Drew’s Revised Human Rights Policy
Changes in federal and State law compelled Drew to revise its Sexual Harassment Policy in 2011-2012. That Policy incorporated many provisions of the old Policy; however, it also made some significant modifications. Those changes were driven by new and evolving Title IX mandates implemented by the United States Department of Education (DOE) as part of its national campaign against sexual harassment. Additional modifications, primarily procedural, will be implemented for the fall 2012 term in order to better address the University’s obligations under federal and state law.
Drew’s Human Rights Policy incorporates other anti-discrimination protections established under federal and State law. These measures are consistent with the University’s long standing and deeply engrained community standards.
Building on the work of diverse members of this community over the last several years, the updated and more comprehensive Policy reflects the University’s ongoing commitment to address all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment. It provides a framework that will enhance the University’s capacity to effectively investigate, remedy, and prevent incidents of discrimination or harassment in this community.
Summary: Key Provisions and Changes
- The Sexual Harassment Policy broadened to cover other forms of prohibited discrimination.
- The existing Sexual Harassment Committee re-established as a University-wide Human Rights Committee (HRC). The newly constituted Human Rights Committee will undertake four key functions: investigations, training, mediation, and hearing matters that involve only the most serious charges.
- Most violations decided by an administrator drawn from the constituency of the person complained against, after reviewing the Investigations Group’s report and meeting with the parties. In the case of a student, for example, most matters will be heard by the Director of Community Standards and Residence Life.
- That administrator decides which matters should be referred to the Hearing Committee, based on a variety of factors, including the severity of the alleged violation, whether the charges are contested, the inclination of the parties, and the severity of potential penalties.
- Definitions updated to bring them into line with current law and best practices.
- A “confidentiality” standard replaced by a “privacy” standard. While the University will attempt to ensure privacy, it is now required by DOE to take reasonable steps to investigate any allegation of sexual harassment or discrimination. As a result, information regarding a claim may have to be disclosed in connection with an investigation and/or a hearing.
- An Investigations Group, comprised of representatives drawn from a broad cross section of the University, which can also be supplemented by external resources if necessary, promptly investigates and reports on allegations of violations of the Policy.
- A three member Hearing Committee (instead of five), chaired by one of the HRC’s co-chairs, considers matters referred for a Committee Hearing.
- Discriminatory or harassing on-line or electronic conduct explicitly covered.
- Revised time lines for the investigation and resolution of complaints established in order to meet federal mandates.
- Victims of sexual assault will be fully advised of their right to pursue a complaint criminally, and, if requested, placed in contact with law enforcement authorities.
- Violations required to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, a “more likely than not” standard only recently imposed by DOE’s Office of Civil Rights.
- A provision added to avoid the need to hear duplicative or repetitive complaints involving the same underlying facts.
- The position of Title IX Coordinator continued. The Coordinator is charged with overseeing and coordinating Drew’s response to sexual harassment and discrimination.
Important components of the University’s pre-2012 Policy are preserved. Functions formerly handled by the Sexual Harassment Committee, such as advising parties, handling mediations, and conducting educational efforts, will continue under the HRC’s auspices. Disciplinary matters covered under the University’s Faculty Personnel Policy will continue to be heard under those procedures. Pre-existing procedures governing the conduct of hearings, appeal rights, and the equal treatment of each party will also be maintained.