3.3.3. Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation

Oglethorpe University values the dignity of the individual, human diversity and an appropriate decorum for members of the campus community. Discriminatory or harassing behavior is indefensible as it makes the work, study or living environment hostile, intimidating, injurious or demeaning.

It is the policy of the University that all members of the Oglethorpe community are able to work, study, participate in activities and live on a campus free of unwarranted harassment in the form of oral, written, graphic or physical conduct which personally frightens, intimidates, injures or demeans another individual. Harassment directed against an individual or group that is based on race; color; religion; national origin; sex; sexual orientation; gender identity or gender expression; marital status; pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions; age; disability or handicap; genetic information; citizenship status; service member status; or any other category protected by federal, state or local law is prohibited. At a minimum, the term harassment as used in this policy includes:

  • Offensive remarks, comments, jokes, slurs or verbal conduct pertaining to an individual’s personal characteristics or those of a group.
  • Offensive pictures, drawings, photographs, figurines or other graphic images, conduct or communications including e-mail, text messages, postings, faxes, documents or copies pertaining to an individual’s personal characteristics or those of a group.
  • Offensive sexual remarks, sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.
  • Offensive physical conduct including touching and gestures.

Sexual misconduct, harassment and assault are addressed in a separate policy; see Sec. 12.3. Retaliation, which includes threatening an individual or taking any adverse action against an individual for reporting a possible violation of this policy or participating in an investigation conducted under this policy, is absolutely prohibited.

Members of the faculty are also covered by this policy and are prohibited from engaging in any form of harassing, discriminatory or retaliatory conduct. No member of the faculty has the authority to suggest to any student that the student’s evaluation or grading would be affected by the student entering into (or refusing to enter into) a personal relationship with the faculty member or for tolerating (or refusing to tolerate) conduct or communication that might violate this policy. Such behavior is a direct violation of this policy.

Grievance Procedures for Students

Oglethorpe University has adopted an internal grievance procedure providing for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by this policy and/or conduct in violation of Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, Section 504, the Age Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008. The following University officials have been designated to respond to allegations regarding any such violation: the vice president for campus life, the provost, the director of human resources or director of counseling.

Complaints alleging misconduct as defined in this policy should be reported within 90 days of the alleged offense. Complainants may seek informal or formal resolution. An informal resolution is not possible in cases of alleged sexual assault.

Informal resolution focuses on communication, education and resolution while formal procedures focus on investigation and discipline. An informal resolution is not possible in cases of sexual assault. Informal complaints will be resolved within 15 business days with a written resolution given to each of the parties involved. If the situation results in an impasse, the complainant will be given a notice of impasse within 15 business days from the filing of the incident. If a notice of impasse is given and the complainant wishes to file a formal written complaint, the complainant must do so within 30 business days of the date of notice of impasse unless a waiver in filing time is requested.

When a formal complaint is filed an investigation will be initiated. The person alleged of misconduct will be given 10 business days to provide a signed response to the requesting official. A copy will be provided to the complainant. If the alleged harasser fails to respond, the presumption will be made that the allegation(s) in the complaint are true. A written determination will be issued to the complainant within 60 business days of the receipt of the formal written complaint. If the procedure requires an extension of time, the complainant will be informed in writing of the reasons, the status of the investigation and the probable date of completion.

If the complainant disputes the findings or is dissatisfied with the recommendations, the complainant may request reconsideration of the case to the president in writing within 45 business days of receipt of the written determination. Complainants also have the right to file with the appropriate state or federal authorities as set forth in the applicable statutes.

Cases that may require disciplinary action will be handled according to the established discipline procedures of the University. Student organizations in violation of this policy may be subject to the loss of University recognition. Complainants shall be protected from unfair retribution.

Nothing in this policy statement is intended to infringe on the individual rights, freedom of speech or academic freedom provided to members of the Oglethorpe community. The scholarly, educational or artistic content of any written or oral presentation or inquiry shall not be limited by this policy. Accordingly, this provision will be liberally construed but should not be used as a pretext for violation of the policy.