Dartmouth’s senior leadership has provisionally adopted a new policy to address discrimination and harassment.
The policy, which defines prohibited conduct and outlines a clear set of procedures for formally or informally resolving reports of discriminatory behavior, is part of the reimagined Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity’s responsibility to review and align policies related to maintaining a campus environment where everyone can thrive, says Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue.
“A major component of my role is to assess institutional diversity and equity at Dartmouth. This includes shoring up our work in equity and compliance through to development of a clear policy and process to address reports of discrimination and harassment,” Delalue says.
Kristi Clemens, assistant vice president of equity and compliance, was charged with overseeing this effort. Clemens says the new policy is similar in structure to the policy on sexual and gender misconduct that Dartmouth first rolled out in 2019 and amended in 2020 in response to changes in the U.S. Department of Education’s definitions of prohibited conduct.
“We want Dartmouth’s policies to demonstrate the values of our community,” Clemens says. “Everyone at Dartmouth is here to learn and teach and grow, and harassment and discrimination of any kind can impede that mission. We are committed to providing opportunities for resolving and interrupting those behaviors before they prevent somebody from achieving what they came here to do.”
In practice, when members of the community bring concerns about possible discrimination or harassment to IDE, the new policy will help Clemens and her colleagues assess whether or not the behavior in question meets the threshold for prohibited behavior. If it does, the individual making the complaint has the option to pursue either an informal or a formal resolution.
An informal resolution “can look like a conversation between the parties and some agreements that both parties agree to,” Clemens says. A formal resolution will launch a fact-finding investigation by either an internal or an external investigator who will gather information, write a report, and make a determination.
The provisional policy went into effect in January. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to a series of online listening sessions in April during which Clemens and IDE’s equity and compliance team will present the ins and outs of the new policy and take questions and comments about it.
“We want to engage campus constituents on their understanding of the provisional policy,” Clemens says. “What questions come up, what’s unclear, what did we miss? I would encourage the community to consider what it would be like to be on either side of the complaint process and think about what both parties might need to know.”
The community feedback, as well input from key constituent groups, will help inform the final policy that will be approved by senior leadership. Clemens and her team will produce educational content around the final policy, she says. The goal is for the final policy, incorporating community feedback, to be formally adopted before the start of the 2022-2023 academic year.
Clemens will be in direct contact with the governing groups charged with reviewing campus policies to discuss the provisional document. Dates for the open listening sessions are below and registration links will be available on the IDE website at the start of spring term.
- Staff: 10 a.m. on April 8 and 4 p.m. on April 20
- Students: 11:30 a.m. on April 4 and 5 p.m. on April 12
- Faculty: 4:30 p.m. on April 14 and 11:30 a.m. on April 22