• Employment and HR


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    Policy Against Discriminatory and Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Other Forms of Sexual Violence, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence and Stalking


    Approved: June 16, 2014


    I. Introduction and Statement of Policy

    As a Catholic and Franciscan institution of higher education, Franciscan University stands with the Catholic Church in seeing "in men and women, in every person, the living image of God himself. This image finds, and must always find anew, an even deeper and fuller unfolding of itself in the mystery of Christ...and [the Church] invites all people to recognize in everyone...a brother or sister 'for whom Christ died." (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church # 105). This understanding is the basis for the University's commitment to promote and to defend the human dignity of all persons as Franciscan University strives to provide a learning, working, and living environment free from all forms of unlawful discrimination, discriminatory or sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence. Unlawful discrimination, harassment and sexual violence subvert the mission of our University, strike against the University’s Catholic and Franciscan values, and threaten the careers, educational experience, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff.

    All students, faculty and staff at the University have the right to expect an environment that allows them to enjoy the full benefits of their work or learning experience. It is, therefore, the policy of Franciscan that no member of the University community may engage in conduct which discriminates against or harasses another individual or group on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, veteran’s status or any other criteria protected by applicable law. Likewise, Franciscan prohibits conduct which constitutes sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking as those terms are defined below.

    This policy shall apply equally to all employees and students of the University and to all programs, activities and functions of the University. Visitors to and guests of the University are also expected to abide by this policy. All members of the University community, especially faculty, staff managers and other individuals who exercise supervisory authority, have an obligation to promote an environment free from conduct which conflicts with this policy. Members of the University community who are aware of conduct that violates this policy, whether they observe the conduct directly or otherwise learn about it, are expected to report it to one of the individuals listed under Section VII below (“Prompt Reporting”). All “responsible employees” (as defined in Section III below ) are obligated by this policy to report such conduct to one of the persons listed under Section VII to assure that the matter is handled promptly and appropriately by trained personnel and that appropriate corrective and remedial actions are taken, including interim measures. Any faculty member, student, staff employee, vendor or visitor found to have violated this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective action. The corrective and/or disciplinary action will depend on the circumstances and the gravity of the violation, and may range from reprimand to dismissal, or termination. The University will also take steps, if and as appropriate, to remedy the effects of the violation for the complainant and the University community as may be necessary, and to prevent recurrence of the violation.

    The intent of this policy is to prohibit unlawful discrimination, discriminatory and sexual harassment, sexual assault and violence, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, and to promote the full realization of equal opportunity while preserving the religious nature of Franciscan University as Catholic and Franciscan as prescribed in the University's By-Laws and Mission Statement. It is understood that nothing in this policy will undermine the integrity of Franciscan University as a Catholic University. Therefore, no oral or written statement that is in conformity with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church shall be deemed as violating this policy, and no absence of a statement, oral or written, when such silence is again in accord with Catholic teaching, shall be deemed a violation of this policy. Finally, the approved policies of academic freedom shall be respected and are understood to be consistent with the implementation of this policy.


    II. Title IX/EEO Coordinators

    The Title IX/EEO Coordinator and Deputy Coordinators are responsible for, among other things, overseeing complaints brought forward under this policy to assure that these matters are being handled appropriately and effectively, and for identifying and addressing patterns of misconduct and systemic problems. They also serve as resources available to anyone seeking additional information about the processes under this policy, about other resources that may be available to victims of misconduct covered by this policy, or who wish to file a complaint of an alleged violation of this policy.

    The Executive Director of Human Resources, Brenan Pergi, serves as the Title IX/EEO Coordinator. His contact information is as follows:

    • Email: bpergi@franciscan.edu
    • Phone: (740) 283-6445
    • Address: 1235 University Boulevard, Steubenville, OH 43952
    • Office Location: Room 114, Starvaggi Hall

    The Assistant Vice President of Student Life, Catherine Heck, serves as Deputy Title IX/EEO Coordinator:

    • Email: check@franciscan.edu
    • Phone: (740) 283-6498
    • Address: 1235 University Boulevard, Steubenville, OH 43952
    • Office Location: J. C. Williams Center

    The Title IX/EEO Coordinators also coordinate the University’s compliance efforts and carry out its responsibilities under this policy and under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans With Disabilities Act, as well as all other applicable non-discrimination laws and regulations.

    Inquiries may also be directed to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education.


    III. Definitions

    Discrimination means differential treatment of a person or group on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, or veteran’s status (or any other criteria protected by applicable law).

    Discriminatory Harassment means conduct which creates an intimidating or hostile living, learning or working environment at Franciscan on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, or veteran’s status (or any other criteria protected by applicable law). It includes oral, written, physical, or graphic conduct which substantially interferes with an individual’s work, education, or participation in University programs or activities.

    Sexual Harassment: For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment may include any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other unwelcome visual, physical, verbal or written conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment may be found in a single episode as well as in persistent behavior. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual conduct when:

    • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or participation in University programs or activities, or
    • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions pertaining to an individual’s employment, education, or participation in University programs or activities; or
    • such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance; or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working and/or learning environment; or interfering with one’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.

    Sexual Violence: Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment and it includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. Sexual coercion is the act of using pressure or force to have sexual contact with someone who has already refused.

    Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is also a form of sexual harassment, and it includes any type of sexual activity perpetrated against a person’s will, where that person does not give clear and voluntary consent or where the person is incapable of giving consent due to drug or alcohol use or due to intellectual or other disabilities.

    Dating Violence: Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Whether there was such a relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.

    Domestic Violence: Domestic violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the state.

    Stalking: The term “stalking” means 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 to suffer substantial emotional distress.

    Consent: Sexual activity requires consent, which is defined as positive, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter. Consent cannot be inferred from the absence of a “no”; a clear “yes,” verbal or otherwise, is necessary. Consent to some sexual acts does not imply consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act imply present or future consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time. Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. A person is mentally or physically incapacitated when that person lacks the ability to make or act on considered decisions to engage in sexual activity. Engaging in sexual activity with a person whom you know – or reasonably should know – to be incapacitated constitutes sexual misconduct.

    Consensual sexual activity that is lewd, indecent, obscene or otherwise immoral, while not necessarily a violation of this policy is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

    Responsible Employee: A “responsible employee” for purposes of this Policy includes all Franciscan University employees except the professional counselors in the University Counseling Center, priests, and other designated pastoral personnel including pastoral associates, pastoral ministers, and chaplains. Responsible employees under this Policy have an obligation to promptly report incidents of sexual violence or other types of misconduct prohibited by this Policy to one of the persons listed under Section VII. The report should include all relevant details about the alleged incident that a student or another person has shared with the responsible employee, including the names of the alleged perpetrator (if known), the student or other member of the campus community who experienced the alleged misconduct, others involved in the incident as well as the date, time and location of the incident. Before a student reveals this type of information to a responsible employee, the responsible employee should make every effort to ensure that the student understands the employee’s reporting obligation and the student’s option to request that the University maintain his or her confidentiality (which request would be considered by the Title IX Coordinator), and the student’s ability to share the information confidentially with certain individuals on campus (such as the counselors in the University Counseling Center and priests and pastoral counselors) or with off-campus sexual assault resource centers, advocates, and health care providers.


    IV. Rights and Responsibilities Under this Policy

    Violations of this policy can occur between members of opposite sexes and/or members of the same sex. Although sexual harassment often involves a supervisory employment relationship or teacher/student relationship, it can also be committed by a student against a faculty member, by an employee against a supervisor, by a member of one’s peer group, or by a contractor, vendor or other visitor to the University community. A hostile environment can also be created by the actions of more than one person or a group. Every member of the Franciscan University community has both rights and responsibilities under this Policy.

         A.      Students reporting incidents of alleged sexual violence sometimes ask that the students’ names not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrators or that no investigation or disciplinary action be pursued to address the alleged sexual violence. In such cases, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the student that honoring the request may limit the University’s ability to respond fully to the incident, including pursuing disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator, and will explain that this Policy and the law include protections against retaliation. If the student still requests that his or her name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator or that the University not investigate or seek action against the alleged perpetrator, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether or not the University can honor such a request while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including the student who reported the incident of alleged sexual violence.


    V. Retaliation Prohibited

    It is a violation of this policy and the law to retaliate against any individual who brings a complaint under this policy or who cooperates with or otherwise participates in the investigation or resolution of a complaint under this policy. Franciscan University will take steps to prevent retaliation and will also take strong responsive action if the University finds that retaliation has occurred.


    VI. Statement on Consensual Relationships

    A consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship between an employee (including faculty and staff) and a student with whom they also have an academic, supervisory or evaluative relationship or between an employee and his or her subordinate are prohibited at Franciscan University. Such relationships present the potential for exploitation. Employees must be mindful that the authority which they exercise in their interactions with students and subordinates may affect the decision of a student or a subordinate to enter into or end a romantic or sexual relationship. Even when both parties initially have consented, the development of a romantic or sexual relationship renders both the employee and the institution vulnerable to possible later allegations of sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct in light of the significant power differential that exists between faculty members and students and supervisors and subordinates.


    VII. Prompt Reporting

    All “responsible employees” as defined in Section III above are obligated by this policy to report such conduct to one of the persons listed below to assure that the matter is handled promptly and appropriately by trained personnel and that appropriate corrective and remedial actions may be taken as warranted, including interim measures. Prompt reporting of such incidents enhances the ability of the University to promptly remedy violations of this policy and to prevent their recurrence.

    Alleged violations of this policy should be reported directly to the Title IX/EEO Coordinator (740-283-6445, Starvaggi Hall Room 114) or to the Deputy Title IX/EEO Coordinator (740-283-6498, J.C. Williams Center) listed under Section II above. In addition, alleged violations of this policy may be reported to one of the following individuals:

    • Director of Campus Security: 740-283-6911 (Assisi Heights Security Office)
    • Vice President of Student Life 740-283-6513 (J.C. Williams Center)
    • Vice President for Academic Affairs 740-283-6228 (Egan Hall)
    • Residence Director on Call 740-317-1023

    Individuals receiving a complaint or report of an alleged violation of this policy shall forward the complaint or report to the Title IX/EEO Coordinator (740-283-6445, Starvaggi Hall Room 114) as promptly as possible for oversight and appropriate handling.

    Except for the situations described in Section IV.A above, the Title IX/EEO Coordinator or designee will notify the relevant division vice president as soon as possible after receiving the complaint or other form of report and will provide the alleged perpetrator (hereafter referred to as “respondent”), the complainant, and the relevant division vice president with a copy of the complaint along with a copy of this policy.


    VIII. Interim Measures

    At any time after receiving notice of an allegation of sexual violence, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or other forms of sexual misconduct, the University will take steps to ensure equal access to its education programs and activities and to protect the complainant as necessary, including taking interim measures before the final outcome of an investigation. The Title IX Coordinator will notify the complainant of his/her options to avoid contact with the alleged perpetrator and allow the complainant to change academic and extracurricular activities or his/her living, transportation, dining, and working situation as appropriate. The Title IX Coordinator will also notify the complainant of available resources (such as counseling services, medical and mental health services, victim advocacy services) and of the right to report a crime to local law enforcement.


    IX. Other Available Resources

    An individual who has experienced sexual violence, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or other forms of sexual misconduct is encouraged to:

    • Notify local law enforcement officials:
      • Steubenville Police Department:      740-283-6090
        123 South 3rd Street
        Steubenville, OH 43952
      • Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department:      740-283-8600
        16001 Ohio Route 7
        Steubenville, OH 43952
       
    • Seek medical attention:
      • Franciscan University Health Center:      740-284-7223
        Lower Level of Finnegan Fieldhouse
        1235 University Boulevard
        Steubenville, OH 43952
      • Trinity West Medical Center:      740-264-8000
        4000 Johnson Rd.
        Steubenville, OH 43952
      • Weirton Medical Center:      304-797-6000
        601 Colliers Way
        Weirton, WV 26062
       
    • Seek confidential counseling and/or support:
      • ranciscan University Counseling Center:      740-284-7217
        Lower Level of Finnegan Fieldhouse
        1235 University Boulevard
        Steubenville, OH 43952
      • Franciscan University Chaplain’s Office:      740-283-6276
        Christ the King Chapel
        1235 University Boulevard
        Steubenville, OH 43952
       
    • Seek other external services or support:
      • American Red Cross of Jefferson County:      740-264-7244
        81 Talbott Dr.
        Wintersville, OH 43953
      • Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Assault:      888-886-8388
      • A.L.I.V.E., Inc.:      740-283-3444
       

    X. Preservation of Evidence

    An individual who has been sexually or physically assaulted should do everything possible to preserve any evidence of the incident as the evidence may assist with the investigation and/or serve as proof of a crime.


    XI. Options/Processes for Resolution

    Individuals who believe that they have been subjected to alleged violations of this policy will be informed about options for resolving potential violations. These options include informal dispute resolution, referral to other University offices (where appropriate), and formal resolution pursuant to this policy.

    Where the individual against whom an allegation is made is a student of Franciscan, cases will be referred to the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Student Life and will be handled through the process described in the University’s Code of Student Conduct, which is set forth in section IV of the Student Code of Conduct and can be found at the following link: http://www.franciscan.edu/StudentLife/Default.aspx?id=164. In addition, the general principles described in numbered paragraphs 1 through 7 and 10-11 in Subpart C below shall also apply to student cases. Where the respondent is a faculty or staff member, cases are handled through the process described below. Where the respondent has dual status or where there are multiple respondents with varying statuses, the University has discretion to determine whether to pursue the matter under the Code of Student Conduct or under the process described below. Where the respondent is a vendor/contractor or visitor, the University is not required to follow either the process described below or in the Code of Student Conduct. In such cases, the University reserves the right to take summary action.

    Certain forms of sexual assault and violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking may constitute criminal conduct. Whether or not someone who has been subjected to such conduct chooses to pursue criminal charges externally, they have the right to pursue an internal complaint under this policy, regardless of the status of any external proceedings. Further, the University may have an obligation to pursue an investigation, or make a complaint and/or take remedial action directly even if a victim chooses not to pursue the matter internally at the University and/or requests that his/her name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator. See Section IV-A above.


         A.      Initiation of the Process under this Policy

    The Title IX/EEO Coordinator (or deputy coordinator) will initiate the process under this policy by notifying the respondent that a complaint has been filed against him/her and inform the respondent of the nature of the complaint, providing a written copy or a summary of the complaint to the respondent.

    The Title IX/EEO Coordinator (or deputy coordinator) shall explain to both parties the avenues for informal and formal action, including a description of the process and the relevant avenues of redress to the complainant and the respondent and provide each of them with a copy of this policy.

    The Title IX/EEO Coordinator (or deputy coordinator) shall have the authority to take all reasonable and prudent interim measures to protect the parties pending completion of the investigation and during the informal or formal procedures to resolve the complaint, including interim disciplinary measures if necessary and appropriate. For example, if, prior to resolution of a complaint under this policy, a student who is a victim of sexual assault/violence, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking, is concerned about the safety of his/her living situation and lives in a university residence hall, the student may request to be moved to an alternate location. The University may also assist with reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations where possible. See Section VIII above for a more detailed discussion of interim measures.

    In the handling of inquiries and complaints under this policy, the University will protect confidentiality to the extent consistent with the University’s legal obligations to take all reasonable steps to protect the welfare of the University community. See also Section IV-A above.


         B.      Procedures for Informal Resolution:

    The University encourages informal resolution when the parties desire to resolve the situation cooperatively. Informal resolution may include inquiries into the facts, but does not typically rise to the level of a formal investigation. The informal resolution process is designed to resolve complaints quickly, efficiently, and to the mutual satisfaction of all parties involved. Where circumstances allow, the informal process will be initiated as soon as possible after the filing of the complaint or receipt of a report of an alleged violation, absent any unusual circumstances.

    Informal resolution includes, but is not limited to, options such as referral to another campus office or program, mediation, separation of the parties, referral of the parties to counseling programs, conducting educational and/or training programs, or other remedial measures. Situations that are resolved through informal resolution are usually subject to follow up after a period of time. Steps taken by the office of the Title IX/EEO Coordinator to help the parties achieve informal resolution will be documented.

    Some reports of alleged violations of this policy may not be appropriate for informal resolution, but may require a formal investigation at the discretion of the Title IX/EEO Coordinator. The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education has taken the position that face-to-face mediation is not an appropriate mechanism for resolution in cases of alleged sexual assault/sexual violence.

    Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to bypass or end the informal complaint process at any time in order to begin the formal complaint process.


         C.      Procedures for Formal Complaint Process:

    If the allegation of alleged violation of this policy has not been resolved as a result of the informal process or is not suited for informal efforts, or if either the complainant or the respondent request to invoke the formal complaint process, a formal investigation will be initiated.

    In such cases, unless a written complaint has already been submitted, the individual making the report (the “complainant”) should file a written, signed complaint containing the relevant allegations against a person (the “respondent”). The complaint shall be submitted to the Title IX/EEO Coordinator (or deputy coordinator) who will manage the formal process.

    The following general principles and procedures shall govern this process:

    1. All persons concerned are to be treated with respect and impartiality.
    2. Procedures are to be fair, both in substance and in perception, to all persons concerned and to the University community.
    3. The Title IX/EEO Coordinator (or deputy coordinator) shall provide the respondent with a copy of the written complaint.
    4. The investigation of all formal complaints generally includes interviews of (i) the complainant, (ii) the respondent, and (iii) any witnesses as needed; and (iv) review of relevant documents as appropriate. Disclosure of facts to non-party witnesses shall be limited to what is reasonably necessary to conduct a fair and thorough investigation.
    5. Both the complainant and respondent will be given an opportunity to be heard, to provide documentation and other evidence, and to suggest the names of other persons who they believe might have relevant information.
    6. At any time during the investigation, the Title IX/EEO Coordinator may recommend interim protections or remedies be provided by University officials. These protections and remedies may include (but are not limited to) separating the parties, placing limitations on contact between the parties, or making alternative workplace, housing, extracurricular or academic arrangements where reasonable and feasible. See Section VIII above regarding Interim Measures. Failure to comply with the terms of interim protections may be considered a separate violation of this policy.
    7. The investigation shall be completed as promptly as possible and in most cases within 60 working days of the original complaint. In the event that the investigation cannot be completed within 60 days, the parties shall be notified in writing.
    8. After concluding the investigation, the Title IX/EEO Coordinator (or designee) will record findings and recommendations in a written report. In making findings, the “preponderance of the evidence standard” (i.e., more likely than not) will be used. The complainant and respondent will be informed that the investigation has been completed and will receive a copy of the written report.
    9. The Title IX/EEO Coordinator shall recommend appropriate remedial action (which may include disciplinary action against the respondent) in accordance with the provisions of this policy and other applicable University policies and procedures. The Title IX/EEO Coordinator’s findings and recommendations shall be submitted to the appropriate vice president(s) of the divisions where the complainant and respondent are located. Final decisions in cases where a staff employee is the respondent shall be made by the relevant Divisional Vice President. In cases where a faculty member or other instructional employee is the respondent, final decisions shall be made by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. If the proposed action by the Vice President for Academic Affairs includes suspension or dismissal of a tenured faculty member, the matter will be referred to the President, who will decide whether to initiate the process set forth in the Faculty Handbook for imposition of such a sanction. The decisions and recommended actions of the relevant Vice Presidents and the President, where applicable, will be communicated in writing to the Title IX/EEO Coordinator and to the complainant and respondent.
    10. Appropriate disciplinary and remedial actions will be implemented on a case- by-case basis for violations of this policy. The University will take appropriate steps to prevent recurrence of any violations of this policy and to remediate the effects on the complainant and the campus community, if appropriate.
    11. No person shall make an allegation that he/she knows to be untrue or knowingly provide false information during the course of an investigation. Making a false complaint or knowingly giving false information is a violation of this policy and may be a basis for discipline, up to and including termination from employment or dismissal from school.

    XII. Education, Awareness and Prevention

    Educational efforts are essential to maintaining a campus environment that is free of the forms of misconduct addressed by this policy. There are multiple goals to be achieved through education, awareness and prevention programs: (i) ensuring that all employees and students are aware of and understand their rights and responsibilities under this policy, (ii) notifying members of the University community of the types of conduct forbidden by this policy and how to reduce the risk of exposure to such conduct; (iii) informing administrators, faculty and staff about their obligations when they receive a report and/or observe conduct that may be in violation of this policy. The Student Life Division, the Human Resources Department, Campus Security, the University Health Center, and the University Counseling Center offer a variety of programs on sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking and awareness and prevention with respect to such misconduct.

    For more information about those programs, see http://www.franciscan.edu/Security/.


    XII. Policy Dissemination:

    The Title IX /EEO Coordinator is responsible for distributing copies of this policy to all employees and students of the University. In addition, this policy will be placed on the University website.


    XIV. Recordkeeping:

    The Title IX/EEO Coordinator is responsible for maintaining records relating to reports, investigations, and resolutions of all alleged violations of this policy.

    Requests for information about this policy should be directed to the Title IX/EEO Coordinator.

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