under certain circumstances, sexual harassment may constitute sexual assault or abuse. The University will fully comply with all relevant civil laws prohibiting sexual harassment and all criminal laws concerning assault.

Any student who believes that she/he has been sexually harassed should follow the University's reporting procedures. Complaints should be filed as soon as possible after the alleged harassment. Late reporting may impede the University's ability to investigate effectively.

Because of the University's obligation to address sexual harassment when it occurs, under certain circumstances the University may exercise its right to initiate an investigation even though the alleged victim is unwilling to pursue a complaint.

Print copies of these procedures are available in the Office of the Dean of Students, Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office and Sprague Library, Women's Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, University Police Department and the University Health Center.

A. Definition - Sexual harassment, whether between people of different sexes or the same sex, is defined to include

1. Quid Pro Quo Harassment - Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when submission or rejection of such conduct is made a condition of academic evaluation or the conferral of any benefit. It involves an implicit or explicit threat that if the student does not accede to the sexual demands of someone in authority he or she will suffer adverse consequences.

2. Hostile Environment Harassment - Unwelcome conduct that would not have occurred but for the student's gender, that is severe or pervasive enough to make a reasonable person of the same sex believe that the conditions of the student's education are altered and the academic environment is hostile or abusive. The complained-of conduct need not be sexual in nature to constitute hostile environment sexual harassment.

Although quid pro quo harassment, by definition, requires that the harasser be someone in a position of authority over the student, hostile environment harassment can occur when anyone in the campus community, including a student, harasses another person. An individual's intent or lack of intent to harass is not relevant to the determination of whether harassment occurred.

Sexual harassment also includes sexual assault and refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will.  It includes rape, sexual battery and sexual coercion.

B. Consensual Relationships - Consensual romantic and sexual relationships between students and faculty or staff are strongly discouraged. No person involved in a romantic or sexual relationship with a student shall have responsibility for evaluating the student's academic performance or for making decisions regarding the student's rights or benefits because of the inherent conflict of interest. Such relationships may become the basis for serious charges of sexual harassment. These relationships may also appear to others as exploitative even if the parties view their relationship as consensual.

C. Confidentiality - Complaints filed with the Deputy Title IX Coordinator will be handled with sensitivity throughout the process. Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible.

D. Retaliation - Retaliation against an individual for reporting sexual harassment or for participating in an investigation is prohibited by University policy and state and federal law. Retaliation is a serious violation which may subject the offender to sanctions, regardless of whether or not the sexual harassment complaint has been substantiated. Any activity perceived by a complaint to be retaliatory in nature should be immediately reported to the Deputy Coordinator, who will in turn contact the Dean of Students Office for appropriate action.

E. Groundless or Malicious Allegations - It is a violation of these procedures for anyone to knowingly make false accusations of sexual harassment. Failure to prove a claim of sexual harassment, however, is not equivalent to making a false accusation. Sanctions may be imposed for making groundless or malicious accusations of sexual harassment.

II. How to File a Complaint of Sexual Harassment

Under the provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (as amended), Barbara Milton, Director of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity serves as the University's Title IX Coorindator, and Dr. Shannon Gary, Associate Dean of Students serves as the Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Ms. Milton is responsible for addressing student complaints involving faculty and staff.  Ms Milton's office is located in College Hall, Rm. 316 and she can be reached at extension 4349, or at miltonb@mail.montclair.edu. Dr. Gary is responsible for addressing student complaints involving students.  Dr. Gary's office located in the Student Center, Suite 400, and he can be reached at extension 4118, or at garys@mail.montclair.edu.  In addition, procedures for students filing internal complaints of sex discrimination/harassment can be found at the following website: http://www.montclair.edu/sexualharassment.

Parties have the right to be accompanied by an adviser of their choice at every step of the internal process. An adviser's role is to support and advise the complainant or respondent. Any further participation in the process is at the discretion of the Title IX Deputy Coordinator.

A student who believes that she/he may have been sexually harassed may seek advice from the Dean of Students or the Women's Center. At their discretion and required, referrals will be made to the Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Upon a referral, in cases of sexual harassment (not sexual assault) the Deputy Coordinator may offer an informal conciliation process as an alternative to the formal complaint process. Sexual assault complaints will be referred to University Police.

A. Informal Complaints/Conciliation The University offers a student an informal conciliation process as an alternative to the formal complaint procedure. The Deputy Coordinator will attempt to intervene in order to reach a satisfactory resolution between the individuals directly involved. This may include the services of the Campus Mediation Center. The University, however, cannot pursue disciplinary action against a respondent in the informal process. The informal proceeding requires voluntary agreement of the parties and focuses on conciliation rather than culpability. Early reporting is essential to an effective resolution. If informal attempts to resolve the complaint are unsuccessful, or if the complainant or the Deputy Coordinator believes an informal procedure is inappropriate, the formal complaint process can be utilized at any time. The filing of an informal complaint is not a prerequisite to a formal complaint.

1. If a student wishes to try informal resolution of a complaint, she/he must file an Intent to File Internal Sexual Harassment Complaint For Students (Attachment B). Upon receipt of this notice of intent, an attempt will be made to resolve the complaint by conciliation leading to informal mutual agreement.

2. In order to conciliate an informal complaint, the Deputy Coordinator may meet with the parties and their respective advisers separately, together, or both. The purpose of the meetings is to clarify issues and resolve the complaint.

3. If conciliation resolves the complaint, a conciliation agreement, stipulating the terms of the resolution, will be signed by the complainant and charged party. Each party will be given a copy of the signed agreement.

4. If the conciliation process is not successful and the student wishes to proceed with a formal complaint, she/he must file a formal written complaint.

B. Formal Complaints If a complainant wishes to invoke a formal administrative action, a formal written complaint must be filed with the Deputy Coordinator (Attachment C). Students are encouraged to report sexual harassment as soon as possible. Late reporting may impede a proper investigation.

    1. The formal written complaint must specify, in detail, the nature of the charge, dates of particular events, names of possible witnesses, respondent's name, remedy requested, and any other relevant information. The complaint must be signed and dated.
    2. All complaints will be acknowledged and promptly investigated and will include interviews with the complainant, the respondent, and other persons believed to have knowledge relevant to the allegations. Throughout the investigation the confidentiality of all participants will be maintained to the extent possible.
    3. The investigation should be completed within45 days from the time the formal complaint is filed. If a longer period is necessary for a thorough investigation, the President may issue reasonable time extensions. Parties will be notified of any extensions.
    4. Upon the conclusion of the investigation of a formal complaint, a written investigative report will be prepared and submitted to the President or designee.  The President or designee will issue a final determination on the formal complaint to the complainant and respondent.
    5. The final decision of the President or designee may include remedial measures, such as a referral to the appropriate University administrative office for disciplinary action. The final decision will include general information regarding rights to appeals.
    6. Sanctions for students found to have violated these procedures range from a warning to expulsion through the University's conduct process and where alleged criminal actions have occurred by referral to the criminal justice system.
    7. Sanctions for employees range from an oral reprimand to removal or detenuring and referral to the criminal justice system.
    8. All disciplinary action will be in compliance with relevant law and regulations.

C. Record of Complaint and Decision The record of the complaint and final decision shall be retained in a file in the Office of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action.

III. Conduct Process

A. Cases referred for judicial action will be adjudicated according to University regulations: Student Code of Conduct

B. Following the conduct process both complainant and respondent have the right to appeal the conduct decision according to established guidelines:

Appeals:

  1. An outcome imposed by a Student Conduct Committee or a sanction imposed by a Student Conduct Officer may be appealed by the accused student(s) or complainant(s) to an Appellate Board within three (3) business days of the decision. Such appeals shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the Director of Student Conduct or his or her designee.
  2. The Appellate Board will be compromised of one (1) student, (1) faculty/staff and (1) administrator not associated with the hearing.
  3. Except as required to explain the basis of new information, an appeal shall be limited to a review of the verbatim record of the Student Conduct Committee hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes:

To determine whether the Student Conduct Committee hearing was conducted fairly in light of the charges and information presented, and in conformity with prescribed procedures giving the complaining party a reasonable opportunity to prepare and to present information that the Student Code was violated, and giving the accused student a reasonable opportunity to prepare and to present a response to those allegations. Deviations from designated procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice results.

To determine whether the sanction(s) imposed were appropriate for the violation of the Student Code which the student was found to have committed.

To consider new information, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the original Student Conduct Committee hearing.

The Appellate Board can 1) affirm the original decision and support sanction and corresponding stipulations; 2) affirm the original decision but modify the original sanction; or 3) oppose the original decision and determine a new outcome, which may include the dismissal of charges. The decision of the Appellate Board is considered final action.

IV. External Complaint Process

In addition to using the University's internal procedures, a student has the right to file a complaint with federal and state agencies that investigate discrimination charges. An external complaint must be filed directly with the agency. The agencies also should be consulted concerning time deadlines for filing.

For Title IX violations:

Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
New York Office
75 Park Place, 14th Floor
New York, New York 10007-2146
(212) 637-6466
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html

For violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination:

New Jersey Division of Civil Rights
Essex County Regional Office
31 Clinton Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102
(973) 648-2700
http://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/index.html

V. Other Resources

If needed, the following counseling services are available to students:

The Dean of Students Office - Student Center, Ext. 4118
The University Health Center - Blanton Hall, Ext. 4361
Counseling and Psychological Services - Student Center, Ext. 5211
The Women's Center - Student Center - Room 420, Ext. 5114

VI. Attachments

A. Montclair State Board of Trustees' Resolution Prohibiting Sexual Harassment
B. Internal Sexual Harassment/Assault Complaint Process
C. Internal Sexual Harassment Complaint Form for Students