NON-DISCRIMINATIONPOLICY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

Non-Discrimination Statement

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are committed to providing a non-discriminatory and harassment-free educational, living, and working environment for all members of the HWS community, including students, faculty, staff, volunteers, and visitors. HWS prohibits discrimination and harassment in their programs and activities on the basis of age, color, disability, domestic violence victimstatus, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other status protected under the law. Discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual assault, other forms of sexual misconduct including stalking and intimate partner violence, and gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Nothing in this policy or these procedures precludes the Colleges from taking direct administrative action to address incidents of harassment or discrimination.

Related Policy

The Colleges’ Sexual Misconduct Policy can be found here. The Sexual Misconduct Policy addresses all complaints related to sex discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence, and sex- or gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

The Sexual Misconduct Policy:

  1. Prohibits sex discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence, and sex- or gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature (Sections III and V);
  2. Defines consent, force, coercion, and incapacitation (Section IV);
  3. Describes the difference between privacy and confidentiality so students understand where to go if they want to speak with someone confidentially or want to make a report that will be acted upon (Sections IV, VII, and VIII);
  4. Describes the supports, resources, and accommodations available to students, on-campus and off-campus (Sections VII and IX);
  5. Describes the process for reporting such incidents, on-campus and off-campus (Section VIII); and
  6. Describes the options to address the conduct through on-campus proceedings (Sections X, XI, and XII).

Complaints of discrimination against Hobart and William Smith Colleges resulting from established institutional policies or procedures, or because of actions of Colleges’ employees in administering these policies or procedures and not falling within the scope of the Sexual Misconduct Policy will be considered under this Policy and the procedures set forth below.

Non-Discrimination Grievance Procedures

Purpose

These procedures are designed to address claims of discrimination resulting from established institutional policies or procedures, or because of actions of Colleges’ employees in administering institutional policies or procedures.

Grievances

The fact of a grievance and an investigation will be maintained as privately as possible, and only those who need to know about the grievance and investigation will be advised of its existence.

All grievances will be investigated and acted upon as expeditiously as possible, as compatible with proper investigation of, and due deliberation upon, the questions involved.

Whenever possible, attempts should be made to informally resolve grievances as soon as possible after the grievance arises. When such informal direct discussion does not lead to a resolution satisfactory to the parties (or when an informal process is not desired by all of the parties), a formal grievance may be brought to the Grievance Committee by means of a written statement clearly stating the grounds for the grievance, the parties thereto, and the facts giving rise to the grievance. The formal grievance (in this form) should be to the Title IX Coordinator.

Absent extenuating circumstances, in order to invoke the procedure described in this Policy, the grievance must be filed with the Title IX Coordinator within 30 days of the most recent incident giving rise to the grievance. Complaints of discrimination can always be made and will always be investigated, but the timing of the complaint may preclude the use of the grievance procedure described in this Policy.

A grievance may be filed against an individual who, in the performance of official duties at the Colleges, is alleged to have violated this Policy. Charges of discriminatory institutional policy shall be made against the Colleges and not against individuals. Grievances related to actions taken by persons serving in administrative and department-chair capacities at the Colleges, in the performance of their duties as such, shall be made against the Colleges and not against them as individuals.

Investigations

Upon receipt of the formal grievance, the Title IX Coordinator will determine the method and scope of the investigation of the grievance. All individuals who may have knowledge of the incident in question or other relevant information may be interviewed. The investigative steps and findings will be documented as thoroughly as possible for the Grievance Committee.

The investigative report will be provided to the Title IX Coordinator who will review the report for thoroughness and determine whether additional investigation is necessary. When the investigative report is finalized, the Title IX Coordinator will provide it to the Grievance Committee, along with the formal grievance.

Constitution of the Grievance Committee

Upon receipt of a grievance, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the President that a Grievance Committee needs to be constituted. The President will take such steps as are necessary to cause a Grievance Committee to be constituted and shall designate the senior official for the purpose of the grievance.

Designated Senior Official

Upon receipt of a grievance, the President will designate a senior official of the Colleges as the designated senior official for purposes of the grievance. The designation of the appropriate senior official will vary based upon the faculty, staff, and student status of the parties. In general, the designated senior official will be the Provost and Dean of Faculty for faculty grievances, the Vice President for Human Resources for staff grievances, and the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee for student grievances. In cases where the President is involved as grievant or the primary individual complained about, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees will appoint a Trustee to act as the senior designated official of the Colleges.

Composition of the Grievance Committee

The Committee shall consist of seven persons who shall be appointed to serve for the duration of a grievance. A committee member may be reappointed for multiple grievances.

The Committee shall include the Title IX Coordinator and a member of the Department of Human Resources. Should the grievance involve the Title IX Coordinator as the grievant or primary individual involved in the grievance, the President shall appoint another person to the Committee in the Title IX Coordinator’s stead. The Committee will always include a member of the administrative staff and two faculty members. The remaining two seats will be filled by two students, two members of the faculty, two members of staff, or some combination of these groups in order to achieve participation from a cross-section of the Colleges’ community representative of the grievant and the person whose actions are the subject of the grievance. The President shall determine how these two seats will be filled.

Members will be appointed as follows: administrative employees, by the President of the Colleges; faculty, by the Dean of Faculty and Provost, in consultation with the Committee on the Faculty; and students, by the student governments.

Committee Procedures

The seven members of the Committee will elect a chair at the first committee meeting.

The Grievance Committee will meet to review the information presented (formal grievance, investigative report, and any other information requested by the Grievance Committee) and consider each grievance within 10 days of its receipt, except where such a grievance occurs other than during regular school sessions, in which case such a meeting will be scheduled as soon as is practical.

Committee Termination of Process After Investigation

After its review, the Committee may conclude that the grievance is not actionable under this Policy, in which case it shall advise the grievant in writing that it declines to take further action and indicate its reasons for doing so. The Committee’s decision shall be final.

Committee Referral to Mediation

If the Committee concludes that the grievance warrants additional consideration it may decide to propose mediation to the parties. In this instance, it will designate the mediator (who could be a member of the Committee). All parties must agree to mediation before it can begin.

Committee Referral to Subcommittee

If mediation is not successful or not elected, a three-person subcommittee will be appointed from the members of the Grievance Committee. One member of the subcommittee will be appointed by the full committee, one member will be selected by the grievant, and one member will be appointed by the individual whose actions are the subject of the grievance. In a case where the grievance is brought on the basis of an alleged discriminatory institutional policy, the administrator who is most immediately responsible for the implementation of that policy will select the third member of the subcommittee.

In addition to conferring with both the grievant and the party(ies) against whom the grievance is brought, the subcommittee will invite the person(s) named in the charge and/or an appropriate administrative official to submit a written statement responding to the grievance. Every reasonable effort will be made to achieve a resolution of the grievance during this phase of the process. The subcommittee may request conferences with anyone involved in the matter.

The subcommittee will report its progress to the Grievance Committee within 30 days of the filing of the written grievance, or within 15 days from the date the subcommittee was formed, whichever is later.

Committee Conclusion Based on Subcommittee Report

Based upon the report of the subcommittee, the full Grievance Committee will decide whether a formal hearing is required. A formal hearing will not be required in two instances:

  1. The Committee determines that the grievance is not actionable under this Policy, in which case it shall advise the grievant in writing that it declines to take further action and indicate its reasons for doing so. The Committee’s decision shall be final.
  2. The Committee concludes, based upon the information presented, that a violation of this Policy has occurred. In this instance, the Committee will make its formal report and recommendation to the designated senior official, to the grievant, and to the individual whose actions are the subject of the grievance. In most instances, this will occur within 30 days of the receipt of the report of the subcommittee. In the case where the grievance involves a policy of the Colleges, the report shall go to the appropriate person responsible for administering the policy.

Committee Referral to Formal Hearing

If, based upon the subcommittee’s report, the Committee concludes that a formal hearing is required, the Grievance Committee, or three members thereof, shall serve as the Hearing Panel. The purpose of the formal hearing is to permit the Hearing Panel to secure relevant information that will help it reach a conclusion and make a recommendation regarding the grievance.

Composition of the Hearing Panel

Typically, the Hearing Panel will be comprised of three members of the Grievance Committee. One member of the Grievance Committee will be appointed to the Hearing Panel by the full committee, one member will be selected by the grievant, and one member will be appointed by the individual whose actions are the subject of the grievance. In the case where the grievance is brought on the basis of an alleged discriminatory institutional policy, the administrator who is most immediately responsible for the implementation of that policy will select the third member of the hearing panel. The entire Grievance Committee can also serve as the Hearing Panel as deemed appropriate by the Grievance Committee.

The members of the Hearing Panel will select a Panel chair and a secretary. The secretary will make notes of the hearing; these notes must be approved by the Hearing Panel before placed in final form.

Hearing Panel Procedures

The grievant, within 10 days of notification from the Grievance Committee that a hearing will be held, will prepare and file a signed statement of the specific charges setting forth all supporting evidence for the charge that the grievant is submitting for the Hearing Panel’s consideration. The statement will be made available to the Panel members, the Title IX Coordinator, and to any individual charged with discrimination.

The Panel chair will convene the Panel within 10 days of receipt of statement of charges from the grievant described above. The chair will be responsible for the adoption of ground rules and procedures under which the hearing shall be held (except as specifically provided in this Policy) as the chair, in his/her sole discretion, deems appropriate. The chair is responsible for conducting a fair, orderly, and expeditious hearing and for ruling upon questions of procedure, admissibility of information presented to the Panel, and the appropriateness of questions. The Hearing Panel’s review of the information shall be conducted without regard to any formal restrictions placed on admissibility that would apply in a court of law.

The chair will make certain that all individuals complained about in the original grievance or during the hearing shall have a full opportunity to respond to the charges. This may include Colleges’ administrators and staff not specifically named in the grievance.

The grievant must be present during the hearing. Any individual who is the subject of the grievance, as set forth in the statement of charges, must be informed of all hearing sessions and given the opportunity to attend. The grievant or the Colleges may ask that observers be allowed to attend hearing sessions, a request that may be granted or denied at the discretion of the chair. Observers are not permitted to speak during the hearing. No party or participant in the hearing shall be entitled to counsel or to the presence of counsel.

The official record of the hearing will consist of the written statement of charges, the notes made by the secretary (and approved by the panel), and those documents submitted by the grievant, the Colleges, the charged party, and/or by witnesses during the hearing and admitted into the record by the Panel chair. The official record will be available for inspection only by Panel members, the grievant, a representative of the Colleges designated by the Title IX Coordinator, and any individual specifically charged with discrimination.

The Panel chair shall open the hearing by stating the procedures to be followed, including any time limits on the presentation of the charges and the response to the charges, and reading the written statement of charges or a summary of the charges prepared by the Hearing Panel. This will be followed by an opportunity for a statement by the appropriate Colleges’ representative or by the individual charged, in response to the statement of charges. Following the statement of charges and response, the Hearing Panel will hear relevant information reasonably available from witnesses present. Panel members may at any time question the grievant or individuals specifically charged with discrimination, in order to relate their testimony to that presented by witnesses. Neither the grievant nor the individuals charged may question each other, and their comments must be addressed to the chair and Panel members, in accordance with the procedures established by the chair.

The Hearing Panel will make a written report of its findings and, where appropriate, its recommendations for resolving the grievance. This report will be submitted to the designated senior official and copies made available to the grievant and all individuals charged with discrimination, no later than 15 days following the final hearing session. Where the grievance involves a policy of the Colleges, a copy of the report shall go to the person responsible for administering the policy.

Response to the Findings and Recommendations of the Grievance Committee (when no hearing is held)/Hearing Panel (when a hearing is held)

The designated senior official will respond in writing to the findings and recommendations of the Grievance Committee/Hearing Panel, describing any actions to be taken as a result of the findings or recommendations. If any specific recommendations are not accepted, the designated senior official will state the reasons for rejecting those recommendations. The written report will be provided to the grievant and the individual whose actions are the subject of the grievance.

The grievant or the party or parties whose actions are the subject of the grievance may appeal the written decision of the designated senior official. Such appeal must be in writing and made to the President of the Colleges within 10 days of the written decision of the designated senior official. The President may consider appeals on the basis of new evidence, faulty reasoning, errors in procedure, or the appropriateness of any sanction imposed. The President’s response to the appeal will be made in writing and shall be final. Where the President is involved in the grievance as either the grievant or the primary subject of the grievance, the appeal shall be made to the Chair of the Board, whose decision will be final.

Protection from Retaliation

The Colleges prohibit retaliation against a person who brings forward a grievance or who participates in the investigation or hearing of a grievance. Anyone who feels they have been subjected to such adverse actions should report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator. Anyone who is found to have knowingly made a false accusation of discrimination or retaliation will be will be subject to discipline under the applicable Colleges’ policies (e.g., student disciplinary procedures, Employee Handbook, or Faculty Bylaws).

Outcome Not Public

The findings and recommendations of the Grievance Committee/Hearing Panel and the response thereto will not be made public. Particular actions directed by the designated senior official shall be made known to the appropriate Colleges’ representatives responsible for implementing such actions.

Records

Institutional records of the grievance, the findings and recommendations of the Grievance Committee/Hearing Panel, the response thereto by the designated senior official, and where applicable, the appeal, shall be maintained by the Title IX Coordinator.

Title IX Coordinator Contact Information

Susan Lee, Title IX Coordinator
Seneca Room Annex (lower level, lake level)
603 S. Main Street
315.781.3922
pierces@hws.edu

Contact Us

Office of Title IX Programs & Compliance
603 S. Main Street, Seneca Room Annex (lake level)
(315) 781-3922
TitleIX@hws.edu

Please email questions, comments and suggestions to the Office of Title IX Programs & Compliance using this anonymous form.

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.