Title IX Policy: Sexual Harassment, Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Violence Against Women and Sexual Misconduct
Our organization is committed to building and preserving a community in which all of its members can work, live, and together, free from all forms of exploitation, intimidation and harassment, including sexual harassment.
Shorter University affirms a commitment to Christian values and works to provide a campus community environment free from harassment. Shorter also is committed to recognizing, upholding, and enforcing the laws of the United States and the State of Georgia. Violation of those laws shall not be condoned on the campus or at any activity held off campus by any constituency. It is the policy of Shorter University, in keeping with the efforts to establish an environment in which the dignity and worth of all members of the institutional community are respected, that sexual harassment of students and employees at Shorter University is unacceptable conduct and will not be tolerated. Sexual harassment may involve the behavior of a person of either sex against a person of the opposite or same sex, when that behavior falls within the definition outlined below. Shorter University‘s sexual harassment policy applies equally to all individuals classified as a student, faculty, or staff member. Any reported incident of possible sexual harassment or assault will be investigated promptly.
Harassment violates federal and state laws, including, but not limited to, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment in the workplace, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits harassment of students as a form of discrimination that denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s programs. Inquiries about Shorter‘s sexual harassment policy should be directed to the Title IX Coordinator by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (Fitton Student Union, room 237, 706-233-7231).
Additionally, The Campus Save Act is a 2013 amendment to the federal Jeanne Clery Act. SaVE was designed by advocates along with victims/survivors and championed by a bi-partisan coalition in Congress as a companion to Title IX that will help bolster the response to and prevention of sexual violence in higher education.
SaVE requires colleges and universities, both public and private, participating in federal student aid programs (covering virtually every campus in the United States) to increase transparency about the scope of sexual violence on campus, guarantee victims enhanced rights, provide for standards in institutional conduct proceedings, and provide campus community-wide prevention educational programming. Shorter University satisfies its responsibility to educate all community members through a variety of programs. One such program is a web-based training program that all new students, new faculty, staff and coaches must complete through Workplace Answers. The training modules define Title IX, VAWA, and Campus SaVE definitions and allows users to review and respond to scenarios pertinent to discovering and understanding sexual harassment and sexual violence.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the various campus resources available to you or contact the Title IX Coordinator by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (Fitton Student Union, room 237, 706-233-7231).
Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to report criminal actions, potentially hazardous actions, and other emergencies. Reporting is done by calling the Campus Safety Office at (706) 233-7218–if urgent use 7911–or the gatehouse at (706) 295-5334. In case of a life-threatening emergency, please dial 9-911 from a campus phone or 911 from a cellular device. Incidents involving criminal activity and violent crime are reported to the Rome Police Department and are posted for the information of the campus community.
The officer who receives the report and has reasonable cause to believe that the report is valid shall make an oral report thereof immediately by telephone or otherwise to the appropriate police authority. Any person required to make a report pursuant to the Code section who knowingly and willingly fails to do so shall be guilty of a misdemeanor (Georgia Code 20-2-1184).
Additionally, Shorter University encourages those who have experienced any form of sex discrimination to report the incident promptly, to seek all available assistance, and to pursue University conduct charges and criminal prosecution of the offender. Shorter University takes complaints very seriously and will work with survivors to ensure their safety and to remedy the situation.
Filing a Report or Making a Complaint:
Shorter encourages those who have experienced sex discrimination to report these offenses:
- Complaints and grievances related to non-academic employees of the University should be made to the supervisor of the employee or the Vice President for that area.
- Complaints and grievances related to student life, residence life, student support services, health services, campus safety, or campus ministry should be made to the Vice President for Student Affairs.
- Complaints and grievances related to admissions practices and recruitment should be made to the Vice President for Enrollment Management.
- Complaints and grievances related to financial aid, accounts payable, or the business office should be made to the Vice President of Finance.
- Complaints and grievances related to athletics should be made to the Athletic Director.
- Complaints and grievances related to program accessibility for individuals with disabilities should be made to the Director of Student Support Services. Grievances unresolved at this level may be forwarded to the Vice President for Student Affairs.
- Complaints and grievances related to sexual harassment involving faculty should contact the Provost, if involving staff, the Vice President of Finance, or if involving students, the Vice President for Student Affairs.
Individuals who believe they have either witnessed or been subjected to unlawful sex discrimination, harassment or violence may:
- Contact the Residence Life Office at (706) 233-7312
- Contact the Title IX Coordinator at (706) 233-7231
- Contact Campus Safety at (706) 233-7911
- Contact Human Resources at (706) 233-7444
- Contact Student Support Services at (706) 233-7323
NOTE: In the event that sexual assault or sexual violence occurred, do everything possible to preserve evidence by making certain that the crime scene is not disturbed. (The decision to press charges does not have to be made at this time. However, following these procedures will help preserve this option for the future.) Survivors should not bathe, urinate, douche, brush teeth, or drink liquids. Clothes should not be changed but if this occurs, bring all original clothing to the hospital in a paper bag. (Plastic bags damage evidence.)
Other Helpful Resources:
Georgia Sexual Assault Center
24 HR Hotline: 706-802-0580
Rome Police Department
Dial 911 for emergencies.
When necessary seek immediate medical attention at an area hospital and take a full change of clothing, including shoes, for use after a medical examination. The Director of Student Health Services or the Director of Student Support Services can also offer support at the hospital. Survivors may choose whether or not to speak to the police at the hospital. If they do, the option to choose whether to file charges against the respondent still exists.
All incidents of sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct or retaliation, should be reported. The Title IX Coordinator will provide for the adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of all complaints.
Some complaints of sex discrimination can be resolved through informal mediation between the parties. Once a report of sex discrimination has been made, informal resolution procedures will be pursued toward completion typically within sixty (60) calendar days of the initial report. Informal resolution procedures are optional and may be used when the University determines that it is appropriate. Informal procedures are never applied in cases involving violence or nonconsensual sexual intercourse.
An investigation into the report shall be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator as soon as reasonably practicable upon the filing of the complaint. Once the informal resolution procedure is complete, written notification to all parties shall be given by the Title IX Coordinator within three (3) days of the determination of findings.
Shorter University shall take reasonable steps to prevent the recurrence of sex discrimination in any form. Shorter University will take all necessary steps to remedy the discriminatory effects on the complainant(s) and others. Examples of such remedies may include:
- Giving an order of no contact
- Composing a letter to the alleged harasser informing him/her of the negative behavior and the resulting impact on the writer that usually includes a remedy of “I want the behavior stopped”
- Asking that a workshop be conducted for the department
- Requesting to have a third party speak to the alleged offender
- Meeting with the alleged respondent and a third party to explain the complainant’s feelings and the University’s policy
These remedies may be applied to one, both, or multiple parties involved. If the reporting party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the informal resolution procedure, the formal resolution procedure may be pursued.
Once a complaint of sex discrimination is made, an investigation of the report shall be pursued toward completion typically within sixty (60) calendar days. To ensure a prompt and thorough investigation, the complainant should provide as much of the following information as possible:
- The name, department, and position of the person or persons allegedly causing the sex discrimination (which includes: sexual misconduct, sexual violence, and harassment) or retaliation.
- A description of the incident(s), including the date(s), location(s), and the presence of any witnesses.
- If the complainant is an employee: the alleged effect of the incident(s) on the complainant’s position, salary, benefits, promotional opportunities, or other terms or conditions of employment.
The complainant should also list steps the complainant has taken to try to stop the sex discrimination or retaliation. Any other information the complainant believes to be relevant to the sex discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should be included with the statement and any other supporting documentation.
An investigation into the report shall be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator. The investigation shall be concluded as quickly as possible, typically within sixty (60) days, or within a reasonable amount of time required to complete the investigation. The investigation will be conducted in a manner so that it is adequate, reliable and impartial. The investigation may include any of the following: interviews of the parties involved, including witnesses, and the gathering of other relevant information. Parties to the complaint will be afforded equal opportunities to recommend witnesses for interviews and present other relevant evidence.
At any time during the investigation, the investigator may recommend that interim protections or remedies for the parties involved or witnesses be provided by appropriate University officials. These protections or remedies may include separating the parties, placing limitations on contact between the parties, suspension, or making alternative workplaces available. Failure to comply with the terms of interim protections may immediate disciplinary action up to termination from the University.
Cooperation with Law Enforcement:
Shorter University will comply with law enforcement requests for cooperation and such cooperation may require the University to temporarily suspend the fact-finding aspect of a Title IX investigation while the law enforcement agency is in the process of gathering evidence. The University will promptly resume its Title IX investigation as soon as notified by the law enforcement agency that it has completed the evidence gathering process, which typically takes three (3) to ten (10) calendar days, although the delay in the University’s investigation may be longer in certain instances. The University will implement appropriate interim steps during the law enforcement agency’s investigation period to provide for the safety of the complainant(s) and the campus community and the avoidance of retaliation.
- A Complainant is any person who alleges that s/he is the victim of sexual discrimination.
- A Respondent is any individual who is alleged to be the perpetrator of sexual discrimination.
- Sex Discrimination is behaviors and actions that deny or limit a person’s ability to benefit from, and/or fully participate in the educational programs or activities or employment opportunities because of a person’s sex. Examples of sex discrimination under Title IX include, but are not limited to, sexual harassment, failure to provide equal opportunity in education programs and co-curricular programs including athletics, discrimination based on pregnancy, and employment discrimination.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT of employees and students at Shorter University is defined as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, intimate relationship violence, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual‘s employment or participation in an educational program or activity.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment and/or academic decisions affecting the individual.
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational experience or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.
- Sexual harassment can be perpetrated upon members of the opposite gender or one‘s own gender. Occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature do not normally constitute sexual harassment. Similarly, depending upon the circumstances, not all verbal and physical conduct will be considered sexual in nature. Mediation is never used to resolve assault complaints.
Sexual harassment need not be intentional. The intent of the person who is suspected to have acted inappropriately is not significant to determining whether a violation of University policy has occurred. The question is whether a reasonable person could have interpreted the alleged conduct to be sexual.
Examples of sexual harassment can include:
- sexual innuendoes
- offensive remarks about another person‘s clothing or body
- suggestive or insulting sounds
- implied or overt sexual propositions/pressure for sex
- demanding sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning one‘s job, grades, letters of recommendation, etc.
- sexual comments
- spreading rumors
Examples of physical sexual harassment can include:
- leering or ogling at another’s body
- obscene gestures
- inappropriate touching, fondling, or kissing, including caressing a person‘s arm, hand, or any body part in a sexual way
- coerced sexual contact
- playing with a person‘s hair
- cornering a person with one’s body
- touching oneself in front of someone if it is done in a sexual manner and it makes someone feel uncomfortable
- grabbing a person’s clothes with the intention of revealing body part(s)
- displaying pornographic or sexually oriented materials
Other Relevant Conduct that Is Prohibited by the University:
Domestic violence is a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed:
- By a current or former spouse or intimate partner or the victim;
- By a person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
- By a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
- By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred, or
- By any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.
Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the complainant’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the parties involved in the relationship.
For the purpose of this definition:
- Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or threat of such abuse.
- Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Sexual assault includes attempted or completed rape, any sexual touching of another person against his or her will, and/or forcing an unwilling person to touch another person sexually. Sexual assault may be committed by a stranger or by an acquaintance, and may occur between members of the same or opposite sex.
Sexual assault occurs when such acts are committed either by actual or implied force, coercion, threat, intimidation, or through the use of the complainant’s mental or physical helplessness, including intoxication from alcohol or drugs, of which the assailant was aware or should have been aware. The use of alcohol or drugs will not be accepted as justification for the actions of any person charged with violating policy.
In order to pursue action through Shorter’s grievance procedure, an aggrieved student or employee should meet with the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible after the alleged act of sex discrimination, harassment, or retaliation occurs, to discuss the complaint. In any case, there is no time limit for students to make a report. Employees who have experienced conduct they believe is contrary to this policy have an obligation to make a report. An employee’s failure to fulfill this obligation may affect his or her rights in pursuing legal action. Timely reporting is necessary for employees.
There are various supportive measures available for those who have experienced sex discrimination. These support sources include:
- Title IX Coordinator: The Title IX Coordinator serves as the central reference person for information about reporting and the investigative procedure, as well as available support services.
- Student Support Services: Student Support Services offer counseling. Students who have experienced any form of sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct may receive free and confidential counseling at the Office for Student Support Services.
Georgia Sexual Assault Center
24 HR Hotline: 706-802-0580
Rome Police Department
Shorter University prohibits retaliation against any student or employee based upon the complainant’s filing of a grievance under the above-mentioned grievance procedures, or, based upon the complainant’s or any witness’s participation in the investigation of any grievance. Any act of retaliation may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination from the University. Any student, or University employee, who has filed a grievance, or participated in the investigation of a grievance, may file a complaint with the University’s Title IX Coordinator if they feel that they have been subjected to retaliation. Generally, the penalty for retaliating against a complainant or witness for reporting assault or harassment is more severe than the penalty for the initial action.
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), student conduct hearings are closed to anyone not directly involved with the hearing, and all student conduct files are confidential, unless a student waives his or her right to confidentiality, or under specific exemptions outlined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Although hearings are confidential, a victim of a crime of violence may request in writing the results of any disciplinary hearing conducted by the institution against the student who is the alleged perpetrator of the crime or offense.
Federal Timely Warning Reporting:
Victims of sex discrimination should also be aware that University administrators must issue timely warnings for certain types of incidents reported to them that pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community under the Clery Act. The University will make every effort to ensure that a complainant’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.
- The University as Complainant. As necessary, the University reserves the right to initiate a student or employee conduct complaint, to serve as complainant, and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the complainant.
- False Reports. The University will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of Georgia State Law to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.
The welfare of students and employees in our community is of paramount importance. At times, students and employees on- and off-campus may need assistance. The University encourages students and employees to offer help and assistance to others in need. Active bystanders take the initiative to help someone who may be targeted for a sexual assault by a predator. Active bystanders also take the initiative to help friends who aren’t thinking clearly from becoming perpetrators of crime. Intervention doesn’t mean that you only step in to stop a crime in progress; rather, these steps are “early intervention”—before the crime begins.
There are three components to Active Bystander Intervention. We refer to them as the ABCs:
- Assess for safety. Ensure that all parties are safe, and assess whether the situation requires calling authorities. When deciding to intervene, your personal safety should be the #1 priority. When in doubt, call for help.
- Be with others. If safe to intervene, you’re likely to have a greater influence on the parties involved when you work together with someone or several people. Your safety is increased when you stay with a group of friends who you know well.
- Care for the victim. Ask if the victim of the unwanted sexual advance, attention, or behavior is okay. Does he or she need medical care? Does he or she want to talk to a Trained Sexual Assault first responder or Campus Safety to see about reporting the matter? Ask if someone he or she trusts can help him or her get safely home.
Your personal safety is key. Before you act, you should think about the following:
- How can you keep yourself safe in this situation?
- What are all the options available to you?
- Who else might be able to assist you in this situation?
- What are the pros and cons of acting?
- Decide how to help.
- Approach everyone as a friend.
- Be firm.
- Avoid violence.
The University reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sex discrimination in order to protect students’ rights and personal safety. Such measures include, but are not limited to, modification of workspace, interim leave from campus pending a full investigation, and reporting to the local police. Not all forms of sexual misconduct will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and the University reserves the right to impose differing sanctions, ranging from a written reprimand up to and including separation of the offending party from the University, depending on the severity of the offense.
Some possible outcomes of a formal investigation include:
- a finding that the alleged violation occurred; or
- a finding that no violation occurred; or
- a finding that other misconduct may have occurred.
After the Title IX Investigators complete an investigation, an investigative report and their recommendation for resolution will be submitted to the appropriate senior officer of the employee for consideration. At Shorter University, a preponderance of the evidence standard will be used to determine whether or not a violation of University policy has occurred.
Decision to Impose Sanctions:
After reviewing the investigative report and investigator recommendation(s), the appropriate University official will accept or reject recommendation(s). The official that is responsible for sanction decision will justify in writing a decision that is contrary to the investigative report and investigator recommendation(s).
University officials responsible for decision: The decision to impose formal sanctions will be made by one of the following University officials:
- In cases involving a faculty member, (contract and/or adjunct), or other instructional personnel as the respondent, by the Provost or the Provost’s designee.
- In cases involving a staff person as the respondent, by the senior officer for the department.
Appropriate sanctions may range from a written reprimand up to and including separation of the offending party from the University. In addition to the University investigative and outcome process, rape and other forms of sexual assault may be prosecuted criminally by the Attorney General of the State of Georgia. Use of the University procedures, or a lack thereof, does not preclude a complainant from filing charges under State criminal statutes. Both parties should be informed of the existence of their rights in other forums.
Notification of Outcomes:
All parties will be notified of the outcome by letter no later than 24 hours of the investigative report and recommendations being received by the appropriate University official.
Respondents desiring to appeal the sanction(s) will do so through the corresponding channel depending on the University community status of the respondent. Respondents and complainants must file an appeal within 24 hours of receiving the original outcome notice. If the respondent is a student, the appeal is considered by the Vice President of Student Affairs. If the respondent is a faculty member, the appeal is considered by a committee designated by the Title IX Coordinator, which in turn shall make a recommendation to the President. If the respondent is a member of the University staff, the case is considered by the respondent’s senior officer. In cases where the senior officer prescribed the sanctions, then the appeal will be considered by the President or the President’s designated representative. Appeals will normally be considered only when new evidence which was not reasonably available at the time of the formal investigation becomes available or when an allegation of substantial procedural error on the part of the investigator or investigatory process is made that affected the outcome, or on the grounds that the sanction was excessively severe. The appeal authority shall have the power to affirm, reverse, or modify the decision and/or the penalty imposed (but not increase), or to remand the matter to the University official imposing the sanction for further consideration. Appeals must be submitted in writing detailing the specific reason(s) for the appeal. The appeal must be submitted to the appeal authority which corresponds to the status of the respondent and must be filed within prescribed time frames.
Educational programs will be offered to the University community. New faculty, staff and students, per Campus Save Act will receive electronic training opportunities during the fall semester of each year. Other programs will be offered throughout the year by the University as well to include informative emails, posters, flyers, and seminars facilitated by University legal representation.