Whittier College will continue online instruction through the beginning of spring semester. In-person instruction will resume on February 21.
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The College’s harassment policy is not meant to inhibit or prohibit educational content or discussions inside or outside of the classroom that include germane but controversial or sensitive subject matters protected by academic freedom.
The sections below describe the specific forms of legally prohibited harassment that are also prohibited under the College policy. When speech or conduct is protected by academic freedom and/or the First Amendment, it will not be considered a violation of the College policy, though supportive measures will be offered to those impacted. All policies encompass actual and/or attempted offenses.
Discriminatory harassment constitutes a form of discrimination that is prohibited by College policy. Discriminatory harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct by any member or group of the community on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a class protected by policy or law.
The College does not tolerate discriminatory harassment of any employee, student, visitor, or guest. The College will act to remedy all forms of harassment when reported, whether or not the harassment rises to the level of creating a “hostile environment.”
A hostile environment is inappropriate behavior that unreasonably interferes with, limits, or effectively denies an individual’s educational or employment access, benefits, or opportunities (or creates an abusive work atmosphere for one or more employees). This discriminatory effect results from harassing verbal, written, graphic, or physical conduct that is severe or pervasive and objectively offensive.
When discriminatory harassment rises to the level of creating a hostile environment, the College may also impose sanctions on the Respondent through application of this policy.
The College may, in certain cases, address offensive conduct and/or harassment that 1) does not rise to the level of creating a hostile environment, or 2) that is of a generic nature and not based on a protected status. Addressing such conduct will not result in the imposition of discipline under College policy, but may be addressed through respectful conversation, remedial actions, education, effective Alternative Resolution, and/or other informal resolution mechanisms.
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the State of California regarding Sexual Harassment, a specific form of discriminatory harassment, as an unlawful discriminatory practice.
The College has adopted the following definition of Sexual Harassment in order to address the unique environment of an academic community.
Acts of sexual harassment may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity of those involved.
Sexual Harassment, as an umbrella category, includes the offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, and is defined as:
Conduct on the basis of sex/gender or that is sexual that satisfies one or more of the following:
A ‘sexual act” is specifically defined by federal regulations to include one or more of the following:
This would include having another person touch you sexually, forcibly, or without their consent.
For the purposes of this definition—
As used in the offenses above, the following definitions and understandings apply:
Force is the use of physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that is intended to overcome resistance or produce consent (e.g., “Have sex with me or I’ll hit you,” “Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.”).
Sexual activity that is forced is, by definition, non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not necessarily forced. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. Consent is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. While resistance is not required or necessary, it is a clear demonstration of non-consent.
Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive conduct differs from seductive conduct based on factors such as the type and/or extent of the pressure used to obtain consent. When someone makes clear that they do not want to engage in certain sexual activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.
Affirmative consent means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each party to determine that the other has consented before engaging in the activity.
If consent is not clearly provided prior to engaging in the activity, consent may be ratified by word or action at some point during the interaction or thereafter, but clear communication from the outset is strongly encouraged.
For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct. Reasonable reciprocation can be implied. For example, if someone kisses you, you can kiss them back (if you want to) without the need to explicitly obtain their consent to being kissed back.
Consent can also be withdrawn once given, as long as the withdrawal is reasonably and clearly communicated. If consent is withdrawn, that sexual activity should cease within a reasonable time.
Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). A current or previous intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.
Proof of consent or non-consent is not a burden placed on either party involved in an incident. Instead, the burden remains on the College to determine whether its policy has been violated. The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced.
Consent in relationships must also be considered in context. When parties consent to BDSM or other forms of kink, non-consent may be shown by the use of a safe word. Resistance, force, violence, or even saying “no” may be part of the kink and thus consensual, so the College’s evaluation of communication in kink situations should be guided by reasonableness, rather than strict adherence to policy that assumes non-kink relationships as a default.
In assessing consent, the Respondent's belief is not a valid excuse for a lack of consent where:
A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious, for any reason, including by alcohol or other drugs. As stated above, a Respondent violates this policy if they engage in sexual activity with someone who is incapable of giving consent.
It is a defense to a sexual assault policy violation that the Respondent neither knew nor should have known the Complainant to be physically or mentally incapacitated. The question of whether the Respondent knew or should have known of the Complainant's lack of consent or incapacity to give affirmative consent is an objective inquiry as to what a reasonable person, exercising sober judgment, would have known, in the same or similar circumstances.
Incapacitation occurs when someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing/informed consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of their sexual interaction).
Incapacitation is determined through consideration of all relevant indicators of an individual’s state and is not synonymous with intoxication, impairment, blackout, and/or being drunk.
This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition, involuntary physical restraint, and/or the consumption of incapacitating drugs.
In addition to the forms of sexual harassment described above, which are covered by Title IX, the College additionally prohibits the following offenses as forms of discrimination that may be within or outside of Title IX when the act is based upon the Complainant’s actual or perceived membership in a protected class.
Violation of any other College policies may constitute a Civil Rights Offense when a violation is motivated by actual or perceived membership in a protected class, and the result is a discriminatory limitation or denial of employment or educational access, benefits, or opportunities.
Sanctions for the above-listed Civil Rights Offenses range from reprimand through expulsion/termination.
Protected activity under this policy includes reporting an incident that may implicate this policy, participating in the grievance process, supporting a Complainant or Respondent, assisting in providing information relevant to an investigation, and/or acting in good faith to oppose conduct that constitutes a violation of this Policy.
Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator and will be promptly investigated. the College will take all appropriate and available steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.
the College and any member of the College community are prohibited from taking or attempting to take materially adverse action by intimidating, threatening, coercing, harassing, or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by law or policy, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy and procedure.
The exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment does not constitute retaliation.
Charging an individual with a code of conduct violation for making a materially false statement in bad faith in the course of a grievance proceeding under this policy and procedure does not constitute retaliation, provided that a determination regarding responsibility, alone, is not sufficient to conclude that any party has made a materially false statement in bad faith.
This policy was updated on November 12, 2020