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Sexual Misconduct Policy

Sexual Misconduct Policy

Authority: 
Chief Diversity Officer
Date enacted or revised: 
July 22, 2013
In F/S Handbook: 
yes
Introduction
Members of the McNeese State University (MSU) community, guests, visitors and authorized users of the University's facilities should be able to enjoy a campus environment free from sexual misconduct.  This policy is intended to define community expectations with respect to this right and to establish a mechanism for addressing behavior that violates these expectations.  Three forms of sexual misconduct are addressed by this policy:  (1) Criminal Sexual Misconduct; (2) Sexual Harassment; and (3) Problematic Consensual Relationships.

All students, faculty, staff, administrators, and contracted personnel will be held accountable for compliance with this policy and any violation of this policy may lead to disciplinary action which, in serious cases, may include suspension, expulsion, termination, and/or removal. Every member of the University community is hereby apprised that certain forms of sexual misconduct may subject an individual not only to institutional discipline but also to criminal prosecution or civil liability.

It is incumbent upon all members of the University community to report instances of sexual misconduct. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action up to and including suspension or termination. Any person who receives or becomes aware of a complaint of sexual misconduct or other violation of this policy should report the complaint to the Chief Diversity Officer as soon as possible and preferably within two work days. All complaints of sexual misconduct, investigation documents, and documents relative to the resolution of the complaint will be maintained in a confidential file in the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer; however, the extent to which information can remain confidential may be subject to state and federal laws relating to the required reporting of crimes or other information. In cases where it is determined that sexual misconduct has been committed, the University may take appropriate disciplinary action with or without the concurrence of the victim or person bringing the complaint.

The health, safety, and well‐being of students, employees, and campus visitors are the University's primary concern. If you or someone you know may be the victim of any form of sexual misconduct, you are strongly urged to seek immediate assistance. Assistance can be obtained 24 hours a day, seven days a week from:

McNeese State University Police
9-1-1, emergency;
Ext 5711 when calling from a campus landline;
(337) 475-5711 when calling from other landlines or cell phones.

1. CRIMINAL SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Any sexual conduct prohibited by the Louisiana Criminal Code and committed by a person on the McNeese campus or against any McNeese student, employee, or visitor shall be considered a violation of this policy and shall be immediately reported to the University Police.   Such offenses may include various forms of stalking, cyberstalking, rape, attempted rape, sexual battery, incest, and unlawful sexual behavior involving juveniles or adults, and may include other types of behavior prohibited by state law.  Failure to report violations of criminal law may result in the individual and/or the University facing sanctions under the federal Clery Act, which, among other things, requires key university employees to report crimes occurring in and around campus and in connection with campus activities.

Many administrative employees fall within the definition of a "Campus Security Authority" (CSA) under federal law, and thereby be required to report to University Police specific crimes that are defined in the Clery Act including murder, sex offenses (both forcible and non-forcible), robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, and drug, liquor and weapons violations.  It is the responsibility of all employees to determine whether they fall within the important definition of being a "Campus Security Authority."  The reporting of any crime which comes to the attention of a CSA must be reported to University Police immediately.  Federal law may require a timely warning be given to the university community if there is the potential of a continuing risk to the university population.  Because the classification of an alleged crime requires technical expertise, and since the University Police may be aware of other extenuating factors or incidents of criminal behavior, employees should not try to resolve an issue, delay the reporting of an issue, or mitigate a report on their own.  Instead, the University Police should be notified without delay so that they can conduct an investigation, seek support for the victim, and interact with other agencies in accordance with state and federal laws.

The University Police may elect to follow their normal procedures in the investigation and enforcement of offenses within their jurisdiction or they may refer the case to other appropriate local, state, or federal law enforcement authorities.  In cases where the facts upon which an alleged criminal offense are based also constitute a violation of one or more University policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and/or the Faculty/Staff Handbook, the offender may be subject to sanctions under those provisions independent of any sanctions which may be imposed by the criminal justice system.  No provision of this policy shall be construed in any manner which would impede, limit, or delay the legitimate investigatory responsibilities of any agent of law enforcement or the rights of any victim of sexual misconduct.

2. SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Sexual Harassment means unwelcome conduct, based on sex or gender stereotypes, which is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with a person's University employment, academic performance or participation in University programs or activities and creates an atmosphere or environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive.

Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unsolicited, deliberate, or repeated:

  1. Touching, sexual flirtation, advances or propositions which are not welcomed and/or desired;
  2. Unwelcome jokes, stories, comments, innuendos, or other sexually oriented statements which are specifically designed to embarrass or humiliate through their sexual subject matter content;
  3. Unwelcome sexual communication such as graphic or degrading comments about one's gender related to personal appearance;
  4. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other offensive verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature;
  5. Unwelcome display of sexually explicit materials, objects or pictures in an individual's place of work or study;
  6. Creating or arranging situations specifically designed to violate privacy in an unwelcome and undesired manner.
 
Procedure for the reporting and resolving claims of sexual harassment:
  1. Any claim which may involve a violation of the Louisiana Criminal Code shall be referred in the first instance to the University Police in accordance with the Criminal Sexual Misconduct paragraph, above.
  2. Should any member of the University community (student, employee, or visitor) believe that the sexual harassment portion of this policy has been broken by any member of the University community, he/she should prepare a written statement detailing the allegations on the University's Discrimination Complaint Form in the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer in Room 404 of Burton Business Center. This form can also be downloaded from the University's website and brought to Room 404 of Burton Business Center or mailed to Box 93248, Lake Charles, Louisiana 70609. VOICE: (337) 475-5428; FAX (337) 475-5960; TDD/TTY, Hearing Impaired (337) 562-4227. Email: cdo@mcneese.edu Mail: Chief Diversity Officer, Box 93248, Lake Charles, Louisiana 70609.
  3. The Chief Diversity Officer may, in his or her professional judgment, attempt to resolve the matter through alternative dispute resolution, which may include attempts to mediate, conciliate, or otherwise resolve differing claims.  Information explaining alternative dispute resolution is available from the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer.  The Chief Diversity Officer shall determine the appropriateness of alternative dispute resolution methods within ten (10) days of its receipt of the grievance.
  4. If the Chief Diversity Officer determines that the matter is not appropriate for mediation, conciliation, or other less formal methods of dispute resolution, or if, after attempting such methods for a period of time not to exceed sixty (60) days, the Chief Diversity Officer determines that further attempts are not likely to achieve an outcome consistent with the goals of this policy, then, within ten (10) days of reaching such determination, the Chief Diversity Officer shall forward the matter to the Arbitration Committee.  The Arbitration Committee shall be comprised of the same individuals who serve on the Disabilities Services and Compliance Task Force.  When convened as an Arbitration Committee, the chair of the Arbitration Committee shall be the chair of the Disabilities Services and Compliance Task Force.
  5. Upon receipt of the case from the Chief Diversity Officer, the Arbitration Committee shall have thirty (30) working days to conduct a hearing and render a decision on the matter.  Guidelines for the hearing will be provided to each party by the committee chairman upon receipt of the case.  To the extent permitted by law, the hearing shall be conducted in a manner designed to ensure confidentiality of parties and witnesses.  If, upon hearing the matter, the Arbitration Committee determines that a violation of this Sexual Misconduct Policy has been committed, the committee shall exercise one of the following options:
    1. The committee may require an appropriate remedy, short of disciplinary action, which seeks to redress the wrong.  The committee may specify in its ruling that non-compliance with the proposed remedy will result in disciplinary action.
    2. The committee may recommend disciplinary action as its appropriate remedy. In this case, the Code of Student Conduct, the Faculty/Staff Handbook, or other University policies governing discipline of University students or employees may be applied.
  6. Decisions rendered by the Chief Diversity Officer and the Arbitration Committee as described in the above paragraphs shall be delivered in writing to the following parties:
    • the person(s) filing the grievance;
    • the person(s) against whom the grievance was filed;
    • the supervisor(s) of the office or administrative unit(s) most responsible for the environment in which the alleged actions occurred, said supervisor(s) to be charged with keeping a copy of the grievance and its disposition on file and available for appeal; and
    • the President of the University.
  7. Any party may, within ten (10) working days of delivery of a notice of a decision by the Chief Diversity Officer or the Arbitration Committee, appeal the decision to the Vice President responsible for overseeing the person(s) against whom the original grievance was filed.  The Vice President shall render a decision on the appeal within ten (10) working days after receiving the appeal.  The Vice President's appeal decision shall be limited to one of the following:  (a) to affirm the decision of the Chief Diversity Officer or Arbitration Committee, as the case may be; (b) to reverse or amend all or any portion of the decision; or (c) to ask the Chief Diversity Officer or Arbitration Committee to reconsider its decision based on reasons given in the Vice President's written decision, in which case reconsideration must be completed and reported to the Vice President within ten (10) working days of the Vice President's request.  After any such reconsideration, the Vice President shall render a final decision to affirm, reverse, or amend all or any portion of the reconsidered decision.
  8. Any party may, within ten (10) working days of delivery of notice of the Vice President's final decision, request a reconsideration of the case by the President of the University.  The President's reconsideration shall be limited to a determination of whether the Vice President's decision was reached via a process that provided all parties with adequate notice, a fair and unbiased process, and opportunity to be heard.  The President shall issue a final ruling on the matter within fifteen (15) business days after the request for reconsideration has been received.
  9. If an employee or student makes an appeal to the Board of Supervisors, the administrative proceedings from the institution will be reviewed in accordance with the Board's rules and procedures.  The purpose of this review will be to determine only if appropriate processes has been provided to the grievant, not to conduct a new hearing or review the factual details of the case.  Following this review, the grievant will be notified of the Board's decision.

Problematic Consensual Relationships
There are inherent risks in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals in unequal positions of authority.  On a university campus, such unequal positions can occur between a teacher and a student, between a coach and a player, and between a supervisor and an employee.  These relationships may be less consensual than initially perceived by the individuals involved or by third parties who may be affected-directly or indirectly-by the relationship.  The relationship may also result in negative consequences to third parties.  For example, students in a class taught by a professor involved in a romantic relationship with one of the students may believe that the favored student will receive a higher grade than he or she would otherwise deserve.  Players on a team where one member of the team is involved in a romantic relationship with a coach or administrator may believe that the favored player will receive better treatment in practice and during games.  Likewise, employees aware of a romantic relationship involving their supervisor may come to believe that employee evaluations determined by that supervisor are less than objective.

While McNeese has no interest in interfering in the personal matters of its employees, it has no choice but to address situations that impede the legitimate interests and necessary work of innocent students and employees and that cast doubt on the integrity of our academic standards and employee evaluations.  For this reason, this policy discourages all romantic relationships between members of the McNeese community in cases where one party to the relationship holds, or could potentially hold, a supervisory or evaluative position over the other.   The fact that the relationship may have begun innocently or without any apparent negative consequences to third parties will be deemed irrelevant once either party to the relationship knows, or has reason to know, that the relationship has progressed to the point where it could reasonably be perceived by third parties as being in violation of this policy.

Because of the inherent dangers involved in relationships involving members of the McNeese community holding positions of unequal positions of authority, and regardless of whether the parties to such a relationship believe the relationship to be secret or confidential in nature, this policy requires that any member of the McNeese community who becomes involved in such a relationship must report the existence of the relationship to his or her immediate supervisor.  Upon receipt of a self-report, the University may reassign the party in the superior position of authority to other work duties, which may involve a demotion in rank or the elimination of supervisory duties-which may result in corresponding adjustments of salary and benefits-in order to limit or reduce negative consequences to third parties.   Failure to self-report such a relationship will result in disciplinary action.  For the party in the position of superior authority such disciplinary action may include a warning or other reprimand, reassignment of duties, suspension, or termination, depending on the circumstances.

Reporting Sanctions Under the Clery Act
Under federal law, the Clery Act, the University is required to statistically report all allegations of forcible and non-forcible sexual offenses involving students, staff, faculty and/or visitors. The Clery Act goes even further in requiring a statistical report even if only a sanction results and no criminal charges are filed. This would include all forms of employee discipline connected to a forcible or non-forcible sex offense.