Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes

Suffolk University, consisting of its Boston and Madrid campuses, seeks to foster a campus environment that supports its educational mission. The University is committed to providing a safe learning, living, and working environment for all members of the University community that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment, on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, military or veteran status or any other characteristic protected under federal or state law.

To ensure compliance with federal and state civil rights laws and regulations, and to affirm its commitment to promoting the goals of fairness and equity in all aspects of the educational program or activity, the University has developed internal policies and procedures that provide a prompt, fair, and impartial process for those involved in an allegation of discrimination or harassment on the basis of protected class status, and for allegations of retaliation. The University values and upholds the equal dignity of all members of its community and strives to balance the rights of the parties in the grievance process during what is often a difficult time for all those involved.

The term "bias incident" and “hate crime” refer to behavior that, whether or not criminal, constitutes a violation of behavioral standards and policies. Community members alleged to have violated University policies are subject to discipline in and may face discipline/sanctions up to and including suspension or dismissal/termination from the University.

The University prohibits retaliation against individuals who report discrimination or harassment, assist another in reporting a complainant or otherwise participate in an investigation. Accordingly, such behavior is treated seriously and will result in sanctions and/or disciplinary action.

The University strongly encourages any person who believes they have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation to report and seek prompt assistance. Resources, on and off campus, are available and may be reviewed in the Nondiscrimination Policy.

The University complies with Title II, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans Disability Act; Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”); Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (“VAWA”); Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”) and all other applicable state and federal laws.

If a student or staff member believes that they have experienced bias, discriminatory treatment, harassment based on a protected category the individual should file a grievance in writing within fifteen calendar days of the alleged discriminatory action using the online Bias and Hate Incident Report Form.

The information required for filing the formal grievance includes:

  1. A full description of the issue and any relevant facts, including but not limited to the specific acts considered to be discriminatory, including when, by whom, and what was specifically done or not done, and its impact or consequence to the complainant
  2. A summary of the steps, if any, the reporter has already taken in attempt to resolve the problem, including the names of persons involved
  3. A statement of the requested resolution and the reporter's rationale for the requested resolution for each perceived violation
  4. Any supporting documentation
  5. The name, contact information and signature of the person initiating the complaint

Note: ADA and Accommodation issues - Students with disabilities who believe they have received inappropriate treatment or inadequate service from the University pertaining to their requested accommodations have the right to file a grievance with the Director of Disability Services (DSS) or for law students, the Suffolk University Law School Associate Dean of Students. This grievance process is for accommodation issues that have not been resolved by either Disability Student Services (DSS) or for law students the Disability Compliance Officer at Suffolk University Law School. See more information on the Disability Accommodation Grievance procedure for CAS/SBS students, and the Academic Accommodations Policy for law students.

The coordinator may exercise discretion and accept the grievance if contacted after the fifteen-calendar-day period. Once the grievance is received, it will be reviewed and processed by a coordinator who receives all grievances filed through the link. The coordinator reserves the right to redirect a grievance to the proper grievance procedure or to any other appropriate review procedure.

Upon receiving the grievance, the coordinator will review the matter to determine if a formal investigation is warranted, and to discuss with the Complainant supportive measures that are available and the right to proceed with either an informal resolution or formal resolution process.

The coordinator does not serve as an advocate for either the Complainant or the alleged discriminating party, but merely reviews the allegations to determine if a formal investigation is warranted, and ensures that the parties are familiar with the process, applicable supportive measures, and their rights under the policy.

Once the grievance has been received, a review by the coordinator will be conducted in order to determine whether there is sufficient basis to initiate a formal investigation or take other steps to address the effects of the alleged conduct on the impacted party and the University community and prevent its recurrence. During the review it may be necessary to meet with the parties, collect some information to determine if there is a sufficient basis to initiate a formal investigation. This may include, but is not limited to, convening a meeting during which the complainant, the individual(s) against whom the grievance has been brought, and witnesses can supply factual information about what occurred; interviewing those involved and possibly witnesses and/or obtaining and reviewing any records, documents, emails, etc. relevant to the issues presented. If the Complainant wishes to initiate a formal grievance, and if there is a sufficient basis to initiate the formal process, the matter will be referred to the appropriate department head for an investigator to be assigned.

Investigative Process

The investigator’s role is neutral and the investigator will not serve as an advocate for any party to the complaint. The parties are allowed to have an advisor of their choice present at all meetings. The investigator may collect additional information to determine the merits of the grievance. This may include, but is not limited to, interviewing the Complainant, the party against whom the grievance has been brought, and witnesses to determine the issues and facts that have occurred and to resolve any factual dispute, including those hinging on credibility; and/or obtaining and reviewing any records, documents, emails, etc. relevant to the issues presented. Only the investigator will question witnesses but any party to the grievance may suggest areas of inquiry to be explored. Once the matter has been fully examined, the investigator will meet with the parties and review the evidence that has been collected, including witness statements (this is typically shared verbally). The parties may also request an opportunity to review the written interview summaries and/or documentary information, which will be granted if and when deemed appropriate at the sole discretion of the investigator. The parties will have an opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions, and submit additional evidence that is relevant. After the meeting with the parties, the investigator will develop a documented written report of findings and evidence which both parties will have a final opportunity to review. The parties will be able to provide written corrections, clarifications, new relevant information or documentation, and/or suggest new witnesses who possess material information for the investigator to consider. After the review of the parties information they provide and consideration of any additional relevant evidence the investigator will submit a written recommendation to the appropriate Dean or senior administrator with copies to the student and individual(s) against whom the grievance was brought. In those instances where the investigator recommends that remedial or disciplinary action should be taken against the individual against whom the grievance was filed, those recommendations will be provided separately with a copy provided only to the individual against whom the recommendation is made. The investigator’s review and preparation of the report and recommendation normally should take no longer than thirty days unless the University is closed or not in session, or absent extraordinary circumstances.

Recommendation/ Final Disposition/ Appeal

The investigator only has recommendation authority. The investigator’s recommendation is forwarded to the appropriate Dean or senior administrator. Either the Complainant or alleged discriminatory party has fifteen calendar days from receipt of the investigator’s findings and recommendations to appeal to the appropriate Dean or senior administrator. Any appeal should be in writing and should specifically describe the point(s) on which the appeal is based. The appropriate Dean or senior administrator also has the independent authority to accept or reject the Investigator’s findings and recommendations in whole or part regardless of whether an appeal is filed. The appropriate Dean or senior administrator will make the final decision in all cases upon receipt of the investigator’s report and after the time for appeals has passed. The appropriate Dean or senior administrator should notify all affected parties of their decision within a reasonable period of time—typically fifteen business days after receipt of the investigator’s report or any appeal is filed (whichever is later) unless school is closed or other extraordinary circumstances exist—and initiate whatever action they deem necessary. The appropriate Dean or senior administrator may, in their discretion, appoint a designee to issue the final disposition for the University. Except when otherwise required by law, the appropriate Dean or senior administrator will determine the amount of information to provide the parties. When the resolution of a student complaint under this policy in turn causes adverse action to be taken against a faculty or staff member, such as discipline or a loss of employment, the faculty or staff member may in turn seek review using the applicable faculty and staff grievance procedure.

The standard used in determining the responsibility of the alleged discriminatory party is the preponderance of the evidence, which is whether the evidence gathered and information provided during the investigation supports a finding that is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the policy.

Sanctions

See Appendix B [Student & Student Organization Sanctions] and Appendix C [Employee Discipline].

If after review of the formal grievance the coordinator believes the issue presented is appropriate and the informal resolution may assist in resolving the issue, and the parties agree to the Informal procedure, the processing of a formal grievance may be temporarily deferred to allow for the Informal Resolution to occur. Either party may withdraw from the informal resolution process prior to agreeing to a resolution.

Both parties must be provided with (1) written notice of the allegations; (2) requirements of the informal resolution process, including any circumstance that precludes a party from resuming the formal process (a party does have the right to withdraw from the informal process at any time prior to agreeing to a resolution); (3) The coordinator must obtain a voluntary, written consent from both parties to partake in the informal resolution process; and an informal resolution process shall not be used to resolve sexual assault complaints or allegations where an employee is accused of sexually harassing a student.

The informal process generally should not exceed thirty days, unless classes are not in session or the school is closed. A party who requests to use the informal grievance procedure has the right to end the informal process at any time prior to agreeing to a resolution and begin the formal grievance procedure.

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the overall institutional nondiscrimination policies on the website. This and the above-referenced policies may be modified or adapted as needed to effectuate the overall intent of the University’s nondiscrimination commitment when policies overlap or the legal requirements of other locations or circumstances occur which might reasonably require an adjustment (for example, a situation arising in a foreign country during one of the University’s study-abroad programs).

The University will treat information it receives with appropriate sensitivity, however, the University cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality in all situations. An individual’s privacy will be maintained by each person involved in the investigation or resolution of a grievance under this policy. Any disclosures regarding the individual or the investigation will be limited to the minimum necessary to accomplish the investigation, address the grievance, and address any other proceedings that may arise from these circumstances.

A Complainant, who would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, should contact one of the University’s confidential resources. All employees in the Counseling, Health and Wellness Center, as well as the Interfaith Center are not required to report any information about prohibited conduct to the coordinator without an individual’s permission.

The University’s confidential resources are:

Students Only: The Department of Counseling, Health & Wellness, located on the 5th floor of 73 Tremont Street, 617-573-8226.

Students Only: Interfaith Center, The Reverend Amy Fisher, located in Donahue 540, 617-573-8325. afisher@suffolk.edu

Employees Only: Employees Assistance Program E4 Health provides employees and their family members with free, confidential, 24/7 access to licensed, master’s level clinicians to assist in finding solutions to help balance personal and work challenges. The goal is to help employees simplify their life. Employees and their family members can access services via phone at 800-828-6025 or on the web at www.helloe4.com(username: Suffolk University; password: guest)

Anonymous Reporting

Anonymous reports may be made on-line using the Bias and Discrimination Report Form . Anonymous reporting, however, may impact the University’s ability to respond or pursue appropriate action against the alleged perpetrators. On-line reports, which are anonymous, will be reviewed and referred to the appropriate department for follow up.

Reporting to Off-Campus Agencies

Use of this process does not preclude an individual from filing a formal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education (OCR), or any other Federal agency. Contact information for OCR is as follows:

U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights, D.C. Enforcement Office
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-1475
Telephone: 1-202-245-8300
FAX: 202-245-8301
TDD: 877-521-2172

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
JFK Federal Building, Room 475
Boston, MA 02203
617-565-3200 or 1-800-669-4000

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) 1 Ashburton Place
Room 601Boston, MA 02108
617-727-3990

Advisor means a person chosen by a party or appointed by the institution to accompany the party to meetings related to the resolution process, to advise the party on that process, and to conduct cross-examination for the party at the hearing, if any.

Affirmative Consent is consent which must be informed, voluntary, and active, meaning that, through the demonstration of clear words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed –upon sexual activity. Whoever initiates sex has the responsibility to ask for and receive permission. Participants are encouraged to talk to one another before engaging in sexual activity to avoid a misunderstanding.

Bias incidents are acts committed against a person or group that are motivated in whole or in part by prejudice against the person’s or group’s sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, race, religion, disability, veteran status or other protected class. (Please note that just because the expression of an idea or point of view may be offensive or inflammatory, it is not necessarily a bias incident. The University values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas, and the expression of controversial ideas and differing views is a vital part of the University’s mission.)

Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive conduct differs from seductive conduct based on factors such as the type and/or extent of the pressure used to obtain consent. When someone makes clear that they do not want to engage in certain sexual activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.

Complainant means an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute harassment or discrimination based on a protected class; or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.

Confidential Resource means an employee who is not a Mandated Reporter of notice of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation (irrespective of Clery Act Campus Security Authority status).

Day means a business day when the University is in normal operation.

Discrimination is conduct that is based upon an individual’s race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, military or veteran status or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.

Duress is the use of threats, violence, constraints, or other action brought to bear on someone to do something against their will or better judgment.

Education program or activity means locations, events, or circumstances where University exercises substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the sexual harassment or discrimination occurs and also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by the University.

Final Determination means a conclusion using the standard of proof to determine if the alleged conduct occurred, and whether it did or did not violate policy.

Finding means a conclusion by the standard of proof that the conduct did or did not occur as alleged.

Force is the use of physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that is intended to overcome resistance or produce consent (e.g., “Have sex with me or I’ll hit you,” “Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.” Sexual activity that is forced is, by definition, non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not necessarily forced. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. Consent is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. While resistance is not required or necessary, it is a clear demonstration of non-consent.

Formal Complaint is a  document filed/signed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging  alleging harassment or discrimination based on a protected class or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity against a Respondent and requesting that the University investigate the allegation.

Formal Grievance Process means “Process A,” a method of formal resolution designated by the University to address conduct that falls within the policies included below, and which complies with the requirements of 34 CFR Part 106.45.

Hearing Decision-maker refers to those who have decision-making and sanctioning authority within the University’s Formal Grievance process.

Investigator means the person or persons charged by University with gathering facts about an alleged violation of this Policy, assessing relevance and credibility, synthesizing the evidence, and compiling this information into an investigation report and file of directly related evidence. The Investigator may be a University employee or may be retained from an outside organization by the University.  All Investigators will be trained in investigations pursuant to Title IX requirements.

Investigation is a prompt and effective inquiry to determine whether or not a violation of the Sexual Misconduct and/or Nondiscrimination policies occurred. An Investigation includes but is not limited to interview(s) with the Complainant, Respondent and relevant witnesses. The Investigation will include the gathering of physical, documentary, or other relevant and available evidence, including law enforcement reports.

Notice means that an employee, student or third party informs the Title IX Coordinator or other official with authority of an alleged occurrence of harassing, discriminatory, and/or retaliatory conduct. sec.106.8(c) 

Official with Authority (OWA) means an employee of the University explicitly vested with the responsibility to implement corrective measures for harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation on behalf of the University.

Parties include the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s), collectively.

Remedies are post-finding actions directed to the Complainant and/or the community as mechanisms to address safety, prevent recurrence, and restore access to the University’s educational program.

Resolution means the result of an informal or formal grievance process.

Respondent is a person who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment, or discrimination based on a protected class; or retaliation for engaging in a protected activity.

Student is defined for the purpose of this policy as any individual who has accepted an offer of admission, or who is registered or enrolled for credit or non-credit bearing coursework, and who maintains an ongoing relationship with the Recipient.

Supportive Measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the complainant or the respondent before or after the filing of a formal complaint or where no formal complaint has been filed. Supportive measures may include counseling. Extensions or deadlines or other course related adjustments; modifications of work or class schedules; campus escort services; mutual restrictions on contact between the parties; changes in work or housing locations; leaves of absence; increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus; and other similar measures.

Responsible Mandated Reporter Employee are all employees, including faculty, staff, resident assistants and teaching assistants of the University who are obligated by policy to share knowledge, notice, and/or reports of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation with the Title IX Coordinator. Employees in Counseling, Health and Wellness and the Interfaith Center are not Responsible Mandated Reporter Employees.

Standard of Proof is used in  resolving complaints pursuant to the Title IX Policy, the University will use a “preponderance of the evidence,” standard, which is whether the evidence gathered and information provided during the investigation supports a finding that it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Sexual Harassment and/or Nondiscrimination policies.

Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. On June 23, 1972, the President signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., into law. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices.

Title IX Coordinator is the administrator identified by the University to monitor compliance; ensure and coordinate education and training; coordinate the investigation, response, and resolution of all reports under the Sexual Misconduct and/or Nondiscrimination policies; and ensure appropriate actions to eliminate, prevent its recurrence, address its effect on persons and the Community as a whole.  The University has identified the Director of Title IX & Clery Act Compliance in this role:

Sheila Calkins, Title IX Coordinator
Special Advisor to the President
Director of Title IX & Clery Act Compliance
73 Tremont Street; 13th floor; Room 1326
Office: 617-573-8027  Cell: 617-201- 0878
Email Sheila Calkins
Title IX at Suffolk on the Web

When a student has been found responsible for a violation of the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy, any of the following sanctions may be imposed by the University. The below list is not intended to be exhaustive and the University reserves the right to impose one or more sanctions for a single violation or impose other sanctions instead of or in addition to those specified below. In addition, a responsible finding may result in forfeiture of all University scholarships, financial aid, or monies paid. 

Warning: A notice, either verbal or written, that the student is violating or has violated University regulations, must cease the conduct immediately, and that continuation or repetition of wrongful conduct may be cause for more severe disciplinary action.

Private Reprimand: A notice, either verbal and/or written, directly to the student that the student has violated University regulations.

Parental Notification: The University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians regarding any serious health or safety risk, and when students under the age of 21 have been found responsible for violating the University’s alcohol or other drug policies.

Loss of Privileges: Denial of specified University and/or Residence Life & Housing or other privileges for a designated period of time, which may include, but is not limited to, denial of access to any campus facility, activity, event, class, or program. This includes, but is not limited to, orders prohibiting the student from having contact with a member of the University Community. This also includes, but is not limited to, loss of privileges in the residence halls including but not limited to: guest privileges, early arrival/late stay status, vacation period housing, or removal from a floor, room, or building. Should residence hall space not be immediately available, relocation may take place at an arranged time.

Confiscation of Property: Confiscation of items that the University determines are inappropriate for the University setting.

Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage, or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service or monetary or material replacement.

Educational Program or Project: Required attendance at the student’s expense at an educational workshop or completion of an educational project that will benefit the University community, responsible student, or others.

Referral: A student may be referred to Counseling, Health and Wellness, Student Affairs/Dean of Students (Law) Center for Learning & Academic Success or another appropriate office or local agency for consultation or assessment.

Un-enrollment from a Course and/or Academic Program: A student may be unenrolled from a course and/or an academic program. In such cases, tuition and fees for the course will not be refunded to the student.

Order [Directive] of No Contact: An order that restricts communication/contact between two or more parties.

Disciplinary Probation: A period of time during which a student’s behavior is subject to examination.

Strict Disciplinary Probation: A period of time during which a student’s behavior is subject to close examination. In addition, the student may be excluded from participation in some or all social and/or extracurricular activities, including, but not limited to, representing the University, participating in intercollegiate athletics, holding elected or appointed office in the Student Government Association/Student Bar Association or other student organization, or studying abroad.

Residence Relocation: Required reassignment to another residence area.

Deferred Loss of Housing: Warning that if the student is found responsible for violating the University’s Sexual Misconduct and/or Nondiscrimination policies, the student may be immediately removed from the residence halls for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply for housing.

Loss of Future Housing: The student is prohibited from participating in the returning student housing lottery or from participating in the returning student waitlist until the date specified or indefinitely if no date is specified.

Residence Hall Suspension: Separation of the student from the residence halls for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply for housing. The student may not participate in the housing lottery for the following year or be on the housing waitlist while on Residence Hall Suspension. Reapplication for housing does not guarantee the student will receive on-campus housing. Conditions for returning to the residence halls may be specified.

Residence Hall Dismissal: Permanent separation of the student from the residence halls.

Deferred University Suspension: A warning that if the student is found responsible for violating the University’s Sexual Misconduct and/or Nondiscrimination policies during a specific period of time, the student may be immediately suspended from the University for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply. Conditions for return may be specified.

University Suspension: Suspension of the student from the University for a specific period of time, after which the student may apply to return. Conditions for return may be specified. University Suspension is noted on the student’s transcript.

Deferred University Dismissal: Warning that if the student is found responsible for violating the University’s Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination policy the student may be immediately dismissed from the University.

Dismissal: Permanent separation of the student from the University. University Dismissal is noted on the student’s transcript.

Revocation of Admission or Degree: Admission to the University or a degree awarded from the University may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or violation of the University’s Sexual Misconduct and/or Nondiscrimination policies or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to graduation.

Withholding of a Degree: The University may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the disciplinary process, including any investigation, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.

Student Organization Recognition in Jeopardy: A warning that if the student organization is found responsible for violating the Sexual Misconduct and/or Nondiscrimination policies during a specified period of time, the student organization’s recognition may be immediately revoked.

Loss of Recognition: During a specific period of time, a recognized student organization may not associate itself with the University by using the University name, facilities, or other rights and privileges of recognized student organizations, after which the organization may reapply for recognition. There is no guarantee re-recognition will be granted. If re-recognition is granted, conditions for re-recognition may be specified.

Where an employee of the University violates the Nondiscrimination Policy discipline up to and including termination may be imposed.