Discrimination Grievance Procedures

Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy1 

Williams College is committed to maintaining a fair and respectful environment for all members of its community. In compliance with state and federal law and as a matter of its own principles, the college prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity or national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. These factors may not hinder employment or study, nor be permitted to have an adverse influence upon decisions regarding students, employees, applicants for admission, applicants for employment, or members of the community. In addition, the college prohibits harassment, that is, behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment for any member of the community. The college also prohibits sexual misconduct by any member of the college community. Members of the Williams College community are expected to uphold these principles as a matter of mutual respect and fairness.

Discrimination breaches the trust that should exist among members of an educational community. Discriminatory behavior or patterns can disturb the climate in the classroom, residence, or workplace, and alter the course of an education or career, presenting obstacles to the free and full development of an individual. It can, moreover, cause serious and lasting harm to an individual and to the college community. Williams College is committed, therefore, to taking whatever action may be needed to prevent and, if necessary, correct acts of discrimination and to prevent,
correct, and if necessary, discipline behavior that constitutes discrimination or discriminatory harassment.

Members of the college community who believe they have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct are encouraged to bring these concerns forward. Concerns may be brought directly to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity or the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator. Reports may also be made to appropriate deputies (for students, the Dean of the College; for staff, the Director of Human Resources; for Faculty, the Dean of the Faculty) or relevant American with Disabilities Act (ADA) officer, who will then work with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity to resolve the concern. Campus Safety and Security, local police, state and/or federal agencies may also be contacted, either immediately or at any point during a college investigation. Normally, college investigations and hearings can occur simultaneously with external ones.

When a report is made the college will treat the identities of the parties and the substance of the claims as confidential, except as is reasonably necessary to carry out the investigative process and to ensure the safety of the community. Williams College policy explicitly prohibits retaliation, academic or otherwise, against employees or students for bringing complaints of discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct forward.  Possible sanctions if a student or employee of the college is found to have violated the college’s Non- Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy include the full range of disciplinary sanctions available at the college, up to and including suspension from the college for one or more semesters and expulsion, in the case of a student, or dismissal in the case of a College employee.

1 This policy may also be followed in cases involving complaints of discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct brought against college employees or students by persons who are not members of the college community, e.g. visitors to the campus or participants in college programs or activities. 

I. Definitions

A. Discrimination

Discrimination is defined as the denial of rights, benefits, equitable treatment, or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of their race, sex, ethnicity or national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. Discrimination can take the form of isolated or repeated behaviors directed against an individual or a group (see “Discriminatory Harassment,” “Sexual Harassment,” and “Sexual Misconduct”) or of patterns of inequitable treatment in a workplace or learning environment.

B. Harassment/Bullying

Harassment is unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct that:

  • has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work or educational performance;
  • creates or has the intention of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working and/or learning environment; or
  • unreasonably interferes with or limits one’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity.

Harassment may involve isolated or continuing acts of intimidation, coercion, bullying, and/or verbal, non-verbal, or physical abuse. Examples of the forms it can take include targeted remarks or jokes, threats, ostracism, public humiliation, and physical actions, including unwanted touching and physical assault. The targets of harassment can be anyone: students or members of the faculty *or staff, superiors, subordinates, or peers.

C. Discriminatory Harassment
Discriminatory harassment is harassment targeted at and demeaning to one’s race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, or military service.

D. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a form of discriminatory harassment. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of an individual’s employment, instruction, or participation in other college activities,
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for making academic, employment, or personnel decisions affecting that individual, or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance by creating an intimidating or hostile educational or working environment.

Sexual harassment may also be at issue in relationships that begin as consensual ones. Anyone in a position of institutional authority over other persons should be sensitive to the potential for coercion in sexual relationships that also involve professional relationships. The recommendations and requirements described in sub-sections I.D.1. and I.D.2. below are designed to protect the integrity of the college’s instructional, counseling, and supervisory responsibilities by separating sexual relationships from professional ones where instruction or supervision is involved.

D.1. Potentially Coercive Relationships Between Students and Faculty
All faculty are in a position of power with regard to undergraduate students; hence, sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students are prohibited. Sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students put claims of consent in question. It is difficult for a student to be certain of the motives of a member of the faculty. A person in a position of authority cannot be certain that the student’s consent is genuine, rather than motivated by an unspoken fear of the consequences of not consenting. In addition, a sexual relationship with a student may raise questions of unfair academic advantage or of unwarranted negative evaluation. These questions may adversely affect the educational environment of other students, as well as the student directly involved. Should any of these questions arise, sexual discrimination is at issue.

A sexual relationship between a faculty member and a graduate student violates the college’s Non- Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct policy when a faculty member has teaching, evaluative, formal advising, or supervisory responsibilities for that student, even if the parties involved view the relationship as consensual. A member of the faculty may not initiate or agree to a relationship with a graduate student with whom they have any teaching, evaluative, formal advising, or supervisory roles. To protect the integrity of the educational process, the college also requires a faculty member to refrain, except under unusual circumstances and with the permission of the Dean of the Faculty, from taking on any teaching, evaluative, formal advising, or supervisory roles involving a graduate student with whom they have had a sexual relationship in the past.

If the college receives a complaint that a member of the faculty has violated any part of this policy, the college shall follow the procedures laid out in Appendix A: Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures of the Faculty Handbook to investigate and adjudicate this complaint. If the complaint is found to be valid, the faculty member will be subject to disciplinary action.

The Dean of the Faculty may grant exemptions to this policy in reasonable cases of pre-existing relationships. Any faculty member who wishes to request such an exemption should submit a written statement to the Dean of the Faculty explaining the reasons for the request. The Dean of the Faculty shall provide a response in writing to the faculty member and the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX coordinator.

A faculty member who has questions about this policy should consult the Dean of the Faculty.

D.2. Potentially Coercive Relationships Involving Faculty and/or Staff
A sexual relationship with a member of the faculty or staff for whom one has professional responsibilities may similarly put claims of consent into question or raise questions of unfair evaluation. To protect the integrity of the working relationships among employees, the college requires anyone in a position of authority to a) refrain from any  supervisory, evaluative or counseling role involving a subordinate with whom they have had a sexual relationship in the past, unless the circumstances warrant a waiver.2 The College also requires a faculty or staff person to b) remove
themself from any supervisory, evaluative, or counseling role involving a subordinate employee with whom they currently have a sexual relationship. The parties involved should consult with either party’s executive officer or department chair/director concerning the need for a waiver or a removal. The executive officer or department chair/director shall grant or deny the waiver or arrange for the removal, and the parties involved shall abide by the administrator’s decision. A faculty or staff person who does not abide by rules (a) and (b) is at substantial risk under college policy to complaints of coercion, or of preferential or prejudicial treatment.3 Should the complaint be found valid, the faculty or staff member will also be subject to disciplinary action.

2 Requests for waivers should be sent to the Dean of the Faculty (for faculty) or the Director of Human Resources (for staff), who communicate their decision in writing to the faculty or staff member and the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator. 

3 Failure to abide by rules (a) and (b) may also subject a faculty or staff member to charges of conflict of interest. It should be noted that a removal policy is also in place for family and other special relationships (see Conflict of Interest).

E. Sexual Misconduct
Sexual misconduct means any form of sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, dating or domestic violence, or stalking as described on the college’s Title IX site (http://titleix.williams.edu/definition-of-terms/). Sexual misconduct is prohibited under the college’s Non- Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy. Sexual misconduct can occur regardless of the relationship, position or respective genders of the parties. Same gender harassment violates this Policy, as does harassment by a student of a faculty member or a subordinate employee of their supervisor.

F. Ordinary Workplace Grievances
For ordinary workplace grievances outside of I.A, I.B, I.C, I.D, I.D.1, I.D.2, and I.E above see the relevant sections of the Staff and Faculty Handbooks.

II. Rights and Responsibilities

A. The College grievance process and outside investigations
The college grievance processes (outlined in Appendix A: Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures) are used to investigate complaints or reports of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct, to end any discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct found, to remedy its effects, and to prevent any recurrence. Its processes do not replace the right to file complaints or seek remedies available under state or federal law. In most instances, internal college and local police, state or federal investigations can proceed simultaneously.

B. Confidentiality
When a report is made the college will treat the identity of the parties and the substance of the claims as confidential, except as is reasonably necessary to carry out the investigative process and to ensure the safety of everyone at Williams College.

In support of an individual’s request for confidentiality and the college’s interest in learning about incidents of discrimination, Williams College provides confidential advising: for students, the College Health Center and Integrative Well-being Services, the Chaplain’s office, and the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response; for faculty and staff, the Employee Assistance Program. These advisors must still comply with anonymous reporting under federal and state law.

C. Reporting
Any person wishing to report discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct, is encouraged to bring concerns forward in a timely fashion, as soon as possible and preferably within a month of occurrence, since prolonged delay may complicate the ability to investigate.

Reports of discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct may be brought directly to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity or the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator. Reports may also be made to an appropriate deputy of the office (for students, the Dean of the College; for staff, the Director of Human Resources; for Faculty, the Dean of the Faculty) or relevant American with Disabilities Act (ADA) officer, who will then work with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity to resolve the concern. Campus Safety and Security, local police, and state and/or federal agencies may also be contacted, either immediately or at any point during a college investigation. Normally, College investigations and hearings can occur simultaneously with external ones.

An administrator, supervisor, faculty member, or other person in a position of authority who is not a confidential resource as defined above and who becomes aware of, or receives a complaint of discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct must promptly and fully report the information or complaint to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator, relevant deputy, (for students, the Dean of the College; for staff, the Director of Human Resources; for Faculty, the Dean of the Faculty), or relevant American with Disabilities Act (ADA) officer. No member of the community should assume that a college administrator knows about a situation involving discrimination,
harassment, or sexual misconduct.

If a complainant reports to a person in authority who is not a confidential resource and wishes to maintain confidentiality, the one who reports must relay the request for confidentiality, which will be respected to the extent possible, as outlined above.

D. Retaliation
Williams College policy explicitly prohibits retaliation, academic or otherwise, against employees or students for  bringing complaints of discriminatory behavior. Any retaliation by the respondent or by- standers against the complainant or any witness is strictly prohibited, and will be treated as a new and additional violation of the college’s Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy. During an active case under this policy, changes to the work hours/conditions of either the complainant and/or the respondent are made in consultation with the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator.

E. Prompt and Fair Resolution
The college’s procedures for cases of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct seek to ensure a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution. College officials who receive training on issues related to the college’s Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy, as well as on conducting a hearing process that protects victim safety and promotes accountability will conduct these procedures.

F. Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression
Williams College is committed to both freedom of expression and full academic freedom of inquiry, teaching and research. Academic freedom and freedom of expression will be strongly considered in investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment, but will not excuse behavior that constitutes a violation of the law or college policy.

G. Right to be Accompanied by an Advisor or Support Person
During the investigation, the complainant and respondent may be accompanied by an advisor or support person of  their choosing, including legal counsel, at meetings and interviews. However, no advisor or support person may actively participate in the investigation and/or adjudication process.

In the case of complaints that enter a formal resolution process, both the complainant and the respondent will be assigned a college advisor trained in non-discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct policy and processes. This advisor may, but need not, function as the advisor/support person who accompanies the complainant or respondent through the process.

H. Standard of Proof
The standard of proof used in the adjudication of all cases involving alleged violation of the college’s Non- Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy will be preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of the evidence standard requires a determination of whether it is more likely than not that the person committed the alleged act(s).

I. The Standing Grievance Panel
The Faculty Steering Committee and the Director of Human Resources will jointly convene a Standing Grievance Panel (SGP) each year whose members stand available to serve as members of an adjudication panel in cases of alleged discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct. The SGP will consist of 12 staff appointed by the Director of Human Resources and 12 faculty, 6 faculty (one tenured and one non- tenured from each division) are elected by the faculty from a slate of two persons nominated by the Faculty Steering Committee from each category and another 6 to be appointed by the Faculty Steering Committee. In choosing members of the SGP, consideration will be given to the diversity (sex, race, ethnic, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression) of the staff and faculty at the college. The 12 faculty on the SGP will also consist of at least one faculty member from the Department of Physical Education. Once constituted, members of the SGP will be trained, as necessary, on issues related to the college’s Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy, as well as on conducting a hearing process that protects victim safety and promotes accountability.

LIST OF CONTACTS
Leticia S. E. Haynes
Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity
Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity
Hopkins Hall
413-597-4376
[email protected]
[email protected]

Toya C. Camacho
Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator
ADA Officer for Faculty and Staff
Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity
Hopkins Hall
413-597-3301
[email protected]
[email protected]

Deputy Title IX Coordinators

For faculty:
Denise Buell
Dean of the Faculty
Dean of Faculty’s Office
Hopkins Hall
413-597-4351
[email protected]
[email protected]

For students:
Marlene Sandstrom
Dean of the College
Dean’s Office
Hopkins Hall
413-597-4261
[email protected]
[email protected]

For staff:
Danielle Gonzalez
Director of Human Resources
Human Resources
B&L Building, Suite 201
413-597-3129
[email protected]
[email protected]

Title 504 (ADA) Officer

For students:
G. L. M. Wallace
Director of Accessible Education
Academic Resources
Paresky Center, Rm 202A
413-5974978
[email protected]
[email protected]

Confidential Resources
On Campus:

  • Sexual Assault Survivor Services (SASS)
    597-3000 (on call 24/7 during the academic year)
  • Williams College Health Center 597-2206
  • Williams College Psychological Counseling 597-2353 (or on call 24/7 through Campus Safety at 597-4444)
  • Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 597-4977
  • Donna Denelli-Hess (Health Educator) 597-3013

Off Campus:

  • Elizabeth Freeman Center 499-2425
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE
  • National Sexual Assault Online Hotline –https://ohl.rainn.org/online/
  • For a list of regional and national resources with particular focus on the needs of LGBTQ survivors, see http://barcc.org/information/resourcesonline/glbt
  • For regional and national resources with a particular focus on the needs of male survivors, see malesurvivor.org.

To report a sexual assault to the police contact:

  • 911
  • Williamstown Police Department at 413– 458–5733
  • Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444

Outline of the Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures 1

NOTE: In cases involving only students or student respondents, the investigation and adjudication procedures will be those outlined in the college’s policies relating to student
misconduct: https://dean.williams.edu/policies/ 

A member of the Williams College community who believes they have been discriminated against is encouraged to report these concerns to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity or the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator. Reports may also be made to appropriate deputies: for students, the Dean of the College; for faculty, the Dean of the Faculty; and for staff, the Director of Human Resources.

If a complaint goes forward, the review, investigation and adjudication process is overseen by the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator.

In the following summary of the college grievance procedures, the person alleging discrimination is called the “complainant”; the party accused of violating the non-discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct policy is called the “respondent.”

With some exceptions, a member of the college community reporting an incident of alleged discrimination may decide to pursue either an informal or a formal process. Both are summarized here and outlined in more detail in Appendix A: Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures.

A. Informal process
The informal process is an opportunity to bring resolution to a complaint through awareness, education, and/or a facilitated discussion. An informal resolution may be appropriate if the complainant, the respondent, the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator and the relevant deputy or deputies can all come to an agreement about the facts and desirable resolution to the case.

The informal process is not appropriate for most cases that involve a student and a member of the faculty or staff; for complaints of sexual misconduct, apart from certain instances of discriminatory harassment; and for any complaint involving behavior that potentially endangers members of the college community and/or is potentially criminal in nature. In other cases, if both the complainant and the respondent prefer an informal process, the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the relevant deputy or deputies, will decide if an informal resolution is appropriate and advisable.

During an informal process, fact-finding occurs to the extent necessary to understand the conflict and protect the interest of the parties and the Williams College community, but no determination is made of whether college policy has been violated. Information obtained during the course of the informal complaint process will be shared only to the extent necessary to understand the conflict and protect the interest of the parties and the Williams College community.

At any point during or following the informal process, the complainant and/or the respondent may end the informal process and request a formal process.

1 These procedures may also be followed in cases involving complaints of discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct brought against college employees or students by persons who are not members of the college community, e.g. visitors to the campus or participants in college programs or activities.

B. Formal process
1. Before the process of investigation and adjudication starts, the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with relevant deputies, will:

  • Assign the complainant and the respondent each a trained advisor from the college staff;
  • Provide both the complainant and the respondent a written statement of their rights and responsibilities;
  • Provide each with a description of the adjudication processes, including requirements of confidentiality and non-retaliation;
  • If necessary, arrange reasonable and appropriate accommodations to increase the complainant’s safety and well-being on campus;
  • If necessary, arrange appropriate accommodations for the respondent.

2. Investigation
The Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the relevant deputies, will:

  • Assign an investigator to gather information about the case and produce a report;
  • Review the investigator’s report;
  • Share the report with both the complainant and the respondent2, who each have 10 days to respond and to request that further information be gathered;
  • Review the completed report and any responses to determine if the respondent’s alleged action(s) is within the purview of the college’s Non-discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy.

If the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator and the relevant deputies determine that the respondent’s alleged behavior is within the purview of the college’s Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy, the case will move forward to the primary adjudication process. The Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator will communicate this determination in writing to the complainant and respondent.

After receiving the investigator’s report the complainant may choose to pursue an administrative resolution of the complaint or proceed straight to an adjudication panel. At any point during the administrative resolution process the complainant is free to end the process and request an adjudication panel.

3A. Administrative resolution (for cases involving faculty and/or staff only)

In consultation with the complainant and the respondent, the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator will appoint two executive officers to oversee the administrative resolution. After receiving training from the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator or a designee, these executive officers will:

  • Read and consider the investigator’s report, along with any responses from the complainant and respondent;
  • Reach a finding and report it to the complainant and respondent.

If in the judgment of the executive officers the respondent has violated the college’s Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy, they will:

  • Seek a resolution of the complaint, working with the respondent’s supervisor if applicable and, within one month, reporting to the complainant any progress made;
  • Produce a proposed resolution, and submit it to the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator for approval;
  • Communicate both the findings and the proposed resolution in writing to both the complainant and respondent.

The complainant and the respondent have 10 days to sign the proposed resolution. The attempt will have failed if either party chooses not to accept the terms proposed. At this point, either party may instruct the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator to convene an adjudication panel.

3b. Adjudication Panel
The Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator will constitute an adjudication panel of five members from the SGP according to the policy’s guidelines in consultation with the relevant deputy or deputies and inform the complainant and respondent in writing.

The adjudication panel:

  • Reads and discusses the investigator’s report along with any responses, and may decide on additional questions to ask of the parties or administrative officials;
  • Decides whether there is a preponderance of the evidence showing violation of the college’s nondiscrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct policy;
  • If the adjudication panel decides there has been a violation, it will inform both parties in writing and give both an opportunity to address the committee; and will
  • Recommend a sanction.

4. Appeal
Both parties have the right to appeal the finding on two grounds:

  • Significant procedural lapses;
  • The appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision.

The Vice President in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity hears the appeal and determines its disposition.

5. Final determination of sanction in cases involving respondents who are members of the faculty

If the recommended sanction is termination of the respondent’s appointment for cause, the Dean of the Faculty will initiate proceedings pursuant to Section II-V: Termination of Faculty Appointment for Cause of the Faculty Handbook. If the recommended sanction is a major sanction, the Dean of the Faculty will initiate proceedings pursuant to Section II-W: Procedures for Imposition of Sanctions on Faculty Other Than Dismissal, “Major Sanctions,” of the Faculty Handbook. If the recommended sanction is a minor sanction, the Dean of the Faculty will initiate proceedings in accordance with Section II-W., “Minor Sanctions,” of the Faculty Handbook. Final decisions as to sanctions will be reported in writing simultaneously to the complainant and the respondent, as well as the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator.

6. Final determination of sanction in cases involving respondents who are members of the staff
Final determination of sanctions involving respondents who are members of staff will be made by the Director of Human Resources, in conjunction with the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator and relevant supervisor(s) of the staff member. Final decisions as to sanctions will be reported in writing simultaneously to the complainant and the respondent, as well as the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity/Title IX Coordinator.

Update Fall 2018