We at Webber International University share a common belief that every the individual should be able to work and study in an environment free from discrimination, harassment or intimidation based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, mental or physical disability, marital status, medical condition, veteran status, sexual orientation, citizenship, or any other characteristic protected under federal or state law or local ordinance.
Discrimination and harassment are illegal and in direct conflict with the mission of the University. It exposes the University and the individuals involved to liability under the law. Accordingly, the University prohibits any physical, written, or spoken conduct that violates the prohibitions on harassment set forth in the policy.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions. It states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”. Title IX compliance is overseen by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. It is an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965 which, itself, sprang from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including Title IV, which broadly prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of many personal characteristics including race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Consequently, the University is responsible to promptly, equitably, and reliably address allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, violence, and retaliation.
The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act) of 2013 reauthorizes the earlier Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). With guidance from the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, institutions of higher education such as Webber International University are required to report annual statistics of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault. The University must make community members aware of resources for victims of such acts, provide prompt, equitable, and reliable investigations of such reports, and establish sexual violence education and prevention programs.
For the purpose of clarity, sexual harassment, misconduct, violence, retaliation, and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking may be referred to as acts of “sexual discrimination”. Unless otherwise specified, referring to one form of sexual discrimination does not exclude any other form. The term “harassment” will always be understood to comprise all forms of harassment, including sexual discrimination and harassment.
It is the policy of Webber International University that no member of the University community shall be subjected to any form of unlawful discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or violence by any other member of this institution.
For the purpose of this policy, “harassment” is defined as sexual harassment or harassment due to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, mental or physical disability, marital status, medical condition, veteran status, citizenship or sexual orientation. Inappropriate and illegal verbal, physical or electronic conduct constitutes harassment when:
Harassment, including sexual harassment, while taking many forms, would include, but not be limited to, the following types of conduct:
Verbal: Inappropriate noises, remarks or jokes; negative stereotyping; unwelcome remarks about a person’s body, color, physical characteristics or appearance; sexual propositions; sexual innuendoes or sexual remarks about clothing, body or sexual activities.
Nonverbal: Demeaning or offensive pictures, posters, calendars, objects, cartoons, cards, inappropriate gestures or offensive notes or letters. No messages with derogatory or inflammatory remarks about an individual’s or group’s race, religion, national origin, physical attributes, disability, age, gender, or sexual preference will be tolerated or transmitted; unwanted, protracted staring or leering are also forms of nonverbal sexual harassment.
Physical: Aggressive or violent touching, imitating or exaggerating another’s physical characteristics, threatening or intimidating behavior; touching, hugging, patting, or pinching that is uninvited and/or unwanted.
Retaliatory: Assigning low grades, changing work assignments, or refusing to cooperate with a person who has complained about or resisted harassment or discrimination; denying participation, membership; making retaliating verbal or physical threats to a person who has reported or resisted harassment or discrimination; imposing physical, social, or emotional sanctions on a person who has reported or resisted harassment or discrimination (see also section on Retaliation and Reprisals, below).
Harassment, including sexual harassment, includes harassment of women by men, men by women, women by women and men by men. It can occur between teachers and students, teachers and staff, staff and students, and those at different levels of management, as well as between persons of the same University status, i.e., student-student, faculty-faculty, and staff-staff. Harassment, including sexual harassment, can also occur between any Webber International University community member (student, faculty, or staff) and a third party. It may be found in a single episode, as well as in persistent behavior.
Many times, the person accused of harassment is unaware that behavior is inappropriate, coercive or misunderstood. Even the accusation of harassment can have a destructive impact on the academic community. As such, the University will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment, or false accusations of such.
In the interest of protecting the University community, Webber International University has developed procedures to investigate and resolve harassment complaints. Those procedures are set forth in Section III of this policy.
It is the policy of the University to provide fair, equitable, reliable, and compassionate responses to reports of any type of sexual discrimination or violence and that no member of the University community shall be subjected to any form of unlawful discrimination, including sexual discrimination (sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, retaliation, and domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking). Examples of sexual harassment are provided in the previous section and examples of these other forms of sexual discrimination are described below. None of them will be tolerated at Webber International University. All forms of sexual discrimination involve unwelcome and/or non-consensual actions.
If an investigation results in a finding that the Reporting Party intentionally falsely accused another of sexual discrimination (including sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, or sexual violence), the Reporting Party will be subject to appropriate sanctions, as described below, including the possibility of expulsion, suspension and/or termination (in the case of employees). The fact that no action is taken as a result of the complaint against the Responding Party does not mean that the complaint was not false or malicious.
The University provides Title IX/Campus SaVE Act sexual violence education and preventive information to all campus community members through presentations and handouts.
NOTE: Title IX/Campus SaVE Act Investigations Are Not Criminal Investigations
Sexual discrimination, including sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, are potential crimes that can be reported to the police or other law enforcement agencies. However, they are also Title IX and Campus SaVE Act violations and violations of University Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment policies and procedures Webber International University is committed to addressing and preventing sexual discrimination in all its forms regardless of whether or not such activity constitutes a crime
Interim Steps: Depending on the facts and circumstances known to it the University, in its discretion and judgment, may take appropriate interim steps to support and protect the Reporting Party or Responding Party prior to the outcome of an investigation.
· Establishing a No Contact Directive
· Changes in residence hall residency
· Changes in employment location or schedule
· Changes in academic schedule, exams, and assignments
· Academic support services
· Withdrawing from a course without grade penalty
· Medical, counseling, and spiritual assistance offered free by campus resources
· Medical, counseling, and spiritual assistance through off-campus referral, based on student preference
· Connecting the student with off-campus victim advocacy resources
· Connecting the student with assistance for filing a police report
· Voluntary withdrawal
· Emergency Interim Suspension of the Responding Party
Any Interim Measure can potentially serve as a remedial measure at the discretion of the Reporting Party or the Responding Party. Additionally, appropriate community remedies might be provided (e.g., improved campus lighting, educational programming, staff training, and climate assessments).
These actions are not intended to be punitive but to protect the safety of individuals and the greater community and to promote accountability. Every effort will be made to minimize unnecessary or unreasonable burdens to both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party.
All University investigative, protective, and interim measures and remedies will be available to both Reporting Party and Responding Party whether or not either party files a police report.
Complaint/Grievance Investigation Time Table:
Every effort will be made to strictly adhere to the time tables in this document. However, if investigations extend to when school is out for prolonged periods or if there are unavoidable challenges in communications or evidence-collection with the Reporting Party, Responding Party, or others involved in an investigation, the University may require extensions to the below time tables.
Immediately upon a complaint being filed, the investigation will proceed as follows:
Investigating a Complaint of Sexual Harassment or Discrimination: Employee-to-Employee, Employee-Third Party, Student-to-Student, Student-Employee, or Student-Third Party Discrimination
· Anyone on the Webber International University campus who observes an act of sexual misconduct or violence toward another person- student, employee, or third party (including a child/Minor which, in the State of Florida, is anyone under the age of 18) and anyone in the Webber International University community who experiences or observes a sexually discriminatory act or learns of a sexual discrimination situation that involves a University community member should provide verbal notification of receiving this knowledge within twenty-four hours to the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance Dr. Elfie Farchmin (863-638-2939)
· If the situation comes to someone’s attention after business hours or during holidays and does not involve eminent physical or emotional peril to the employee or student, the notification should be made to the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance within four (4) hours of regular business hours resuming. Title IX notifications that could reasonably involve eminent physical or emotional peril to the employee or student need to be submitted immediately and the reporter should either call 9-1-1 and/or should be directed to Webber International University’s Campus Safety Office, (863) 688-0103. The Campus Safety Office will notify the necessary University officers.
· Within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, or during the next business day, the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance Dr. Elfie Farchmin will notify the Office of Human Resources that a Title IX/Campus SaVE Act investigation has been initiated. The Officer of Title IX will initiate an investigation into the incident and notify the Reporting Party as soon as practicable regarding the status of the investigation.
· The investigation will look at the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of the conduct and the context in which it occurred. While strictly observing or tightly maintaining privacy (please see previous section on “Privacy” in this document), the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance will communicate with others as necessary to facilitate a prompt, equitable, and reliable investigation and will attempt to resolve the complaint within 30 calendar days of the initial filing of the complaint. In rare circumstances, more time may be required to complete an investigation. Both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party will be kept apprised of the progress of the investigation and of any delays that may arise in meeting institutional timetables.
· Upon conclusion of the investigation into the complaint, and if a written record is warranted, the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance then provides the written record to that effect, and the principal parties – Reporting Party, Responding Party, and Officer of Title IX – sign their agreement in rapid succession of one another (i.e., as close to simultaneously as is reasonable). If a signed written record is not needed, the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance will complete a description of the resolution and how the Reporting Party and Responding Party were informed, privately but otherwise simultaneously to both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party.
· Mediation on a voluntary basis can be used to resolve some forms of sexual discrimination at the conclusion of an internal investigation but will not be used to resolve cases of reported sexual violence. This does not preclude the use of other informal approaches to resolving such complaints.
· Depending on the facts and circumstances known to it, the University, in its discretion and judgment, may determine that the allegations of sexual discrimination, harassment or retaliation will be investigated by outside law enforcement officials, and the University may take interim action as it deems appropriate to address the safety and protection of the University. Additionally, the Reporting Party or the Responding Party may decide to file civil or criminal charges. In such cases, the University may have to suspend its own investigation but will resume it once law enforcement officials have finished collecting their evidence.
The Investigation into Complaints of Sexual Harassment or Discrimination:
During this phase the appropriate Title IX Officer, with or without an additional trained Title IX Investigator, will interview parties involved including the claimant, Responding Party (if known) and any witnesses. At this stage, the investigation process may include any or all of the following, or such other elements as deemed appropriate:
· Confirm name and position of the Reporting Party.
· Identify the Responding Party.
· Assure both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party that equal opportunities for presenting evidence, receiving notification of the outcome, and exercising rights to appeal are available to both.
· Thoroughly ascertain all facts in connection with the alleged incident, beginning by interviewing the Reporting Party and the Responding Party. Questions of all parties should be asked in a nonjudgmental manner.
· Upon first interviewing the parties, remind the Reporting Party and the Responding Party of the University’s policy against retaliation.
· Determine frequency/type of objectionable conduct and, if possible, the dates and locations where the behavior purportedly occurred.
· Find out if any witnesses observed the alleged objectionable conduct. If the Reporting Party and the Responding Party present conflicting versions of the facts, interview any witnesses.
· Ask both parties how each responded to the alleged objectionable conduct.
· Determine what efforts, if any, at informal resolution of the matter were made, the result, and any witnesses.
· Determine whether the Reporting Party or Responding Party consulted anyone else about the reported objectionable conduct, and ascertain those witnesses and their response to the disclosure.
· Develop a thorough understanding of the professional, academic, or personal relationship between the Reporting Party and Responding Party.
Determine whether either the Reporting Party or the Responding Party has made and carried out any threats or promises directed toward the other.
· Determine whether the Reporting Party knows of or suspects that there are other individuals who have been subjected to similar conduct by the Responding Party. Receipt of any complaint shall be cause for a file review to determine if a prior complaint against the same person is on record.
· Assure both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party that the past sexual history of either will only be considered if it relates to the complaint.
· Statements are taken in private. Because such interviews are internal, attorneys have no role in the interview process.
Resolving the Complaint/Grievance of Sexual Harassment or Discrimination
Upon completing the investigation of a complaint involving students, the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance will summarize findings and review with the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students and the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance will decide upon the University’s response and any associated disciplinary action if applicable. Upon completing the investigation of a complaint involving employees, the Vice President of Finance/ Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance will decide upon the University’s response and any associated disciplinary action if applicable. The University’s findings and intended actions will be communicated to both the Reporting Party and Responding Party.
If the University determines that there is a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., it is more likely than not) that discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, retaliation, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking occurred, the Responding Party will be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures (“Sanctions”) as listed below. The Reporting Party will be informed of the outcome of the investigation but, unless the Responding Party waives rights to privacy, may only learn of those remedies or disciplinary actions that the Reporting Party “needs to know” to be safe and remedied. If the University does not find a preponderance of the evidence that sexual discrimination, including sexual harassment/misconduct/violence, retaliation or other illegal sexual conduct has occurred, this finding will be communicated to the Reporting Party in an appropriately sensitive manner. Just because the information the University was able to obtain does not meet a “preponderance of the evidence” standard and so it cannot find that sexual discrimination took place does not affirm or prove that such discrimination did not, in fact, take place.
Any report of false accusations will be evaluated as well and the Reporting Party and Responding Party duly notified of the findings and any associated disciplinary actions (see item “I” below).
Individuals found to have engaged in illegal sexual activity or behavior constituting sexual discrimination (including sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence, retaliation, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking), based on a preponderance of the evidence¨ standard (i.e., it is more likely than not that sexual discrimination occurred) as defined in this policy, will be disciplined, up to and including discharge, removal, suspension, or expulsion from the University. The range of possible sanctions includes, but would not be limited to:
· Ongoing No Contact remains in place
· Written warnings
· Educational interventions
· Targeted community service
· Social, housing, or other probations
· Suspension (for varying lengths of time)
Appropriate student sanctions will be determined by the Dean of Student Life and the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance while employee sanctions will be determined by the Director of Human
Resources. In addressing incidents of sexual discrimination, the University’s response at a minimum will include reprimanding the offender and preparing a written record. Additional action may include: referral to sensitive or other relevant training, reassignment, temporary suspension (if an employee, without pay), reduction in duties, discharge, or removal or expulsion from the University.
Right to Appeal
Both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party have the right to appeal the decision of the Associate Dean for Title IX Compliance or the Vice President of Finance within seven (7) business days, in writing, to the CEO of Webber International Univesity.
There are two grounds upon which to base an appeal:
· There is significant, new information that was not available at the time of the initial investigation which could reasonably alter the facts and outcome of the investigation. A written appeal must delineate these new facts and explain how they could impact the outcome.
· There was a procedural error that significantly affected the outcome. A written appeal must describe the procedural error and support how that error affected the outcome.
Both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party will be notified of any changes to the final outcomes of the Title IX/Campus SaVE Act investigation.