New Anti-Discrimination Policy Creates Grievance Panel

 In August 2012, the Colgate administration passed a new harass-ment and discrimination policy. This new policy applies to everyone on campus and holds all students, faculty and staff to the same stan-dards. Previously, there had been separate codes of conduct listed in three separate handbooks. Perhaps the most notable addition to this policy is the establishment of the Equity Grievance Panel.

The Equity Grievance Panel (EGP) is a group of administrators, professors and other specially trained faculty and staff members who work to uphold the new policies and re-solve conflicts. When complaints of harassment or misconduct arise, EGP members will advise those in-volved and serve on hearing panels. The EGP consists of members of the administration, faculty, support staff and campus safety who serve on the panel for three years. On its web-site, the EGP states that it will try to respect the wishes of any victims of harassment but due to “ethical and legal obligations” it may have to take action. However, confiden-tial resources, such as the Counsel-ing Center and Health Services, are always available. This commitment to taking action is due to the Equity Grievance Process. This process has already been agreed upon, although it continues to be a work in progress.

“We have already started roll-ing out the policy and are in the process of training a variety of staff and students,” President Jeffrey Herbst said.

As in the past, Colgate will take all complaints of harass-ment, no matter how informal, very seriously. After a complaint is made, the Equity Grievance Process will begin, regardless of whether the parties involved are students, faculty or staff.

After a complaint is made, the EGP will begin, regardless of whether the parties in-volved are students, faculty or staff. For the first part of this process, the parties will be most directly involved with the Director for Equal Employment Opportunity and Affir-mative Action Sheila Johnson-Willis. John-son-Willis will initiate an investigation that may include legal action and may require short-term remedies such as counseling, changing course/work schedules or limiting contact between the parties. Once the in-vestigation is complete, if the parties cannot reach an agreement or if the accusation is se-vere enough, there will be a formal hearing before the EGP.

The formal hearing is, in essence, a trial in which the EGP acts as the jury and ultimately chooses what punishment is necessary. In the case of students, these punishments range from a for-mal warning, to expulsion, to revocation of degree. Appeals can be submitted in writing within five days of the hearing.

While the new harassment and discrimi-nation policy sounds confusing, it is much of the same. Colgate continues to be com-mitted to preventing any discrimination on campus and will take swift action when any accusations of harassment arise. This policy does not provide different rules for different people; rather it holds everyone on campus to the same high moral standards. The adminis-tration will be conferring with students and staff throughout the year to make sure that this new policy is fair and beneficial to all.

“We are looking forward to doing a lot of outreach in the Colgate community this year to discuss the educational aspects of our policy and procedures,” Associate Dean of Conduct and EGP Co-chair for Students Kim Taylor said.

With this new policy, Dean Taylor and the rest of the Equity Grievance Panel will try to unite the Colgate community against harassment and discrimination.

Contact Jared Goldsmith at [email protected].