Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policies and Procedures

The New School is committed to creating and sustaining a University environment in which students, faculty, and staff can study and work in an open atmosphere, unhampered by discrimination.  This commitment is explicitly stated in all descriptions of University programs and in all the official catalogs of the academic divisions of the University.  The University's statement on non-discrimination is:

"The New School, as well as its individual divisions, is committed to a policy of equal opportunity in all its educational activities, privileges, programs, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and employment.  It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, religion, religious practices, gender, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability, veteran or marital status."

As a necessary part of its commitment to create and sustain an environment free of any kind of discrimination, The New School commits itself to prohibit sexual harassment and to confront and deal with it when it occurs.  Sexual harassment is defined in this policy and procedures have been established for responding to concerns, allegations, and questions about sexual harassment brought by any member of the University community.

The University's goal is to create a community free of sexual harassment.  To do so requires good judgment, awareness, and intelligence.  To sustain this kind of community also requires directness and clarity, since many members of the community may not immediately recognize instances of sexual harassment and the consequences of such conduct on individuals and the community.  In order to achieve the goal of a community free of sexual harassment, standards of behavior and procedures for dealing with breaches of those standards must be established and implemented within the context of academic freedom.  Education of the community on this issue will also be necessary.  The University seeks to sustain a high standard of behavior and to correct breaches of that standard, regardless of whether the offending behavior would meet external legal standards of the term sexual harassment.

Our goal is to deal directly and clearly with this complex issue.  As in the case of any disciplinary issue, formal procedures may be invoked when complaints cannot be resolved informally.

Generally, sexual harassment is conduct that exploits power or authority in order to elicit sexual submission, or inappropriate sexual conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or abusive environment for working, learning or enjoying other opportunities and activities.  Sexual harassment can include a wide range of behaviors, from the actual coercing of sexual relations to inappropriate sexualization of the working or learning environment with words, materials or behavior.  It may involve women being harassed by men, men being harassed by women, or harassment between persons of the same sex.

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has issued guidelines that provide a basic definition of sexual harassment.  While the EEOC guidelines apply only to faculty and other employees, the University prohibits sexual harassment of any member of the University community, whether such harassment is aimed at students, faculty or other employees.


Based upon the EEOC guidelines, and for the purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other expressive or physical conduct of a sexual nature, where:

 

  • submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of employment or status in a course, program or activity; or

  • submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for an employment or academic decision affecting the individual, or for a decision regarding an individual's status in a course, program or activity; or

  • such conduct has the purpose or effect, when judged from the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the complaining individual, of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance, or with an individual's enjoyment of other University opportunities, programs and activities; or

  • such conduct has the purpose or effect, when judged from the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of the complaining individual, of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for working, learning, or enjoying other University opportunities, programs and activities.

 

Sexual harassment is generally found to be in two distinct forms.  Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an individual makes an explicit proposition for sexual favors in return for express or implied job benefits or academic decisions, or where rejection of such a proposition is to be used for, or negatively effects, job benefits or academic decisions.  Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when conduct (either through its severity and/or its repetitive or consistent nature) has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work or academic performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment.  Unwanted flirtations, advances or propositions of a sexual nature, or unwelcomed comments of a sexual nature about an individual's body or clothing, whether conveyed orally, in writing or by electronic transmission, or unwelcomed touchings, such as patting, pinching, hugging, or brushing against an individual's body are illustrations of the kinds of conduct, if engaged in by an individual repeatedly and consistently, which could constitute hostile environment sexual harassment.

The EEOC definition refers to legal standards for identifying sexual harassment.  There are, however, other standards for conduct among its members that are important in a University setting.  Although we do not wish to discourage collegial relationships which are essential to the educational mission of a university, members of the University must recognize the professional responsibility that faculty have for students' education and the considerable power that faculty have over students' careers.  As a result, our standards for relationships between faculty and students at the University, and between other members of the University community, may be more restrictive than those encompassed in the EEOC definition which pertains to employment.

Faculty members (and administrative staff) should be aware that any romantic involvement with students (or staff members who report to them) is considered inappropriate, and it might make them liable to formal action.  Romantic involvements between faculty and students outside the instructional context also have the potential to lead to difficulties.  Beyond these difficulties, and the risk of formal action, these involvements can have a negative effect on the community.  Suspicions of favoritism may arise that affect the academic and/or work environment; there may be the appearance of exploitation even if the relationship is consensual.  In addition, there is always the possibility that relationships that begin consensually will be subject to misinterpretation and that after they end, the faculty (or administrative staff member) will be vulnerable to accusations and recriminations.

The foregoing paragraphs refer generally to faculty and students, or administrative staff members and those who report to them, but it is equally important that relations between students in all programs of the University adhere to a high standard of collegiality and mutual respect.

The foregoing paragraphs are included within the purview of this policy statement, because it is important to keep this highest standard of professional behavior in mind and to avoid even the semblance of exploitation.  At a university, in situations where colleagues, co-workers, teachers and students work together as equals, and where the atmosphere is collaborative, there will be a tendency to ignore distinctions and to behave as if they do not exist.  Particularly, in the case of senior faculty and junior faculty and in the case of faculty and graduate students (when students are older, working adults) it may be easy to ignore differences in responsibility and power.  But even in the case of non-traditional students, -- teachers have power and authority over all students -- this asymmetry should be acknowledged and respected.  The same is true for the relations between supervisors and staff.

At the same time as we respect the differences in our roles, we want to sustain a collegial atmosphere and the informality of the University environment so that our mission -- the process of education -- can flourish.  At no point, however, should the freedom, openness, and collegiality of the University permit an abandonment of responsibility.

The highest standards of professional conduct pertain to all members of the faculty in their dealings with one another as well as with staff and students; the relationships between supervisors and members of the staff at all levels should also be governed by these standards.  No member of the University should feel that the fulfillment of her or his duties is obstructed or impeded by sexual harassment from a teacher, colleague, or supervisor.

The standards we have outlined above have their parallel in relationships among students in all academic divisions of the University.  We expect those relations to be collegial and civil.  Students should not engage in any behaviors that coerce, demean, or threaten other students. 

The New School is committed to being an academic community that is racially and culturally diverse, that values mutual respect, human dignity, and individual differences, and that is supportive of intellectual, artistic, and professional growth.

These benefits are compromised when individuals or groups within the community engage in acts of discriminatory harassment and coercion against other individuals or groups, including intimidation by threats and/or acts of violence or personal vilification on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, age, marital status, or other personal attributes. Such acts undermine the fundamental values of the entire community and contribute to a hostile environment which may limit or deny access to the educational process, not just for those subjected to such acts but to the community as a whole. Acts of discriminatory harassment are prohibited.

This policy is not intended to discourage the expression of ideas that, while they may be offensive, are protected by the university's Policy on the Free Exchange of Ideas and the university's Statement on Freedom of Artistic Expression, and by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Speech or other expression constitutes discriminatory harassment if it:

  1. deliberately insults, stigmatizes, threatens or intimidates an individual or small group of specific individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, age, marital status or other personal attributes; and
  2. is addressed directly to the specific individual or individuals who it insults, stigmatizes, threatens, or intimidates; and
  3. makes use of "fighting words" or non-verbal symbols.

In the context of discriminatory harassment, "fighting words" or non-verbal symbols are words, pictures or symbols that are, as a matter of common knowledge, understood to convey direct hatred or contempt for human beings and that by their very use inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.

Individuals who believe they have been subject to discriminatory harassment in violation of this policy may obtain redress through the university's sexual and discriminatory harassment complaint procedure, or, where applicable, the collective bargaining agreement, as described below.

The Board of Trustees of The New School has approved the preceding Policies on Sexual Harassment & Discrimination.  These policies provide a discussion of the standards of behavior to which the University community adheres in this regard.

These policies are statements of values and standards; they do not include procedures.  The following Guidelines for Dealing with Issues of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination have been established in order to provide a structure and procedures for dealing with actual charges of sexual harassment or discrimination as defined in the policies.  The procedures uphold the basic requirements of fairness and accord full consideration and respect to the complainant and to the person complained against.

These Guidelines are for members of the University including faculty, students enrolled in degree granting programs, and administrative staff.  For clerical union employees, the University's Sexual Harassment and Discrimination policies have been incorporated within the current collective bargaining agreement with the union local.  There are two different procedures to be followed depending upon the status of the employee bringing a claim of having been sexually harassed or otherwise been discriminated against.  If a claim is brought by an employee of having been harassed while in the status of a clerical union employee, it will be handled through the grievance machinery established in the collective bargaining agreement.  If the claim of harassment or discrimination is brought by a member of the University while in the status of a student, administrative staff or faculty member, the University-Wide Sexual Harassment and Discrimination complaint procedures will be followed.  An employee cannot utilize both procedures simultaneously.

The University has assigned the Office of the Vice President & General Counsel the task of providing detailed information and guidance on the process to both the complainant and the person complained against.


Steps in bringing a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination:

  1. Initial discussion of a situation by complainant with a designated official in an effort to resolve the problem. When the investigation is concluded, the designated official should submit a confidential report, within thirty (30) calendar days, of the outcome to the Provost.

  2. If Step 1 is not successful in resolving the matter, either party may submit a written complaint to the Provost for his/her reconsideration.   The Provost may further investigate the matter or make a decision based on the submitted materials.  The Provost may also, at his/her sole discretion, refer the matter to a Panel of the University–Wide Committee on Harassment & Discrimination for its consideration and recommendation.

  3. If the matter is referred to a Panel for its review, the Panel shall meet and determine whether or not the complaint warrants a formal investigative hearing or can be resolved without further investigation.  The Panel's recommendation will then be sent to the Provost for his/her consideration.

  4. The Provost will review the recommendation of the Panel of the University-Wide Committee, and decides on a penalty, if appropriate.  When the Provost announces the decision, the alleged harasser or the complainant may request the Provost reconsider the decision and/or the penalty.  The Provost's decision after this recommendation, if any, is final.

 

  1. Initial discussion with designated official
    Because sexual harassment or discrimination is often difficult to discuss, a complainant may want to speak first with a designated official.  A complaining party should speak with one of the following designated officials:
      
         Students Assistant Vice- President for Student Services
         Faculty and Staff Vice President for Human Resources/Vice President & General Counsel

  2. Review of the complaint by a Panel of the University–Wide Committee on Harassment & Discrimination

    1. Composition of the Committee
      The University–Wide Committee is a standing committee of six persons selected annually by the Provost of the University.  The Committee shall consist of: two faculty; two administrators; and two students (one undergraduate and the other a full-time graduate) selected from nominations submitted by the Senior Vice President for Student Services.

      A Panel of three (3) Committee members will be selected to hear each case referred to the University-Wide Committee on Harassment & Discrimination.  A Panel will be selected in the following manner: the complainant and alleged harasser (hereinafter referred to as the "responding party") may each select one member from the six-person standing committee and the Provost will select the third member.  The Chair will be appointed by the Provost.  However, the students shall not be selected for a Panel where a case does not involve a student as either a complainant or responding party.  A student complainant may also request that students no participate on a Panel and only one student may be chosen for any one panel.  Any member of the University-Wide Committee with an interest in the matter, who has actively participated in the Step 1 process, or who the complainant or the responding party justifiably has a conflict of interest, may be asked to disqualify himself/herself from participating on the Panel.

      At any time during the Step 2 process, the Provost or Panel shall have the authority to enter into an informal resolution of the complaint that is acceptable to both the complainant and responding party.  Upon informal resolution of a complaint, the matter will be deemed closed.
  3. Discipline—Where the investigation of a complaint results in a conclusion that the imposition of discipline is necessary and appropriate, such discipline will follow the basic structure of penalties under the established disciplinary procedures at the University.  For students, faculty, or staff these penalties will have different significance and practical consequences.

    Since our goal is to deal directly and clearly to prevent and to correct sexually harassing behavior, in cases of severe harassment or discrimination (i.e., involving sexual assault, quid pro quo sexual harassment, multiple charges, or a history of complaints), the University reserves the right to take summary disciplinary action pursuant to the University Code of Conduct and/or pursuant to existing University employment procedures, including those contained in the Full-Time Administrative Staff Handbook and the Guidelines On The Rights and Responsibilities of Faculty contained in the Full-Time and Part-Time Faculty Handbooks.

  4. General ConsiderationsTiming—In order to preserve a healthy environment for education in the University community, complaints of sexual harassment or discrimination should be dealt with in a timely fashion.  Except for good cause, a complainant must initiate the process by taking Step 1 no later than sixty (60) calendar days after the alleged act constituting harassment or discrimination has occurred.  After Step 1 has been initiated it should be dealt with within twenty (20) calendar days.  After Step 2 begins, it should take no longer than two months after receipt of both parties' written statements and responses to complete.  A matter will be concluded no later than three months after the initiation of Step 1 proceedings.  This is a blueprint for a schedule, but the goals of fairness and full consideration may extend (or accelerate) the schedule, when necessary.

    Confidentiality—The Panel must seek to determine the facts of the case in order to make a fair determination and finding in as confidential a manner as practical.  The members of the Panel or designated officials reviewing a case at Step 1 shall not discuss a case except in formal sessions dedicated to that purpose.  The privacy of both parties to a case will be respected insofar as possible.

    Protection from Retaliation—All individuals involved in the consideration of a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination will be protected from retaliation, such as threats, false countercharges, the punitive use of grades, arbitrary dismissal, or denial of promotion.  Individuals should be protected from retaliation both during and after a complaint is considered.  Any indication of retaliation should be promptly reported to the designated official who is (or was) responsible for the consideration of the case during Step 1 proceedings.  He or she will review the facts and recommend appropriate action.

I. Informal Process

A faculty or staff member ("employee") who needs a reasonable accommodation for a disability in order to perform an essential function of his/her job may make such a request to the Director of Benefits in the Human Resources Department. The Director of Benefits shall consult with employee's department head in processing the request. The supervisor may require the employee to submit adequate documentary evidence from medical professionals describing both the injury, condition or disease which forms the basis of the disability, the resulting limitation of function, and various, alternative accommodations which would remedy the circumstance. The University will keep such request for accommodation confidential and will disclose information about the individual's disability only to those with a "need to know".

II. Filing a Complaint

  1. If the employee believes that he/she has been discriminated against on the basis of a disability, that employee may file a formal written complaint within twenty (20) days after the alleged discrimination.
  2. The complainant shall file the signed complaint in writing with the Human Resources Department. A complaint shall contain the name, address and telephone number of the person filing it, a detailed description of the injury, condition or disease which is the basis of the disability, a description of the resulting limitations of function and/or a complete description of the alleged discriminatory act(s). The complainant may also be required to provide any of the following information, to the extent practicable:

    1. A detailed description by medical professionals of the injury, condition or disease and the resulting limitation(s) if function which is the basis of the disability claim;
    2. The issues or circumstances involved;
    3. The date of the alleged discriminatory act(s);
    4. Details of what allegedly occurred;
    5. Identification of witnesses or others with relevant knowledge; and
    6. The accommodation(s) requested and/or remedy sought.
    7. The alleged specific violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other federal, state or local disability law.
  3. An investigation, as may be appropriate, shall follow the filing of a complaint. The University's Disability Official or a designee will conduct the investigation. During the investigation the complainant (and anyone accused of discrimination in the complaint) may be contacted and afforded an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the complaint.
  4. The designee shall issue a written determination regarding the complaint and, if appropriate, a description of the resolution. The designee shall forward a copy of the determination to the complainant and to the University Disability Official within a reasonable period of time. The designee shall notify the complainant of the opportunity for a reconsideration of the complaint by the University Disability Official.
  5. The complainant as well as the accused may request a reconsideration of the designee's determination. Written requests for reconsideration must be submitted to the University Disability Official within 20 days of the date of the designee's determination. The University Disability Official will then review the request for reconsideration and may investigate further the circumstances of the complaint. He/she will issue thereafter a written determination and will forward a copy of this determination to the party who requested reconsideration within a reasonable period of time. The University Disability Official's determination is final and binding on behalf of the University.
  6. In cases of alleged discrimination filed by students, applicants or other non-employees of the New School against a staff member covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the university will utilize this complaint procedure. In all other cases involving staff members covered by collective bargaining agreements, the university will utilize the grievance and arbitration process of the applicable collective bargaining agreement, unless both the staff member and union agree in writing to utilize this complaint procedure.
  7. Anyone accused of discrimination in the complaint shall be notified of such accusations and shall be afforded an opportunity to respond to such allegations, including any reconsideration by the University Disability Official, or the Official's designee, as appropriate. Anyone accused of discrimination in the complaint shall also be notified of the final determination of the complaint.

New School University herein expressly prohibits retaliation against anyone who requests an accommodation or who files a complaint of discrimination under these procedures.

I. Request for Reasonable Accommodations

Applicants or students who need reasonable accommodations for their disabilities or who have complaints of discrimination on the basis of their disabilities are encouraged to consult and seek a resolution with the Director of the Office of Student Disability Services. The Director may require the submission of adequate documentary evidence from medical professionals describing the injury, condition or disease which forms the basis of the disability, the resulting limitation(s) of function and various alternative accommodations which would remedy the circumstance or a statement identifying in detail the alleged discriminatory act(s). To effect better handling of the request for accommodations or of the complaint of discrimination, the Director will attempt to keep requests for accommodations or complaints of discrimination confidential and will endeavor to inform only those with a "need to know", e.g., the professor, department chair, dean, or an individual accused of discrimination.

II. Filing a Complaint

  1. If an applicant or student wishes to file a formal complaint of discrimination on the basis of a disability, he or she must file such a complaint within twenty (20) days after the alleged discrimination has occurred.
  2. Applicants or students shall file the signed complaint in writing with the University Designated Official. A complaint shall contain the name, address, and telephone number (and a student identification number) of the person filing it, a detailed description of the injury, condition or disease which is the basis of the disability, a description of the resulting limitations of function and/or a complete description of the alleged discriminatory act(s). The complaint may also be required to provide any of the following information, to the extent practicable:

    1. A detailed description by medical professionals of the injury, condition or disease and the resulting limitation(s) if function which is the basis of the disability claim;
    2. The issues or circumstances involved;
    3. The date of the alleged discriminatory act(s);
    4. Details of what allegedly occurred;
    5. Identification of witnesses or others with relevant knowledge; and
    6. The accommodation(s) requested and/or remedy sought.
    7. The alleged specific violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other federal, state or local disability law.
  3. An investigation, as may be appropriate, shall follow the filing of a complaint. The University's Designated Official's designee will conduct the investigation. During the investigation, interested persons may be contacted and afforded an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the complaint.
  4. The Official's designee shall issue a written determination regarding the complaint and, if appropriate, a description of the resolution. The Official's designee shall forward a copy of the determination to the complainant within a reasonable period of time. Further, the Official's designee shall notify the complainant of the opportunity for a reconsideration of the complaint by the University Disability Official.
  5. The complainant may request a reconsideration of the designee's determination within 20 days of the date of this determination. The University Disability Official, or the Official's designee, will then review the request for reconsideration and may further investigate the complaint. The University's Disability Official shall issue a written determination and forward a copy of the complaining party within a reasonable period of time. The University Disability Official's decision is final and binding on behalf of the University.
  6. Anyone accused of discrimination in the complaint shall be notified of such accusations and shall be afforded an opportunity to respond to such allegations, including during any reconsideration by the University Disability Official, or the Official's designee, as appropriate. Anyone accused of discrimination in the complaint shall also be notified of the final determination of the complaint.

New School University expressly prohibits retaliation against anyone who requests an accommodation or who files a complaint of discrimination under these procedures.

 
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