Sexual Harassment Policy

The college is deeply concerned about sexual harassment because of the ethical and moral principles involved in discriminatory conduct and also because of the related questions of power and role. Sexual harassment is an illegal form of discrimination under Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964,Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, and Iowa statute. It is the policy of Wartburg College that no member of the college community may sexually harass another. This policy applies to all students, faculty, and staff, as well as vendors and contractors doing business at the college and visitors to the campus. Procedures regarding claims of sexual harassment against students are contained in this Student Handbook; procedures regarding claims of sexual harassment against faculty members are contained in Appendix E of the Faculty Handbook; procedures for claims against staff are contained in the Staff Handbook.

Faculty also are concerned that the principles of academic freedom as set forth in section 2.4.1 of the Faculty Handbook not be compromised. To protect academic freedom for them and for students, faculty are expected and allowed to exercise professional judgment in determining appropriate course content and methods of presentation of materials, topics, and discussions germane to the legitimate pedagogical objectives of that course content.

Not all workplace or educational conduct that might be described as “harassment” affects the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment or education. For example, a mere utterance of an ethnic, gender-based or racial epithet that creates offensive feelings in an employee or student would not normally affect the terms and conditions of employment or education.
Sexual harassment prohibited under Wartburg College policy is classified as follows:

  • Quid Pro Quo Harassment: Situations where submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature results in actual or threatened adverse educational or employment action. This type of harassment usually occurs in a context where one person holds some level of authority or power over the other and uses that position to leverage sexual advantage.

  • Hostile Environment Harassment: Situations in which gender-based conduct has the intent or effect of being sufficiently severe OR pervasive/persistent OR objectively offensive that it could alter the conditions of education or employment. The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome by the object of the conduct or a third party affected by it. Hostile environments must be both subjectively and objectively offensive. This means a reasonable person must agree that the behavior is objectionable. Determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on all of the circumstances. These circumstances could include, but are not limited to:

    1. The frequency, nature, and severity of the conduct.
    2. Whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating.
    3. The effect of the conduct on the alleged victim’s mental or emotional state and whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the alleged victim’s educational or work performance.
    4. Whether the speech or conduct is protected expression under the First Amendment or deserves the protections of academic freedom.

  • Retaliatory Harassment: Situations where any person retaliates by using intimidation, threats, actual violence, ridicule, taunting, bullying, ostracism, or any other method against a person or their property, as a result of that person’s decision to report sexual harassment or seek assistance to remedy gender-based discrimination. Retaliation or discrimination of any kind against anyone filing a complaint of sexual harassment in good faith or participating in the investigation process is prohibited. Such actions will be met by serious consequences and are considered to be as reprehensible as the initial harassment itself.

Examples of Harassment

  • A professor suggests that a student have sex with him/her in exchange for a good grade. This is harassment whether or not the student consents to the request.
  • A student repeatedly sends sexually oriented jokes on an email list s/he created, even when asked to stop.
  • Explicit sexual pictures are displayed on the exterior of a residence hall door.
  • Supervisors who “rate” employees’ bodies and sex appeal, commenting suggestively about their clothing and appearance.
  • A club or organization requires prospective members to share stories about past sexual experiences.
  • A professor makes derogatory remarks about someone’s sexual identity or sexual orientation to illustrate a point.

Procedures Regarding Reports of Sexual Harassment

All members of the college community not possessing ethical or statutory confidentiality obligations must report sexual harassment about which they have knowledge to their work or program supervisor or other college official. Individuals are encouraged, where possible and appropriate, to attempt to resolve their problem by speaking directly with the harasser or by requesting the assistance of the supervisor or a member of the Student Life staff. Members of the Wartburg College faculty, staff, or student body who believe they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or harassment may initiate either the direct resolution or the formal complaint procedure to resolve the complaint.

Wartburg College is obligated to ensure a thorough and prompt investigation of allegations of sexual harassment, to find a timely resolution, to apply disciplinary sanctions or educational solutions where appropriate, and to provide an institutional appeal process to assure fairness to all parties. These procedures apply to internal processing of any complaint of sexual harassment. Regardless of whether resolution of the complaint is sought in a public forum or jurisdiction other than the college’s internal process, college proceedings will continue to conclusion except under circumstances outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, under the Violations of the Law section in the Student Handbook.

Any individual making deceitful allegations will be subject to appropriate sanctions.

Direct Resolution Procedure

The purpose of the direct resolution procedure is to provide an opportunity to facilitate a mutually acceptable resolution between the parties. This approach does not necessarily involve making a determination that sexual harassment has occurred, and does not always involve identifying the victim to the accused, unless the victim wants to be identified. This process will be professionally and discreetly handled and will follow the steps listed:

  1. A person with a sexual harassment complaint may seek advice from any trusted individual (e.g., an academic adviser, coach, college pastor, college counselor, Vice President for Student Life, Vice President for Academic Affairs, or Director of Campus Security and Safety). This person will then assist the complainant in contacting the Affirmative Action Officer (AAO), Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students. A request for direct resolution should be initiated as soon as possible, or at least within the term in which the alleged incident occurred. The AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students may extend this timeline due to extenuating circumstances.
  2. The AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students will counsel the complainant concerning the options available under the sexual harassment policy. At the complainant’s request the complaint will be handled by direct resolution. A written complaint will be filed with the Vice President for Student Life, Associate Dean of Students, or AAO, who will act as an official agent of the college to resolve the matter. The written complaint should include the following information: name, address and phone number of the complainant, nature of the complaint, date and location of the incident, individual(s) involved, evidence on which the complaint is based, and redress sought by the complainant.
  3. The AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students will inform the accused person(s) of the complaint, actions available under the sexual harassment policy (e.g., warning, educational programming, assisted facilitation) and that retaliation by the accused is strictly prohibited and will result in sanctions. If the complaint warrants, the trusted individual may recommend to the AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students actions protecting the privacy of either the complainant or the accused until the process is concluded.
  4. The AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students will initiate a prompt, thorough, and confidential investigation of the reported incident.
  5. The AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students will attempt to recommend a solution, acceptable to both the complainant and the accused. If the evidence warrants, the AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students of students may recommend dismissal of the complaint or referral to a civil or criminal process. If the AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students cannot find a mutually acceptable solution or if the accused declines an informal resolution, the complaint may proceed to the formal procedures. Some complaints are about behaviors so severe that some direct resolution options may not be appropriate.
  6. The AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students will write a summary of the complaint and the results of the direct resolution process and keep it on file. This summary will be used only if the accused has been involved in other incidents of sexual harassment or abuse. This summary will normally be destroyed two years after the respondent is no longer a member of the Wartburg College community.
  7. If a complaint cannot be resolved directly by the AAO, Vice President for Student Life, or Associate Dean of Students, the complainant may elect to initiate the formal complaint procedure.

Formal Complaint Procedure

Complaints against a student should be brought to the Associate Dean of Students. In most cases formal complaints against a student will be handled using the Student Conduct procedures outlined in the Student Handbook. In particularly severe cases of sexual harassment, including quid pro quo harassment, formal complaints will be handled through the Sexual Misconduct Procedures. Complaints against a staff person should be brought to the Director of Campus Security or the Affirmative Action Officer. Procedures for dealing with claims against staff are contained in the Staff Handbook, and claims against faculty are contained in the Faculty Handbook. When a faculty person is the accused, the complaint should be brought to the department chair or the Dean of the Faculty. Claims of harassment against a staff member should be brought to the Director of Campus Security or the Affirmative Action Officer.