Small Seal

Discrimination

Recommended by: Human Services
Approved: Ruben Armiñana, President
Date of Original Issue: January 2, 1996
Current Issue Date: August 20, 2009
Effective Date: August 20, 2009
Contact Office: Employee Relations and Compliance Services

Policy #2009-5

I. INTRODUCTION

Sonoma State University is committed to providing an environment free of discrimination and/or sexual harassment, including sexual assault. Discrimination and sexual harassment interfere with educational performance and work, and create an atmosphere of intimidation, low morale and hostility that the University will not tolerate. Students, staff, faculty and administrators are regularly informed of the University's policy regarding discrimination and sexual harassment and available complaint procedures. In addition, all supervisors are routinely informed of their responsibility regarding complaints made against those whom they supervise.

II. THE POLICY

Sonoma State University and its auxiliary organizations (hereon referred to as the University) support an environment free of unlawful discrimination in any of the University's programs or activities of education and employment. Accordingly, discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment and sexual assault), sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, age, disability, medical condition and covered veteran status is prohibited. This policy is conducted in accordance with Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, California State University (CSU) Executive Orders 883 and 927, and appropriate Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA).

Equal employment and educational opportunity are observed in the administration, housing, and education of students; in policies governing programs and extracurricular activities; and in the employment of faculty, staff and students. The University is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty, staff, administrators, and students to mirror the increasing diversity of the State of California.

Complaints of discrimination and/or sexual harassment will be investigated promptly and thoroughly. The University recognizes that under certain circumstances, it has an independent duty to ascertain where discrimination and/or sexual harassment exist irrespective of whether a complaint is actually filed (for example, complaints of sexual harassment involving physical contact, recurrent or systematic patterns of discrimination, and/or sexual assault involving a university employee or student). The University will act vigorously to prevent any retaliation being taken against individuals filing a complaint, and/or participating in a complaint investigation.

The President designates the individual(s) who will receive all informal and formal complaints related to discrimination and/or sexual harassment and to ensure compliance with federal, state and California State University system-wide regulations prohibiting discrimination. The name, title, address and phone number of the designated individual(s) appear in the University’s Discrimination Complaint Procedures http://www.sonoma.edu/erc/discrim/new_complaint_Proced.html.

SCOPE OF RESPONSIBILITY

  1. Managing Director of Employee Relations and Compliance (or other designee in the Employee Relations and Compliance (or other designee in the Human Services Office) is responsible for assisting employees and students regarding alleged incidents of discrimination and/or sexual harassment, including sexual assault. Responsibilities include: educating the University community regarding the issues of discrimination; developing strategies for their elimination; immediately resolving discrimination/harassment complaints by conducting confidential investigations and assisting in the resolution process when allegations of discrimination arise in the campus community; working in collaboration with the appropriate personnel in educating the University community regarding rape and sexual assault; maintaining records of complaints, investigations, and actions to meet legal requirements.
  2. Appropriate Administrator and Supervisor responsibilities include: conducting themselves in the workplace, on the campus, or at any University-sponsored off-campus activity (including travel) in a manner that ensures that their actions do not discriminate against and/or harass any other individual; ensuring the workplace is free from discrimination and/or sexual harassment; immediately responding to and reporting allegations of discrimination/harassment to the Managing Director of Employee Relations and Compliance (or other designee in the Employee Relations and Compliance Office); working collaboratively with the Managing Director of Employee Relations and Compliance (or other designee in Employee Relations and Compliance Office);in fact-finding and/or confidential investigations; implementing corrective action to address existing practices and/or unacceptable behaviors.
  3. Employee responsibilities include: conducting themselves in the workplace, on the campus, or at any University-sponsored off-campus activity (including travel) in a manner that ensures that their actions do not discriminate against and/or harass any other individual; cooperating in, and honoring the confidentiality of, fact-finding and/or complaint investigations.
  4. Faculty responsibilities include: conducting themselves in the classroom, on the campus, or at any University-sponsored off-campus activity (including travel) in a manner that ensures that their actions do not discriminate against and/or harass any other individual; ensuring the classroom is free from discrimination and/or harassment; immediately responding to and reporting allegations of discrimination/sexual harassment to the Managing Director of Employee Relations and Compliance (or other designee in the Employee Relations and Compliance Office); cooperating in, and honoring the confidentiality of, fact-finding and/or complaint investigations.
  5. Student responsibilities include: conducting themselves in the classroom, on the campus, or at any University-sponsored off-campus activity (including travel) in a way that ensures that their actions do not discriminate against and/or harass any other individual; cooperating in, and honoring the confidentiality of, fact-finding and/or complaint investigations.

IV. A SPECIAL NOTE TO FACULTY, TEACHING ASSISTANTS, SUPERVISORS AND OTHER PERSONS IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY

Romantic relationships that might be appropriate in other circumstances may be inappropriate when they occur between a faculty member and/or supervisor of the University and a student or employee with whom that person has a professional relationship (e.g., professor-student, supervisor-employee). Students depend on professors for grades, recommendations, job referrals, and opportunities for teaching and research. Graduate students rely on professors for opportunities to attend special seminars and conferences, to co-author research papers, and for introduction to colleagues. Employees rely upon their supervisors for promotions, raises, upward mobility, job assignments, overtime, access to equipment, and office location.

Because of the difference in authority and power between professors and students, and supervisors and employees, a professor or supervisor cannot be certain that the relationship is truly welcome or consensual. With an academic or employment career at stake, a student or employee may find it difficult and threatening to refuse a request from his/her professor or supervisor, no matter how casual the request. Such relationships may also be inappropriate because they may create a negative or uncomfortable working or learning environment for others who perceive preferential treatment.

When a so-called "mutual" relationship deteriorates, some students may drop courses, change majors, transfer to other schools, or even discontinue their education. Some employees may quit jobs or have their careers ruined.

If a student or employee tries to use sex to improve academic or employment standing, it is the professor or supervisor's responsibility to discourage and refuse such overtures and to maintain appropriate professional boundaries at all times.


Updated August 24, 2009 by SSU.policies@sonoma.edu