47. Sexual Harassment (Revised: 2003)
The decision as to which procedure to utilize for a grievance filed by a student shall be made solely by the university and shall be based on the fact pattern of each particular case. Each grievance shall be directed to a specific procedure and shall be accorded only one opportunity to be adjudicated unless the appeal body remands for further review.
47.1 Definition of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, submission to which is made a condition of a person's exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, either explicitly or implicitly.
Sexual harassment occurs when a person is the recipient of conduct of a sexual nature where:
47.1.1 Submission to, or toleration of, such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's education (including co-curricular activities) or employment;
47.1.2 Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual's welfare; or
47.1.3 Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's welfare, academic or work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive or demeaning education (including co-curricular activities) or work environment.
47.2 Examples of Prohibited Behavior
Prohibited acts that constitute sexual harassment may take a variety of forms. Examples of the kinds of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
47.2.1 Repeated unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations, solicitations and flirtations.
47.2.2 Stated or implied threats that a person's employment, wages, academic grade, opportunities for promotion, classroom or work assignments or other conditions of employment or academic life, or as a condition to membership in a recognized student organization, may be adversely affected by not submitting to sexual advances.
47.2.3 Repeated and pervasive unwelcome verbal expressions of a sexual nature, including graphic sexual commentaries about a person's body, dress, appearance or sexual activities; the unwelcome use of sexually degrading language, jokes or innuendoes; unwelcome suggestive or insulting sounds or whistles; obscene gestures.
47.2.4 Unwanted exposure to sexual graffiti, photographs, electronically transmitted images or suggestive objects that substantially interferes with an individual's welfare, academic or work performance.
47.2.5 Unwelcome and inappropriate touching, patting, pinching or unnecessary brushes.
47.3 Information and Consultation
Sexual Harassment Resource Persons
The Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services, the Director of Human Resources and the human resources department employee relations office, and the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer are available to serve as resources to any student, non-faculty employee, or faculty member who has a sexual harassment inquiry or complaint. Individuals with a sexual harassment inquiry or complaint may be more comfortable speaking with someone of their gender. They have the option of meeting with a staff member of a preferred gender in the Department of Student Affairs, the Human Resources Department or the Division of Academic Affairs. These resource persons have information about applicable laws, university rules and procedures, options available for resolution of complaints, and confidentiality requirements.
Persons gathering general information, seeking guidance, or filing a complaint may be concerned about the confidentiality of the information they are sharing. While the university wishes to create an environment in which individuals feel free to discuss concerns and make complaints, the university may be legally obligated to take action when its officials are informed that sexual harassment may be occurring. If the individual does not disclose any identifying information about him/herself or any other party involved (e.g., names, department or unit) during the inquiry, no action can be taken in the matter.
47.5 Official Contact of the University
If the Alleged Offender is a: Then the Official Contact is: Student Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services Student Employee Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Auxiliary Services Graduate Assistant Teaching and/or Postdoctoral Teaching Appointment Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Graduate Assistant Non-Teaching and/or Postdoctoral Non-Teaching Appointment Director of Human Resources Non-Faculty Employee Director of Human Resources Faculty Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer
* Note: Students may contact the Director of Student Life for assistance in arranging the official contact with an Associate Vice President or the Director of Human Resources. Students may request to meet with a staff member of a preferred gender in the Department of Student Affairs. Incidents occurring with individuals across these areas of responsibility will be coordinated among the appropriate official contacts depending on the circumstances.
47.6 Filing a Complaint
Once an individual discloses identifying information to the official contact of the university, he/she will be considered to have filed a complaint with the university. While the confidentiality of the information received, the privacy of the individuals involved, and the wishes of the complainant regarding action by the university cannot be guaranteed, they will be protected to as great a degree as is legally possible. The expressed wishes of the complainant regarding confidentiality will be considered in the context of the university's legal obligation to act upon the charge and the right of the charged party to be informed about charges against him/her.
47.7 Protection of Complainant and Others
47.7.1 The university will take reasonable action to assure that the complainant, the alleged offender, and those testifying on behalf of either party or supporting either party in other ways, are protected from retaliation. This action may come at any time during or following an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint. Persons who retaliate will be subject to disciplinary action.
47.7.2 Protection of the Alleged Offender
At the time a formal complaint is filed, the alleged offender will be informed of the allegations, the identity of the complainant and the facts surrounding the allegations. In the event the allegations are not substantiated, reasonable steps will be taken to restore the reputation of the alleged offender if damaged by the proceedings. A complainant who intentionally makes dishonest or malicious allegations, is subject to university discipline.
47.7.3. Protecting Involved Parties
To the extent possible, university proceedings will be conducted in a manner that protects the confidentiality of all parties involved.
47.8 Complaint Procedures
Informal or formal notification to an official contact of the university (see 47.5) constitutes official notification. Names, department, and other information necessary to conduct an investigation of the allegation(s) are required. Further action by the complainant will determine whether the filing is formal or informal.
47.8.1 Informal Complaint Procedures
Informal procedures are aimed at stopping the harassing behavior rather than determining culpability or intent. In some instances the offender may agree, voluntarily, to a sanction to avoid a formal hearing. Usually, official disciplinary action for employees or students cannot be invoked without a formal hearing. Complaints that are resolved informally are generally not investigated to the same degree as formal proceedings, although the complainant and, in some cases, the alleged offender may be interviewed. Mediation may be utilized as a method for resolving the complaint informally. If a complainant decides to handle the situation her/himself, and the harassment stops, there may not be an investigation. Unlike formal procedures, the harassment recipient is not required to write an account of what happened for the informal handling of the complaint to proceed. The outcome of informal procedures can range from no action, a simple apology, a promise not to do it again, a transfer of either or both parties, a voluntary resignation, up to termination or removal from the university. Generally, under informal procedures, the complainant may, at any time, elect to stop further administrative action by withdrawing the complaint. Sexual harassment resource persons are available to assist individuals with the informal complaint process.
Adopting informal procedures for resolving sexual harassment complaints does not mean that the institution does not take sexual harassment seriously. Informal procedures simply provide an alternative method for stopping sexual harassment. The complainant can also decide to file a formal grievance with the appropriate official contact of the university at any time.
47.8.2 Formal Complaint Procedures
When informal procedures are inappropriate or have failed, formal sexual harassment grievance procedures are aimed, among other things, at determining if sexual harassment has occurred, the culpability of the alleged offender and appropriate sanctions or remedies. Formal procedures are initiated with a written request for investigation of sexual harassment charges by the complainant, the institution, the alleged offender, or any of the parties involved. The request must be sent or delivered to the official contact of the university as stated in 47.9.
Investigating Authorities - The Investigating Authority, composed of one or more people appointed by the appropriate official contact of the university, is responsible for all administrative activities required to conduct the investigation, under informal or formal complaint procedures. The Investigating Authority will conduct the investigation, and prepare a formal report to the appropriate official contact of the university detailing all relevant information. A copy of the formal report will be kept by the appropriate official contact of the university.
If the allegations of harassment are found to be true, a copy of the final report will be placed in the alleged offender's student conduct/personnel file. Reasonable extensions of an investigation can be made for extenuating circumstances due to continuing a complex investigation, illness, scheduled vacations, professional presentations, etc. These extensions are granted by the office of the appropriate official contact of the university.
47.9 Step I - Complaint Investigation
A formal complaint against a student shall be directed to the Associated Vice President of Student Affairs and Administration, who will appoint an Investigating Authority. The case will be investigated and a determination will be made within 12 working days as to whether or not further investigation or a hearing is warranted. A representative of Student Affairs shall notify the alleged offender and the complainant regarding the resolution of the complaint, including any sanctions.
47.9.2 Student Employees
Graduate Assistants - Teaching and persons holding a postdoctoral teaching appointment will be considered faculty for the purpose of these procedures. Graduate Assistants Non-Teaching and persons holding postdoctoral non-teaching appointments are considered non-faculty employees for the purpose of these procedures. All other student employees (graduate and undergraduate) will be considered students for the purpose of these procedures. If the incidence of sexual harassment is job-related, the Department of Student Affairs shall notify the alleged offender and the complainant regarding resolution of the complaint, including any sanctions.
47.9.3 Non-Faculty Employee
A formal complaint filed against a non-faculty employee shall be directed to the Director of Human Resources, who will appoint an Investigating Authority. The Investigating Authority will investigate the case and determine, within 12 working days, whether to recommend sanctions at that time, to dismiss the case or to investigate the complaint further. Once a decision for further investigation is made, it normally should be completed within 30 working days. The determinations of the Investigating Authority, together with the recommended sanctions, if any, will be reported through the Director of Human Resources, or designee, to the appropriate associate or assistant vice president or other direct report to the President and CEO for Texas A&M University at Galveston. Decisions by the direct report regarding investigation and resolution of the complaint, including recommended sanctions, are considered final and shall be reported to the alleged offender, the complainant, the Director of Human Resources, or designee.
A formal complaint filed against a faculty member shall be directed to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, who, in turn, should notify the appropriate department head, or his/her designee, who will notify the faculty member concerned and appoint an Investigating Authority. The Investigating Authority will investigate the case and determine, within 12 working days, whether to recommend sanctions at that time, to dismiss the case, or to investigate the complaint further. Once a decision for further investigation is made, normally, a further investigation should be completed within 30 days. The findings of the Investigating Authority, together with recommendations for sanctions, if any, will be reported to the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, who will review the findings and transmit the Investigating Authority's recommendations, together with any independent recommendations, to the President and CEO for Texas A&M University at Galveston. The President and CEO for Texas A&M University at Galveston will make the final determination. The Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer will report the determination to the complainant and the alleged offender.
47.10 Step II - Appeals from Sanctions
The normal appeals process will be followed as outlined below. Decisions made during the appeals process may not impose a harsher penalty than the original decision.
Appeals of sanctions assessed students shall be directed to the Campus Disciplinary Appeals Panel. The Campus Disciplinary Appeals Panel may not impose a harsher sanction than originally assessed. Procedures of the Campus Disciplinary Appeals Panel are in the University Student Rules. Graduate Assistants - Teaching and persons holding postdoctoral teaching appointments are considered faculty for the purpose of these procedures. Appeal of sanctions may be made to the University Grievance Committee. Graduate Assistants - Non-Teaching and those holding postdoctoral non-teaching appointments are considered non-faculty employees for the purpose of these procedures.
47.10.2 Non-Faculty Employee
Appeals from recommended sanctions against non-faculty employees should be handled in accordance with procedures outlined in Texas A&M University at Galveston SAP 32.01.03.G1, entitled, "A Complaint and Appeal Procedure for Employees Other than Faculty."
If a recommendation for sanctions is made against a faculty member, the faculty member may appeal to the University Grievance Committee or the Tenure Mediation Committee and the Committee on Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure, as provided in University Rule, 12.01.99.M2, "Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure."
47.11 Complainant Follow Up
In order to verify that the harassing behavior by a student or student employee remains stopped, the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs & Auxiliary Services will follow up with the complainant in those instances where their formal or informal complaint was proven. The Investigating Authority will follow up with the complainant in those instances where the offender is a non-faculty employee or faculty. This will take place on or about the anniversary date of the final decision at 30 days, six months, and one-year time frames.