Smith College affirms that diversity in all aspects of the educational environment is necessary to achieve the highest level of academic excellence. A central element of the college’s commitment to excellence is to maintain an environment that is free of conduct that unreasonably interferes with the academic and professional experience of any member of its community.
Consistent with its obligations as a recipient of financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education, the college complies with all relevant federal laws that prohibit discrimination in education, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The college further complies with all relevant laws of the commonwealth of Massachusetts that prohibit discrimination in education.
The college is committed to creating an educational environment that is open to all individuals without discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, national origin/ancestry, religion, sex or gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, genetic information, or veteran status/membership in the uniformed services. The college affirms its commitment by holding all of its community members responsible for upholding this principle and recognizing their legal obligations under applicable federal and state statutes.
This policy will be adjudicated using the process described in the Sexual Misconduct Policy. Hearings to address reports of discriminatory harassment will be chaired by the Dean of Students, or their designee, and heard by three (3) Hearing Board members. This policy does NOT cover allegations of sexual misconduct, complaints of discrimination involving staff or faculty, or grade disputes. For sexual misconduct complaints, please see the Sexual Misconduct Policy. For allegations of discrimination involving staff and faculty, please see the Equal Educational Opportunity Policy. Grade disputes are governed by the college’s Grade Dispute Policy.
Discriminatory Harassment Defined
Discriminatory harassment is unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct based on a person's actual or perceived race, color or national origin or other protected category that substantially or unreasonably interferes with an individual's academic performance; adversely affects the targeted individual's or others' learning opportunities; or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
Examples of such conduct include:
- Offensive or degrading remarks, verbal abuse, or other hostile behavior such as insulting, teasing, mocking, degrading or ridiculing another person or group;
- Racial slurs, derogatory remarks about a person’s accent, or display of racially offensive symbols;
- Unwelcome or inappropriate physical contact, comments, questions, advances, jokes, epithets or demands; and
- Displays or electronic transmission of derogatory, demeaning or hostile materials.
When sanctioning, the offensiveness should be measured by its gravity, whether it is intended to be offensive and disrespectful, whether it is repeated even after the student engaging in the behavior has been clearly told that it is offensive to another, and by the effect the behavior has on the community and the student or students to whom it is directed.
Discriminatory Harassment Resolution Process
This policy will be adjudicated by the student-run College Conduct Board and will be used when a student believes that they have experienced discriminatory harassment by another student or students in their college experience. In the case of the School for School Work, conduct under this policy will be heard by its designated hearing board made up of faculty and staff. However, prior to a formal adjudication process the following mechanism may be available to parties:
Informal Resolution Procedures
To promote mutual trust, learning and understanding, students are encouraged to address matters through informal resolution, although they are not required to do so. The college encourages open and honest communication between members of its community. Often differences can be resolved by communication between the relevant parties. Further, the pursuit of an informal resolution does not prevent the student from submitting a formal grievance, if the informal resolution fails.
Students are encouraged to discuss the matter with the community member with whom the underlying dispute concerns. The Office for Equity and Inclusion (OEI), student affairs staff, or in the case of the School for Social Work, the associate dean for graduate enrollment and student services are prepared to assist with the assessment of a concern and to explain the options and resources available for resolving and redressing concerns. Questions are encouraged; merely discussing an incident in this way does not commit an individual to making a complaint. Discussions aimed at informal resolution must remain confidential and generally last for no more than seven (7) working days.
The matter will be considered resolved when there is an agreed-upon resolution acceptable to all parties. If the student feels that no satisfactory resolution has been made, the student may seek formal resolution through the College Conduct Board process.
Formal Complaint Procedures
A student may initiate a formal complaint via Ethicspoint or by contacting the dean of students or the director of equal opportunity and compliance. In all cases, the college will respond to reports of violations of this policy in a prompt, fair and impartial manner. In the interests of ensuring that investigations are done in an effective manner, students are encouraged to make complaints immediately after the conduct of complaint occurs. The complaint should document and describe the alleged discriminatory conduct, how that conduct violated this policy, the evidence supporting the alleged violation, and a description of the redress sought by the complainant.
For the purposes of this policy, the person who reports that they have been subjected to discrimination based on their protected status, or is the subject of such a report shall be referred to as the “Complainant.” The person against whom the complaint is filed shall be referred to as the “Respondent.”
When the college receives a formal complaint, it will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. Every effort will be made to proceed while maintaining confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. Once the matter is thoroughly investigated, it will be referred to the College Conduct Board or, in the case of the School for Social work, its hearing board. If it is determined that this policy has been violated, the college will act to eliminate the offending conduct and, where appropriate, will impose disciplinary action
Initial Complaint Assessment
Upon the receipt of a complaint, the director of equal opportunity and compliance and the conduct board adviser, or in the case of the School for Social Work, the associate dean for graduate enrollment and student services shall together review the complaint to determine whether, on its face, it alleges an actionable violation of college policy or whether the alleged conduct that is the subject of the complaint falls under another college policy. This determination of whether an investigation will proceed shall be completed within seven (7) working days of the filing of the complaint.
In such cases the normal procedures of the College Conduct Board or Hearing Board will be followed. The normal procedures will include: referral of a case, review of the incident, notification of complaint, investigation, and hearing. The complaint shall be shared with the Respondent as part of this process.
Investigation and Resolution of a Complaint
The director of equal opportunity and compliance will either investigate or oversee an investigation into the complaint allegations. The investigator will promptly investigate the matter so that finding and recommendations will be issued generally within sixty (60) calendar days of the filing of the complaint.
The investigator will serve as a neutral fact-finder. The investigation will consist of (but will not necessarily be limited to) interviews of the Complainant, the Respondent, and other individuals who may have witnessed the reported incident or incidents. When the investigator has completed the investigation, the outcome of the investigation and a recommendation will be shared with the College Conduct Board, Complainant and the Respondent.
A confidential record of all complaints, including their disposition, will be maintained by the Office for Equity and Inclusion.
The college will not tolerate retaliation against an individual for filing a complaint or for assisting in the investigation of a complaint. Retaliation is defined as taking or attempting adverse action around a person or group because that person or group participated in a good faith report or investigation under this procedure whether as a grievant, respondent, witness, administrator or in any other role. Retaliation can be committed by any individual or group of individuals, not just the Complainant or Respondent. Retaliation can take many forms, including threats, intimidation, bullying, assault, physical harm, emotional abuse, damage to or theft of property, exclusion from a position, association or event, among others. A student may initiate a formal retaliation complaint via Ethicspoint or by contacting the dean of students or the institutional equity officer.
All actions taken to investigate and resolve complaints through this procedure shall be conducted with as much privacy, discretion and confidentiality as possible, without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation. All persons involved should treat the situation with respect. To conduct a thorough investigation, the investigator may discuss the complaint with witnesses and those persons involved in or affected by the complaint, and those persons necessary to assist in the investigation or to implement appropriate disciplinary actions. Disciplinary outcomes will be kept confidential.
Smith College Resources
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion
College Hall 302
Associate Dean of the College/Dean of Students
Clark Hall 203
Associate Dean for Graduate Enrollment and Student Services
School for Social Work
Lilly Hall 105
Title IX Coordinator
State and Federal Agency Complaints
In addition to the above, an individual who believes they have been subjected to illegal discrimination may file a formal complaint with the government agencies listed below. Using the college's complaint process does not prohibit an individual from filing a complaint with either of these agencies. Claims filed with MCAD or must be filed within 300 days from the date of the alleged violation and complaints filed with OCR must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.
MASSACHUSETTS COMMISSION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION (MCAD)
One Ashburton Place, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
New Bedford Office:
800 Purchase Street, Room 501
New Bedford, MA 02740
436 Dwight Street, Rm 220
Springfield, MA 01103
484 Main Street, Room 320
Worcester, MA 01608
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS (OCR)
5 Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109-3921
FAX: 617-289-0150; TDD: 800-877-8339