VI.D. Discrimination Grievance Procedure
ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY TYPE: STUDENTS
POLICY TITLE: Discrimination Grievance Procedure (Students)
- Policy Statement
Fox Valley Technical College will provide equal opportunity in educational programs and services to all persons regardless of age, race, color, creed, religion, disability, marital status, parental status, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or pregnancy unless such status relates to a bona fide academic qualification. Services, financial aid, and other benefits of this College are provided on a nondiscriminatory basis.
The College seeks continuous compliance with all applicable state and federal antidiscrimination laws, including but not limited to, Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Carl D. Perkins of Vocational Education Act, the Guides of the Civil Rights Office for the Elimination of the Discrimination and Refusal of Services in Vocational Programs, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, 38.23, Wis. Stats., other laws, executive orders, and/or administrative directives and applicable codes.
Discrimination shall mean unequal treatment in any service, program, course, activity, or facility at Fox Valley Technical College based upon a student’s protected status as defined by law.
Harassment is a form of discrimination and includes verbal or physical conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive academic environment, which substantially interferes with an individual’s academic performance or substantially and adversely affects an individual’s academic progress. Harassment includes unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe enough to interfere substantially with an individual’s academic progress or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive academic environment. This definition also applies when:
Sexual Harassment includes sexual violence, an extreme form of hostile environment defined as:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s status as a student, or
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic decisions affecting the individual.
Physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim's use of drugs or alcohol. An individual may also be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX.
This policy covers complaints involving student-on-student or employee-on-student sexual harassment that occurred off school grounds, and/or outside of a College education program or activity. Conduct that occurs off campus can be the subject of a complaint or report that will be evaluated to determine whether it violates this policy, e.g. if off-campus harassment has continuing effects which deny or limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or that create a hostile environment on campus. Allegations of off-campus sexual misconduct should be brought to the College's attention.
Complainant is an individual who is currently enrolled, is currently seeking access to an educational service, program, course or facility at the College, or who has been enrolled or who has sought access to an education service, program, course or facility at the College within the last three hundred (300) calendar days who alleges discrimination based on a protected status or prohibited harassment as set forth above.
Assurance of Non-retaliation
Retaliatory action against anyone filing a complaint of any type of discrimination or harassment or anyone who participates in the investigation of a complaint is strictly prohibited. The complainant, any person who participates in the investigation of a complaint, and the accused will be advised of the District’s policy in this regard when a complaint has been filed. Retaliation is itself a form of misconduct that may form the basis for disciplinary actions. Any complaints of retaliation, on any basis, should be referred immediately to the Title IX/Gender Equity Coordinator.
Confidentiality is critical to the grievance procedure. A complaint, in and of itself, is not evidence of inappropriate behavior. We respect the privacy of all persons involved in the complaint – the complainant, a person accused of engaging in the prohibited conduct, witnesses, and others as deemed necessary. These individuals shall maintain confidentiality and not discuss any part of the complaint investigation, findings, or any action taken, except with those persons who have a legitimate need to know. The College shall maintain confidentiality to the extent allowed by law and to the extent necessary to conduct a thorough and efficient investigation of the complaint.
The Discrimination Grievance Procedure is designed to comply with any applicable federal regulations which require federal grantees to adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of student complaints, alleging discrimination. It is also designed to comply with State of Wisconsin law prohibiting discrimination against students for the reasons set forth in Sec. 38.23 Wis. Stats.
The procedure consists of four (4) steps*: 1) Intake; 2) Investigation; 3) Review and Findings; and 4) Appeal.
*NOTE: These steps are the responsibility of FVTC whether or not the student who has harassed makes a complaint or otherwise asks the school to take action.
Step 1 – Intake
It is the primary responsibility of the Affirmative Action Officer to ensure the effective installation, maintenance, processing, timelines, recordkeeping, and notification required by the grievance procedure. The Affirmative Action Officer may assign the investigation to another individual at his/her discretion if such reassignment would further the purposes of this policy. The person (complainant) with a discrimination or a harassment complaint shall attempt to resolve the issue by informal discussion with the Instructor, Dean, or Title IX/Gender Equity Coordinator as soon as possible after the known occurrence of the act or event. The full cooperation of the complainant is essential throughout the grievance procedure.
If a responsible College employee has directly observed sexual harassment of a student, the College should contact the student who was harassed (even in the absence of a complaint from that student), explain that the College is responsible for taking steps to correct the harassment.
If the matter is not resolved through informal discussion, the complaint shall be presented in writing to the Title IX/Gender Equity Coordinator within three hundred (300) calendar days after the known occurrence of the act or event. The complaint should include the name of the individual against whom the complaint is filed, and the specific nature of the alleged discrimination or harassment, the time, place, pertinent facts, and any other circumstances relating to the incident. The complainant must include his/her name, address, phone number, and signature. The complainant is requested to use the Allegation of Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Form for the written complaint.
The complainant will be given a copy of the Discrimination Grievance Procedure.
Step 2 – Investigation
The Title IX/Gender Equity Coordinator shall thoroughly investigate the complaint whether or not the complainant files formally. If the subject of the complaint is the Title IX/Gender Equity Coordinator, then the Affirmative Action Officer shall investigate the complaint. The steps in the investigation process will be prompt, thorough, and impartial, and will include, but not be limited to:
- Interview complainant to clarify allegation and receive written statement.
- Ask complainant for additional evidence, facts, and names of potential witnesses.
- Interview the accused and receive written statement.
- Interview witnesses, if any, and receive written statements.
- Review relevant documents.
- Develop and maintain file on all statements, reports, and evidence.
- Develop letter of findings.
a) If FVTC learns of harassment through other means (i.e. third party witness, anonymous letter or telephone call), different factors will affect the response. These factors include the source and nature of the information; the seriousness of the alleged incident; the specificity of the information; the objectivity and credibility of the source of the report; whether any individuals can be identified who were subjected to the alleged harassment; and whether those individuals want to pursue the matter.
b) FVTC has an obligation to investigate sexual harassment allegations even in the complainant wants anonymity. Interim protective steps for the complainant will be instituted before the final outcome of the investigation of sexual harassment, violence, or sexual violence.
c) Constitutionally protected speech and traditional academic freedom are valued in higher education. These ideals help to create the stimulating and challenging learning environment that should characterize higher education. Individuals are encouraged to invite, rather than inhibit, discourse on ideas. In addressing all complaints and reports under this policy, the college will take all permissible actions to ensure the safety of students and employees while complying with free speech requirements for students and employees. While the college will vigilantly protect students’ and employees’ rights against sex discrimination under this policy, this policy does not apply to curriculum or in any way prohibit or abridge the use of particular textbooks or curricular materials.
d) Referral to off-campus counseling or victim services is available.
The Title IX/Gender Equity Coordinator may involve other FVTC offices or staff or other designated individual as appropriate to complete a thorough investigation. Any individual (accused) specifically alleged to be responsible for the complaint of discrimination or harassment will be asked to respond to the complaint verbally and in writing. Any person with knowledge of the alleged action(s) is required to participate in any investigation as requested.
The investigation will begin within ten (10) days of receipt of the written complaint and should, if practical, be concluded within sixty (60) calendar days of receipt of the complaint.
Step 3 – Review and Findings
Once the investigation is completed, all information and evidence will be reviewed to determine whether there is a reasonable belief to conclude that the complainant has been subjected to discrimination or harassment, or if FVTC policies and procedures had been violated. When the review is completed, the findings resulting from the investigation will be communicated to the complainant and the accused within fifteen (15) days of conclusion of the investigation, unless after diligent attempts the parties are not available.
Fox Valley Technical College will take appropriate corrective action when it has been determined that a discrimination or harassment situation has occurred. Staff who have been found to be in violation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, pursuant to relevant policies and/or appropriate collective bargaining agreements. Students who have been found in violation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from the college, pursuant to the Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Appeal Procedure.
Step 4 – Appeal Steps
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the written findings of the Title IX/Gender Equity Coordinator, he/she may appeal the findings by giving written notice to the District President within fifteen (15) calendar days after receipt of the written findings. The President shall within fifteen (15) calendar days schedule a meeting with the complainant. The President shall within fifteen (15) calendar days after the meeting, send a written response to the complainant.
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the response of the President, he/she may appeal the response by giving written notice to the Fox Valley Technical College Board of Trustees within fifteen (15) calendar days after receipt of the President’s decision.
Within sixty (60) calendar days after receiving an appeal, the Fox Valley Technical College Board of Trustees will review the allegations, the written findings, and the response of the President. The Board may interview the complainant, the accused and others, as deemed necessary.
The Board must take one of the following actions:
If the matter is remanded for review, the complainant may appeal any subsequent findings to the President and to the Board within the time frames mentioned above.
- Deny the appeal
- Overturn the response of the President
- Remand the matter for complete or partial review, citing specific issues to be considered
Once a final determination is made, the decision of the Board is
final and there shall be no further appeal of the matter internally.
Nothing in this grievance procedure shall preclude the complainant from seeking a remedy under state or federal law at any point in the process.
Allegation of Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Form
- U.S. Department of Education – Office of Civil Rights
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission