Denison University (“Denison” or “the University”) recognizes that diversity of views, cultures, and experiences is critical to its academic mission. Such diversity increases the University’s capacity to serve the educational needs of its community and enriches the lives of faculty, staff, and students.
The University also embraces the importance of academic freedom. As an educational institution, Denison has a duty to provide a forum in which free speech and differences of opinion are actively encouraged and facilitated, and where opinions and deeply held beliefs are challenged and debated. Indeed, the University’s respect for academic freedom and free speech may, at times, require that it tolerate expressions of opinion that the University or others may find intellectually or morally objectionable. Prohibiting the expression of all such ideas would be inconsistent with the important principles underlying the University’s academic mission and would conflict with the University’s commitment to diversity and academic freedom.
However, values of free speech and expression are undermined by acts of intolerance that suppress alternative views through intimidation or injury. As members of an institution of higher education, we must stand against any assault upon the dignity or value of any individual. To this end, the University will not tolerate conduct that is unlawful or that interferes with an individual’s educational opportunities, peaceful enjoyment of residence, physical security, or terms or conditions of employment (collectively, “Protected Interests”).
In this spirit, the University maintains an anti-harassment policy that prohibits interference with these Protected Interests, while still respecting the importance of diversity, academic freedom, and principles of free speech. These goals will not be fully met unless every member of the University community takes a personal responsibility for fostering an environment in which diversity can be appreciated and in which all students, faculty, and staff can reach their fullest potential. No committee or other entity can substitute for the good will, freely given, by the individuals who make up this University.
It is a violation of University policy for any University employee or student to subject any person to harassment on University property or at a University-sponsored activity, or in any manner that impacts a person’s working environment at Denison.
Denison prohibits harassment, including conduct (physical, verbal, graphic, or written, in any form) that is based on race, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other status protected under federal, state, or local law. The term “harassment” may include slurs, jokes, intimidating actions, and other offensive verbal or graphic communications, as well as physical conduct, that interferes with or limits the terms or conditions of another person’s employment or that causes a hostile, intimidating, or offensive working environment. This definition of harassment includes actions associated with the concept of bullying – the persistent use of aggressive, overbearing, or unreasonable behavior, which may include tactics such as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, or physical abuse and humiliation. Conduct may be deemed to constitute harassment under this policy even if it is not based upon a legally protected status, such as race, age, gender, etc., and even if the offending actions are directed toward third parties. Persons guilty of harassment under this policy are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination that is often at the forefront of discussions of non-harassment policies because it involves concepts that have been more thoroughly developed over the course of time. While this section focuses on sexual harassment, it is important to note that it is the policy of the University to maintain an academic environment and an employment environment free of all forms of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic advancement; or
Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions or academic decisions affecting such individual, including the individual’s ability to participate in, or benefit from, the services, activities, or privileges provided by the University; or
Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment.
Any member of the University community, including faculty, staff, and prospective, current, or former students, who believe they have been subjected to harassment, including sexual harassment, are encouraged to immediately identify the offensive behavior to the harasser and request that it stop. Denison also encourages individuals to report incidents of harassment of all forms so the University can ensure that such misconduct can be addressed and prevented in the future. This is particularly important in cases when direct, informal communication between individuals is either ineffective or impractical, or when the individual simply wishes not to confront the offender.
Accordingly, if you believe you have been subjected to harassment, or if you witness a member of the faculty, staff, or a student being subjected to harassment, you should promptly notify your supervisor, the head of your Department, or the Director of Human Resources. Note that your report of harassment may be requested to be reduced to writing.
Any allegation of harassment reported under this policy when the alleged harasser is a staff employee will be promptly investigated by Human Resources, in consultation with the Vice President of the Division in which the alleged harasser works. The person(s) responsible for the investigation may attempt to obtain an informal resolution of the matter with the mutual consent of the parties. If the alleged harasser is a member of the teaching faculty, the procedure(s) outlined in Section 5 (Statement of Procedures) in the Anti-harassment and Free Speech policy will be followed. If the alleged harasser is a member of the student body, the procedures set forth in the Denison University Code of Student Conduct will be followed.
If the person(s) conducting the investigation deem it inappropriate to attempt an informal resolution, or if consent as to the informal resolution is not obtained, the complaint shall be investigated and resolved by Human Resources, in consultation with the applicable Vice President. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the complaint, the Office of Security and Safety may be asked to assist in the investigation.
Upon completing its investigation, Human Resources will, as appropriate, notify the parties involved of the conclusions reached and of any actions being taken. If the investigation results in a finding that harassment occurred, the harasser will be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures, up to and including termination. The decision reached as a result of the investigation shall be final and binding on the parties.
Due to the sensitive nature of allegations of harassment, and the potential for such allegations to have detrimental impacts on the lives and/or careers of faculty, staff, or students, confidentiality should be maintained by all persons involved to the extent practical and appropriate.
It is a violation of this policy and University policy for a person to engage in any act of reprisal or retaliation against a person who has filed a complaint of harassment under this policy or who has testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation or other proceeding conducted under this policy.
It is also a violation of this policy for a person to file a complaint falsely alleging harassment, including sexual harassment, with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth.