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Policy on Preventing and Responding to Discrimination Against Students

This policy is designed to foster the University of Richmond’s commitment to the principle that every University of Richmond student, faculty and staff member has the right to work and learn in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. 

Scope

This policy applies to the University of Richmond and all of its Affiliates.  As used in this policy, the term “Affiliates” means organizations or entities in which the University owns a controlling interest or has the right to elect the majority of the entity’s governing board. The University shall also apply this policy, to the extent practicable, to the conduct of contractors and other third parties providing services on the University campus.

This policy set forth the process for handling complaints of discrimination, other than allegations of sexual misconduct.   Sexual misconduct is a type of sex discrimination.  The University’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct specifies in detail the University’s prohibition on sexual misconduct and the process by which complaints of sexual misconduct involving students, are handled by the University.

Academic Freedom.  This policy is not intended to and shall not be used to limit or restrict, in any manner, academic freedom, including, but not limited to, the curricular or pedagogical choices of faculty members. Members of the University community are expected to promote academic freedom, including the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom; to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression; and to speak or write as a public citizen without institutional restraint or discipline.  Members of the University community are also expected to foster intellectual honesty and freedom of inquiry and to respect those with differing views.

Policy

General Policy

The University of Richmond prohibits discrimination against applicants, students, faculty, or staff on the basis of race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, status as a veteran or any classification protected by local, state, or federal law.

The University also prohibits any form of harassment based on race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, status as a veteran or any classification protected by local, state, or federal law.  The University prohibits such harassment by all students, faculty and staff and others associated with the University.

As a recipient of federal funds, the University complies with federal laws prohibiting discrimination, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”).  Title IX provides that:   “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

The University is committed to preventing and responding to conduct that violates its non-discrimination policy.  Any individual whose conduct violates this policy will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with applicable University policies and procedures.

The University of Richmond shall make reasonable efforts to investigate and appropriately address reports of discrimination and harassment (as defined in this policy).  Upon receipt of a complaint, report, or information about possible discrimination or harassment, the University will respond in an effort to stop such conduct, eliminate any hostile environment, take reasonable steps to prevent a recurrence of such conduct, and address any effect that such conduct may have on the larger University community.

For questions about sex discrimination in education, please contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator and Director of Compliance, Maura Smith, Title IX Coordinator & Director of Compliance, Maryland Hall, Room 102A, (804) 289-8654.   Further information about Title IX and sexual discrimination in education is available from the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20202-1100; 800-421-3481; OCR@ed.gov; or http://www.ed.gov/ocr.

Definitions

Harassment:  Harassment is unwelcome, offensive verbal, written, or physical conduct which because of its severity and/or persistence, is likely to interfere significantly with an individual’s work or education, affect adversely an individual’s living conditions on campus, or create a hostile or intimidating environment.  Sexual harassment is a form of harassment.    The following are examples of the type of harassment prohibited by the University:

  • Making unwelcome or offensive comments about a person's clothing, body, or personal life;
  • Use of unwelcome or offensive nicknames or terms of endearment;
  • Offensive jokes or unwelcome innuendoes;
  • Unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favors;
  • Any suggestion that sexual favors, or status as being in any protected classification identified above, would affect one's job, promotion, performance evaluations, grades, working, or educational conditions;
  • Insults, epithets, jokes, slurs, or offensive comments that relate to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or any other status protected by applicable law;
  • The placement, dissemination or circulation of any written, graphic, or electronic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or any other status protected by applicable law;
  • Other conduct that creates a work or educational environment that may be considered offensive or hostile; or
  • Any other conduct or behavior deemed by the University to be inappropriate or harassing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or any other status protected by applicable law.

Harassment may also occur if submission to conduct described above is an implicit or explicit term or condition of employment, education, or participation in a campus activity or if submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for a decision regarding any University operation or program.

Sexual Misconduct:  Sexual misconduct is a broad range of behavior that includes, but is not limited to non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, dating/relationship violence, domestic violence and stalking.  See the University of Richmond Sexual Misconduct Policy, What is Sexual Misconduct for definitions of these terms.

Reporting Concerns about Discrimination or Harassment

The University strongly encourages prompt reporting of incidents that may constitute discrimination or harassment.

Any member of the University community who believes that he or she may have been or knows someone who may have been discriminated against or subjected to harassment, including sexual harassment, in violation of the University’s policy, should report that concern or those concerns as follows:

  • Students:  For matters involving students either as the subject of the alleged discrimination or harassment or as the person alleged to be discriminating or engaging in misconduct, contact:
    • Tracy Cassalia, Interim Deputy Title IX Coordinator, at (804) 289-8464.
  • For disability related concerns, contact:
    • Tinina Cade, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Student Development and Disability Coordinator at (804) 289-8032.
  • Faculty and Staff:  For cases involving faculty or staff as the subject of possible discrimination or harassment, please contact:
    • Carl Sorensen, Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Associate Vice President of Human Resource at (804) 289-8166.

While the University encourages people to report concerns regarding alleged discrimination directly to the individuals listed above, reports may also be made via the University’s Ethics and Compliance Helpline. The Ethics and Compliance Helpline can be reached toll free at (888) 256-4925 or by submitting an online report at www.reportlineweb.com/richmond.

For more information on reporting sexual misconduct, see the University of Richmond Sexual Misconduct Policy, How Can I Get Help?  What Resources Are Available to Me?

Unless designated as a confidential resource under the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, all University employees designated as Responsible Employees are required to report incidents of possible sex discrimination and sexual misconduct to the University’s Title IX Coordinators.  The definition of Responsible Employees can be found in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The University prohibits retaliation or retribution, in any form, against an individual who reports, in good faith, an actual, potential or suspected violation of this policy. See http://www.richmond.edu/compliance/non-retaliation.html

What is the Role of the Title IX Coordinators?

The Title IX Coordinators responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring the prompt and thorough investigation of any Title IX complaint or question from a student at the University;
  • Establishing processes to identify and address patterns or systemic problems that may arise during the investigation of a Title IX complaint from a student;
  • Ensuring that the University has in place policies and procedures reasonably necessary to foster compliance with Title IX, including, but not limited to grievance procedures for Title IX complaints from students;
  • Ensuring that appropriate school officials, including members of the Student Development Division, receive training regarding Title IX, including reporting and responding to possible incidents of discrimination or sexual harassment;
  • Implementing educational programs and communication plans designed to inform students of their rights under Title IX and how to file a Title IX complaint; and
  • Meeting with students who wish to file a Title IX complaint or raise a question relating to Title IX.

For more information on the role of Title IX Coordinators at the University, see the University’s Title IX Compliance Coordinators Policy.

How Do the Title IX Coordinators Handle a Complaint of Discrimination?

The Title IX Coordinators will respond to information or reports of possible discrimination regardless of whether a formal complaint is made.   The Title IX Coordinators will meet with the person making the complaint or on whose behalf the complaint or report is made (the “Complainant”) to review the Complainant’s concerns, to explain the University’s procedures for handling a complaint of discrimination, to determine whether an investigation is warranted and to discuss with the Complainant the options for formal and informal resolution of the complaint. 

If an investigation is warranted and the person accused of the discrimination is a student, the Deputy Title IX Coordinators for Student Development (listed above) will conduct the investigation.

If an investigation is warranted and the person accused of the discrimination is a member of the faculty or staff of the University, the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, who is the University’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator, or his designee, shall conduct the investigation in accordance with the University’s Policy on Preventing and Responding to Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Involving Faculty or Staff.

In general, the Title IX Coordinators will investigate promptly and the investigation will take no longer than sixty (60) days, unless extenuating circumstances necessitate a longer time frame.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will share his or her findings with the Complainant and the accused individual (referred to as the “Respondent”) simultaneously and in writing.   The Title IX Coordinator will also discuss with the Complainant and the Respondent the options and process for informal and formal resolution of the complaint.  

In the case of a report or complaint of discrimination based on sex, the Title IX Coordinators shall follow the processes set forth in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy for responding to reports of sexual misconduct.

What is the Process for Informal Resolution of a Complaint?

A Complainant may, at his or her option, seek to resolve the matter informally.  A Complainant is not required to pursue informal resolution before filing a formal complaint.  Additionally, a Complainant may terminate the informal resolution process at any time and initiate a formal resolution process. 

Informal resolution shall not be used in cases of alleged sexual misconduct.

If the Respondent is a student, the procedures set forth below for informal resolution apply.  If the Respondent is a member of the faculty or staff, the procedures set forth in the University’s Policy on Preventing and Responding to Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Involving Faculty or Staff apply.

Purpose of Informal Resolution.

Informal resolution provides an opportunity for the Complainant to discuss his or her complaint with the Respondent and to communicate his or her feelings and perceptions regarding the incident, the impact of the incident, and his or her wishes and expectations regarding protection in the future.  The Respondent will have an opportunity to respond.

Informal Discussion with Dean’s Office Staff Present

A Complainant may wish to discuss his or her complaint with the Respondent in a discussion facilitated by a member of the Westhampton or Richmond College Dean’s office.  In such case, the Complainant should notify the Title IX Coordinator of his or her desire to pursue this option and the Title IX Coordinator, in collaboration with the appropriate Dean, will coordinate such a discussion. 

If, during the course of the informal resolution, the Respondent elects to take responsibility for the alleged conduct, the informal resolution process will be concluded and the Dean’s office staff will propose a sanction.  If both the Complainant and the Respondent agree to such proposed sanction, the complaint will be resolved without any further rights to a hearing or appeal by either party. 

If the Respondent does not take responsibility for the alleged conduct, or either the Complainant or the Respondent objects to such proposed sanction, the matter will be handled in accordance with this policy and the University’s Standards of Student Conduct

The University, the Complainant or the Respondent may, at any time prior to the conclusion of the informal resolution, elect to end such proceedings and initiate formal resolution instead.  In such cases, statements or disclosures made by the parties in the course of the informal resolution may be considered in the subsequent formal resolution.

What is the Process for Formal Resolution of a Complaint?

A Complainant has the option to pursue a formal resolution of his or her complaint of a violation of this policy.

In cases involving an accused student, the procedures set forth in the University’s Standards of Student Conduct shall apply. In cases where the accused person is a faculty or staff member, the procedures set forth in the University’s Policy on Preventing and Responding to Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Involving Faculty or Staff shall apply.

How Does the University Handle Retaliation Against Someone Who Brings a Complaint of Discrimination or Participates in the Investigation or Hearing Process?

All members of the University community, including faculty, staff and students, who have a good faith concern regarding possible violations of this policy are expected to report such concerns to the Title IX Coordinators. 

The University prohibits retaliation or retribution, in any form, against an individual who reports, in good faith, an actual, potential or suspected violation of this policy. As used in this policy, reporting “in good faith” means the individual making the report has a reasonable basis to believe that there has been or may have been a violation of this policy.  Individuals who make frivolous or false reports shall not be deemed to be acting in good faith.

Anyone who engages in or attempts to engage in retaliation or retribution against an individual who reports, in good faith, an actual, potential or suspected violation of this policy shall be subject to discipline in accordance with the policies and procedures of the University.