Essential Policies for the Columbia Community

STUDENT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ON DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT

Melissa Rooker, Associate Provost, mrooker@columbia.edu
Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator,
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
103 Low Library, MC 4333
212-854-5511 or 212-854-5918
http://eoaa.columbia.edu/ 

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) is responsible for managing Columbia University’s Student Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment and for coordinating compliance activities under these policies and the applicable federal, state, and local laws. The Associate Provost heads the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) and is designated as the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Compliance Officer for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and other equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, and affirmative action laws.The Assistant Director, Student Services for Gender Based and Sexual Misconduct and the Dean of Students, Columbia Law School serve as Deputy Title IX Coordinators. Students, faculty, and staff may contact the EOAA Office to inquire about their rights under the University’s policies, request assistance, seek information about filing a complaint, or report conduct or behavior that may violate these policies.

Student Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment

Complaints against employees and third parties engaged in University business, for discrimination and harassment are processed in accord with the Employment Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment which are printed here and available online at: http://eoaa.columbia.edu/employment-policies. The use of the term “discrimination and harassment” under these policies and procedures includes discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. For information, contact EOAA, 212-854-5511 or eoaa@columbia.edu.

Complaints against students for gender-based misconduct are processed in accord with the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students. The use of the term "gender-based misconduct" under these policies and procedures includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence.  Students who attend Barnard College and Teachers College as well as Columbia University are covered by the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy. For information, contact the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct at 212-854-1717.

Complaints against Columbia Law students for gender-based misconduct are processed in accord with the Columbia Law School Policy on Gender-Based Misconduct at: http://eoaa.columbia.edu/resources/documents. For information, contact Columbia Law School Dean of Students, 212-854-7420 or mag26@columbia.edu.

Complaints against students for other forms of discrimination and harassment are processed in accord with the Student Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment which are available online at: http://eoaa.columbia.edu/student-policies.

Student Policies on Discrimination and Harassment

Columbia University is committed to providing a learning, living, and working environment free from discrimination and harassment and to fostering a nurturing and vibrant community founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all of its members. The University does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of membership in a Protected Class, and it provides students who believe that they have been the subject of discrimination or harassment with mechanisms for seeking redress. Nothing in this policy shall abridge academic freedom or the University’s educational mission. All members of the University community are expected to adhere to the applicable policies, to cooperate with the procedures for responding to complaints of discrimination and harassment, and to report conduct or behavior they believe to be in violation of these policies to EOAA. Management and supervisory personnel have a duty to act; they are responsible for taking reasonable and necessary action to prevent discrimination and harassment and for responding promptly and thoroughly to any such claims. University officers who learn of an allegation of gender-based misconduct, discrimination, or harassment have a duty to report the allegation to EOAA or Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct. All students are protected from retaliation for filing a complaint or assisting in an investigation under these policies. Appropriate disciplinary action may be taken against any student or employee who violates these policies.

Definitions

Discrimination

Discrimination is defined as:
  • treating members of a Protected Class less favorably because of their membership in that class; or
  • having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on Protected Class members.

Discriminatory Harassment

Discriminatory harassment is defined as subjecting an individual on the basis of her or his membership in a Protected Class to humiliating, abusive, or threatening conduct or behavior that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group; that creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive learning, living, or working environment; that alters the conditions of the learning, living, or working environment; or that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s academic performance.

Duty To Act

Management and supervisory personnel have a duty to act. On learning directly or indirectly of conduct or behavior that might violate University policies, they are put on notice to act. They should consult with the EOAA Office and/or Columbia University Human Resources for advice and assistance on addressing the matter.

 Duty to Report

University Officers have a duty to report conduct or behavior that violates these policies. University officers who learn of an allegation of gender-based misconduct against a student are expected to notify Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct or the EOAA Office. University officers who learn of an allegation of discrimination or harassment against a student are expected to notify the student’s Dean of Students. University officers who learn of an allegation of discrimination or harassment against a University employee are expected to notify EOAA. University officers who learn of an allegation of gender-based misconduct involving a minor under the age of 17 are required to notify EOAA and Public Safety. Officers serving in a privileged professional capacity (mental health counselors, clergy, medical providers, and rape-crisis counselors) are not bound by this expectation, except as required by law.

Gender-based Misconduct

Sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender-based harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence are forms of gender-based misconduct. Misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Gender-based misconduct can be committed by men or by women, and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.

Gender-based Harassment

Gender-based harassment is defined as acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, stalking, or hostility based on gender or gender-stereotyping. The conduct must be such that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive learning, living, or working environment.

Protected Class

A Protected Class is a class of persons who are protected under applicable federal, state, or local laws against discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), pregnancy, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, military status, or any other legally protected status.

Retaliation

Retaliation occurs when an alleged perpetrator or respondent, her or his friends or associates, or other member of the University community intimidates, threatens, coerces, harasses, or discriminates against an individual who has made a complaint or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under these policies and procedures.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is defined as any nonconsensual, intentional physical contact of a sexual nature, such as unwelcome physical contact with a person’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts. Sexual assault occurs when the act is committed by: (a) physical force, violence, threat, or intimidation; (b) ignoring the objections of another person; (c) causing another’s intoxication or impairment through the use of alcohol or other drugs; and/or (d) taking advantage of another person’s incapacitation, helplessness, or other inability to consent.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical or visual conduct or behavior of a sexual nature when:

  • submission to such conduct or behavior is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s academic performance or learning, living, and working environment; or
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct or behavior by an individual is used as the basis for academic decisions affecting that individual; or
  • such conduct or behavior has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive learning, living, or working environment.

 Disability Access and Accommodation

Columbia is committed to fostering a learning, living, and working environment that is accessible for students with disabilities. Students seeking access, accommodations, or support services for a disability should contact Disability Services at 212-854-2388. Information on the services provided by Disability Services may be found online at http://health.columbia.edu/services/ods.

Independent Investigation

The University, at the discretion of the Office of the General Counsel, may conduct an investigation independent of or in addition to the procedures provided herein at any time. The investigation may involve complaints or allegations concerning discrimination, harassment, gender-based misconduct, or retaliation against the University or any of its employees or students.

Consensual Romantic and Sexual Relationship Policy between Faculty and Students

Melissa Rooker, Associate Provost, mrooker@columbia.edu
Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator,
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
103 Low Library, MC 4333
212-854-5511 or 212-854-5918
http://eoaa.columbia.edu/

It is the policy of Columbia University that no faculty member shall have a consensual romantic or sexual relationship with a student over whom he or she exercises academic or professional authority. It is also the policy of the University that no faculty member shall exercise academic or professional authority over any student with whom he or she has or previously has had a consensual romantic or sexual relationship. This policy applies to all officers of instruction, research, and the libraries, including students with appointments as student officers of instruction and research and graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants. The use of the term “faculty” in the policy statement is not meant to restrict the policy’s application in any way but to underscore its special relevance to the faculty because of the roles they play in the education and development of the University’s students.

Should a faculty member enter into a consensual romantic or sexual relationship with a student in violation of the policy, he or she shall promptly act to recuse him- or herself from all academic and professional decisions and activities affecting the student. Additionally, the faculty member must promptly alert his or her chair, dean, or other head of unit to the existence of that relationship and cooperate in making alternative instructional and supervisory arrangements necessary to protect the student against academic, professional, or financial hardship. If a faculty member fails to disclose a consensual romantic or sexual relationship, the University will, on discovering it, take all necessary steps to ensure compliance with this policy, including, where appropriate, disciplinary action.

Students in a consensual romantic or sexual relationship with a faculty member are encouraged to consult with the chair, dean, or other head of the unit in which they are working to help with the arrangements for alternative instruction and supervision. Students, faculty, and staff concerned about consensual romantic and sexual relationships involving others in their programs or classes are encouraged to speak with their dean, chair, or other head of unit or the Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA). Columbia University’s educational mission is promoted by the professionalism of its faculty-student relationships. This professionalism is reflected not only in the quality of the intellectual exchange between faculty and students, but also in the nature of their interactions as members of a community of scholars. The academic freedom traditionally accorded to members of the faculty imposes a correlative obligation of responsible self-discipline, one which acknowledges the power they exercise over students and the importance of protecting against its abusive or exploitative use.

Consensual romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students pose a threat to academic professionalism in situations where they compromise, or appear to compromise, the faculty members’ judgment of students. A similar threat exists when they lead or are perceived to lead to preferential treatment of one student over another. In these circumstances, they can be detrimental to the affected individuals, including students outside of the relationship, and can injure the University and its reputation. Further, because of the power differential, consensual romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students are highly susceptible to being characterized as nonconsensual or coercive, especially when they end, opening up the possibility of a charge of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

A faculty member exercises academic or professional authority over a student by:

  • providing instruction in a course or section, including grading, evaluating, or advising the student;
  • evaluating the student outside of a course by, for example, grading qualifying exams or serving on defense committees;
  • supervising or advising the student on a project such as a thesis or independent research;
  • formally mentoring the student;
  • co-authoring papers or working collaboratively on a project;
  • supervising any administrative assignment given to the student, either for compensation or without pay;
  • providing the student with a recommendation for a job, internship, clerkship, fellowship, prize, award,
    or other honor;
  • participating in departmental or school decisions affecting the student on admissions, financial aid, teaching assignments, or access to institutional resources available for academic purposes, such as travel funds or study carrels;
  • otherwise participating in any program or activity with respect to the student that judges performance, recognizes achievement, confers benefits, rewards work, or sanctions conduct.

For advice or assistance on the appropriate course of action, the faculty member or the student may consult the Associate Provost (EOAA), as well as his or her chair, dean, or other head of unit. Insofar as it is possible, the chair, dean, unit head, or Associate Provost (EOAA) shall honor a request for confidentiality from a student or faculty member seeking recusal, and all students and faculty involved in inquiries shall be asked to observe confidentiality. At all times, the institutional response shall keep the student’s educational aims and needs foremost.

Should a romantic or sexual relationship with a student lead to a charge of sexual harassment or sexual assault against a faculty member, the University is obligated to investigate and resolve the charge in accordance with the University’s Employment Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment, a copy of which may be found online at http://eoaa.columbia.edu/employment-nondiscrimination-policies. Questions regarding the Consensual Romantic and Sexual Relationship Policies or the Employment Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment should be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Consensual Romantic and Sexual Relationship Policy between Staff and Students

Melissa Rooker, Associate Provost, mrooker@columbia.edu
Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator,
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
103 Low Library, MC 4333
212-854-5511 or 212-854-5918
http://eoaa.columbia.edu/

It is the policy of Columbia University that no staff member should participate in supervision, employment actions, evaluation, advising or mentoring any Columbia University student with whom that staff member has or has had a consensual romantic or sexual relationship, except in unusual circumstances, where explicit authorization has been obtained from the Vice President of Human Resources in consultation with Office of the General Counsel.

In the event that a personal relationship of this kind does exist in a supervisory, advisory or mentoring context, the supervisor must disclose the relationship to the Vice President of Human Resources and initiate arrangements to address any issues of conflict of interest.

A staff member who violates this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. The University will take all necessary steps to protect a student in such a relationship against academic, professional or financial hardship.

Students, faculty, and staff concerned about a consensual romantic or sexual relationship in violation of this policy are encouraged to speak with their chair, the dean, or other head of unit, the, the Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) or a Human Resources (HR) Client Manager.

9/2014