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Nonacademic Grievances

University of Baltimore

The University of Baltimore provides processes for consideration of two types of nonacademic student concerns: those relating to discrimination allegations and those relating to other allegations of unfair treatment.

Discrimination

Policies:

Nondiscrimination: The commitment of the University of Baltimore to the most fundamental principles of academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity requires that treatment of students be based on individual abilities and qualifications and be free from invidious discrimination. The University of Baltimore is therefore actively committed to providing equal educational opportunity in all of its institutions and programs. All policies, programs, and activities of the university are and shall be in conformity with all pertinent federal and state laws on non-discrimination regarding race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, and disability, including, but not limited to, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Sexual Harassment: The University of Baltimore reaffirms the principle that its students, faculty, and staff have a right to be free from sex discrimination in the form of sexual harassment by any member of the university community. Sexual harassment represents a failure in ethical behavior and will not be condoned. It subverts the mission of the university and threatens the careers, educational experience, and well being of students, faculty, and staff. Sexual harassment is particularly damaging when it exploits the educational dependence and trust between students and faculty. When the authority and power inherent in faculty relationships with students, whether overtly, implicitly, or through misinterpretation, are abused in this way, there is potentially great damage to individual students, to the person complained of, and to the educational climate of the university. Faculty members and other individuals in positions of authority should be sensitive to the questions about mutuality of consent that may be raised and to the conflicts of interests that are inherent in personal relationships where professional and educational relationships are also involved.

For the purpose of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, degrading comments or jokes related to one's gender, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of an individual's employment or status in a course, program, or activity;
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for an employment or educational decision affecting an individual; or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or educational performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for work or learning.

Sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Policies, programs, and activities of the University of Baltimore also are and shall be in compliance with the University System of Maryland policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Consistent with that policy, the University of Baltimore prohibits discrimination against students, faculty and staff on the basis of sexual orientation in academic admissions, financial aid, educational services, housing, student programs and activities, recruitment, hiring, employment, appointment, promotion, tenure, demotion, transfer, layoff or termination, rates of pay, selection for training and professional development, and employee services. "Sexual orientation" is defined as the identification, perception, or status of an individual as to homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality. The Board of Regents reserves the right to observe the terms of any bona fide employee benefit plan such as retirement, pension, or insurance plan, and to enforce or comply with any federal or state law, regulation, or guideline, including conditions for the receipt of federal funding. In addition, the University of Baltimore will not discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression (that is, those who are transgender or who choose nontraditional forms of gender expression).

Student Procedures:

The University of Baltimore has adopted internal procedures to provide prompt and equitable resolution of discrimination complaints involving students. Discrimination complaints covered under this procedure are those that allege actions related to students' education that are prohibited by state and federal anti-discrimination laws and/or University System of Maryland policy and where the allegedly discriminatory actions involved a student as one of the parties. Students' rights to a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints made under the university's procedure will not be affected if they also choose to pursue other legal remedies, including those initiated by filing a complaint with the responsible federal department or agency. Students are encouraged to use this procedure before pursuing other remedies, but they are not required to do so. The rules governing this procedure are intended to encourage the early and constructive consideration of discrimination concerns while at the same time protecting the substantive rights of interested persons, meeting appropriate due process standards, and assuring that the University of Baltimore complies with applicable state and federal regulations.

Note: Under U.S. Department of Education regulations, the University of Baltimore need not process discrimination complaints from applicants for admission; under the University System of Maryland policy on sexual orientation, however, applicants for admission may file internal claims alleging discrimination in admission on the basis of sexual orientation.

Informal process for discrimination claims

A student who believes that he or she has been treated unfairly due to his or her race, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or sexual orientation, or who believes that he or she has been sexually harassed, has three informal options available for addressing the situation:

  1. The student may consult with the other person(s) involved when the concern arises and attempt to resolve the issue informally.
  2. If the student and the other person(s) involved agree, the Center for Negotiations and Conflict Management will provide a mediator or mediators to facilitate a discussion between them.
  3. The student may bring his or her concern to any member of the faculty or administration of the university for advice and assistance concerning options for addressing the concern. For example, the person to whom the concern is brought may help the student resolve the matter informally; help the student draft a formal complaint; and/or direct the student to those who can provide additional assistance.

The person from whom advice and assistance is sought must treat the complaint as confidential and may not discuss it with anyone without the student's consent. In particular, the advisor may not inform the person accused of discriminatory behavior of the student's concern without the student's consent.

Internal discrimination complaints

If the parties are unable to resolve the issue informally or if any party is unwilling to participate in informal resolution processes, students may address to the associate vice president for student affairs complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or sexual orientation; of violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and of sexual harassment.

A complaint under this internal procedure should be filed in writing, contain the name and address of the person filing it, and briefly describe the alleged violation of the applicable laws, regulations, or policies, including;

  • when and where the alleged conduct occurred
  • the name(s) of the person(s) alleged to have violated the policy;
  • the names of any witnesses to the violation; and
  • the relief requested.

Any complaint should be filed within 14 calendar days after the student becomes aware of the claimed violation. Upon receiving the complaint, the associate vice president for student affairs shall give a copy to any person(s) alleged to have violated any of the laws, regulations or policies.

The associate vice president for student affairs or her designee will investigate the complaint. These rules contemplate informal but thorough investigations, affording all interested persons an opportunity to submit relevant evidence and including a discussion with the complainant, with the person(s) alleged to have violated the policy and with any witnesses.

As part of the investigation, the associate vice president for student affairs may negotiate a resolution of the complaint or encourage the parties to participate in mediation with a mediator provided by the Center for Negotiations and Conflict Management for the purpose of reaching a voluntary resolution.

If the complaint is not resolved voluntarily by the parties, the associate vice president for student affairs will mail a written determination to the complainant and to the respondent(s) within 21 calendar days of the filing of a complaint, stating one of the following:

  1. There is no reasonable cause to believe a violation of university policy has occurred and therefore the internal complaint will be dismissed.
  2. There is reasonable cause to believe there may have been a violation of law or policy.
    1. Upon making a determination of reasonable cause with regard to a complaint alleging discriminatory acts committed by a student, the associate vice president for student affairs will recommend a remedy or sanction and will provide the parties an additional opportunity to resolve the matter. If the parties do not agree to resolve the matter, it will be referred to a hearing board for a hearing and decision. A hearing should be held within 21 calendar days of the associate vice president's determination. The hearing will follow the normal procedures applicable to hearing boards under these policies and procedures.
    2. Upon making a determination of reasonable cause with regard to a complaint alleging discriminatory acts committed by a member of the faculty, administration, or staff of the university, the associate vice president for student affairs will refer the complaint to the Office of Human Resources for further action.

The associate vice president for student affairs will also maintain the files and records of the University of Baltimore relating to all discrimination complaints filed.

In the event that the associate vice president for student affairs has a conflict of interest with regard to a particular complaint, the dean of the school in which the complaining student is enrolled will perform all functions assigned to the associate vice president with regard to that complaint, except that the associate vice president will maintain the files and records of that complaint once the process has been completed.

Appeal

A complainant may appeal a determination of no reasonable cause made by the associate vice president for student affairs and either party may appeal the decision of a hearing board. A party wishing to appeal must submit a written request to the provost within 14 calendar days after the receipt of the determination or decision appealed. The request must include an explanation of the basis for the complainant's dissatisfaction with the determination or decision from which the appeal has been made.

The provost will decide on an appeal after reviewing the full record relevant to the grievance, including the hearing record if a hearing has been held. If appealing to the provost will create a conflict of interest, the president of the university will designate an unbiased person to hear the appeal. The provost or the president's designee will make a written decision on appeal within 14 calendar days of the filing of the appeal and will provide it to all parties. That decision will be the final outcome of the internal procedure.

An appeal will be granted when:

  1. the decision is unsupported by substantial evidence on the record;
  2. there is a substantial departure from or denial of rights or procedures provided for the grievance process or the use of Hearing Boards in these policies and procedures;
  3. there is new evidence, previously unavailable, which, if proven accurate, would substantially alter the decision or the sanction or remedy imposed;
  4. there is a reasonable claim that the sanction or remedy imposed is disproportionate to the gravity of the conduct.

Other Nonacademic Grievances:

Informal Process: A student who believes that a member of the faculty, administration, or staff treated him or her unfairly in a way that is unrelated to discrimination and nonacademic in nature will initially consult informally with the person involved to discuss the concern. The student should request this meeting in writing (written communications by e-mail are acceptable for this purpose) and should keep a copy of the request. All requests must be made within 14 calendar days after the student becomes aware of the allegedly unfair treatment.

Within 14 calendar days after receiving such a request, the faculty, administration or staff member will set up a time to consult with the student informally and discuss the student's concerns. Although this consultation will ideally be held in person, it may also take place by telephone conference or through an e-mail conversation if necessary to accommodate both participants. If the consultation is held in person and if the parties agree, the Center for Negotiations and Conflict Management will provide a mediator or mediators to facilitate the discussion.

If the student and the faculty, administration or staff member are able to reach an agreement about how to address the student's concern during or as a result of the informal consultation, the matter will be considered resolved.

If a student requests a meeting but the faculty, administration or staff member involved does not respond within 14 calendar days after the request, or is unavailable to consult in person, by phone, or by e-mail within that period, the student may proceed with the formal process described below.

Formal Process: If the student's concern has not been resolved through informal consultation with the faculty, administration, or staff member, the student may present the matter in writing to the associate vice president for student affairs, who serves as the decision-maker for the complaint. The student's written submission will:

  • state that the consultation requirements of the informal process have been met or could not be met;
  • contain a concise statement of the facts relevant to the complaint; and
  • contain the resolution sought.

Within 14 working days after receiving a written submission from a student, the associate vice president for student affairs will meet jointly with the student, the faculty member, and any other person who can be helpful to a determination. It is preferable that this meeting be conducted in person; it may also be conducted by conference call, however, upon the agreement of all those involved or if it is impossible to hold a face-to-face meeting during the 14-day time period. At the meeting, the associate vice president will confirm the student's reasons for raising the complaint and will request that the faculty, staff, or administration member involved explain the situation as he or she sees it.

Within 14 calendar days after meeting with the student, the faculty, administration or staff member, and any other appropriate person(s), the associate vice president for student affairs will render a written decision on the student's complaint and provide that decision to each of the parties.

Appeal of Other Nonacademic Grievances: E ither the student or the faculty member may appeal the decision on a non-academic grievance in writing within 14 calendar days of the written decision. The appeal will be submitted to the provost. If appealing to the provost will create a conflict of interest, the president of the university will designate an unbiased person who is qualified to hear the appeal in the president's judgment.

The provost or the president's designee will:

  • provide a notice of the appeal to the parties involved;
  • request a response from the party who did not appeal, to be provided within seven calendar days of the request;
  • review all materials related to the appeal; and
  • make a final and binding written decision on the merits of the appeal and provide it to each of the parties within 14 calendar days following the submission of the written response.