Siena College Human Rights Policy
Siena College is committed to maintaining a community environment that fosters respect for the dignity and worth of each individual. In a college community, it is critical that respect encompass diversity and differences of opinion. The dignity of the individual should never be violated in any way, and the college community views, with seriousness, offenses against any person. Particularly intolerable, in view of the College’s commitment to respect the dignity of the individual, are offenses directed against persons because of their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability. Discrimination and harassment based on any of these conditions are unethical and unprofessional, and they are incompatible with Siena’s commitment to diversity, educational equity, and the Franciscan tradition. Any form of such behavior, toward any member of the Siena community (students, staff, faculty, or administrators), will be subject to strong disciplinary action. As a community, Siena College aims to provide an environment of diversity and to recognize the interdependence that characterizes our local and global community.
The free and responsible exchange of ideas is at the heart of the educational enterprise, and nothing in this policy should be construed as interfering with the free expression of opinion, in or out of the classroom. The expression of a belief that another person considers offensive or false is not adequate to trigger the use of these procedures, unless that expression can be shown to be directed at a given individual or identifiable group of individuals with the intent or reasonably foreseeable effect of doing harm to them.
The intent of this statement and the accompanying procedures is to provide an affirmation of policy prohibiting acts of discrimination and harassment and to establish a meaningful internal grievance process for all members of the Siena community. The remedies available shall consist of disciplinary and remedial action, excluding all forms of monetary damages, conferrable against individuals as parties.
For our purposes, discrimination will be defined as: the denial of equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life in the college community, to individuals who are, or are perceived to be, different in some way that is unrelated to their ability to take advantage of those opportunities. Harassment is a particular form of discrimination that occurs between individuals and is defined as any behavior (verbal, non-verbal, or physical) that stigmatizes an individual on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability, and that:
A. Involves an expressed or implied threat to an individual’s academic efforts, employment, professional advancement or promotion, participation in college-sponsored activities, or personal safety; or
B. Has the purpose or reasonably foreseeable effect of interfering with an individual’s academic efforts, employment, professional advancement or promotion, participation in college sponsored activities, or personal safety; or
C. Creates an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment that interferes with educational pursuits, employment, or participation in college sponsored activities.
Harassment can take many forms, including:
A. Verbal: Comments directed toward an individual, the purpose or reasonably foreseeable effect of which is to denigrate, demean, insult, threaten, intimidate, attack, embarrass, or otherwise injure the person who is the target or subject of those comments. Examples include name-calling and derogatory humor about supposed traits of the group to which that individual belongs.
B. Non-verbal: Suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures.
C. Physical: Unwanted touching of the body, such as patting, pinching, brushing up against, and shoving, and criminal acts, such as, assault and battery, sexual assault, rape, attempted rape, and property damage.
Intoxication is often a factor in incidents of harassment. However, no form of intoxication shall be used as a defense against charges of harassment, nor shall any form of intoxication be seen as mitigating the seriousness of a charge.
Much behavior covered by this policy is not, strictly speaking, illegal; however, some kinds of harassment are. Sexual harassment, for example, is a form of illegal sex-based discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission guidelines implementing Title VII define sexual harassment in the following way:
"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when
A. Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of employment;
B. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals, or
C. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment."
The law regarding sexual harassment addresses both supervisor/supervisee relationships and peer relationships. Supervisors are also responsible for preventing harassment among those they supervise.