Policy and procedures on bias-related incidents of discrimination and harassment

See also: Bias Matters Response Team or BMRT (formerly known as the Racial Misconduct Response Team)

Statement of Policy

To fulfill our commitment to provide equal opportunity in education and employment, Goshen College provides an environment that supports cross-cultural connection and communication.

Goshen College does not condone and will not tolerate bias-related acts toward any individual based on a person’s race, color, ethnicity/ancestry, national origin, sex, gender identity/expression, religion/creed, disability, age, citizenship status or genetic information.

This policy ensures the understanding that bias-related discrimination and harassment is unacceptable and prohibited. All members of the campus community are encouraged to reflect upon the issue of bias-related incidents as it directly affects the lives and conducts of others.

Such bias-related incidents include but are not limited to inappropriate and biased comments, slurs, jokes, pictures, objects, threats, physical assaults, intimidation, unequal application of policies, and unequal or biased grading. This encompasses offensiveness and conduct that does not reach the level of (for example), racism, but  that is sufficiently severe and pervasive that it rises to the level of harassment or discrimination.

Talking Points on the Policy Statement

Talking Points on the Policy Statement:

    • As explained in the Goshen College Mission Statement and the Commitment to Community Standards, Goshen College is a Christian institution dedicated to fostering a spirit of hospitality recognizing all persons as children of God. In line with this understanding, which expresses our commitment to a quality campus life for every member of our community, Goshen College affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities in education and employment.
    • Goshen College is intentional in creating an educational community that values the full diversity of all its community members.
    • Toward this commitment, and in compliance with applicable laws, Goshen College strives to provide an environment free of inappropriate treatment of individuals because of race, color, ethnicity/ancestry, national origin, sex, gender identity/expression, religion/creed, disability, age, citizenship status or genetic information. This policy applies to students, teaching and administrative faculty, staff, and all others, including visitors, vendors, guests, prospective students, and members of the public.
    • Outside contractors, vendors, and others who do business with the College or enter College premises are expected to comply with this policy and ensure that their agents comply with this policy; the College will take appropriate action if they fail to do so. The College, for example, may suspend or terminate a contract if the contractor fails to correct a bias-related act, incident or misconduct problem that appropriate college officials have brought to its attention. Furthermore, the College, if it determines that a contractor has failed to take appropriate action or has shown a tolerance for any activity which in the belief of the College constitutes bias-related discrimination or harassment, may bar the contractor from holding future contracts with the College.

Examples of Bias-Related Acts or Incidents

  • Unwelcome comments and conduct with connotation(s) or subject matter that are demeaning to a racial/ethnic group, a religion or faith tradition,  people with disabilities, or people of a particular gender identity/expression or sex;
  • Offensive and vulgar jokes, name-calling, displaying photographs or objects; ridicule or mockery, physical gestures or enactments, insults or put-downs, or stereotyping based on a person’s race, skin color, ethnicity, or national origin, religion, disability, sex or gender identity/expression;
  • Suggestions or express/implied communications that aspects of the protected identities referenced above (i.e. race, sex, gender identity/expression, disability, religion, etc.) will affect decisions regarding such matters as employment, work assignment or status, academic standing, grades, receipt of financial aid, or letters of recommendation, or receipt of a Goshen College benefit or service;
  • The actual use of protected classes referenced above (i.e. race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, etc.  to affect decisions regarding such matters as employment, work assignment or status, academic standing, grades, receipt of financial aid, or letters of recommendation, or receipt of a Goshen College benefit or service;
  • Physical assaults or threats and intimidation;
  • Denial or obstruction of access to services;
  • Unequal application of college policies;
  • Any other bias-related act or incident that substantially or unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance.

Goshen College Procedures for Addressing Complaints of Bias-Related Discrimination and Harassment

This provides a complaint procedure for any member of the Goshen College community to make a complaint of a bias-related act or incident and describes the process by which the College will respond to the complaint, including referral of individuals to appropriate resources, impartial investigation, determination of whether the complaint is substantiated, and imposition of consequences when appropriate.

In addition to the procedure provided in this document, Goshen College will take steps to prevent bias-related incidents of discrimination or harassment by:

  • Integrating into Goshen College’s curriculum, staff training, and community programming initiatives designed to promote equity and prevent bias-related acts and incidents.
  • Explore issues, events, and attitudes relating to equity and bias-related acts and incidents at Goshen College.
  • Goshen College Campus Ministries and Counseling are points of support. Communication with these staff will not lead to formal institutional response unless the student requests such action.

Reporting Bias-Related Incidents

1.  Reporting bias-related act by a student

If someone experiences a bias-related act from a student, complaints for formal institutional action need to be directed to the Bias Matters Response Team or BMRT (formerly known as the Racial Misconduct Response Team). Response team members include:

Amy Budd

Assistant Professor of Theater

Julia Danner

Admissions Counselor

Trisha Handrich

Major Gift Officer

Dr. LaKendra Hardware

Director of Diversity
Equity & Inclusion

Kelsey McLane

Good Library Services Specialist

David Lind

Professor of Sociology

Kathy Nofziger

Gift Receipting & Report Manager

Kris Polega

Security Officer

Kevin Shultz

Residence Director

Regina Shands Stoltzfus

Professor of Peace
Justice and Conflict Studies

Other resources for support include:

2.  Reporting possible bias-related act by an employee, outside contractor, or visitor:

a) Students shall report alleged bias-related by a faculty member, staff member, outside contractor, or visitor to one of the members of the Bias Matters Response Team (BMRT). The following procedures shall apply according to the status of the person accused of a bias-related act or incident:

  • Employee–The Director of Human Resources shall collaborate with the investigation if an employee is accused, or the Vice President for Finance will be informed if the Director of Human Resources is the person accused. The Vice President for Finance, direct supervisor and the Vice President responsible for the employee’s department will be notified. The investigation will be led by the Director of Human Resources, assisted by a member of the Bias Matters Response Team. The Director of Human Resources shall report the findings and recommended action to the employee’s supervisor and appropriate Vice President, who will make the final decision.
  • Campus visitor or outside contractor—the Dean of Students shall be informed of the report if a campus visitor or outside contractor is accused, and shall inform the Vice President for Finance of the alleged bias-related incident.

b) Employees

  • Employees shall report alleged bias-related act by another employee, outside contractor, or visitor to the Director of Human Resources, or the Vice President for Finance if the Director of Human Resources is the person accused. Reports will be managed as outlined in the Employee Handbook. The Director of Human Resources or designee will conduct an investigation, and recommendations on disciplinary action or sanctions, if any, of an employee will be forwarded for review and approval by the supervisor and appropriate Vice President of the employee. The Vice President for Finance is responsible to review and approve any recommended actions against a campus visitor or independent contractor. If an employee is the respondent and believes the disciplinary action taken did not properly follow stated college policy or procedure, he/she may use the Grievance Policy to have the process steps or application of the decision reviewed.
  • If an employee alleges a student has committed bias-related act or incident, the employee shall report it to the Director of Human Resources or designee who will conduct an investigation and decide whether disciplinary action is appropriate.

 Goshen College will promptly and equitably address any complaints of bias-related incident by:

  1. advising the person reporting the alleged inappropriate conduct (“the complainant”) about available College and community resources;
  2. assisting the complainant in accessing college and community resources, including campus and local law enforcement authorities, when such assistance is requested;
  3. making reasonable changes in living, working, or academic arrangements as appropriate;
  4. carrying out a prompt and thorough investigation;
  5. treating all complaints as confidential to the extent consistent with conducting a thorough investigation;
  6. taking disciplinary or other corrective action where appropriate; and
  7. advising both the complainant and the person about whose conduct the complaint is made (“the respondent”) of the outcome of the investigation.

Responsibilities of the Bias Matters Response Team (BMRT)

The Bias Matters Response Team has the following responsibilities:

  1. To receive all complaints regarding bias-related acts or incidents by a student;
  2. To assure that each complainant and respondent is provided information regarding campus resources and to assist the complainant and respondent in accessing those resources, if requested;
  3. To assure that each complainant receives information on how to contact campus and local law enforcement authorities, if appropriate, and to assist the complainant in contacting law enforcement authorities, if requested;
  4. To assure that arrangements are made for appropriate changes to the academic, employment, or living circumstances of complainants and respondents pending investigation of a complaint of bias-related act or incident, if appropriate;
  5. To investigate reports of bias-related acts or incidents in a prompt and equitable manner;
  6. To determine whether or not a complaint is substantiated; and
  7. To issue any appropriate consequences, including disciplinary action, and to inform the complainant and respondent of those consequences.

No other individual or entity may engage in an investigation of a complaint of bias-related act or incident by a student on behalf of Goshen College. The Bias Matters Response Team will keep confidential reports of bias-related incidents and information obtained in the investigations to the extent consistent with completing a thorough investigation.

Retaliation

Threats, other forms of intimidation, and retaliation against a complainant or any other party involved in implementing the college bias-related incidents of discrimination and harassment policy are violations of the policy and may be grounds for disciplinary action.

Disciplinary Actions

Sanctions for bias-related incidents  may take different forms depending on the severity of the offense. In those situations where it is determined, following a thorough investigation, that a violation of this policy has occurred, appropriate action will be taken. Consequences may include but are not limited to the following:

  • verbal reprimands
  • written reprimands and warnings
  • monitoring or restriction of campus access, benefits, or services
  • mandatory counseling and/or training
  • suspension
  • separation from the college

In those instances where a violation is found, documentation of the violation and the disciplinary action will be placed in the respondent’s official Goshen College file.

Cases involving students heard and decisions made by the Bias Matter Response Team are shared with the Dean of Students.

At the conclusion of a the Bias Matters Response Team process, any party (either the complainant or respondent) may appeal a final determination or a sanction or disciplinary action. A request for appeal (“Request for Appeal”) must be submitted in writing to the conduct process coordinator (“coordinator”) — also known as the Convener of the BMRT — within five (5) business days from the delivery of the notice of outcome.

The coordinator will then forward the request for appeal to the appellate panel chair (“chair”), which is the vice president for the area in which the complaint originated: Academic Affairs, Student Life, or Human Resources. The chair coordinates the appeal process and communicates with all parties involved, including the conduct process coordinator.

The chair will convene the appellate panel (“panel”), which is made up of the three area vice presidents or their designees, to determine if the request meets the grounds for appeal and is either denied or approved. If the grounds for appeal are not met, the panel will deny the appeal, a decision that is final and cannot be subsequently appealed. If any of the grounds are met, the panel will approve the request for appeal. The chair will initiate the appeals review process with a notice of appeal.

The appeal ruling is final.

Intentionally Dishonest Complaints of Bias-Related Incidents

Lack of corroborating evidence should not discourage complainants from reporting bias-related incidents of discrimination and harassment to Goshen College. However, charges found to have been intentionally dishonest or made maliciously without regard for truth may be subject to disciplinary action.

Report Bias-Related Incident »