Sexual harassment consists of overt physical sexual misconduct, a blatant threat, quid pro quo, or lesser behavior that persists after a person expresses to the alleged harasser that the behavior is unwelcome and must stop. When such behaviors are brought to the attention of Western Michigan University employees, the misconduct or incidents must be reported. Whenever such acts are reported and confirmed, prompt disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including employment termination or school dismissal. To enable the University to respond and follow formal procedures, employees are required and students are expected to report incidents to either the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Institutional Equity, the Office of Student Conduct or a designated Title IX deputy coordinator to take immediate and effective steps to prevent recurrence of alleged harassment and its effects and facilitate the proper procedure for handling the complaint.
Internal review and investigation process
The University conducts a timely, thorough, and equitable review or investigation for each complaint of alleged sexual harassment. The right to due process and fairness is protected for both the complainant and respondent throughout the entire process. Though the nature of each case may vary and require some latitude in approach, a typical complaint procedure includes the following:
- Alleged sexual harassment is reported to the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator, Office of Institutional Equity or Office of Student Conduct.
- Title IX deputy coordinators will refer reporting party to the Office of Institutional Equity or Office of Student Conduct for review or investigation.
- The Office of Student Conduct will investigate sexual harassment complaints when both the respondent and complainant are students.
- The Office of Institutional Equity will investigate all other sexual harassment complaints.
- The investigating office will schedule appointments to conduct inquiries and obtain verbal and/or written statements from the complainant, respondent and witnesses who may be able to offer relevant information about the alleged sexual harassment.
- Follow up contacts may be necessary to gather additional information about the alleged incident or complaint.
- A written report of the factual and reasonable determination is completed based on inquiries and evaluation using a preponderance of evidence standard. The finding from the investigation is reported to the complainant and the respondent, as well as the appropriate University representatives. Additional University or other proceedings may follow based on the finding.
The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) conducts factual investigations, but does not determine or issue sanctions. OIE notifies the appropriate administrative authority of the finding from each investigation using a preponderance of the evidence standard (more likely than not). If there is dissatisfaction or disagreement with the process used in an OIE investigation, individuals may have an option to file a complaint with any external state or federal enforcement agency. Dissatisfaction or disagreement with any corrective actions or sanctions falls outside the purview of OIE and must be pursued through other relevant University processes, such as the Student Code, collective bargaining agreements or human resources.
Every attempt will be made to maintain confidentiality in the investigation of sexual harassment complaints. All documentation and files remain in the investigating office, unless the University deems the release of information is mandated by applicable legal requirements.
Retaliation against an individual for opposing conduct or behavior that discriminates on the basis of sex or for filing an allegation of sexual harassment, testifying, or participating in an interview, investigation, proceeding, or litigation is prohibited. People are more likely to report claims of discrimination and cooperate with investigations when protection is provided. Prohibited retaliation is unlawful, contrary to University policy, discourages complaints of prohibited harassment or discrimination and can result in serious consequences. Claims of retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX coordinator or a deputy coordinator for referral to the Office of Institutional Equity for an investigation of the retaliation complaint.