Trustees approve harassment policy

Ryan Loew

The Board of Trustees approved a new university policy yesterday regarding unlawful discrimination and harassment.

President Carol Cartwright said this policy comes after “six to eight months of interaction with representatives of students, faculty and staff and sends a strong message to members of the community about our commitment to equal opportunity and diversity.

“Basically, we were hearing from people in our community that we didn’t have a consistent approach,” she said.

Ann Penn, the university’s director of affirmative action, said the policy is a product of two pre-existing harassment policies.

“When we began looking at the policy, there were some inconsistencies between the sexual harassment and discrimination policies,” she said.

The policy consolidates previous harassment and sexual harassment policies and specifies behaviors that constitute racial, ethnic, sexual and disability harassment. It also provides a single process for handling all complaints related to unlawful discrimination and harassment.

“It’s not a new policy, it’s a new emphasis on a renewed policy,” said Carolyn Pizzuto, vice president of Human Resources. “It’s time to say we have a commitment to equal opportunity. We have a commitment to affirmative action.”

The policy uses state and federal definitions of protected classes to prohibit discrimination.

“There’s important signaling there in the seriousness in which the university holds this issue,” Cartwright said. “We regard it as a serious matter when someone engages in unlawful discrimination. There will now be procedures used to implement the policies.”

The policy was led by both Penn and Steve Michael, the vice provost for Diversity and Academic Initiatives. Students also helped create the policy.

“A lot of groups helped out,” Cartwright said. “The development has been an inclusive process.”

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].