Discriminatory and Harassing Conduct Policies and Procedures

I.  Policy Statement on Discriminatory and Harassing Conduct

Luther College is committed to creating and maintaining an atmosphere where all members of the community—students, faculty, staff, and visitors—are treated with respect and dignity.

It is the policy of Luther College to provide equal educational opportunities and equal access to facilities for all qualified persons. The college does not discriminate in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis protected by federal or state law. This commitment includes the provision of a campus environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. The college will not tolerate any form of illegal discrimination or harassment and will not condone any actions or words that constitute such.

This policy describes prohibited discriminatory and harassing conduct, identifies resources and support provided to individuals who may have experienced discriminatory or harassing conduct, and establishes procedures for reporting and adjudicating incidents. This policy is an elaboration of the Luther Code of Conduct. Discriminatory and harassing conduct is a violation of the Luther Code of Conduct and is subject to the same jurisdiction, regulations, conduct procedures, and sanctions as defined in the Code of Conduct and/or highlighted below.

All members of the college community are accountable for compliance with this policy. The college is committed to eliminating illegal discrimination and harassment, wherever they occur in the college community, by taking corrective action as a result of violations of this policy. Violations may lead to disciplinary action up to and including separation from the college.

II.  Definitions

Discrimination.  Discrimination occurs when an individual is treated adversely because of membership in one of the legally protected groups under federal or state law. Discriminatory practices based on bias against a person’s age, color, creed, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status are prohibited.

Harassment.  Harassment occurs when unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s membership in a protected group unreasonably interferes with the individual’s work or educational environment. It includes verbal, visual, or physical conduct where such conduct may have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment.

Prohibited conduct may include, among other things, telling racist or sexist jokes or making offensive or derogatory remarks about another person’s race, ancestry, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, or membership in another protected group.  Prohibited conduct may occur through:

  • Direct oral expression and/or physical gestures or actions;
  • Notes, letters, and other forms of written communication distributed via U.S. mail, campus mail, or otherwise made visible to the public;
  • Phone calls, phone messages, or other forms of electronic verbal communication;
  • Email, text messages, instant messaging, social networks, or other means of electronic communication.

Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual or gender-based conduct. When sexual harassment becomes so severe or pervasive as to interfere with an individual’s ability to work, learn or participate in the College’s programs, it is called a sexual or gender-based “hostile environment”.  Harassing conduct can occur in various forms.  The following list provides examples of the kind of behavior that may be harassing.  

Verbal — such as vulgar or lewd statements, gender-based name-calling, sexually suggestive or graphic comments, or comments that demean a person because of his or her gender.

Physical — such as unwanted rubbing of a person’s back, neck, buttocks or thighs, pinching, sexual gestures, or sexual intimidation through physical means.

Visual — such as exposing another person to unwanted pornographic magazines or videos, or displaying suggestive or lewd pictures.

Communication-based — such as sexually graphic, threatening or vulgar phone calls, social media, email, text messages, chats or blogs.

Or any combination of these.

A determination as to whether a hostile environment has been created depends on the totality of the circumstances, such as the severity of a particular incident, the context in which it occurred, whether the conduct was repeated, whether the conduct was verbal or physical, and whether it was threatening or merely annoying.  Luther College reserves the right to discipline offensive conduct that is inconsistent with community standards even if it does not rise to the level of a hostile environment as defined by applicable law.  Further, the College encourages students and others to report incidents that concern them even if the incidents are not particularly egregious, as early reporting assists the College to address and correct situations before they become so severe or pervasive as to create a hostile environment.  

Luther College also prohibits “quid pro quo” harassment. “Quid pro quo” (or “this for that”) harassment occurs when a person in a position of authority or control links the receipt of some benefit (such as a grade, or the ability to join a group or participate in a program) to another’s submission to unwelcome sexual advances or sexual conduct or requires the other to perform or submit to demeaning or degrading sex or sexually-charged acts. “Quid pro quo” harassment can be expressly stated, but it also can be implied by words, actions or the surrounding circumstances. Examples of “quid pro quo” harassment include:

• The leader of a student organization permits a student to join the group only if the other student allows the leader to watch the student engaged in a sexual act.

• A student in a position of authority disciplines or fires another student who refuses sexual advances or ends a romance.

The above definitions and explanations are provided for educational and illustrative purposes.  A person reporting an incident of concern need not worry about which category of sexual misconduct applies to the situation or whether all elements of a particular definition of misconduct have been met.  An individual reporting an incident of concern is expected only to relay the facts in good-faith; College representatives trained in responding to sexual misconduct will assist the complainant in determining whether the incident may constitute a violation of this policy.   

Students should never feel pressured to engage in sexual relationships or activity of any kind with any Luther College faculty or staff member.   In fact, Luther College faculty and staff are prohibited from engaging in a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship with students who are currently enrolled in their courses or who are under their direct supervision in any way.   While not strictly prohibited in other situations, any romantic relationship or interaction between faculty or staff and a student is strongly discouraged.  If a student believes that a faculty or staff member is behaving in an inappropriate way, the student should report the situation immediately.

Sexual Misconduct. Incidents of sexual misconduct are addressed in accordance with the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Consensual Relationships.  Consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships where a power differential exists, whether real or perceived, may constitute sexual harassment. The effect of such relationships may render an individual’s work, academic, or social environment intimidating, offensive, or hostile. All faculty, staff, student employees, and others whose positions may create a real or perceived power differential in romantic and/or sexual relationships are strongly discouraged from entering into such relationships. These relationships are discouraged because they may lead to the creation of a hostile educational, social, and/or work environment for other members of the college community.

Retaliation.  Luther College students, faculty, and staff are free, without fear of reprisal, to use these procedures to determine if there has been a violation of the college’s commitment to an atmosphere free of discrimination and harassment.

  • Any act of retaliation will result in appropriate disciplinary action. Similarly, persons who use this process to bring frivolous or otherwise bad faith allegations against a member of the Luther College community shall be subject to disciplinary action.
  • The college reserves the right to institute temporary measures to respond to reported incidents of harassment or discrimination pending the completion of any applicable complaint resolution process.

III.  Resources and Support Services

Luther College will make every effort to safeguard the identities of students and Luther College community members who seek help and/or report complaints of discrimination or harassment. While steps are taken to protect the privacy of individuals involved, the college may need to investigate an incident and take action once an allegation is known, whether or not the Complainant chooses to pursue a complaint. Files related to complaints of discriminatory or harassing conduct will be kept confidential to the extent possible, consistent with the need for a thorough investigation. Should the Complainant publicly discuss the complaint, the college shall be relieved of its confidentiality obligations related to the disclosed information under this policy.

On Campus Confidential Resources.  Students and other Luther College community members who feel they may have been the victim of any form of discriminatory or harassing conduct may wish to seek confidential counseling or support. The following individuals are designated as confidential resources; they will seek to maintain information received as private and will not share confidential information with college officials or others, unless required to do so by law:

  • Campus Pastors/Catholic Chaplain, College Ministries, x1040
  • College Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Counseling Service, x1375
  • College Nurses/Physicians, Health Services, x1045

On Campus “Mandatory Reporting” Resources.  Students should be aware that almost all faculty/staff members and most offices on campus are required to report any allegation of discrimination and/or harassment of which they are made aware. The confidentiality of all parties will be honored to the extent legally allowed and which provides for an appropriate investigation. The following mandatory reporting individuals and offices are specially equipped to follow up on allegations of discriminatory or harassing conduct. These individuals and offices will do so with respect for the privacy of those allegedly involved in the incident:

  • Harassing Conduct Officers: Andrew Bailey, Main 119, x1697; Marty Berg, Dahl Centennial Union 204, x1289; Mark Johns, Campus House 105, x1347; Kathryn Reed, Jenson-Noble 171, x1315
  • Diversity Center, Dahl Centennial Union, x1014
  • Disability Services Officer, Preus Library, x1270
  • Human Resources Director, Main Building, x1134
  • Student Life Office, (Deans and Student Conduct Coordinator), Dahl Centennial Union, x1020
  • Residence Life Director, Dahl Centennial Union, x1330
  • Hall Directors/Area Coordinators/ Resident Assistants, residence halls
  • Safety and Security Office, Dahl Centennial Union, x2111 (24 hours, seven days/week)

Decorah Area Resources.  Students and other Luther College community members may also choose to seek out support or advice off campus. Resources include:

  • Decorah Police Department, 563-382-3667
  • Domestic Abuse Resource Center 800-383-2988
  • Decorah Human Rights Commission, 563-382-3651

IV.  Reporting Procedures for Complaints of Discriminatory or Harassing Conduct

1.  Individuals who become aware of or think they have been subject to discriminatory or harassing conduct are strongly encouraged to contact one of the Harassing Conduct Officers. These officers are appointed annually by the Luther College President.

2.  If the individual decides to file a complaint with one of the Harassing Conduct Officers, a written summary will be completed by the Complainant or the officer in conjunction with the Complainant. The summary will include the following information: name, address, and phone number of the Complainant; name of the Respondent; nature of the complaint; date(s) and location(s) of the alleged incident(s); evidence on which the complaint is based.

3.  Discriminatory and/or harassing conduct are violations of the Luther Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct outlines the procedures for addressing complaints against students including a description of the rights of Complainants and Respondents, student code authority and policy jurisdiction, prohibited behaviors, conduct procedures, possible sanctions, interim suspension, and the appeals process.

4.  Additional procedures related to managing complaints of discriminatory or harassing conduct follow:

a.  If the Respondent is a faculty or staff member, the respective faculty or staff handbooks will outline the processes and procedures. If the Respondent is a student, the Code of Conduct and the processes outlined below will apply.

b.  For most complaints, investigations will be done by a Harassing Conduct Officer and the Student Conduct Coordinator (if the Respondent is a student) and by a Harassing Conduct Officer and the Human Resources Director (if the Respondent is a faculty or staff member).

c.  If the Respondent is a student, the Harassing Conduct Officer will prepare a written fact-finding report in consultation with the Vice President and Dean for Student Life. The investigation will generally include, at a minimum, separate interviews of the Complainant and the Respondent. The Complainant and the Respondent will be permitted to have an advisor/support person (not an attorney) present during their respective interviews. The investigator will also gather and review other evidence as deemed necessary.

d.  The Vice President and Dean for Student Life and/or the Student Conduct Coordinator shall, based on the available evidence including the fact-finding report and the information gathered by the investigator, make an initial determination that the charges either have merit or do not have merit. They may, at their discretion, conduct additional investigations and/or institute a formal hearing before the Luther College Hearing Board.

e.  If the charges do have merit, the Harassing Conduct Officer, Vice President and Dean for Student Life and/or the Student Conduct Coordinator may resolve the charges administratively by mutual consent of the parties involved on a basis acceptable to the Harassing Conduct Officer, Vice President and Dean for Student Life and/or the Student Conduct Coordinator. Such resolution shall be final, and there shall be no subsequent proceedings.

f.   If the charges do have merit and cannot be resolved administratively, a formal hearing is held in a manner specified in the Code of Conduct for all college hearing boards. The complaint will be heard by the Luther College Hearing Board. At least five members of the Lluther College Hearing Board must be present for each hearing; a simple majority vote is sufficient for reaching a decision.

g.  The Complainant and the Respondent will be permitted to each have a support person (not an attorney) present during the hearing; however, this support person will not participate directly in the hearing.

5.  A complaint of discriminatory or harassing conduct will be resolved as follows:

a.  The charges may be resolved administratively (including the imposition of sanctions), by mutual consent of the parties involved, on a basis acceptable to the Harassing Conduct Officer, Vice President and Dean for Student Life and/or the Student Conduct Coordinator.

b.  The Luther College Hearing Board may find that the Code of Conduct/Discriminatory and Harassing Conduct Policy has been violated; the Student Conduct Coordinator, in consultation with the hearing board, may impose disciplinary sanction(s) as outlined in the Code of Conduct and/or take other appropriate action.

c.  The Luther College Hearing Board may find that the Code of Conduct/Discriminatory and Harassing Conduct Policy was not violated; the complaint will be dismissed.

d.  The Luther College Hearing Board may conclude that information about the case was insufficient or contradictory and a decision cannot be reached; the complaint will be dismissed.  Please note that the standard of proof that applies to a Luther College Hearing Board proceeding is a "preponderance of evidence" (which means a determination of "more likely than not").

6.  Complainants and Respondents will be notified in writing about the Luther College Hearing Board decision.

V. Appeals Process

A decision reached administratively by the Harassing Conduct Officer, Vice President and Dean for Student Life and/or the Student Conduct Coordinator, a decision reached by the Luther College Hearing Board, and/or a sanction imposed by a Student Conduct Coordinator  may be appealed by the Respondent(s) or Complainant(s) to the Campus Appeals Board within five class days of the decision. Such appeals shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the Student Conduct Coordinator or his/her designee. The entire appeals process is described in the Code of Conduct.

Approved by Community Assembly, May 4, 2010
Reviewed by Legal Counsel, July 19, 2010