Equity Grievance Policy at Colgate University Skip Navigation

Equity Grievance Policy

The following policy was updated in August 2014.


I. Policy Statement

Colgate is proud to be a community comprised of diverse individuals from all backgrounds. Colgate values the social and intellectual vibrancy that occurs when students, faculty and staff with different life experiences, viewpoints, and belief systems come together. This policy prohibits acts of discrimination, harassment, sexual assault and sexual exploitation, as well as domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Any and all such acts are serious violations of our community values. This policy is a fundamental part of a Colgate community where all members can study, live, and work together in a community characterized by equal opportunity, inclusiveness, safety and mutual respect.

Colgate fully subscribes to all federal and state civil rights laws banning discrimination in private institutions of higher education. These include but are not limited to Title IX and Title VI of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the American with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the New York State Human Rights Law. Colgate is committed not only to compliance with these laws but with promoting a community that lives out the values these equal opportunity laws envision.

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II. Policy Coverage

This policy sets forth behavioral expectations for all members of the Colgate community: students, faculty and staff. This policy applies to conduct that occurs on Colgate’s campus or property and to all Colgate programs and sponsored activities. Non-community members (guests, alumni, vendors, parents, etc.) visiting our campus or participating in university programs or events are also expected to abide by the behavioral expectations set forth here. This policy also applies to off-campus conduct under certain circumstances. For example, it applies when students travel off campus as part of a university activity or team, or when employees travel on Colgate business.

Conduct that occurs off-campus and not in connection with Colgate programs may violate this policy if the conduct creates a threatening or hostile environment on campus or within a Colgate program, or if the incident causes concern for safety or security of the Colgate’s campus.

A complaint that this policy has been violated will be addressed through the university’s Equity Grievance Process. The Equity Grievance Process applies regardless of the status of the parties involved, who may be students, student organizations, faculty, administrators, or staff. Complaints made by non-members of the Colgate community against students, student organizations, faculty, administrators, or staff are also subject to the Equity Grievance Process.

The associate provost for equity and diversity serves as Title IX Coordinator and oversees implementation of the Equity Grievance Process for responding to complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault, discrimination, discriminatory harassment and other violations of this policy.

Inquiries may be made to:
Marilyn (“Lyn”) Rugg, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity
The Office of Equity and Diversity
102 Lathrop Hall
Colgate University
13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346

Phone315-228-6161
E-mailmrugg@colgate.edu

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III. Definitions


A. Discrimination
Colgate University complies with all federal and state civil rights laws banning discrimination in private institutions of higher education. Colgate will not discriminate against any person because of race, color, sex, pregnancy, religion, creed, national origin (including ancestry), citizenship status, physical or mental disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, veteran or military status (including special disabled veteran, Vietnam-era veteran, or recently separated veteran), predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim status, or any other protected category under applicable local, state, or federal law.

The term “discrimination” refers to an act that disadvantages a person and that occurs because of the affected individual’s race, color, sex, pregnancy, religion, creed, national origin (including ancestry), citizenship status, physical or mental disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, veteran or military status (including special disabled veteran, Vietnam-era veteran, or recently separated veteran), predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. This list is often referred to as “protected characteristics”. Examples of discrimination include but are not limited to denying a student a research opportunity because of the student’s race, disability, sexual orientation or other protected characteristic; giving a student a lower grade than deserved because of the student’s gender, military service, religion, or other protected characteristic; denying an employee a raise because of the employee’s age, marital status, or other protected characteristic.

B. Harassment
Harassment is unwelcome, offensive conduct that occurs on the basis of race, color, sex, pregnancy, religion, creed, national origin (including ancestry), citizenship status, physical or mental disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, veteran or military status (including special disabled veteran, Vietnam-era veteran, or recently separated veteran), predisposing genetic characteristics, domestic violence victim status, or any other protected category under applicable local, state, or federal law. Sexual harassment is one form of harassment that is characterized by unwelcome conduct that is sexual in nature.

Harassing conduct can occur in various forms, including:
  1. Verbal - such as unwelcome sexually suggestive, demeaning, or graphic comments; using ethnic, racial, religious, or other slurs to refer to a person; or jokes or comments that demean a person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or disability.
  2. Physical - such as unwanted sexual contact; sexual intimidation through physical threats; physical threats toward or intimidation of another on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or disability.
  3. Visual - such as exposing another person to unwanted pornographic images; creating or displaying racially, ethnically, religiously offensive pictures, symbols, cartoons, or graffiti.
  4. Communication-based - such as phone calls, e-mails, text messages, chats, or blogs that offend, demean, or intimidate another on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or disability.
A determination as to whether harassment occurred depends on the totality of the circumstances, including the context of a communication or incident, the relationship of the individuals involved in the communication or incident, whether an incident was an isolated incident or part of a broader pattern or course of offensive conduct, the seriousness or severity of the incident, the intent of the individual who engaged in the allegedly offensive conduct, and its effect or impact on the individual and the learning community. A “hostile environment” is created when the offensive behavior reaches a level of severity or pervasiveness such that it interferes with an individual’s ability to participate in the university’s programs (i.e., to work and to learn) when judged against a reasonable person standard. However, Colgate encourages individuals experiencing or witnessing offensive behavior to make a report as early as possible so as to have the situation corrected before it reaches the level of a hostile environment. Individuals with a concern need not worry about whether the behavior is sufficiently serious to constitute a hostile environment. Colgate may, and in the appropriate circumstances will, take action to respond to offensive behavior even if the behavior does not rise to the level of a hostile environment within the meaning of the law.

The fact that a person was personally offended by a statement or incident does not alone constitute a violation of this policy. The determination as to whether this policy has been violated takes into account the totality of the circumstances. Colgate considers the context of a communication or incident, the relationship of the individuals involved in the communication or incident, whether an incident was an isolated incident or part of a broader pattern or course of offensive conduct, the seriousness or severity of the incident, the intent of the individual who engaged in the allegedly offensive conduct, and its effect or impact on the individual and the community.

In all instances, a key factor is whether the complained-of behavior occurred because of one of the protected characteristics listed here. If it did not, the behavior is not regulated by this policy.

Colgate also prohibits “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, which means “this for that” harassment. It is a violation of this policy for any person to condition any benefit (such as a grade in a class, a research opportunity, a promotion, etc.) on submission to sexual activity. No person should believe that any other person -- no matter their position of authority -- has a right to require sexual activity in exchange for any benefit or advantage; they do not.

Faculty and administrators need to be especially sensitive to the power/authority relation in their interactions with students. Amorous relations between faculty and students, between administrators and students, or between coaches and students, contradict both professional ethics and this policy and are prohibited by Colgate.

C. Sex offenses
Sexual activity or contact must be based on mutual consent to the specific sexual activity.

Consent is knowing, voluntary and clear permission by word or action, by all participants to a sexual activity. Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct.

A person cannot consent if that individual is unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs. An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is physically or mentally incapacitated has violated this policy. It is not an excuse that the individual respondent was intoxicated and, therefore, did not realize the incapacity of the other.

Incapacitation is defined as a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of the sexual interaction). This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability or physical restraint.

Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). A current or previous dating relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent. Further, past consent to engage in sexual activity cannot be presumed to be consent to sexual activity in the future. The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar previous patterns that may be evidenced. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. A person can withdraw consent at any time during sexual activity by expressing in words or actions that he or she no longer wants the act to continue, and, if that happens, the other person must stop immediately.

In New York State, a minor (meaning a person under the age of 17 years) cannot consent to sexual activity. This means that sexual contact by an adult with a person younger than 17 years old is a crime as well as a violation of this policy, even if the minor wanted to engage in the act.

Sex offenses occur between members of the same sex and the opposite sex. In all cases, the issue is not the gender or sexual preference of the individuals involved but rather the activity and whether the parties to the activity knowingly and freely consented to engage in it.
  1. Sexual Misconduct I: The sexual penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, forcibly or without consent or where the victim is incapable of consent due to mental or physical incapacity. Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object, or oral copulation by mouth to genital contact, or genital to mouth contact. Sexual Misconduct I also includes non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent (which in New York is age 17). It should be noted that the university uses the term ‘sexual misconduct’ to address behaviors like rape and sexual assault. The use of this term is not intended to diminish or minimize a victim’s experience, but is instead a recognition that the university has no authority to determine that a crime occurred. The university does not view sexual misconduct as a lesser form of misconduct than rape or sexual assault.
  2. Sexual Misconduct II: Any intentional sexual contact, however slight, with an object or bodily part, by a person upon another person that is without consent. This includes any bodily contact with the breasts, groin, genitals, mouth or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner. Sexual Misconduct II also includes any disrobing of another or unwelcome exposure from one person to another without consent.
  3. Sexual Exploitation: When one takes non-consensual sexual advantage of another. Examples of sexual exploitation include but are not limited to observing or recording others engaged in sexual or private activity (such as undressing or showering) without the consent of all involved; or taking intimate pictures of another but then distributing the pictures to others without the photographed person’s consent or in a way that exceeds the bounds of consent; or exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances; or engaging in sexual activity with another while knowingly infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) without informing the other person of such infection.

D. Dating violence
Dating violence refers to a pattern of behavior in which an individual uses physical violence (hitting, punching, kicking, etc.), coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation or other forms of emotional, sexual, verbal and/or economic abuse to control their current or former intimate partner. Intimate partner violence can occur within heterosexual and same sex relationships, and can happen to a person of any gender.

E. Stalking
Stalking is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking behavior may include but is not limited to repeated, intentional following, observing or lying in wait for another; or using “spyware” or other electronic means to gain impermissible access to a person’s private information; repeated, unwanted, intrusive, and frightening communications from the perpetrator by phone, mail, email, text, etc.; making direct or indirect threats to harm an individual or the individual’s relatives, friends, or pets; damaging or threatening to damage the property of the targeted individual.

F. Domestic violence
Domestic violence refers to physical violence, or other forms of emotional, sexual, verbal and/or economic abuse between spouses or former spouses, cohabitating romantic partners or individuals who were formerly cohabitating romantic partners, individuals who share a child in common, or others in a family relationship.

Acts of sexual harassment, sex offenses, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, gender, sexual orientation and/or gender identity of those involved. The issue in any case is not the gender or gender identity of the persons involved but the acts.

G. Hate Crimes
For the purpose of this policy, a “hate crime” is defined as violence to a person or damage to property (or a threat to do so) or any other criminal act that is motivated entirely or partly by hostility toward or intolerance of another’s race, color, religion, creed, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, military or veteran status, age, disability, or any other personal characteristic protected by law.

The following example demonstrates the difference between a crime and a hate crime. A student who selects a car at random in a campus parking lot and smashes the windshield has committed criminal mischief. A student who is biased against Muslims and smashes a windshield because he or she knows that the car belongs to a Muslim student has likewise committed criminal mischief. However, this second incident is also a hate crime because the student was motivated by anti-Muslim bias.

Federal and state laws prohibit hate crimes, and hate crimes often result in enhanced criminal penalties. Students who commit hate crimes are subject to criminal prosecution in addition to discipline pursuant to this policy. The criminal process is separate and distinct from this policy. The fact that a criminal complaint has been filed, prosecuted, or dismissed will not prevent Colgate from pursuing disciplinary action.

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IV. Responding to Incidents

Any person who has been subjected to a violation of this policy is encouraged to understand their options and to seek out the support they need.

A. Confidential support resources
Victims are encouraged to seek support for their emotional and physical needs. A person seeking confidential emotional or healthcare may contact the following resources.

Students may contact:
Employees may contact:
A report to a confidential resource listed above is not a report to the university and will not result in remedial action or an investigation or disciplinary action. Information shared with the university’s counseling center, student health center, and the university’s chaplains will not be shared with the Title IX Coordinator or the EGP Panel, unless the complainant requests this. Confidential resources are there to support emotional, physical and spiritual needs only; any person who desires for the university to take investigatory/disciplinary action must make a report to one of the Responsible Administrators, listed below.

B. Responsible administrators
The following offices and individuals have been trained to receive and respond to allegations of violations of this policy:
If a report is made to anyone other than the Responsible Administrators listed above, the complainant risks the possibility that the information will not come to the attention of the proper University officials and may, therefore, not be acted upon.
  1. What happens after contacting a Responsible Administrator.
    A Responsible Administrator will discuss with the complainant available avenues and options. A complainant may be able to take advantage of multiple options simultaneously. Options include contacting local law enforcement (if the incident involves a crime) and/or a disciplinary proceeding against the accused and/or mediation, in appropriate circumstances. (See Equity Grievance Process). In situations where the complainant’s well-being requires, other options may include interim changes in class assignments, residence hall assignments, transportation arrangements, or work assignments to assist the complainant in not having to interact with the accused, or other measures to enhance the complainant’s safety, such as escorts or increased monitoring of an area. The university will review the facts and circumstances of each case, as well the complainant’s wishes, in deciding whether and what steps are reasonable and appropriate.

  2. How information is shared within the university.
    A Responsible Administrator is not a confidential resource. A Responsible Administrator will share all reported information with the Title IX Coordinator. Information may be shared with others within the university on a need-to-know basis.

  3. How confidentiality and decisions about taking action are handled.
    A report to a Responsible Administrator often does, but need not necessarily, lead to an investigation or disciplinary action. The decision about what action(s) to take depend on many factors, including the complainant’s wishes, particularly in cases of sexual misconduct. A complainant may make a report to a Responsible Administrator and request that the university take no investigatory or disciplinary action. The university endeavors to comply with complainants’ wishes with respect to whether responsive action is taken. However, that is not always possible.

    If a complainant requests that no action be taken against the accused (i.e., no investigation or disciplinary action), the Responsible Administrator will consult with the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Director for EE/AA (for cases involving staff), and the appropriate EGP Co-Chair(s). The university’s decision as to responsive action will depend on the seriousness of the offense, whether there was a single perpetrator or multiple, whether there is reason to believe that the accused has engaged in this or similar conduct previously, whether the circumstances suggest an ongoing or future risk to the campus community or the complainant, and similar considerations. A decision will be made and shared with the complainant. Ultimately, the university retains the right to act upon any information that comes to its attention.

    Similarly, a complainant may desire to have investigatory and/or disciplinary action taken, but may wish to have his/her identity as the complainant kept confidential. Depending on the circumstances, this may or may not be possible. If any number of people could have reported the incident, it may be possible for the complainant’s identity to remain confidential and not shared with the respondent. However, in other cases, it may not be possible to proceed with investigatory or disciplinary action without revealing the identity of the complainant. If a complainant requests that his/her name be kept confidential (or if the complainant makes an anonymous complaint), the university’s ability to respond to the complaint may be limited. The appropriate administrators will discuss the situation and the complainant’s request for confidentiality, and a decision will be made and shared with the complainant. Ultimately, the university retains the right to act upon any information that comes to its attention.

    In its annual report of campus crime statistics, the university must also report statistics concerning the occurrence on campus of certain crimes, including certain sex offenses. This statistical report does not include any personally identifiable information concerning the victim or the accused. Similarly, if Colgate issues a timely warning pursuant to the Clery Act to warn the campus community about a perceived immediate threat, the warning issued will not include any personally identifying information concerning a victim.

    Records concerning reports, investigations and disciplinary proceedings pursuant to this policy will be kept in private, secure files and only individuals with a legitimate right to know will be permitted access.

  4. Interim actions may be available.
    Interim actions may be taken by the university to immediately respond to a situation while an investigation or disciplinary action is pending or ongoing. Interim actions may include but are not limited to offering adjustments to academic deadlines and course schedules for students; altering work arrangements for employees; referral to counseling and health services or to the Employee Assistance Program; providing campus escorts; implementing no-contact orders directing the accused to have no contact with the complainant; altering the housing situation of one or more of the involved students, or imposing temporary suspensions from housing or the entire campus, pending the outcome of a disciplinary proceeding.
There is no time limit for making a report. However, the passage of time may make effective responsive action difficult. Further, if the respondent is no longer a member of the university community, the university’s ability to respond may be limited. Individuals with a concern are encouraged to make a report promptly.

Please refer to the Equity Grievance Process for detailed information about Colgate’s investigatory and disciplinary action. You may also contact the Title IX Coordinator, the Director for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, or an Equity Grievance Panel member to discuss how the Equity Grievance Policy and Equity Grievance Process work. You need not disclose information about a specific incident in order to obtain general information about Colgate’s policies and procedures.

C. Law enforcement
Any person may call 911 or Campus Safety (315-228-7911) for immediate safety assistance. If you or someone else needs help, call for immediate assistance.

Campus Safety can also assist the individual in making a report of a crime to local law enforcement and/or contacting a Responsible Administrator to initiate the university’s internal response mechanisms.

A victim of a crime is encouraged to, but is not required to, report the incident to local law enforcement and pursue criminal charges. The criminal process and the university’s disciplinary processes are not mutually exclusive or dependent on each other, meaning that a person may pursue either a criminal complaint or university complaint or both. The fact that there is a criminal complaint filed will not prevent the university from taking its own internal investigatory and disciplinary action. However, in some cases, the university may delay temporarily its internal processes while a law enforcement investigation is ongoing.

In criminal cases, the preservation of evidence is critical and must be done properly and promptly. For example, in cases of rape or other forms of sexual assault, it is important not to shower, change clothes and even brush your hair, as physical evidence may be lost. In cases of violence or physical abuse, it is important to document injuries, including by taking photographs. Campus Safety or the Hamilton Police Department (315-824-3311, or 911 in an emergency) can assist in filing a criminal complaint and in securing appropriate physical examination, including by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Additionally, orders of protection and other forms of legal protection may be available to individuals who have experienced or are threatened with violence by another person. Colgate will abide by all legally issued orders of protection, including denying the restricted person access to Colgate’s property, if necessary.

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V. Retaliation

Retaliation is defined as any adverse action taken against a person for participating in a protected activity. Retaliation against an individual for reporting a complaint or concern about a violation or suspected violation of this policy, supporting a complainant, or for assisting in providing information in the context of an investigation or disciplinary proceeding pursuant to this policy is a serious violation of Colgate’s policy and will be subject to discipline pursuant to this policy and the Equity Grievance Process. Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the associate provost for equity and diversity or to a member of the Equity Grievance Panel and will be promptly investigated. Colgate is prepared to take appropriate steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.

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VI. Disability Accommodations

Colgate University is committed to full compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and its amendments, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the New York State Human Rights Law, which prohibit discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities, as well as other federal and state laws pertaining to individuals with disabilities.

The director for EEO/AA has been designated as the ADA Coordinator responsible for coordinating efforts to comply with these disability laws, including investigation of any employee complaint alleging noncompliance. The Equity Grievance Process covers claims of disability-related harassment and discrimination. Disability accommodation requests are handled separately from the Equity Grievance process.

Procedures for requesting accommodations are described elsewhere in the Faculty, Staff, and Student Handbooks. Employee requests for disability-related accommodations should be made to the employee’s supervisor and/or the director for EEO/AA. Student requests for accommodations should be directed to the director of academic support and disability services.

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VII. Role of Academic Inquiry

Colgate encourages intellectual inquiry and debate and the open discussion of differing viewpoints in formal and informal settings. This policy is not intended to stifle academic exchange even when it may be offensive to some. Ideas offered in the course of respectful, responsible teaching, learning, working and academic debate are not violations of this policy.

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VIII. Designation of Authority

Any person assigned a role pursuant to this policy may designate his/her authority to another appropriate person to avoid conflicts of interest or in other circumstances, as deemed necessary.

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IX. Policy Enforcement

The person responsible for the implementation of this policy internally is:
Marilyn “Lyn” Rugg, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity & Title IX Coordinator
The Office of Equity and Diversity
102 Lathrop Hall
Colgate University
13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346

Phone: 315-228-6161

Inquiries and complaints may be made externally to:
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100

Customer Service Hotline: 800-421-3481
Fax: 202-453-6012
TDD: 877-521-2172
E-mail: OCR@ed.gov
Web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr