Student Handbook

Harassment Policy

(including Bullying, Cyber-Bullying, Stalking, Relationship Violence & Abuse and Staff Harassment)

Rationale

The Alma College Mission Statement asserts that the purpose of the institution is to “…seek the liberation of people from ignorance, prejudice, and parochialism…” To this end, and without compromising either the constitutional protection of free speech or the historic principle of academic freedom [as cited in the “Statement on Professional Ethics” (items I-V) and Tenure: Rights and Obligations (items I-II) in the Manual of Organization and Operation], the college intends to maintain a climate conducive to learning, a positive work setting and an environment free of harassment for its students, faculty, staff and visitors. All members of the college community are responsible for the maintenance of an atmosphere that fosters openness, tolerance and diversity.

Spoken, Written and Symbolic Harassment

Definition: Spoken, written or symbolic harassment occurs when people insult, stigmatize or denigrate individuals or groups on the basis of race, religion, creed, national origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age or physical ability. Examples of harassing behavior are cited below. The listing is not exhaustive, but is intended to inform the campus community about behaviors which cannot be condoned.

  1. The use of racial slurs or derogatory names directed at individuals which convey hatred to contempt for persons on the basis of the attributes listed above.
  2. The creation of graffiti which conveys hatred or contempt for persons on the basis of the attributes listed above.
  3. The display of symbols which are commonly understood to convey hatred or contempt for persons on the basis of the attributes listed above.
  4. The use of telephone, electronic mail or paper mail (whether signed or anonymous) to convey hatred or contempt for persons on the basis of the attributes listed above.
Bullying
  • Bullying is typically portrayed as aggressive behavior or intentional harm that is carried out repeatedly and over time, and occurs within an interpersonal relationship characterized by an imbalance of power.
  • It often includes comments about race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or disability
  • It often involves an imbalance of power, aggression, and a negative repeated behavior.

Any repeated behavior that causes a person to feel isolated, intimidated, or inadequate will not be tolerated. A person who feels they are being bullied is advised to address the behavior with those engaging in the bullying behavior, and if no change is made to contact the Student Life Office for assistance.

Cyber-Bullying
  • Cyber-bullying is when an individual is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, or otherwise targeted by another person using the internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones
  • Those who are electronically engaged can be cyber-bullied at any time or location, making the effect of cyber-bullying ubiquitous and acute.
  • “Cyber-bullying consists of covert, psychological bullying, conveyed through the electronic medium such as cell-phones, web-logs, and web-sites, on-line chat rooms, multi-user domains where individuals take on different characters, and on-line personal profiles. It is verbal (over the telephone or cell phone), or written (flaming, threats, racial, sexual or homophobic harassment) using the various mediums available.” – Shariff and Gouin 2005

Any behavior that causes a person to feel isolated, intimidated, or inadequate through electronic means will not be tolerated. A person who feels they are being cyber-bullied is advised to address the behavior with those engaging in the bullying behavior, and if no change is made to contact the Student Life Office for assistance.

Stalking
  • Stalking is any repetitive and/or menacing pursuit, following harassment, and/or interference with the peace and/or safety of a member of the community; or the safety of any of the immediate family members of the community.

Any willful repeated behavior (including the use of electronic communication) within or out of the confines of a romantic relationship that would cause a reasonable person to feel uncomfortable, threatened, intimidated, harassed, or molested will be deemed as serious. As this behavior may disrupt the wellness and safety of the surrounding community, the Student Life Office reserves the right to charge someone without the cooperation of the victim.

Relationship Violence and Abuse

Emotional abuse or violence, both physical and verbal, or threats of violence within a current or prior relationship will not be tolerated. Victims of this behavior are strongly encouraged to report this behavior to the Student Life Office. As this behavior may disrupt the wellness and safety of the surrounding community, the Student Life Office reserves the right to charge someone without the cooperation of the victim.

Staff Harassment

Spoken, written, or symbolic harassment; consistent with the rationale; of faculty, staff, college official (including resident assistants), or visitors is strictly prohibited. Failure to comply may result in judicial action.

Procedures for Spoken, Written and Symbolic Harassment

  1. It is the primary goal of the college to use its expertise at educating and counseling to correct the unacceptable behavior of those who act in ignorance and prejudice.
  2. It is understood that the college has limited means for addressing individuals who continue such behavior in those spoken, written or symbolic forms which are protected by the First Amendment. In such cases, the college will persist both in its efforts to educate and counsel people who evidence the behavior and in its support for the victims of the behavior.
  3. Whenever such expressions exceed the bounds of protected speech; i.e., are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory the college will pursue the matter to the extent allowed by college policies and/or civil law.
Ethnic Intimidation

Definition: Section 750.147b of the Michigan Ethnic Intimidation statute states, A person is guilty of ethnic intimidation if that person maliciously, and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, gender or national origin, does any of the following:

  1. Causes physical contact with another person.
  2. Damages, destroys or defaces any real or personal property of another person.
  3. Threatens by word or act to do an act described in subdivision.

Procedures for the Resolution of Allegations of Harassment

Because harassment is intolerable and illegal, the college will, whenever it is reported and confirmed, take prompt, corrective, disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. To enable the college to act, employees and students should file a formal complaint. Hourly-related employees are urged to report such conduct to the director of human resources; salaried professional staff should report infractions to the vice president of their administrative area or to the president; and students are urged to report to the vice president for student life. The director of human resources and the vice president are instructed to cooperate fully in implementing this policy by investigating thoroughly and taking appropriate action, consistent with due process, on any complaints of alleged harassment.

In the event that the complaint is against a faculty member and the action taken involves dismissal or possible dismissal of the individual, the provost and vice president for student life will follow procedures in the Manual of Organization and Operation regarding serious violation of professional ethics of personal behavior destructive to the college community. These procedural statements are found in Section V of the Manual of Organization and Operation under the heading Procedural Standards Regulating Faculty Contracts (Sections I, II, III, VII, and IX) and The Faculty Member and the College (under the heading: Faculty Grievance Procedure). If the infraction involves an administrative employee at any level, the vice president responsible for that sector will handle the complaint using procedures listed in the Manual of Organization and Operation including the opportunity for a hearing by the Administrative Grievance Committee, the president and by a Board of Trustees hearing committee. A complaint involving a vice president may be taken to the president. A complaint involving the president may be taken to the chair of the Board of Trustees. If the infraction involves an hourly-rated employee, the director of human resources will handle the complaint using procedures which are explained in the Support Staff Employee Handbook and which include the opportunity for a hearing by a grievance committee of peers and appeal to the president. If the complaint is against a student, the Vice President for Student Life will handle the matter according to the Conduct Process and Appeals Procedures section of the Student Life Handbook.

Last updated 10/1/2013