Sexual Harassment and Title IX
Sexual Harassment and Misconduct:
The procedures of North Georgia Technical College are established for all employees and students to be able to enjoy a work and educational environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment. North Georgia Technical College’s follows TCSG procedure regarding student conduct codes, sexual harassment and misconduct. Anyone believing they have been harassed sexually should report it immediately to Dr. Mike King, Title IX Coordinator, at 706 754-7711 or email@example.com. The procedure is found below:
Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy
It is the purpose of this procedure to ensure that all students within the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and its colleges are provided access to a safe educational environment free from any discrimination on the basis of gender. To that end, this procedure prohibits sex discrimination of any kind, including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct (“prohibited conduct”). Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and stalking.
All students and employees are expressly prohibited from engaging in any form of prohibited conduct in all interactions with each other, whether or not the interaction occurs during class or on or off campus. Visitors to campuses also shall not engage in prohibited conduct, and may be barred from campus.
Any student or employee who has engaged in prohibited conduct will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or dismissal. Nothing in this procedure shall be interpreted to interfere with any person’s right to free speech as provided by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
TCSG strongly encourages all students and requires employees to report any instances of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct promptly and accurately. TCSG will not tolerate retaliation for having filed a good faith complaint or for having provided any information in an investigation. Any individual who retaliates against a complainant or witness in an investigation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion or dismissal.
Employee complaints of unlawful harassment or discrimination shall be conducted pursuant to the process outlined in the procedure governing Unlawful Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation in Employment.
II. RELATED AUTHORITY:
State Board Policy 2.1.1. Statement of Equal Opportunity
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972
20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE)
O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5
Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
All work units and technical colleges associated with the Technical College System of Georgia.
Sexual Harassment (a form of sex discrimination): unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal, written, electronic or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s education;
- Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for education decisions affecting such individual; or,
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment based on sex.
Sexually harassing conduct or behavior (regardless of the gender of the persons involved) can include but is not limited to:
Physical touching, sexual comments of a provocative or suggestive nature, suggestive looks or gestures, sexually explicit jokes, electronic media/communication, printed material or innuendos intended for and directed to another, requests for sexual favors, making acceptance of any unwelcome sexual conduct or advances a condition for grades, continued enrollment or receipt of any educational benefit or determination.
Sexual Violence : physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent, including but not limited to sexual assault, rape, incest, sexual battery, fondling, and sexual coercion. All acts of sexual violence are considered unlawful sexual harassment, regardless of gender, for purposes of this procedure. Refer to Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated for more detailed descriptions of conduct constituting sexual violence.
Domestic Violence: a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by (1) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; (2) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (3) a person who is cohabiting with, or has cohabited with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; (4) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred; or (5) any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence has occurred.
Dating Violence: violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the person subjected to such violence. Whether there was such a relationship will be determined based on, among other factors, the Complainant’s and Respondent’s statements, and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the parties involved in the relationship.
Sexual Exploitation: occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited.
Stalking: occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. A course of conduct consists or two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which a person directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about another person, or interferes with another person’s property. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. Cyber-stalking is a particular form of stalking in which electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact are used.
Intimidation: the use of implied threats to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity or provide consent. Consent obtained by intimidation is not valid.
Consent: explicit communication and mutual approval for the act in which the parties are/were involved. A sexual encounter is considered consensual when individuals willingly and knowingly engage in sexual activity. Consent cannot be procured by the use of physical force, compelling threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion. The use of coercion can involve the use of pressure, manipulation, substances, and/or force. Ignoring the objections of another person or pressuring them is a form of coercion. Knowingly engaging in sexual activity with someone who is incapacitated (by alcohol or drug use, unconsciousness or other forms of helplessness) does not constitute consent and is a violation of this procedure.
Incapacitation: a state where an individual cannot make an informed and rational decision to engage in sexual activity because of a lack of conscious understanding of the fact, nature, or extent of the act and/or is physically helpless. For example, an individual is incapacitated, and therefore unable to give consent, if the individual is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring. An individual will also be considered incapacitated if the person cannot understand the nature of the activity or communicate due to a mental or physical condition. Incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol, drugs, or other medication. Consumption of alcohol or other drugs alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation. The impact of alcohol and drugs varies from person to person, and evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs impacts an individual’s: (1) decision-making ability; (2) awareness of consequences; (3) ability to make informed judgments; or (4) capacity to appreciate the nature and quality of the act.
Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: sexually harassing conduct by an employee, another student, or a third party that is sufficiently serious that it denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the college’s programs based on sex. In order to qualify as hostile environment sexual harassment, the conduct must be severe and pervasive, taking into consideration a number of factors including, but not limited to, the degree to which the conduct affected the student’s education; the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct; and, the identity of and relationship between the alleged harasser and the subject or subjects of the harassment (looking at whether there is a power differential as between an instructor and a student).
Retaliation: unfavorable action taken, unfavorable condition created, or other action taken by a student or employee for the purpose of intimidation that is directed toward a student because the student initiated an allegation of sexual misconduct or participated in an investigation of an allegation.
Preponderance of the Evidence: means the fact in dispute is more likely than not to be true.
Technical College System of Georgia: all work units and technical colleges under the governance of the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia.
Employee: any individual employed in a full or part time capacity in any TCSG work unit or technical college.
Visitor: any third party (e.g. volunteer, vendor, contractor, member of the general public etc.) who conducts business or regularly interacts with a work unit or technical college.
Clinical Site: any off-campus location to which students or faculty are assigned for completion of program requirements including labs, internships, or practicums.
President: the chief executive officer responsible for the management and operation of the technical college where the complainant and/or accused violator are enrolled or employed.
Human Resources Director: the highest ranking employee responsible for the human resources function at a technical college or TCSG work unit.
System-wide Investigator: the individual(s) at TCSG who is responsible for the investigation of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct complaints for TCSG and the colleges.
TCSG Compliance Officer: the individual designated by the Deputy Commissioner to coordinate TCSG compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 and other state and federal laws governing unlawful discrimination and harassment and educational access by disabled individuals.
Title IX Coordinator: an individual designated by the president of the college to ensure compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., and related federal regulations. The Title IX Coordinator may also be assigned the responsibility for compliance with other state and federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education.
- Web Page: Sources of Counseling, Advocacy and Support
- Word Document: Sources of Counseling, Advocacy and Support
A. Administration and Implementation
- Each college president shall designate one or more officials to serve as the Title IX Coordinator and post contact information for the coordinator and the TCSG’s Statement of Equal Opportunity in electronic or written college publications and academic materials as described in the TCSG Usage for Statement of Equal Opportunity (e.g. bulletin boards, the college website, catalogs, student and employee handbooks, orientation materials, and flyers). The college president will ensure the designated officials have received appropriate training.
- Instructors/administrators must take ongoing proactive steps to ensure educational opportunities (to include classrooms, clinics, labs, programs, etc.) and student activities (clubs, sports, etc.) are accessible and free from any type of sex discrimination or harassment.
- The Compliance Officer will coordinate training programs and monitor the colleges to ensure the correct administration and implementation of this procedure, and will ensure that proactive or corrective measures have been taken to prevent sex discrimination and sexual misconduct.
- Colleges are required to provide sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training to students and employees and to provide programs for ongoing awareness training as required by VAWA and the Clery Act. As of the effective date of this procedure, colleges have been provided the Haven training modules for this purpose and are required to incorporate the training in new student and employee orientation activities.
- Each technical college shall publish a list of local sources for counseling, support and advocacy in conjunction with the publishing of this procedure. (See attachment for sample format) Individuals who report sexual violence, sexual assault, stalking or dating/domestic violence will be provided with and/or referred to the list of resources.
B. Reporting and Management Action
- All students are encouraged to report incidents of sex discrimination and sexual misconduct against themselves or others to the Title IX Coordinator at the technical college. Students may find contact information for the Title IX Coordinator on the technical college website, and in the student handbook and college catalog. Complaints may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Complaints under this procedure can be expressed in writing, by telephone, or in person; individuals are encouraged to express complaints in writing to ensure all concerns are addressed.
- Any allegation of sex discrimination, sexual misconduct or retaliation against employees must be reported to the Human Resources Director and the Title IX Coordinator.
- All allegations of sex discrimination and sexual misconduct on one of TCSG’s college campuses or clinical locations must be reported to the Title IX Coordinator regardless of whether the allegations involve students or employees.
- Students have the right to file (or not to file) a criminal complaint for sexual violence with the local law enforcement authorities before, during, or after filing a complaint with the college. The investigation under this procedure shall not be unreasonably delayed to await the outcome of any criminal investigation. Sexual violence reports made to the Title IX Coordinator will be investigated and adjudicated separately from any criminal complaints. A student may request that the Title IX Coordinator and/or the System-wide investigator assist the student with notifying local law enforcement authorities. If a technical college’s campus law enforcement receives a complaint alleging sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct as defined in this procedure, the Title IX Coordinator for the college shall be immediately notified so that appropriate action may be taken by the Title IX Coordinator regarding the complaint.
- If a student filing a complaint alleging sexual misconduct requests confidentiality, anonymity or asks that the complaint not be pursued, the college must inform the complainant that its ability to respond may be limited, that retaliation for filing a complaint is prohibited, and that steps to prevent harassment and retaliation will be taken. Consistent with the request, all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint should be made and other steps to limit the effects or recurrence of the alleged misconduct will be taken.
Regardless of a student’s request for confidentiality, anonymity of a complaint, or a request that a complaint not be pursued, if the complaint includes allegations of sexual assault, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, the Title IX Coordinator must report the incident to campus law enforcement for inclusion in the college’s Annual Security Report (“ASR”). The complainant should be informed that their name will not be disclosed to campus law enforcement if they have requested confidentiality during the processing of the complaint.
- Colleges may weigh a request for confidentiality, anonymity or a request they not pursue a complaint considering the following factors: the seriousness of the alleged conduct, the complainant’s age, whether there have been other complaints about the same individual, and the respondent’s right to receive information about the allegations if the information is maintained as an “education record” under FERPA. The college must inform the complainant if the request cannot be granted and the reasons for the denial.
- Reports concerning all prohibited conduct referenced in this procedure will be processed confidentially to the extent permitted by law; communications regarding complaints will be disseminated to others on a need-to-know basis to ensure that necessary steps are taken to protect the community as a whole and that appropriate corrective actions are considered and taken.
- If an allegation of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct is made to an employee not designated to receive such reports, the employee receiving the complaint must report the allegation to the Title IX Coordinator. The College must take corrective actions to stop harassment to which it has notice, prevent recurrence of the harassment, and remedy the effects on the complainant promptly and effectively. The College will be deemed to have notice if a responsible employee knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, about the harassment. A responsible employee includes any employee who has the authority to take action to redress the harassment, who has a duty to report the harassment to the Title IX Coordinator, or who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or responsibility, including instructors and staff at the college.
- Allegations of any sexual conduct involving individuals under the age of 18 must also be reported as an allegation of child abuse as outlined in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-5.
- Interim protective measures may be imposed by the college president or the Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee before the final outcome of an investigation and until final resolution of the allegations if failure to take the interim measures would constitute an immediate threat to the safety and well-being of the complainant, the respondent, or other members of the college, or to ensure equal access to the college’s programs and activities. Interim protective measures may include: adjustments to academic workload (including extending deadlines); adjustment to class or work schedules; no contact orders; and suspensions, transfers or reassignments in order to prevent further harassment, discrimination, sexual violence or retaliation, to facilitate the investigation, or to implement preventive or corrective actions under this procedure.
- All complaints of prohibited conduct under this procedure will be reported immediately to the System-wide investigator who will be responsible for conducting the investigation in a fair, prompt, and impartial manner.
The System-wide investigator shall disclose to the TCSG Compliance Officer any relationship with the parties that could call into question his/her ability to be objective prior to taking any action with respect to the investigation. The TCSG Compliance Officer will reassign alternate individuals if necessary.
Either the complaining party or the respondent may challenge the System-wide investigator or designee to recommend corrective action on the grounds of personal bias by submitting a written statement to the TCSG Compliance Officer setting forth the basis for the challenge no later than 3 business days after the party reasonably should have known of the alleged bias. The TCSG Compliance Officer will determine whether to sustain or deny the challenge.
- The investigation should be completed within 30 business days of the receipt of the complaint by the system-wide investigator. The investigator will notify the parties and the Title IX Coordinator in writing (typically by email) if extraordinary circumstances exist requiring additional time.
- A complaining party will be notified within 5 business days of receipt of the complaint by the System-wide investigator if the complaint does not specify facts sufficient to allege sex discrimination, harassment, sexual violence or retaliation and that a formal investigation will not be conducted pursuant to this procedure. The complaining party may appeal the decision in writing to the president within 5 business days of receiving the notice. The president’s decision will be final.
- Individuals designated to investigate or recommend corrective actions in response to allegations of sexual misconduct will be trained annually to conduct investigations in a manner that protects the safety of complainants, promotes fairness of the process and accountability.
- Investigations will be conducted by gathering relevant information and interviewing appropriate witnesses. It is important that all parties preserve any documents or other evidence which may pertain to the investigation. Any medically related evidence is best preserved by trained medical personnel. Students are encouraged to seek medical services both for treatment and preservation of any medical evidence.
- Both the complaining party and the respondent (the parties) will be given equal opportunity to identify witnesses and offer evidence in person or in writing. Best efforts will be made to interview all witnesses identified by the parties. If a witness identified by either party is not interviewed during the investigation, an explanation for the decision not to interview the witness should be documented in the investigatory report. Both parties will be given timely notice of meetings at which one or the other or both parties may be present. Both the complaining party and the respondent may be accompanied by an advisor of his or her choice during any meetings involved in the investigatory process in which the advisee is also eligible to be present. However, the advisor may not speak on behalf of the party.
- The System-wide investigator will evaluate the information collected during the investigation and determine whether a preponderance of the evidence substantiates the allegations. Investigations and summary findings will be documented appropriately.
- Any evidence collected during the investigation should be maintained in accordance with the record retention requirements below. Personally-identifiable information, including, but not limited to home address, telephone number, student ID or social security number should not be maintained in investigative records.
- A report of investigation will be provided to the college’s Title IX Coordinator within five (5) days of completion of the investigation. The Title IX Coordinator will provide both parties simultaneously with a copy of the report. Any information prohibited from disclosure by law or policy will be redacted from any documents prior to distribution. With regard to complaints of sexual misconduct, disclosures made to comply with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (“VAWA”) do not constitute a violation of FERPA.
- If the System-wide investigator determines that all or some of the allegations made in the complaint are substantiated and that the conduct at issue constitutes a violation of this or other applicable procedure, the Title IX Coordinator shall forward the report to the appropriate officials at the college for further action in accordance with the provisions below and the college’s Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedure or the Positive Discipline Procedure for employees.
D. Corrective Actions
- Colleges will take all reasonable steps to prevent unlawful retaliation against complainants and any other individuals participating in investigations under this procedure.
- If prohibited conduct is determined to have occurred following the investigation, steps shall be taken to prevent a recurrence and to correct the discriminatory effects on the complaining party and others as appropriate. Steps may include, but are not limited to, mandating training or evaluation, disciplinary sanctions, policy implementation, issuing no-contact orders, or reassignment of students or employees. Disciplinary sanctions for students are defined in TCSG Procedure governing Student Discipline and may include: reprimand, restriction, disciplinary probation, disciplinary suspension, and disciplinary expulsion. Disciplinary sanctions for employees are defined in TCSG's Positive Discipline Procedure and may include: formal reminders, decision making leave, or dismissal.
- The severity of sanctions or corrective actions may depend on the severity, frequency and/or nature of the offense, history of past discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory conduct, the respondent’s willingness to accept responsibility, previous college response to similar conduct, and the college’s interests in performing its education mission. Should recommended disciplinary sanctions involve academic suspension or expulsion, the matter must be referred to the Vice President for Student Affairs, as provided by the college’s Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedure.
- Even in the absence of sufficient evidence to substantiate a finding that sex discrimination, sexual misconduct or retaliation has occurred, colleges are expected to address any inappropriate conduct and take all reasonable steps to prevent any future sex discrimination, harassment, sexual violence or retaliation.
- Individuals who are responsible for conducting investigations or proposing sanctions under this procedure may not also serve as reviewing officials or hearing officers in the appeal of sanctions arising from an investigation.
E. Reviews and Dispositions
- Any of the parties to a complaint under this procedure may request a review of the investigative findings within 5 business days of receiving notice of the investigative results by submitting a written request to the president.
- Within 10 business days of receiving a request for a review of the investigative findings, the president of the college will notify the parties in writing, which may be sent via email, of his/her final determination, including any change in the result of the findings.
VII. RECORD RETENTION:
Documents relating to formal complaints including investigations, the investigatory report, witness statements, evidence, dispositions and the complaint itself shall be held for 7 years after the graduation of the student or the date of the student’s last attendance. Any of the documents containing confidential information shall be held in a secure location under the custody and control of the System-wide Investigator, Vice President of Student Affairs or the President’s designee. Documents pertaining to employees that are maintained by the Office of Human Resources shall be maintained in a secure location and in accordance with the Georgia Archives records retention schedule, but in no case fewer than 7 years.