Students have several options for handling this situation. You may decide first to talk with the alleged offender yourself in the event that he or she seems unaware of the effects of his or her behavior. You can talk with any RA (resident advisor), faculty, staff or administrator about your sense of being harassed or discriminated against. However, keep in mind that, because harassment and discrimination are destructive to the entire College community, Rhodes will not tolerate such behaviors. Therefore, all RAs, faculty, and administrators are mandated by College policy to report knowledge of allegations of harassment or discrimination to the appropriate office. RAs, faculty, and administrators of the College are expected to keep conversations alleging discrimination and harassment limited to those parties who are responsible for enforcing this policy.
Note: Employee complaints of discrimination or harassment are not subject to the procedural options outlined in this policy.
Counseling Center staff, the Chaplain, the Nurse, and Physicians may be bound by professional ethical requirement to keep conversations with clients confidential. Those professional confidentiality requirements and applicable law will dictate whether information provided to those persons will be shared with others.
Students are strongly encouraged to consult with the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator to ensure that any alleged harassment or discrimination may be addressed appropriately and according to the policy of the College and applicable laws.
Reporting Process and Follow up Procedures
The basis or grounds of a complaint should be discussed with the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator. If the alleged incident of harassment appears to violate any applicable laws, the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator will report the incident to the Director of Human Resources and the Director of Campus Safety, as required by such laws. The College cannot file charges on a student’s behalf, but the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator will inform the student about the legal avenues that he or she can pursue.
Described below are three processes for resolution of a complaint. A complaint by the students may be addressed by using the following processes: Informal Procedure (Option I below), Mediation (Option II below), or Formal Complaint (Option III below). However, the College at all times reserves the right to address the complaint without regard to the resolution process chosen by the student. Violation of this policy could result in suspension or expulsion.
If after meeting with the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator, the student complainant decides to make a Formal Complaint, the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator registers the Formal Complaint to the Dean of Students.
Investigations will be arranged for and conducted as promptly and in as confidential a manner as possible. Investigations will include discussions with both the complainant and the alleged offender. Inquiries may also be made of other persons who may have knowledge about or related to the alleged incident. The investigator may outline to the complainant the investigative actions that will be taken and the anticipated time frame for completing the investigation.
It is important that the schedule allow for a thorough investigation. The amount of time needed may vary with the nature of the alleged incident.
Alleged violations by students will be dealt with by the procedures outlined below for an administrative hearing.
Procedural Option I — Individual Action
Pursuing some type of individual action to resolve a problem either before or instead of a formal complaint process is not uncommon. While individual action is no substitute for good policy and procedure and may not be advisable in certain situations, it can be an important tool for educating the alleged offender (who may be unaware of the impact of his or her behavior) and restoring the victim’s sense of dignity. Examples of individual action include:
- Talking to the alleged offender about the incident. You may wish to take someone with you for support.
- If the behavior continues, you may want to keep a log of times, dates, places, witnesses, the nature of the discrimination or harassment, what the alleged offender said and did, how you responded, etc.
- Writing a specific kind of letter to the person whom you believe has discriminated against or harassed you that includes:
- The writer’s factual account of what happened, but without any subjective evaluation of such. This account should be as detailed as possible, including dates, places, and descriptions of the incidents.
- A description of how those events made or still make the writer feel, and What the writer wants to happen next and in the future. This part may be very short, since most writers usually just want the behavior to stop, e.g., “Please do not say these things to me again.” The letter should be delivered only to the alleged offender either in person or via email. The writer is encouraged to keep a copy of any letter written to the alleged offender.
If the letter does not achieve its purpose, the letter can be used to support further complaints. Ideally, the letter will be a way to prompt a conversation with the alleged offender. If you think an official of the College should be involved, then you should meet with the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator who can explain further options to you.
Procedural Option II — Mediation
The mediation process provides an official administrative alternative to the informal procedure above. It is intended to allow those involved in alleged discrimination or harassment to discuss their respective understandings of the incident with each other with the assistance of the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator. Mediation is designed to encourage each person to be honest and direct with the other and to accept personal responsibility where appropriate. Its goal is to facilitate the resolution of the incident.
Requests for mediation are filed in writing with the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator. A request may be filed either by the complainant or by someone who has been accused of discrimination or harassment. Both the complainant and alleged offender must voluntarily enter into mediation. The Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator will work with both parties to determine their willingness to participate in mediation and to verify that mediation is their choice at this time among the alternatives provided by the College.
Mediation Procedures. When both parties have agreed to mediation, the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator or a trained designee will initiate the mediation process. The Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator (or his/her designee) will contact both parties to set the date, time and location of the mediation session(s). Every reasonable effort will be made to begin mediation within one week after the complaint is filed and to complete the mediation session(s) within one week of their initiation.
The only parties present at the mediation session(s) will be the parties directly involved in the incident and the mediator. During the mediation process the mediator may:
- Ask the complainant and then the alleged offender to give their versions of the incident in question, including both factual information and their feelings;
- Identify key issues that emerge in the first step and make these known to both persons;
- Seek the agreement of both parties on the issues;
- Facilitate discussion as the two parties consider each issue more completely and as they generate solutions for each; and
- Work with both parties to develop a written document that will include a statement of agreement on each issue. Any activity or behavior that either party has agreed to perform following the mediation should be included in this agreement. In particular, the mediation agreement must include the agreement of both parties not to compel the mediator to provide testimony or to provide his or her notes in any process outside the mediation procedure. The written mediation agreement shall be signed by both parties and approved by the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator or the designated mediator.
Because participation in the mediation process is entirely voluntary and the final result is a product of mutual agreement, this process cannot be appealed. If either party is dissatisfied with the mediation process, at any time prior to signing of a written agreement, that party may request that the mediation process cease. A Formal Complaint Process (Option III) may be pursued by the complainant at any point prior to the signing of the statement of agreement if the complainant or alleged offender requests that the mediation process cease.
In order to promote honest and direct communication among the parties and the mediator and to facilitate the completion of agreed-upon terms, all statements made in the mediation process must remain confidential, and as noted above the parties to the mediation procedure must agree not to compel the mediator to provide testimony or to provide his or her notes in any process outside the mediation procedure. The Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator’s Office keeps copies of the complaint form, the mediation agreement, and any documentation concerning completion of or non-compliance with the agreed-upon activities or behavior.
In the event that a Formal Complaint Process is initiated after some part of the mediation process has taken place, only the Written Complaint (see below) will be forwarded to the administrator in charge. Only the party making the statement may disclose statements made during the mediation process in the investigation or hearing processes. Violations of the terms of the mediation agreement should be brought to the attention of the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator, who will set in motion a Formal Complaint Process.
Procedural Option III — Formal Complaint Process
A Formal Complaint Process may be initiated when the seriousness of the alleged violation warrants it or when mediation does not produce a resolution. A Formal Complaint Process is requested by the person allegedly victimized.
Formal Complaints are initiated by submitting a Written Complaint to the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator. The Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator meets with the complainant to discuss the complaint and to help the complainant determine whether it is indeed appropriate to go ahead with a Formal Complaint.
If the meeting concludes with a decision to go forward with the Formal Complaint Process, the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator forwards the Written Complaint to the appropriate administrator for adjudication or referral to the appropriate judicial council. (Reference SRC Policy)
If the alleged incident of harassment appears to violate any applicable laws, the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator will report the alleged incident to the Director of Human Resources and the Director of Campus Safety, as may be appropriate under applicable law. The College cannot file charges on the complaining student’s behalf.
A Formal Complaint should be filed as soon as possible after the occurrence to facilitate a prompt and thorough investigation. In every case, an investigation will be conducted as promptly and in as confidential a manner as possible.
If You Think You Have Been Discriminated Against or Harassed by a Campus Organization
You should report the incident to the Associate Dean of Students/Discrimination and Harassment Policy Administrator. The Associate Dean, in consultation with the Dean of Students, will recommend the best procedure for resolution of such complaints.
The Dean of Students may impose sanctions upon student organizations up to and including the temporary or permanent loss of status as a recognized campus organization. Sanctioning an organization does not preclude the College from taking action against individual members who are alleged to have led or participated in the incident. Those individual members will be dealt with according to the procedures outlined earlier in this document.