University Policies

Approval Date: 11/16/04
Approved By: President

Anti-Harassment Policy

  1. Policy Statement

    Western Illinois University strives to provide an educational and working environment that is free from harassment for faculty, staff, and students. We are committed to providing an environment that values diversity and emphasizes the dignity and worth of every individual, an environment in which every individual is treated with respect. Harassment in any form is contrary to these goals and fundamentally at odds with the core values of Western Illinois University. Harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Incidents of harassment will be met with appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including separation or dismissal from the University. Any action taken as a result of a violation of this policy will be in accordance with the relevant collective bargaining agreements or University policies.

    This policy is designed to do the following:

    • reaffirm the University's commitment to providing a positive, humane environment for study and work free from harassment or intimidation;
    • inform victims of harassment of their options and rights;
    • inform all members of the University community about the procedures available for addressing, investigating, and resolving harassment complaints, including sexual harassment complaints;
    • protect the rights and confidentiality of all parties to harassment complaints to the extent possible; and
    • prevent retaliation against persons alleging sexual and other unlawful harassment or against persons cooperating in an investigation.
  2. Prohibited Conduct
    1. Harassment

      It is the policy of Western Illinois University that all faculty, staff, and students work and study in an environment that is free from harassment based on sex, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability, or veteran status.

      The University defines harassment as verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual because of his/her sex, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability, or veteran status, and that:

      • has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment;
      • has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work, study, or participation in University activities; or
      • otherwise adversely affects an individual's opportunities.

      Harassing conduct includes:

      • epithets; slurs; negative stereotyping; or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts that relate to sex, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability, or veteran status;
      • written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of sex, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability, or veteran status and that is displayed on walls, bulletin boards, or other public locations.
    2. Sexual Harassment

      The University will not tolerate sexual harassment of any member of the campus community and will investigate all allegations of sexual harassment. Where sexual harassment is found, steps will be taken to end it immediately. In those instances where it is determined that an individual has sexually harassed another, that individual will be subject to appropriate discipline in accordance with relevant collective bargaining agreements and University policies. The level of discipline will depend on the severity of the harassment. If the investigation reveals a pattern of harassing behavior, or the conduct is aggravated, probation or termination may be appropriate.

      Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, "sexual harassment" is defined as:

      Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:

      1. submission to such conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a term of an individual's employment or status in a course, program, or activity;
      2. submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or education decisions affecting such individual; or
      3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's work or educational performance; or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working and/or learning environment; or of interfering with one's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.

      Examples of Sexual Harassment

      Examples of behavior and conduct that constitute sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to, the following:

      • physical assault;
      • direct or implied threats that submission to sexual advances will be a condition of employment, work status, compensation, promotion, grades, or letters of recommendation;
      • sexual advances, physical or implied, or direct propositions of a sexual nature. This activity may include inappropriate/unnecessary touching or rubbing against another, sexually suggestive or degrading jokes or comments, remarks of a sexual nature about one's clothing and/or body, preferential treatment in exchange for sexual activity, and the inappropriate display of sexually explicit pictures, text, printed materials, or objects that do not serve an academic purpose;
      • a pattern of conduct, which can be subtle in nature, that has sexual overtones and is intended to create, or has the effect of creating, discomfort and/or humiliation of another; or
      • remarks speculating about a person's sexual activities or sexual history, or remarks about one's own sexual activities or sexual history, that do not serve a medical or academic purpose.

      Consensual Relationships

      It is in the interest of the University to provide clear direction and educational opportunities to the University community regarding the professional risks associated with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships where a definite power differential exists between the parties. These relationships are of concern for two primary reasons:

      1. Conflict of Interest.
        Conflicts of interest may arise in connection with consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty or other instructional staff and students, or between supervisors and subordinates. University policy and more general ethical principles preclude individuals from evaluating the work or academic performance of others with whom they have intimate familial relationships, or from making hiring, salary, or similar financial decisions concerning such persons. The same principles apply to consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships, and require, at a minimum, that appropriate arrangements be made for objective decision-making with regard to the student, subordinate, or prospective employee.
      2. Abuse of Power Differential.
        Although conflict of interest issues can be resolved, in a consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship involving power differential, the potential for serious consequences remains. Individuals entering into such relationships must recognize that:
        1. reasons for entering such a relationship may be a function of the power differential;
        2. even in a seemingly consensual relationship where power differentials exists, there are limited after-the-fact defenses against charges of sexual harassment; and,
        3. the individual with the power in the relationship will bear the burden of accountability.
        4. such a relationship, whether in a class or work situation, may affect the educational or employment environment for others by creating an appearance of improper, unprofessional, or discriminatory conduct.

      Breach of Professional Obligation

      A sexual relationship that does not constitute sexual harassment may lead to a breach of professional obligations. A breach of professional obligations, such as basing a decision that affects the evaluation, employment conditions, instruction, and/or academic status of another individual on illegitimate criteria, may result in discipline or sanctioning in accordance with the relevant collective bargaining agreements or University policies.

    3. Other Violations of the Anti-Harassment Policy

      Other violations of this policy include retaliation against a person who has made a report or filed a complaint alleging harassment, or participated as a witness in a harassment investigation; or disregarding, failing to investigate adequately, or delaying investigation of allegations of harassment, when responsibility for reporting and/or investigating harassment charges comprises part of one's supervisory duties.

      To make deliberate false accusations of harassment violates this policy. In such instances, the complainant will be subject to disciplinary action. However, failure to prove a claim of harassment does not constitute proof of a false and/or malicious accusation.

      Non-University visitors, guests, patrons, independent contractors, or clients who violate this policy will be subject to action in accordance with contractual agreements.

  3. Academic Freedom

    Academic freedom is essential to teaching and learning, and freedom of expression is central to the fundamental principles of a university education. Nothing in this policy shall be construed to penalize a member of the Western Illinois University community for expressing an opinion, theory, or idea in the process of responsible teaching and learning.

  4. Supervisory Relationships

    No individual who is in a position of authority over another, either in the employment or educational context, has the authority to harass others by virtue of his or her supervisory role. The University does not, in any way, expressly or by implication, condone the harassment of a student or employee by a supervisor.

  5. Prohibition against Retaliation

    It is a violation of this policy for students or employees who in good faith report what they believe to be harassment, or who cooperates in any investigation, to be subjected to retaliation. Any student or employee who believes he/she has been the victim of retaliation for reporting harassment or cooperating in an investigation should immediately contact the Office of Equal Opportunity & Access.

  6. Student-to-Student Complaints

    Where there is not an employee/supervisor relationship, harassment involving students will be treated as a disciplinary matter and should be reported to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. In cases where an employee/supervisor relationship exists between two students, the Affirmative Action Officer will work cooperatively with the Office of Student Judicial Affairs in the investigation of harassment allegations.

  7. Responding to Reports of Harassment
    1. Reporting Responsibilities

      Employees should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity & Access to report any harassment they experience, witness, or which is reported to them. No student or employee should assume an official of Western Illinois University knows about a situation or incident. Students and employees should report all incidents of harassment immediately.

    2. Responsible Administrators

      Affirmative Action Officer. The Affirmative Action Officer is the individual designated by the President to be primarily responsible for providing education and training about the University's Anti-Harassment Policy to the University community, and for investigating reports and complaints of harassment in accordance with this procedure. The Affirmative Action Officer is authorized to designate other appropriately-trained individuals to conduct training, investigate harassment complaints, and prepare reports as deemed appropriate.

      Vice Presidents. The Vice Presidents are the individuals designated to review investigative reports and to determine the appropriate action for the University to take based upon the findings. The Vice President charged with responsibility will be the Vice President who has supervisory authority over the respondent(s) of the harassment complaint or report. If the respondent in a harassment complaint or report is the Affirmative Action Officer or a Vice President, the responsible administrator will be the President. If the Respondent in a harassment complaint or report is the President, the responsible administrator will be the Board of Trustees.

      Deans, Directors, Chairs/Supervisory Personnel. All supervisory personnel are responsible for ensuring compliance with the University's Anti-Harassment Policy and these procedures.

    3. Investigation and Resolution

      All reports of harassment will be promptly investigated and appropriate action will be taken as expeditiously as possible. Investigations will be conducted in accordance with the University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy . Complaints of harassment should be reported as soon as possible after the incident(s) in order to be most effectively investigated. The University will make reasonable efforts to protect the rights of both the complainant and the respondent. The University will respect the privacy of the complainant, the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed, and the witnesses in a manner consistent with the University's legal obligations to investigate, to take appropriate action, and to comply with any discovery or disclosure obligations required by law. The University encourages any person who feels he or she has been harassed to report the incident to the appropriate supervisor or the Affirmative Action Officer. Any student, faculty member, or employee who knows of, receives information about, or receives a complaint of harassment should report the information or complaint to the Affirmative Action Officer. Administrators and supervisors must report incidents of harassment that are reported to them to the Affirmative Action Officer in a timely manner.

      Allegations of harassment will be investigated in accordance with the University's Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy . During this process, the Affirmative Action Officer will keep the supervisor/administrator informed of the status of the complaint and will seek input from the appropriate personnel when recommending corrective action. These procedures do not replace the right of complainants to pursue other options or remedies available under the law.

      Administrative action may be recommended in cases where a finding of policy violation is determined. This action will be taken in accordance with relevant collective bargaining agreements and University policies and may include disciplinary action up to and including termination.

      • If the Affirmative Action Officer's investigation concludes there is evidence that the behavior stated in the complaint occurred, he/she may also elect one or more of the following remedies:
      • hold a discussion with the alleged offender informing him or her of the policy and indicating that the behavior must stop;
      • suggest counseling and/or educational training;
      • conduct training for the unit, division, or department calling attention to the consequences of engaging in such behavior;
      • request a letter of apology to the complainant;
      • facilitate meetings between the parties;
      • separate the parties, if appropriate; or,
      • compose a letter of agreement confirming that the respondent has been informed of the policy, identifying and accepting the Affirmative Action Officer's resolution of the complaint, and stating that retaliation is prohibited.
    4. Privacy/Confidentiality

      During the investigation, all individuals involved in the process will keep the information gathered during the investigation private to the extent permitted by state and federal law. The Affirmative Action Officer shall exercise due care in sharing identifiable information about students, staff, or faculty.

    5. University Action

      The appropriate Vice President and other supervisory personnel will take the recommended remedial action based on the results of the investigation and will follow up as appropriate to ensure that the remedial action is effective. Complainants are encouraged to report any recurrences of conduct found to violate the University's Anti-Harassment Policy. The responsible administrator will notify the complainant and respondent, in writing, of the results of this process. Written notice to parties relating to discipline, resolutions, and/or final dispositions are deemed to be official correspondence from the University.

    6. Right to Appeal

      The complainant and the respondent shall have the right to appeal the decision to the President or his/her designee pursuant to this policy. To file an appeal to the President, as provided by this procedure, a written appeal must be made within ten (10) working days after receipt of written notification regarding the decision made about the complaint. The President or his/her designee may receive additional information if he/she believes such information would aid in the consideration of the appeal. A decision will be made within a reasonable time and the Affirmative Action Officer, the responsible administrator, the complainant, and the respondent will be notified of the decision.

  8. Education, Policy Dissemination, and Record Retention
    1. Education and Training

      The University will provide education and training programs to promote awareness and prevention of harassment. Education and training programs also include informational materials about the University's Anti-Harassment Policy as well as training for responsible personnel in conducting investigations and management and implementation of the complaint procedure.

    2. Dissemination

      This policy will be disseminated annually to employees and students through orientation programs, the Campus Connection and the Student Planner/Handbook. The policy and related procedural information is also available on the University's website.

    3. Record Retention

      During an investigation of a complaint, and upon the completion of an investigation, the custodian of the files shall be the Affirmative Action Officer. Future access to any file shall be provided in keeping with the Illinois Open Records Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.