|Revised||December 6May 13, 20172019|
Blue Ridge Community College (“College”) strives to make its campuses inclusive, safe and welcoming learning environments for all members of the College community. Pursuant to multiple federal and state laws and administrative regulations and pursuant to College policy, the College prohibits discrimination in its activities, services and programs based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sex, age, disability, genetic information and veteran status.
The following definitions shall apply to these Procedures and shall be collectively referred to herein as “discrimination, harassment and sexual-based violence”.
The definitions are not intended to operate as speech codes, promote content and viewpoint discrimination or suppress minority viewpoints in the academic setting. Indeed, just because a student’s speech or expression is deemed offensive by others does not mean it constitutes discrimination or harassment.
In applying these definitions, College administrators shall view the speech or expression in its context and totality and shall apply the following standard: the alleged victim subjectively views the conduct as discrimination or harassment and that the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would agree that the conduct is discriminatory or harassing.
This definition includes any sex of victim or perpetrator. Sexual penetration means the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol) or because of age. Physical resistance is not required on the part of the victim to demonstrate lack of consent.
All members of the College community are expected to take appropriate action to prevent discrimination, harassment and sexual-based violence. All Responsible Employees are required to report such alleged acts to the appropriate College officials. All Responsible Employees receiving a complaint of discrimination, harassment or sexual based violence shall immediately refer the complaint to the appropriate person. For acts of sexual based violence, Responsible Employees shall inform the Complainant of the right to contact law enforcement.
If a student wishes to keep the details of an alleged incident confidential, he/she should speak with a Confidential Employee, health service provider or off-campus counselors in order to maintain confidentiality. Campus counselors are available to help students free of charge and can been seen on an emergency basis. For information on the College’s counseling services, contact the Vice President for Student Services at (828) 694-1804.
Reports of sexual and gender-based harassment and sexual-based violence should be made to the College’s Title IX Coordinator:
Vice President for Student Services
Sink Building 139, Henderson County Campus
180 West Campus Drive
Flat Rock, NC 28731
The Coordinator shall receive annual training on issues related to discrimination, harassment and sexual-based violence and how to conduct a fair and impartial investigation that protects alleged victims and promotes accountability.
Reports of disability discrimination should be made to the College’s Director of Disability:
Director of Disability Services
Sink Building 127, Henderson County Campus
180 West Campus Drive
Flat Rock, NC 28731
All other issues raised hereunder should be reported to the Vice President for Student Services.
For the remainder of these Procedures, the person who receives an initial report shall be referred to the “Coordinator”.
III. INITIAL INVESTIGATION
- Members of the College community are encouraged, but not required, to resolve issues informally and may attempt to do so directly with the other party or with the assistance of a supervisor or other College official. In circumstances in which an informal process fails or is inappropriate, in the cases of sexual harassment and sexual-based violence, or in which the Complainant requests formal procedures, the complaints will be investigated promptly, impartially and thoroughly according to the following procedures:
- Individuals filing complaints (“Complainants”) are urged to do so in writing as soon as possible but no later than thirty (30) days after disclosure or discovery of the facts giving rise to the complaint. Complaints submitted after the thirty (30) day period will still be investigated; however, Complainants should recognize that delays in reporting may significantly impair the ability of College officials to investigate and respond to such complaints. The Coordinator shall fully investigate any complaints and will, as needed and if the complaint also involves an employee, collaborate with the College’s Director of
- Human Resources. During the course of the investigation, the Coordinator may consult with other relevant College administrators and the College Attorney.
- During the investigation, the Coordinator shall meet with the Complainant and the alleged Perpetrator and give each party an equal opportunity to provide evidence, including informing the Coordinator of any potential witnesses. Both parties will be provided access to any information provided by the other in accordance with any federal or state confidentiality laws.
- During the investigation process, the Coordinator may implement temporary measures in order to facilitate an efficient and thorough investigation process as well as to protect the rights of all parties involved. The temporary actions include, but are not limited to: reassignment of class schedules; temporary suspension form campus (but be allowed to complete coursework); or directives that include no contact between the involved parties.
- A confidential file regarding the complaint shall be maintained by the Coordinator. To the extent possible, the College will keep all information relating to the complaint and investigations confidential; however, to maintain compliance with the Clery Act, both parties will be informed of the outcome of any institutional proceeding alleging sexual harassment or sexual-based violence.
- The Coordinator shall make every effort to conclude the investigation as soon as possible but no later than thirty (30) calendar days. If the nature of the investigation requires additional time, the Coordinator may have an additional ten (10) calendar days to complete the investigation. The Coordinator shall notify the parties of this extension.
- Upon making the complaint, Complainants alleging sexual harassment and sexual-based violence will be immediately notified that they have the right to seek additional assistance from law enforcement and have the right to seek, among other things, judicial no-contact, restraining and protective orders. Complainants will also be notified of available counseling services and their options of changing academic situations and other interim protective measures.
IV. DETERMINATION AND APPEAL
The Coordinator shall prepare a report of his/her investigation and review the report with both the Complainant and the alleged Perpetrator and, if appropriate, implement any corrective and/or disciplinary action based on the clear and convincing standard of evidence. Appropriate disciplinary action shall depend upon the seriousness of the misconduct and may include: a warning, written reprimand, suspension, expulsion from College property or denial of access to College services or programs.
Any disciplinary action will be implemented immediately and shall not be tolled pending an appeal.
If the Complainant or alleged Perpetrator is dissatisfied with the Coordinator's determination, s/he may appeal to the President within five (5) calendar days upon receipt of the Coordinator’s report.
Upon receipt of the appeal, the President shall convene a Review Committee (“Committee”) to hear the matter and provide a non-binding recommendation.
The Committee shall be composed of the following members: i) one faculty and one staff member; and ii) and one senior administrator who will serve as the Chair. All Committee members shall be appointed by the President and shall receive training on conducting hearings for this process.
The Committee must meet and hold the hearing within ten (10) business days of receipt of the appeal from the President. At least five (5) business day prior to the date set for the hearing, the Chair shall send notification to the Complainant and alleged Perpetrator of the time and place of the hearing and the members of the Committee.
The Committee’s hearing shall be de novo; provided, however, that the President shall inform the Committee of the Coordinator’s prior disciplinary determination, if any.
At least two (2) business days prior to the hearing, the parties will notify the Chair as to whether or not they will be represented by legal counsel. Failure to notify the Chair regarding legal counsel could result in the hearing being continued until such time that the College can have its legal counsel present. Should the College’s legal counsel attend, he/she shall serve as the procedural officer for the hearing.
Also, at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing, the Complainant and alleged Perpetrator have the right to request, in writing, that the President disqualify any member of the Committee for prejudice or bias. The request must contain specific reasons and must be sent directly to the President. The President shall consider the matter and if such disqualification occurs, the President shall replace the disqualified member with an individual from the same employment category.
- Each party has a right to have legal counsel and/or an advocate present.
The role of the legal counsel or advocate is solely to advise the individual. Except for a closing argument, the legal counsel or advocate shall not have the right to address the Committee.
- Each party has the right to produce witnesses on their behalf.
- Each party has the right to present testimonial and documentary evidence.
- Each party has the right to be present and hear the witnesses presented for both sides.
- Each party has the right to testify or to refuse to testify without such refusal being detrimental.
- Hearings before the Committee shall be confidential and shall be closed to all persons except the parties; legal counsel and/or advocate; and Committee members and the College attorney. Witnesses shall only be present in the hearing room when giving their testimony.
- The Complainant shall have an opportunity to make an opening statement and present evidence and witnesses to the Committee. Committee members may ask questions to the witnesses.
- The alleged Perpetrator will then have an opportunity to make a short opening statement and present evidence and witnesses to the Committee. Committee members may ask questions to the witnesses.
- Each side will have an opportunity to make a short, closing argument with the Complainant going first.
- The College will make an audio recording of the hearing.
- Formal rules of evidence do not apply and the Committee may rely on evidence that a reasonably prudent person would consider in the conduct of serious affairs. A clear and convincing standard of evidence shall be the standard of evidence used at the hearing. Redundant testimony and character witnesses may be limited by the Chair of the Committee.
- Upon completion of a hearing, the Committee shall meet in closed session. The College Attorney may be present to provide the Committee with legal advice. Based on a clear and convincing standard of evidence, the Committee shall review the evidence and make a written, non-binding recommendation to the President within five business days. The parties shall also receive a copy of the non-binding recommendation.
V. PROTECTION AGAINST RETALIATION
The College will not in any way retaliate against an individual who makes a report of discrimination, harassment or sexual-based violence in good faith or who assists in an investigation. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to: any form of intimidation, disciplinary action, reprisal or harassment. Retaliation is a serious violation and should be reported immediately. The College will take appropriate action against any employee or student found to have retaliated against another in violation of these procedures.
VI. EMPLOYEE AND STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS
Romantic or sexual relationships between College employees and students are prohibited if the employee and the student have an academic relationship. Academic relationships include any activities in which the employee is a direct or indirect supervisor or instructor for the student, as in a classroom or lab, or is a sponsor for any College activity involving the student, including work study or organizational/club/sport activities. This prohibition shall continue until the student or the employee is no longer affiliated with the College. Employees engaging in inappropriate relationships will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Students engaging in inappropriate relationships may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.
Romantic or sexual relationships between College employees and students not in an academic relationship that impairs the College employee’s effectiveness, disrupts the workplace/learning environment, and/or impairs the public confidence in the College will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from the College.
VII. SUSPENDING PROCEDURES
In cases of emergency or serious misconduct, the College reserves the right to suspend this process and may enact appropriate action for the welfare and safety of the College community.
VIII. STUDENT AND EMPLOYEE EDUCATION AND ANNUAL TRAINING
- All new students and all employees shall be required to participate in a primary prevention and awareness program that promotes awareness of discrimination, harassment and sexual based violence. This program will be held annually at the beginning of each fall semester.
- At this annual training, students and employees must receive training in the following areas:
- Information about safe and positive options for bystander intervention skills;
- What “consent” means with reference to sexual activities;
- Risk reduction programs so students recognize and can avoid abusive behaviors or potential attacks;
- How and to whom to report an incident regarding discrimination, harassment and sexual based violence;
- The importance of preserving physical evidence in a sexual-based violent crime; and,
- Options about the involvement of law enforcement and campus authorities, including the alleged victim’s option to: i) notify law enforcement; ii) be assisted by campus authorities in notifying law enforcement; iii) decline to notify law enforcement; and iv) obtain “no-contact” or restraining orders.
- Each year, all students and employees will receive an electronic copy of these Procedures sent to their College email address of record. These Procedures will be maintained on the College’s website and a hard copy will be kept on file (in English and Spanish) in the Coordinator’s office. Other translations will be made available upon request.
1 The Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistic Act; Violence Against Women Act; and Chapter 168A of the North Carolina General Statutes (North Carolina Persons with Disabilities Protection Act).