Policies Bias, Harassment and Discrimination Policies and Procedures
Scope and Purpose of Policy
Westmont College values diversity and is committed to providing a diverse learning, living and working environment consistent with its mission and heritage, both of which are deeply rooted in the evangelical Christian faith tradition. The college lawfully exercises the right to seek and hire faculty and staff who are co-religionists. At all levels of employment members of its community will conduct themselves according to standards consistent with the college’s established faith-based tenets.*
In all of our actions, we seek to affirm every individual as created in the image of God, worthy of dignity and respect. The college will not tolerate unlawful harassment, discrimination or bias-related incidents in any of its programs, practices or policies; nor will it tolerate retaliation against any individual for making a complaint, for participating in the investigation of a complaint, or for otherwise opposing unlawful conduct as described in this policy and the procedures that follow.
*See Westmont's Community Life Statement for a description of how the college's faith-based tenets shape its vision for Living in Community and its Behavioral Expectations.
As stated in the college’s Notice of Nondiscrimination, the college prohibits and will not tolerate harassment, discrimination or bias-related incidents by or against its students, faculty, staff, independent contractors, applicants for employment and admission and guests to the college . This includes and is not limited to harassment, discrimination or bias-related incidents based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, religion, creed, age, national origin, citizenship status, workers' compensation status, physical or mental disability, veteran status, or any other status protected under applicable local, state, or federal law; or any other distinguishing characteristic protected by applicable non-discrimination law. All community members must comply with this policy, on campus or off campus, regardless of whether they are engaged in activities sponsored by the college, or otherwise related to the college or its business.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require the college to appoint a Compliance Officer responsible for the administration and supervision of the policy and procedures related to disability harassment, discrimination, and bias-related incidents. The Compliance Officer responsible for the administration and supervision of the policy and procedures related to harassment, discrimination, and bias-related incidents is Dr. Edee Schulze, Vice President for Student Life (firstname.lastname@example.org; (805) 565-6028). Dr. Patti Hunter, Vice Provost, serves as the Grievance Officer for Students to whom grievances regarding the provision of academic accommodations and support services may be reported.
For sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault, contact the Title IX Coordinator (Dr. Edee Schulze, email@example.com; (805) 565-6028) or refer to the Unlawful Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures, which comply with Title IX, Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SAVE Act) and The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To the extent that complaints of unlawful sexual misconduct, sexual exploitation, sexual violence and nonconsensual sexual contact do not constitute Title IX complaints, as determined under the college’s Unlawful Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures, they will be addressed through this policy.
The purposes of this policy include:
- Prohibiting all forms of harassment, discrimination, and bias-related incidents;
- Creating a work and learning environment that is free from harassment, discrimination, and bias-related incidents;
- Encouraging good faith complaints when harassment, discrimination, or a bias-related incident has occurred; and
- Providing options for addressing and resolving complaints of harassment, discrimination, or bias-related incidents.
Persons who believe that they have experienced harassment, discrimination or a bias-related incident or have witnessed the same of another community member are strongly encouraged to promptly report it to the college. Options for reporting alleged incidents to the college are listed below. The college will take prompt corrective action against any harassment, discrimination or bias-related incidents by or against its community members. All college community members are directed to abide by the procedures outlined in this policy.
All reports will be taken seriously and the college will respond according to this policy to anyone who acts in good faith to report unlawful harassment, discrimination or bias and suffers actual or threatened retaliation or reprisal. Complaints of harassment, discrimination or bias-related incidents will be treated with confidentiality to the extent feasible, given the need to conduct a thorough investigation and take corrective action.
If it is determined through an investigation that harassment, discrimination or a bias-related incident has occurred, the college will take appropriate action reasonably calculated to end the behavior, take appropriate corrective action aimed at preventing any ongoing or subsequent policy violation, and appropriately care for those who may have been harmed. Throughout the investigative process, the presumption shall be that the respondent is not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination is made. Depending on circumstances and the severity of the conduct, corrective action will vary. Resolution steps could include a range of sanctions, up to and including expulsion (for students) and termination (for employees).
Bias-related incidents refer to language, images or behaviors that demonstrate bias against another person based on but not limited to his or her membership in a group, based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or an individual’s particular characteristics, role, or behavior.
Expression of ideas or points of view that may be offensive or inflammatory to some may not necessarily be a bias-related incident. The college values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas. This value of openness protects controversial ideas, but it does not protect harassment or expression of bias or harassment aimed at individuals that violate college policy.
Behaviors that harm (whether intentionally or unintentionally) an individual based upon their membership in a group listed above or have the purpose or effect of unreasonably or substantially interfering with an individual’s safety and security by creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for education, work, or other activity authorized by the college may be harassment. Depending upon the severity or pervasiveness of the action, harassment could occur as a result of one act or may result from a series of acts that create a hostile environment.
Discrimination refers to specific conduct prohibited by law that unfairly treats people differently because of their characteristic or perceived characteristics that the law deems to be unrelated to merit. Harassment can be a form of discrimination as it can have the effect of unfairly excluding a person from their ability to fully participate in their educational or employment experience. Unlawful discrimination often results from bias. Bias-related incidents, however, do not always result in unfair treatment that violates nondiscrimination laws.
Unlawful sexual misconduct is a broad and overarching term used to identify the conduct that constitutes a form of sex discrimination which violates federal and state law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX; Education Amendments of 1972 and college policy. Unlawful sexual misconduct covers a range of sexual acts committed by one person against another by use of coercion or intimidation or when the individual does not otherwise provide consent or is incapable of providing consent for reasons of age, unconsciousness, mental impairment, or ingestion of drugs, alcohol or other substance. All unlawful sexual misconduct is prohibited and includes, but is not limited to sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sexual exploitation. Unlawful sexual misconduct may be categorized as a Title IX complaint depending on the facts of the situation. If so, it is adjudicated under the Unlawful Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures. If not, it is adjudicated under the college’s Bias, Harassment and Discrimination Policy.
Both men and women are protected from sexual harassment, whether that harassment is perpetrated by a member of the same or opposite sex. Sexual harassment may be committed by a male or a female toward either a male or a female.
There are three kinds of sexual harassment:
Unwelcome sexual conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the institution’s education program, activity, educational or working environment (hostile environment)
Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking (Clery Act/VAWA offenses)
Employee conditions aid, benefit, or service of the institution on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (quid pro quo)
Unwelcome sexual conduct may include, but is not limited to, the following: requests for sexual favors; verbal, physical, electronic or digital conduct or communication of a sexual or gender-based nature, persistent sexual slurs or jokes; repeated requests for an unwelcome sexual relationship; gestures or sounds, a pattern of widespread favoritism based on sexual relationships; pornographic or suggestive materials offensive to others; or unwelcome sexual touching. A hostile environment can exist by virtue of a combination of individual incidents that would not, individually, constitute sexual harassment. In order for these examples or other behaviors to constitute hostile environment harassment, the effect of the harassment must create an abusive or hostile environment, usually over a period of time, and must be severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as determined by a reasonable person. Even one serious incident may, however, constitute sexual harassment, such as an occurrence of sexual assault.
Examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following: a supervisor granting a promotion to an employee because the employee unwillingly engages in unwanted sexual relations with the supervisor; a faculty member providing an undeserved failing grade to a student because the student refuses to have sexual relations with the faculty member.
Sexual assault is a term that covers a range of forcible or nonforcible sexual acts. In general, the term “sexual assault” means any sexual act directed against another person without the consent of the person, including instances in which the complainant is incapable of giving consent. Forcible sexual acts include forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling of the private body parts of another person (buttocks, groin, breasts) for the purpose of sexual gratification. Non-forcible sex offenses include incest and statutory rape.
Dating violence is a form of sexual violence and is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The relationship existence is determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (1) the length of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; and (3) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Dating relationship means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations. Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
Domestic violence means felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed against one’s current or former cohabitant, spouse, former spouse, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship or any other person protected under domestic violence law.
Stalking means a pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, demonstrating a continuity of conduct, directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or others' safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking includes but is not limited to unwanted letters, emails, text and telephone messages; telephone calls; unwanted gifts; following an individual or frequently appearing at locations where the individual is located.
Sexual exploitation means taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another person for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited in a manner not covered under other prohibited behaviors as defined in this policy. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to surreptitiously observing another individual's nudity or intimate activity or allowing another to observe consensual intimate activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; non-consensual sharing or streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of intimate activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; exposing one's genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals in non-consensual circumstances. Sexual exploitation may be categorized as a Title IX complaint depending on the facts of the situation. If so, it is adjudicated under the Unlawful Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures. If not, it is adjudicated under the college’s Bias, Harassment and Discrimination Policy.
Sexual violence is one of the most severe forms of sexual harassment. Safety is of primary concern in situations of sexual violence. Under this policy it is defined as any actual, attempted, or threatened physical sexual act with another person without that person’s consent. It includes, but is not limited to sexual acts perpetrated by force (expressed or implied), or duress, deception, or coercion upon the victim. It includes acts referred to as “date rape” or “acquaintance rape,” and specifically includes sexual acts involving a victim who is incapable of giving consent due to age, disability, or intoxication by alcohol or drugs. Sexual violence generally will constitute a crime punishable under California statutes. The use of alcohol or drugs never makes the victim at fault for sexual violence. Sexual violence may be categorized as a Title IX complaint depending on the facts of the situation. If so, it is adjudicated under the Unlawful Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures. If not, it is adjudicated under the college’s Bias, Harassment and Discrimination Policy.
Nonconsensual sexual contact is defined as the intentional act of making sexual contact with the intimate body part of another person without that person’s consent. Intimate body parts include the sexual organs, the anus, the groin or buttocks of any person, or the breasts of a female. Some nonconsensual sexual contact may constitute sexual harassment. Generally, this is the case if the contact is brief and does not involve force or incapacitation. Nonconsensual sexual contact may be categorized as a Title IX complaint depending on the facts of the situation. If so, it is adjudicated under the Unlawful Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures. If not, it is adjudicated under the college’s Bias, Harassment and Discrimination Policy.
Reporting Harassment, Discrimination, and Bias-Related Incidents
If you are not sure if you experienced a bias-related incident or harassment and/or would like to discuss the incident, please contact one of the following:
Office of Student Life (805) 565-6028
Intercultural Programs (805) 565-6125
Counseling and Psychological Services (805) 565-6003
Campus Pastor’s Office (805) 565-6170
A trusted faculty or staff member (Some faculty and staff are considered Report Recipients and therefore are required to report information to the Compliance Officer. See Report Recipients list in this policy.)
The college encourages the prompt reporting of harassment, discrimination or bias-related incidents covered under this policy for resolution in accordance with the procedures as described here. Reports may be made by the individual who experience harassment, discrimination or a bias-related incident or by someone who has a concern that possible harassment, discrimination or bias-related incident involving a student, faculty, staff member, prospective student or applicant has occured.
Reports to the college can be made at any time by using the on-line Bias Incident Reporting Form. Reports submitted through the Bias Incident Reporting Form go directly to the Compliance Officer (Dr. Edee Schulze, firstname.lastname@example.org). Alternatively, a report may be given directly (in person, telephone, mail, or email) to any individual listed in the section below titled, “Report Recipients.” The Compliance Officer must be contacted promptly by a Report Recipient. Emergencies may be reported to Campus Safety anytime by contacting (805) 565-6222 or the On Call Resident Director at (805) 565-6273 (OCRD).
If a member of the Westmont community has a concern or has become aware of an instance of possible harassment, discrimination or a bias-related incident involving a student, faculty or staff member, sharing information about such an incident potentially covered under this policy with any of the following Report Recipients is considered reporting it to the college and will initiate the college’s response and resolution process under this Policy:
Student Life Deans
Faculty department chairs
Director or Associate Director of Human Resources
College employee supervisors
Directors of Off Campus Programs
Provost and Dean of the Faculty
What you can Expect from the College
Meet with you promptly
Treat you and your concern with respect and sensitivity
Discuss your options
Provide campus and community resources and support
Request class, work or residence hall adjustments during the investigation and decision-making process
Communicate information as appropriate
Gather and preserve evidence
Investigate case as appropriate
Take appropriate action
Confidentiality to the extent possible
Seek justice, richer understanding, and ultimately restoration of all involved.
Regardless of whether a complaint has been received, the college may, at any time and at its sole discretion, initiate an investigation of or take action against any harassment, discrimination or bias-related incidents occurring within the Westmont community. Requests of the reporting party to withhold her/his identity will be reviewed in light of the college’s responsibility to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all community members. Any response by the college may be hindered by the complainant’s wishes for anonymity and/or inaction.
It is strongly recommended that any individual involved in the resolution of a harassment, discrimination or bias complaint seek personal support through relationships with a few trusted family members or friends. Additional support is available for students through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or the Campus Pastor’s Office. Individuals with disabilities may request assistance from the Office of Disability Services. Support for employees may be accessed through Human Resources or the Provost’s Office.
One of the core values of the Westmont community is integrity and truth telling. As such, all individuals participating in discrimination, harassment or bias-related incident proceedings are expected to tell the full and complete truth throughout the process. The college will not consider polygraph examinations in any discrimination, harassment or bias-related incident proceedings.
Interim protective measures, such as changing the work, transportation, living or academic environment, will be considered immediately for a complainant if necessary to address harassment, discrimination or bias-related incident while the complaint is under investigation. The college will make information available to complainants on the right to seek interim measures and will meet with the complainant to discuss any interim measures that are needed. In addition, the complainant may request an interim measure by contacting the Compliance Officer at any time.
Retaliation means any materially adverse action, intimidation, threat, coercion, discrimination, act intended to cause fear, or exertion of pressure against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by applicable laws, or because an individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted or participated or refused to participate in any manner in a harassment, discrimination or bias-related incident investigation, proceeding or hearing. Federal and state law, as well as the college’s policy, prohibits retaliation, threats of retaliation, suspension, or discharge against persons for raising good faith concerns regarding harassment, discrimination or bias-related incident. Any retaliatory conduct is subject to disciplinary actions.
The college shall provide a prompt, fair, and unbiased investigation and resolution. The college endeavors to resolve complaints made under this policy within 60 days from the date the complaint is received or a complaint recipient is otherwise made aware of alleged conduct covered under this policy. However, in some cases (e.g., complex facts; large number of witnesses; official break in the academic calendar, etc.), an extension of that time may be necessary. In the cases where the respondent is a student, or a member of the staff or faculty, the determination of whether a policy violation has occurred, the imposition of any appropriate sanctions, and the implementation of any appeal process are handled in accordance with existing procedures outlined in the relevant handbook.
In all other cases, the Compliance Officer, President, and Provost and Dean of Faculty will determine the appropriate investigation process, whether a policy violation has occurred, and any appropriate corrective action aimed at preventing any ongoing or subsequent policy violation.