Campus Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment

Statement of Purpose

The University of Puget Sound values and celebrates a diverse educational community based on mutual respect, trust, and responsibility. The university believes its students, faculty members and all other staff members should learn, teach, work, serve and lead in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. (Discrimination and harassment, as used in this policy, are defined below in Section II.B and C.)

The university is a community that encourages a rich knowledge of self and others, an appreciation of commonality and difference, the full, open, and civil discussion of ideas, thoughtful moral discourse, and the integration of learning. Academic freedom and freedom of expression are vital to our shared goals. Expression occurring in an academic, educational or research context is broadly protected by academic freedom. (See Faculty Code, Chapter I, Part E and Student Integrity Principle.)  However, discrimination, including harassment, compromises the integrity of the university. Accordingly, the university is committed to taking action to prevent, correct, and where appropriate, discipline discrimination and harassment as defined by this policy. 

I. Policy Statement

The Campus Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment provides a means for investigation of and response to concerns about discrimination and harassment, resolution of issues, and corrective action when necessary. The university encourages any persons who believe they have been subject to discrimination or harassment to seek prompt assistance under this policy. 

This policy is intended to meet, and may exceed, the requirements of applicable federal, state and local law. However, this policy does not provide a substitute procedure for redressing any person's legal rights, or create legal rights separate from applicable laws. Additionally, the university is not prevented by this policy from acting to remedy a problem that could also be remedied by resort to legal action. The university may take appropriate protective and administrative action even in situations where the complainant is absent.

II. Policy Scope and Definitions

A.      Policy Scope

This policy applies when the conduct prohibited by this policy occurs between any member of the student body, faculty, or staff and any other member of the student body, faculty, or staff. This policy also applies when the prohibited conduct occurs between a member and a nonmember of the student body, faculty, or staff, such as an off-campus visitor, vendor, independent contractor, work-study employer, internship supervisor, prospective student, volunteer or third party.  

The university may impose sanctions if the prohibited conduct occurs on university premises or in connection with a person's participation in a university-sponsored organization, program, or activity, or if the conduct poses a risk of harm to any member of the campus community, including but not limited to any of the harmful effects encompassed by the definition of discrimination or harassment. 

This policy emphasizes the importance of information and education in preventing all forms of discrimination and harassment. This policy will be made available to all members of the faculty, staff, and student body. In addition, all faculty, staff, and students should be regularly encouraged to participate in educational programs concerning the prevention and reporting of discrimination or harassment. Participation in such programs will be expected of all faculty, staff, and student employees with supervisory responsibilities. This policy authorizes the President to appoint such advisory groups as may be needed to assist in developing appropriate educational programs and informational materials.

B. Definition of Discrimination

As used in this policy, “discrimination” is the disparate treatment of an individual based on his, her or their sex, race, color, nation of origin, religion, creed, age, disability, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, veteran or military status, gender identity, political affiliation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

C. Definition of Harassment

As used in this policy, “harassment” means verbal, written or physical conduct, or conduct using technology, including stalking, which limits or denies a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or a faculty, staff or student staff member’s ability to perform or participate in a work environment. This conduct must be so severe, persistent or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or academic or co-curricular participation, or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment. To rise to the level of harassment, the behavior must be subjectively and objectively unreasonable. 

Students engaged in the process of liberal arts education, and faculty and staff members who work in an educational environment, will likely confront uncomfortable moments and ideas that are disquieting, or even offensive to them. Harassment, as defined above, includes something beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive.

1.       Discriminatory Harassment
The university prohibits discriminatory harassment of any type (e.g., oral, written, graphic, or physical) directed against a person because of his, her or their sex, race, color, nation of origin, religion, creed, age, disability, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, veteran or military status, gender identity, political affiliation, or any protected characteristic, which is so severe, persistent or pervasive as to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or a faculty, staff or student staff member’s ability to perform or participate in a work environment.

2.       Sexual Harassment
The university prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, intimate partner violence, and other forms of nonconsensual sexual conduct, including prohibited sexual relations. For additional information and definitions relating to sexual misconduct, please refer to the Policy Prohibiting Sexual Misconduct. This policy provides specific definitions for sexual misconduct which apply regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, gender and gender expression of any of the individuals involved.

3.       Bias and Hate Incidents
Related to discriminatory harassment are bias and hate motivated incidents. Bias and hate motivated incidents, whether verbal or non-verbal, can evoke feelings of marginality and compromise a welcoming and educational atmosphere. Bias and hate incidents include messaging on campus property such as desks, walls, stalls, doors, or whiteboards, as well as email and social media. Incidents of bias and hate are divisive situations that not only harm the targeted collective groups and individual group members, but harm the sense of safety, security and educational climate on campus. For additional information about bias and hate response and education on campus, the Bias and Hate and Education Response Team (BHERT) Reporting, Response, and Communication Protocol provides definitions related to bias and hate and outlines mechanisms for reporting, responding to, and communicating about bias and hate incidents on campus. 

For additional information relating to the application of this policy, see Appendix A. For additional information relating to the legal foundations for this policy, see Appendix B.

D. Other Behaviors of Concern and Implementation Procedures

Some complaints that students, staff members or faculty members may bring forward to designated officials may not constitute discrimination or harassment. The reported behaviors may nonetheless be of concern and may constitute lack of compliance with campus expectations outlined in other published campus policies and codes, including the Violence Prevention Policy. All complaints under this policy will be addressed through the appropriate resolution procedures of the Student Integrity Code, the Staff Policies and Procedures Manual, or the Faculty Code.

Appendix A

Discriminatory Harassment Comments and Examples
Discriminatory harassment denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of a legally protected status or characteristic. Such conduct is often motivated by strong feelings against a group of persons. To be a victim of any harassment or violence is unacceptable, but to suffer such abuse because of one’s identity compounds the victimization. The impact of discriminatory harassment extends beyond the individual who is targeted to all members of the group.

The purpose of this policy is to protect students, faculty members and all staff members from discrimination, not to regulate the content of speech. The policy is not a speech code and does not proscribe particular words or viewpoints. A particular expression, standing alone, need not establish a hostile environment. Rather, conduct of concern under this policy will be evaluated in terms of (1) whether a reasonable person in the complainant’s position, considering all of the circumstances in which the conduct occurred, would find the environment hostile and (2) whether the complainant actually perceived the environment to be hostile. Both tests must be met in order for the complainant to establish a severe or pervasive hostile environment.

Discriminatory harassment generally involves repeated behavior or a pattern of offensive conduct that interferes with the victim’s access to the educational or employment opportunities of the institution. However, the university may remedy any improper conduct, and a single instance of discriminatory harassment, if sufficiently serious, could result in the dismissal of a faculty or staff member or the expulsion of a student.

Examples of behavior that could be reported for review under this policy include:
(a) Directing racial or ethnic slurs at someone.
(b) Telling someone repeatedly that they are too old to understand new technology.
(c) Teasing or mocking a person with a disability.
(d) Ridiculing a person's religious beliefs.
(e) Vandalizing or defacing property.
(f) Placing written or visual material, such as a swastika or a homophobic epithet, on the door of an individual's living or work area.
(g) Chalking anti-Semitic language on a campus sidewalk or parking lot.
(h) Stalking or physically assaulting someone.
(i) Making threatening telephone calls, writing threatening e-mail messages, or leaving threatening voice mail messages.

Appendix B

Legal Foundations

City of Tacoma Code Chapter 1.29 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, familial status, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical handicap.

Washington State Law Against Discrimination (RCW Chapter 49.60; regulations in the Washington Administrative Code 162-04-10 et seq.) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, disability, marital status, national origin and creed.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000(e) et seq.; regulations in 29 C.F. R. 1604 (sex), 1605 (religion) and 1606 (national origin) prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871 (42 U.S.C. 1981 and 1986) provide a federal statutory remedy for certain kinds of discrimination independent of Title VII; Section 1981 applied to discrimination on the basis of race, color and probably national origin; Sections 1985 and 1986 prohibit conspiracies to deprive a person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws or the right to vote or to support a candidate.

Equal Pay Act of 1963 (29 U.S.C. 206(d)) makes it unlawful for an employer to pay different wages for equal work based on an employee’s sex.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 621 et seq.) prohibits discrimination in employment against individuals over the age of 40.

Americans With Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.) extends broad federal civil rights protection to Americans with disabilities.

Bankruptcy Act (11 U.S.C. 525) makes it unlawful for any employer to terminate an employee or to discriminate against an employee who has been a debtor or filed for bankruptcy or failed to pay a debt that was discharged in bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Act.

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (38 U.S.C. 4301 et seq.) prohibits discrimination based on membership or service in the Armed Forces, the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard or the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.

Executive Order 11246, Amended by Executive Order 11375 prohibits discrimination by government contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employers from knowingly hiring “unauthorized aliens” from engaging in “unfair immigration-related employment practices.” It prohibits discrimination against any individual (other than an “unauthorized alien”) because of national origin or citizenship status.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 which provides that no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 793 et seq.) prohibits discrimination by government contractors on the basis of mental or physical disability.

Executive Order 11141 prohibits discrimination by government contractors based on age.

Age Discrimination in Federally Assisted Programs Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.) provides that no person shall, on the basis of age, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Vietnam Era Veterans) and Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974 (38 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.) which prohibits discrimination by government contractors on the basis of Vietnam era veteran status or disabled veteran status.

The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 provides that if any part of a covered institution receives federal funding, then all of the operations of the institution are subject to civil rights statutes. The statutes collectively provide that such institutions must not exclude, deny benefits to, or discrimination against any person because of race, color, national origin, sex, handicap, or age.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) on July 29, 2003 clarified the standard for discriminatory harassment, noting that it must “include something beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive. Under OCR's standard, the conduct must also be considered sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program. Thus, OCR's standards require that the conduct be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the alleged victim's position, considering all the circumstances, including the alleged victim's age.”