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Spelman College



Unlawful Harassment

Spelman is committed to providing an environment that is free of discrimination, unlawful harassment and sexual violence. Sexual harassment including sexual violence is discriminatory and unlawful. Actions, words, jokes, emails, materials or comments based on an individual’s race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, genetic tests, genetic information or any other legally protected characteristic is unlawful and will not be tolerated. Sexual harassment, which includes sexual violence is a form of sex discrimination and misconduct that is demeaning to another person, undermines the integrity of the employment and academic environment, and is strictly prohibited.

The problems sexual harassment (both overt and subtle) can present are often particularly complex. One difficulty is that it is not always easy to define with precision what kinds of verbal or physical behavior constitute sexual harassment, given the variety of different circumstances that exist within the Spelman community and the somewhat subtle nature of the situation.
Such harassment may create an intimidating, threatening or abusive environment, cause personal anguish, and, as an assault upon an individual’s dignity, it is clearly inconsistent with the nature of an academic community.

The purpose of the College’s policy is to prevent unlawful harassment and to offer an individual who believes he/she has experienced such harassment a swift and secure means to end it. The College regards such behavior as a violation of the standards of conduct required of all persons associated with the institution. Accordingly, those inflicting such behavior on others within the College setting are subject to the full range of internal institutional disciplinary actions, including separation from the College. Unlawful harassment need not be intentional to violate this policy.

Definition of Harassment
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX provide the basis for the definition of unlawful harassment. Sexual harassment includes not only unwelcome or offensive sexual advances and requests for sexual favors, but also other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature such as uninvited/unwanted touching, sexual coercion, or sexually related comments. To provide further definition, sexual harassment occurs:

1) Where submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or other benefit such as participation in a program or activity.

2) When submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for decisions, i.e. employment, participation in a program or activity, promotions, performance reviews, etc.

3) When such behavior has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance or creating a hostile or offensive environment.
It should be noted that the informal process described below may not be appropriate in every circumstance. Therefore, the process should be considered a flexible one, which can be modified as appropriate to the situation.

Reporting Unlawful Harassment
The College encourages anyone who wants to report an incident of unlawful harassment or any form of discrimination to promptly report the matter. Individuals can raise concerns and make reports without fear of reprisal, and will not be retaliated against for reporting incidents of harassment or discrimination.
Employees should report the matter to his or her supervisor. The supervisor should contact the Office of Human Resources. If the supervisor is unavailable or if the individual does not feel comfortable approaching his or her supervisor with the report, the individual should immediately contact the Director of Human Resources, the Associate Director of Human Resources or the divisional Vice President, or Department Chair.

Any student who wants to report an incident of unlawful harassment including sexual violence, sexual assault or any form of discrimination are encouraged to promptly report the matter to the Dean of Students, Office of Counseling and Disability Services, Office of Students Affairs or Public Safety.

Responsibilities of Management
Any supervisor or manager who becomes aware of possible sexual or other unlawful harassment must promptly advise the Director of Human Resources, the Associate Director of Human Resources or the divisional Vice President or Department Chair. All complaints will be taken seriously and thoroughly and fairly investigated. To the extent practical, we will protect the confidentiality of all parties involved.

Disciplinary Action
Anyone engaging in sexual harassment including sexual violence and other unlawful harassment will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, and/or actions outlined in the Student Handbook and/or Faculty Handbook.

Informal Process for Resolution and Investigation
Individuals who are affected by or are aware of suspected cases of sexual harassment are urged to bring such situations to the College’s attention through the most comfortable of a variety of routes. In turn, the person(s) receiving the complaint will treat it confidentially; the complaint will be communicated only to those individuals who must be informed to investigate the complaint and facilitate a resolution. An employee may select an informal process and discuss the problem with his or her supervisor, divisional Vice President, Department Chair, or the Office of Human Resources directly. The employee also has the right to request a formal investigation to be conducted by the College. 

Students also have a right to request a formal investigation and are encouraged to adhere to the guidelines in the Student Handbook, contact the Office of Student Affairs, and/or follow the guidelines outlined in the Sexual Assault manual.

Formal Complaint Review Process
An individual may request a formal review of a complaint of sexual harassment by submitting a written request for such action to the Office of Human Resources. The Director of Human Resources will consult with the individual bringing the complaint, the alleged harasser and others, if appropriate, in order to determine the facts and views of both parties. The College’s legal counsel may also be consulted. The Director of Human Resources and third party investigator (if appropriate) will then prepare a set of findings within 30 days of the original complaint. The resolution will be communicated to the complainant and the alleged harasser.

Request for Further Review
If the first review is not satisfactory to the complainant, he/she may request a final review by the President’s Office by submitting a request for review that contains an explanation of the basis for further appeal of the resolution. The President’s Office may designate a representative to review the complaint in order to accept or modify the previous resolution. Procedures for addressing matters of sexual harassment or other unlawful harassment that arise with students and members of the faculty are generally accommodated under the policy contained in the Faculty Handbook and Student Handbook.

Title IX Report An Incident REPORT AN INCIDENT


Title IX Office

Title IX Contacts

Sexual Misconduct Brochures

Spelman Safety Plan (PDF)