Kenyon College aspires to create an environment where the worth and dignity of every individual is recognized, and where individuals' unique experiences and backgrounds are respected. Respect for difference and equality of opportunity are values to which the College strongly adheres. In today's environment, Kenyon faces the need to make absolutely clear its commitment to a community of mutual respect for difference, of understanding and tolerance and, concomitantly, its absolute rejection of bigotry and persecution. The following statement is universal; it covers a wide array of forms of discriminatory harassment.
The objectives of the College include the discovery of new knowledge, communication of knowledge through education, and the creation and sustenance of a community of scholars. All members of the Kenyon College community, whether students or employees, incur additional civic responsibilities by choosing to belong to this community. By accepting membership in this community, students and employees not only retain a right to free expression and free inquiry, but also accept a responsibility for honesty, tolerance, and respect for the rights and dignity of others.
Students, in particular, come to Kenyon to study the liberal arts. These address, in various ways, what it is to be human. As a consequence, Kenyon students live under an expectation to seek out and recognize the common humanity of those they meet and with whom they deal. This entails several responsibilities. First among these is the responsibility of engaging in mutual and respectful discussion and education. It also includes the responsibility of becoming aware of offensive language and ceasing to use it. It entails as well the responsibility of educating others in a courteous spirit about what is offensive so that fellow students do not offend in ignorance.
In the context of this expectation for behavior, harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated. Harassment is a very serious offense, and can result in the imposition of severe disciplinary measures. Harassment, as defined, is offensive to the principles of appropriate discourse and civil conduct. Indeed, it is a form of persecution which can cause extreme anguish and humiliation. An individual, whether student or employee, who engages in harassment may be made subject to the applicable student or employee grievance and disciplinary procedures. Students or employees who experience harassment, as defined below, should report this experience to a discrimination advisor and discuss with this person strategies for responding. No member of this community should tolerate harassment.
Speech or other expression constitutes harassment if it:
1. For verbal utterances to be punishable as harassment they must fall under the precise definition stated above. They must be directed at an individual or an identifiable group of College-related individuals (for example, the Black Student Union), must be uttered with an intent to insult or stigmatize, and must not be protected under any of the exempt categories, which are listed and described below. For example, however lamentable, the telling of racist jokes is not harassment unless directed at a member of the scorned group for the purpose of insulting or stigmatizing that person by his or her group membership. Similarly, group libel (e.g., "all Jews . . ."), however revolting, is not harassment by this definition if it is not directed at particular individuals or an identifiable group of College-related individuals.
2. The intention, design, or reason of the person charged with violating this policy may be inferred from that person's contemporaneous conduct or statements, before, during, and after the conduct or expression which is the subject of a complaint or grievance, including any racial, sexist, or similarly offensive slurs or epithets, and by the totality of the facts, circumstances, and conduct surrounding the subject conduct or expression. While the mere fact that some particular thing was uttered does not determine intention, prior knowledge that an expression or action is offensive is an indication of intent.
3. Exempt Categories: Because harassment can take the form of speech, it is necessary to clearly distinguish harassing speech from the protected speech which is vital to the intellectual enterprise of the College. Thus:
a. Speech that conveys reasoned opinion, principled conviction, or speculation is not harassment. For example, the assertions that "all whites are racist" or "affirmative action is wrong" or "Christians are foolish to believe ..." are not harassment. Of course, the mere claim of engagement in reasoned opinion is not sufficient to lift the charge of harassment. For example, shouting racist insults under a residence-hall window at night cannot disguise itself as
"reasoned opinion." However, debates, discussions, arguments, however lively, do not give grounds for harassment charges.
b. Political commentary and satire are not harassment. For example, satirical comments about the Laramie Project are not harassment. Putting a Confederate flag on one's own door would also not be harassment, however offensive it might be deemed by many. Again, the mere claim of political commentary or satire cannot excuse what is really harassment.
c. Speech that occurs in the ordinary course of classroom discussion and teaching is especially sacrosanct. That is, any opinion, including that of Hitler, for example, has to be allowed for discussion and even advocacy in the classroom. A racially-tinged tirade directed against a particular student or students, and unrelated to the academic content of the class, however, might be deemed harassment.
(Approved by Campus Senate May 1990; last revised January 2011)
The College has two groups of advisors on campus who assist students and others with issues of discrimination. They are the discrimination advisors and the sexual misconduct advisors. The sexual misconduct advisors assist with cases of sexual harassment and they are specifically trained to do so; the discrimination advisors assist with cases of group-based discriminatory harassment. Any person who believes he or she is a victim of discriminatory harassment should consider bringing the situation to the attention of one of the advisors or to Interim Title IX/Section 504 Coordinator Linda Smolak, (740) 427-5820. The responsibilities of the discrimination advisors include:
· Listening to complaints
· Discussing allegations
· Suggesting ways to address the harassment
· Facilitating conversations with the parties involved if/when appropriate
· Acquainting others with College policies and procedures pertaining to discrimination
A student who wishes to file a formal complaint needs to submit a written and signed complaint to the interim title IX/section 504 coordinator, who will refer the written and signed complaint to:
1. Student affairs, if the complaint is against another student(s). The case will be assigned to a student affairs staff member who will determine its appropriateness for a Student Conduct Review Board hearing.
2. The provost, if the complaint is against a faculty member. The provost determines whether the case should be referred to the appropriate faculty grievance committee for adjudication (see Faculty Handbook, "Grievance Procedures").
3. The director of human resources, if the complaint is against an administrator or staff member. The director determines whether the case should be referred to the Staff and Administrative Hearing Board for adjudication (see the Administration and Staff Handbook, "Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment").
Ordinarily, no action or investigation can be undertaken unless the individual chooses to file a formal, written complaint. However, in serious cases such as those that appear to be criminal in nature, or that pose a serious physical or emotional threat to students or members of the administration, faculty, or staff, or in cases of repeated allegations by the same individual, an advisor may request that an investigation be undertaken. The request will be submitted to Samantha Hughes, Civil Rights/Title IX Coordinator, (740) 427-5820, who in consultation with the president will refer it to the appropriate grievance committee or senior staff officer.
At the end of each academic year, the sexual misconduct and discrimination advisors will provide the president with a written report of the number and nature of complaints of harassment that were made during the year. To ensure confidentiality, this report will not contain names of individuals involved or details that would enable identification of individuals.