Reporting Discrimination or Harassment
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, amended in 2008, prohibits discrimination based on disability. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.
- Lack of access to educational programs and facilities
- Denial of academic adjustments or accommodations
- Offensive remarks, jokes, epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping or threatening, intimidating or hostile acts that relate to a person’s disability
Discrimination or Harassment Complaints
Washington College encourages anyone who has experienced any form of discrimination or harassment to report the incident promptly, to seek all available assistance, and to pursue remedies available through campus judicial or grievance processes. Reporting parties are also encouraged to report incidents to local, state and/or federal authorities or offices charged with handling unlawful discrimination or harassment.
Reporting a Complaint
Students, employees, or third parties who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment, including sexual violence/assault, by a student or employee of the Washington College community or by another individual for whom the College is or may be responsible (e.g., applicants for admission or employment, alumni, independent contractors, vendors, recruiters) should contact one of the following persons for assistance with resolving a complaint:
- Title IX Coordinator or Assistant Coordinator(s) – for matters involving discrimination or harassment based on sex or gender
- 504 Coordinator or Assistant Coordinator(s) – for matters involving discrimination or harassment based on disability
- Professional Staff in Student Affairs (Including Resident Area Directors/RADs)
- Department of Public Safety
- Human Resources Department
Complaints alleging sexual discrimination or harassment (including sexual assault/violence) should be submitted to Candace Wannamaker, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and the College’s Title IX Coordinator, first floor Casey Academic Center, 410-778-7752.
Complaints alleging disability discrimination or harassment should be submitted to Andrea Vassar, ADA/Section 504 Coordinator, Bunting Hall, 410-778-7883.
When a Washington College student is the subject of a discrimination or harassment complaint, the matter will be referred to the Honor Board or other appropriate hearing body (see the Washington College Honor Code and Student Judicial System found earlier in this Handbook).
When a Washington College employee or third party is the subject of a formal written complaint, the matter will be reviewed by the Washington College Discrimination Dispute Resolution Committee (DDRC).
Students, employees, or third parties alleging discrimination or harassment may submit a complaint in writing using the Discrimination/Harassment complaint form. Complaint forms are available in Public Safety, Student Affairs, Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator’s Office or for download and printing from the College website at http://www.washcoll.edu/title-ix/.
The Title IX Coordinator or 504 ADA Coordinator will determine, with campus administrators, the appropriate interim measures to be taken during the investigation. Interim remedial actions can include, but are not limited to the following:
- No contact orders
- Interim suspension
- Administrative leave (employee)
- Reassignment of housing
- Reassignment of job
- Class schedule change
- Prohibit or restrict participation in extracurricular activities
- Prohibit or restrict access to campus for third parties
- Relocation of a residential assignment
All complaints of harassment or discrimination will be investigated in a manner that is adequate, reliable, and impartial. Investigations may be conducted by trained Public Safety staff, trained Title IX Investigators, the Title IX Coordinator or Assistant Coordinators (for Title IX matters), the Section 504 Coordinator or Assistant Coordinators (for ADA/Section 504 related matters), Human Resources staff, or another trained investigator appropriate to the situation and in accordance with all College policies and legal requirements.
For matters involving discrimination or harassment based on sex or gender (covered by Title IX), the Title IX Coordinator will ensure that the investigation complies with all Title IX requirements. For matters involving discrimination or harassment based on disability (covered by ADA/Section 504), the Section 504 Coordinator will ensure the investigation complies with all Section 504 requirements.
The responsibility to conduct an investigation shall not be altered by the fact that a criminal investigation of the incident is pending or has been concluded, although the investigation may be delayed or suspended at the request of law enforcement while the law enforcement agency is gathering evidence. In the event the investigation is delayed at the request of the law enforcement agency, appropriate steps will be taken to provide for the safety of the Reporting Party and the College community and to prevent retaliation by any individual.
The steps may include changes to the schedule, housing assignment or work location of the Responding Party or summary suspension/leave from the College issued to the Responding Party. The College will promptly resume its Title IX investigation as soon the College receives notification that law enforcement has completed the evidence-gathering process.
The Reporting Party will be contacted by a College administrator designated by the Title IX Coordinator or ADA/Section 504 Coordinator to schedule a meeting.
During the meeting, the College administrator will:
- Provide the Reporting Party with an explanation of the campus conduct process.
- Give the Reporting Party the opportunity to submit a written statement and evidence.
- Give the Reporting Party the opportunity to list any witnesses who may have information pertaining to the complaint.
- Instruct the Reporting Party to have no contact with the Responding Party during the course of the investigation.
- Inform the Reporting Party that there will be follow-up meetings to discuss the case and status.
The Responding Party will be contacted by a College administrator designated by the Title IX Coordinator or Section 504/ADA Coordinator to schedule a meeting.
During the meetings, the College administrator will:
- Provide Responding Party with an explanation of the campus conduct process.
- Present the allegations and provided the Responding Party the opportunity to respond.
- Give the Responding Party the opportunity to submit a written statement and evidence to contest the allegations.
- Give the Responding Party the opportunity to list any witnesses who may have information pertaining to the complaint.
- Inform the Responding Party to have no contact with the Reporting Party during the course of the investigation.
- Inform the Responding Party that there will be follow-up meetings to discuss the case and status.
Any person identified by the Reporting Party or Responding Party who has information that pertains to the allegation will be contact by the investigator(s).
The person designated to conduct the investigation shall prepare a written report within 15 business days after completing the investigation, unless additional time to complete the investigation is required. In that case, the investigator shall report on the status of the investigation to the Reporting Party, the Responding Party, and the Title IX or Section 504 Coordinator (or designee) as applicable at the expiration of the 15-day period and every 15 business days thereafter.
At the conclusion of the investigation, a designated College administrator will meet with the Reporting Party and discuss the written report and inform him/her of the next steps in the process. The designated college administrator will contact the Responding Party and review the written report and explain the next steps in the process.
The Reporting Party and Responding Party may have a support person present during the investigation process. A support person is defined as a member of the College community (faculty, staff, or student). The support person is not permitted to participate in the meetings but is there in support of the individual.
The written report is a summary of the investigation and will be forwarded to the appropriate administrator. The administrator will then forward the report to the Honor Board or the Discrimination Dispute Review Committee (DDRC) for review and any action deemed appropriate in accordance with the procedures of each.
Nothing in these procedures or in the procedures of the Honor Board or DDRC limits the right of any person to pursue other avenues of recourse which, may include filing charges or a complaint with local, state, and federal authorities responsible for addressing unlawful discrimination and harassment.
More information about the procedures of the Honor Board can be found in the chapter “Washington College Honor Code and Student Judicial System” found earlier in this Handbook.
The Title IX Coordinator or Section 504 Coordinator or other appropriate College administrator will ensure that steps are taken to address and resolve any instance where an investigation and subsequent review (by either the Honor Board or the DDRC) concluded that discrimination or harassment occurred. Resolution outcomes include actions to remediate the instance of discrimination or harassment and, where needed, actions to prevent future recurrence and to correct discriminatory effects on the Reporting Party and others.
Remedial actions include, but are not limited to:
- College warning (except in cases of sexual assault/violence)
- Termination of employment
- Protection from retaliation
- Counseling for the Reporting Party
- Other steps to address the impact of harassment or discrimination on the Reporting Party, any witnesses and the College community
The Washington College Discrimination Dispute Resolution Committee (DDRC) is used when the subject of a formal written complaint is an employee or third party. The DDRC will consist of faculty and staff who are trained to review matters involving discrimination and harassment. A hearing panel consisting of three members of the DDRC will be facilitated by the Director of Human Resources (or designee) for complaints against staff members or the Provost (or designee) for complaints against faculty. Hearings where there is a staff Responding Party will include two staff members and one faculty member on the hearing panel. Within 15 days after the hearing, the panel will issue a written decision that includes a review of the information relevant to the case and sanctions if it is found to be “more likely than not” that the subject of the complaint violated College policy. The DDRC will continue to function whenever the College is open even if classes are not in session.
In cases of discrimination and harassment, Reporting Parties may also obtain information and/or file a complaint by writing the Director of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, The Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East, Suite 515, Philadelphia, PA 19107, or local fair employment practices agencies.
Records of complaint investigation and any corrective action will be entrusted to the Title IX Coordinator or ADA/Section 504 Coordinator and will be maintained in an electronic system accessible throughout the College on a confidential basis consistent with College’s legal requirements and appropriate legal requests for said documents.
The Reporting Party or Responding Party may appeal decisions of the DDRC or Honor Board by submitting a written appeal request within five business days of receiving written notification of the outcome of the hearing. Appeal forms can be downloaded from the following website http://www.washcoll.edu/title-ix/. Only appeals that are based on one or more of the following grounds will be considered for review:
- Procedural error(s) that prevented fundamental fairness
- New information or evidence that was not available at the hearing
- An imposed sanction that is disproportionate to the violation and/or the conduct history of the Responding Party
Letters of appeal for Honor Board decisions must be sent to the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee). The Vice President for Student Affairs or designee will determine whether the appeal meets the above criteria. If any of the criteria are met, the case will be referred to the appeal board; if the case does not meet at least one of the criteria, there will be no further review. More information on the student appeal process can be found in the Student Handbook. Letters of appeal for DDRC decisions must be sent to the President of the College (or designee). The President of the College (or designee) will determine whether the appeal meets the above criteria. If any of the criteria are met, the case will be reviewed and a decision made; if the case does not meet at least one of the criteria, there will be no further review. The appellant(s) and the other party, shall be notified of the outcome of the appeal. All appeals will be conducted in an impartial manner and by an impartial decision-maker.
All members of the Washington College community are advised that retaliation against anyone for filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment or for participating in an investigation of discrimination or harassment is strictly prohibited by law and by College policy.
All parties involved, especially those charged with carrying out the above policies, are enjoined to work in confidence to the extent legally permissible and practically possible.
In cases of discrimination and harassment, Reporting Parties may also obtain information and/or file a complaint by writing the Director of Civil Rights, US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, The Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East, Suite 515, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Such complaints generally must be filed within 180 days.
Bias Incident Policy Statement and Protocol
Bias activity has the potential to adversely affect the members of the Washington College community and to undermine the climate of civility and respect necessary to achieve and maintain a diverse and inclusive community. Washington College has developed a protocol designed to outline steps to support individuals and groups who believe they are targets of a bias incident. This policy statement will establish procedures and protocols that students, faculty, and staff can utilize to identify, process, and respond to bias incidents in an efficient manner.
Washington College does not tolerate conduct that may be considered a bias incident toward any of its students, faculty, staff and community members. The college expects its students, faculty and staff to refrain from acts of intolerance directed at other members of the community including (but not limited to) harassment, hate speech, and discrimination. The College does not seek to limit freedom of speech, but rather wants to ensure all of its members can participate fully in College events and activities without fear of bias, intimidation, or harassment due to their identity.
Clery Act Hate/Bias Crime Definitions
As defined by the Clery Act, a hate crime is as any crime that manifests evidence that a victim was selected because of his/her actual or perceived race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, or disability. A hate crime is not a separate, distinct crime, but is the commission of a criminal offense which was motivated by the offender’s bias. If the facts of the case indicate that the offender was motivated to commit the offense because of his/her bias against the victim’s perceived race, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or disability, the crime is classified as a hate crime. For more information on the definition and classification of hate/bias crimes, see: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/hate-crimes#Definition.
A bias incident can occur whether the act is intentional or unintentional and may or may not warrant legal action. In identifying a bias incident, the focus is on the impact on an individual or group, not the intention or motivation of the actor. The following provides an overview of different forms of bias incidents that could be reported:
- Contained Bias Incident: a comment, activity, or event that is seen or heard by a small number of people, does not violate a College policy or law, or is of no interest to media or larger investigative bodies.
- Community Bias Incident: a comment, activity, or event that is seen or heard by many, violates College policies or laws, or garners interest from the media or larger investigative bodies.
Any of the following may be considered a bias incident:
Conduct that denies any individual or group equal privileges or access to a particular activity or opportunity because of the individual’s or group’s actual or perceived age, ancestry, ethnicity, national origin, ability (physical, psychological, cognitive), sex, gender identity or expression, citizenship or immigration status, marital status, socioeconomic class, race, religion, religious practice, sexual identity, or veteran status.
Unwelcome behavior based upon individuals’ or groups’ actual or perceived age, ancestry, ethnicity, national origin, ability (physical, psychological, cognitive), sex, gender identity or expression, citizenship or immigration status, marital status, socioeconomic class, race, religion, religious practice, sexual identity or veteran status that unreasonably interferes with the person’s work or educational performance or creates an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment. Examples may include (but are not limited to) epithets, images, slurs, jokes, electronic communication, or other verbal, graphic or physical conduct.
Acts of Intolerance
Conduct motivated by discriminatory bias or hatred toward other individuals or groups based on perceived or actual characteristics of age, ancestry, color, race, religion, culture, gender, gender identity expression, sexual orientation, ability (physical, emotional or intellectual), national origin, veteran status or other attribute.
Such speech refers to speech, text, images (written and or spoken) presented in public that are designed to incite hatred, violence, contempt, or severe ridicule towards members of racial, religious, or other groups. Hate speech intends to intimidate or incite fear or terror among the college community.
First Amendment Rights
The Washington College community values the freedom of expression rights guaranteed to all individuals in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. While some acts of bias or hate may be violations of the law and/or College policy, many may be considered speech protected by the First Amendment. This right allows for the free expression of opinions whether or not the speech can be considered hateful and intolerant by some member of the community. In such cases, no formal action can be taken against the offending person or persons. However, the College has an obligation and the right to respond to such incidents in a manner consistent with the role of promoting a climate of tolerance, respect, inclusion and dialogue. It is imperative for Washington College to foster discussions with its members about the impact of bias and hate speech in the College community in order to create and maintain a just and inclusive learning community. Consistent with the College’s diversity statement, also noted in the student handbook, “the college encourages civil debate and the lively exchange of ideas in the belief that such exchanges promote understanding that will grow beyond simple tolerance of difference to embracing and celebration the richness of diversity.”
Institutional Response and Jurisdiction
- The Bias Incident Policy Statement shall apply to conduct that occurs on campus, at Washington College sponsored activities, and/or when the Student, Faculty, or Staff member is representing Washington College. For students, the conduct jurisdiction policy states that, “students are responsible for observing applicable laws, regulations, and rules of the larger community as well as the Honor Code at all times”. The College reserves the right to investigate reports of any student misconduct that occurs on or off campus, including during periods between semesters or breaks in enrollment. If the College becomes aware that a student has been arrested and/or charged with a crime or has engaged in other conduct that is detrimental to the interests of the College or the welfare of others, the College may choose to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the student. For employees, please refer to the following link regarding Washington College policies: https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/human-resources/policies.php
Washington College officials shall have discretion to extend jurisdiction over conduct that occurs off campus when the conduct adversely and significantly affects the learning environment or Washington College community, and would be a violation of this policy and/or any applicable campus policy or code of conduct had the conduct occurred on campus. In determining whether or not to extend jurisdiction, Washington College may consider, among other factors, its ability to gather information and effect a resolution. Washington College may extend jurisdiction over off-campus conduct if the alleged conduct by the student or employee:
- Involved discrimination or produced a reasonable fear of physical harm to any member of Washington College’s community.
- Involved any other members of Washington College’s community or any academic work, records, documents, or property of Washington College.
2. Per the Student Handbook, each student shall be responsible for their conduct from the time of acceptance for admission through the actual awarding of a degree.
3. Employees are responsible for their conduct during work hours, while on campus, at Washington College-sponsored activities, and/or when the employee is representing Washington College. The employee will also be held accountable to this policy if their conduct is in violation of the bias protocol outlined above, regardless of whether such conduct occurs on campus or off campus.
4. This policy also applies to any potential violation committed by a person who is both a student and an employee at Washington College, arising out of, or in connection with, conduct in either or both of those capacities. Any violation of this policy may subject the person to disciplinary action, as applicable, in either or both of those capacities.
Students, faculty and staff members may report any bias in a variety of ways. The report will then be forwarded to the Bias Incident Response Team for investigation and response. Additionally, Washington College’s community will have access to a website that will provide information on identifying bias and resources for Washington College community members affected by bias. Anyone wishing to report a bias incident may do so in the following ways:
- Call Public Safety at 410-778-7810.
- Email Dr. Laurenceau-Medina, Assistant Dean and Chair of the Bias Incident Response Team, at firstname.lastname@example.org. A meeting will be scheduled with a member of the Bias Incident Response Team soon after the notification to discuss the details of the incident in question.
- Submit an anonymous tip to Public Safety (https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/public-safety/anonymoustips.php). The Assistant Dean will assist individuals in making reports and identifying appropriate resources for support and guidance and will notify the members of the Bias Resource Team of such reports.
- Through the LiveSafe mobile application (https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/public-safety/livesafe-app.php). Information will be reported to Public Safety, and then the Assistant Dean or someone from the Bias Response Team will be in touch regarding next steps.
Additionally, a group of Washington College community members are trained on bias incident responses and reporting. These individuals include (but are not limited to) Resident Assistants, Peer Mentors, Human Resource Department staff, and Student Affairs staff.
Bias Incident Response and Support
Whether involving single individuals or an entire group within Washington College’s community, when a bias incident is reported, a response from the Bias Incident Response Team will be coordinated. The Bias Incident Response Team will oversee investigation of bias report incidents within Washington College’s community. The response team will also be charged with responsibility for the ongoing and periodic review of the Bias Incident Policy Statement. The Bias Incident Response Team shall provide for such revision and other modifications as required. The team will comprise a representative from each of the following Washington College units and departments:
- Department of Residential Life & Housing
- Human Resources
- Public Safety
- Title IX Coordinator
- Office of the VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
- Office of Intercultural Affairs
Consistent with the values of Washington College and its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and developing global citizens, the College’s response to bias incidents will be an educational process focused on understanding what harms may have been done and why, who has been affected, and how the harm can be repaired. It is important to respond to people who have experienced bias in a timely, caring manner, regardless of whether the incident violates policy or the intent of the actions of the perpetrator(s) of the alleged bias incident. All parties involved in a bias incident will be treated with respect and a willingness to hear their perspectives.
Every bias incident has a unique context that requires consideration before developing a response. The nature of the incident, the impact on and desires of those reporting the incident, the impact on other community members, and the larger association are examples of factors that should be reviewed when considering a response. Whether it is a contained or a community bias incident, timely and transparent response to the immediate concerns and follow-up will be implemented. At any time, the Bias Incident Response Team may contact other campus and community resources that can aid in either handling the process or helping any campus community member involved in the bias incident. These resources are not limited to but may include:
- Academic Affairs
- Academic Deans
- Greek Life
- General Counsel
- Counseling and Health Services
- Public Safety/Chestertown Police Department
- The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
- Office of Intercultural Affairs
- Residential Life and Housing
- Title IX Coordinator
Depending upon the nature and specifics, the following steps will guide the response to the incident. Given the nature of the incident, a request for a confidential report will be discussed with the reporting party:
- Report will be reviewed to determine nature and level of severity. Reporting Party will be contacted if identity known. Considering wishes of Reporting Party, party or parties responsible for initiating the bias behavior will be contacted. For most serious cases, the Bias Response Team will convene for immediate action.
- Gather preliminary report. Verifiable information will be collected from Reporting Party or parties and Responding Party or parties involved in the alleged bias incident.
- Develop a plan of action consistent with the specifics of the report to address the incident.
- Meet with Reporting Party or parties, faculty, staff or visitor(s) to facilitate services such as counseling, health services, or other services as needed to ensure safety and to give assistance and comfort to the victim(s) or others in the campus community.
- Develop and implement an appropriate plan to initiate communication with the broader community, student leaders, and members closely involved with the incident.
- Make appropriate referrals to other offices such as: VP for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, Human Resources, Intercultural Affairs, and Public Safety.
- Follow up with affected parties of the incident.
- Notify the Reporting Party or parties and Responding Party or parties in writing of the results of the investigation. Information obtained about the complaint will be treated as confidentially as possible, as guided by federal and state laws such as FERPA and Cleary Act.
Community members will be notified on the timeline of the process by the Bias Incident Response Team. The timeline of the process should last no longer than 60 days upon receipt of the bias incident report. The Bias Incident Response Team will maintain thorough documentation of any incident during the investigation process.
If the reported bias incident includes elements of sexual assault as defined by the Jeanne Clery Act, Washington College’s Title IX Coordinator and Associate VP for Student Affairs will be contacted and informed of the case. Washington College’s Title IX Coordinator shall conduct or supervise the initial review of the complaint with assistance, as needed and/or appropriate under the circumstances, from the Bias Incident Response Team. Any review and resolution will be in accordance with the Title IX process noted in the student and employee handbooks.
The privacy of any individual involved with a reported bias incident will be maintained to the highest degree possible. Information will be disclosed on a need-to-know basis and will be shared only in order to assist the investigation of and response to the incident, including support for the individuals involved. Any person reporting a bias incident may wish to request confidentiality. In the event of such a request, the privacy of those involved will be respected to the extent possible, and reasonable steps to review the incident and respond consistently with this request will be made, to the extent permitted by law and College policy.
Should confidentiality be requested, the person reporting should be made aware of possible limitations to the investigation and response to the incident due to the request for confidentiality.
Referral to Student Conduct or Human Resources
If, at the conclusion of the investigation, the Director of Human Resources or the Bias Incident Response Team concludes that the incident constitutes a violation of Washington College’s Code of Student Conduct or Human Resources policy, any community member in violation will be referred to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Honor Board (when the respondent is a student) or Human Resources (when the respondent is an employee) for adjudication of the violation.
The Bias Incident Response Team will review the incident and the process and follow up to evaluate the response to the incident. The Bias Incident Response Team will also forward any recommendations for changes to policies, procedures, or training that may result to the VP for Student Affairs/Dean of Students and the Director of Human Resources.
The Bias Incident Response Team will collect data regarding all reported bias incidents and prepare an annual end-of-year report. The annual report will include a summary of incidents reported, redacting identifying information of those involved or impacted as needed. Additionally, general information on the outcome of how incidents were resolved will be shared. The Bias Incident Response Team report will be made available to the Washington College community via the College’s website. This report will be promoted through the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, Diversity Committee, Human Resources, Intercultural Affairs, and Residential Life websites.