What are the other responsibilities of the Office of Diversity and Equity?
A. The Division of Diversity, Access and Equity is charged with ensuring that the university meets its obligations as an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and to promote and support campus diversity initiatives. The Division of Diversity, Access and Equity is therefore accountable for implementing, articulating and advocating the university’s policies, procedures and priorities in the areas of diversity, equal opportunity and affirmative action.
The office has the responsibility to ensure compliance with federal and state laws by providing a forum for the investigation and resolution of complaints and concerns related to discrimination and sexual harassment, to serve as a liaison between the university and external enforcement agencies; to provide guidance to the university community by creating processes designed to ensure equity and nondiscrimination; and to assist Human Resources and departments with their hiring goals and recruitment of faculty, staff and administrators.
Additional responsibilities of the office include conducting investigations by a legal analysis and establishment of a prima facie discrimination and/or sexual harassment and facilitating training programs. This office also coordinates the disability accommodation requests for faculty and staff, provides guidance to employees and supervisors, and works collaboratively with the Students Disabilities Service Office to ensure requested accommodations are provided to students with disabilities.
How can the Division of Diversity, Access and Equity help me?
A. Staff in the office is available to listen and provide general information regarding your concerns about discrimination, and sexual harassment. The staff can provide you with options on what, if any, recourse you might want to have. Initially you may not want to share information about a specific person who you feel may have discriminated against you or sexually harassed you; you may just want to hear what recourses are available. The decision to take action is yours, as long as your conversation remains anonymous and non-specific.
However, because discrimination and sexual harassment are illegal, when the University learns who may be violating these laws, the University is legally obligated to take action. If after talking to the staff, you choose to mention specific names, then the role of the staff member changes from an advisor to an investigator.
In the role of investigator, the staff member listens to complaints, reviews and gathers information by talking to you and the accused, and witnesses, if there are any. The investigator also maintains a record, provides information and seeks an appropriate resolution sought. An intake form and information checklist will probably be used during the interview to ensure that important issues are covered. The intake form will also be used to document what course of action you decide to follow.
The Division of Diversity, Access and Equity is also available to provide guidance on reasonable accommodations if you require one to perform the essential functions of your position.
What is the informal review process?
A. The informal review is a process that attempts to resolve your issues or concerns about discrimination or sexual harassment at an informal level without your having to file a formal grievance.
The review will involve talking to you, the person or persons involved in your complaint, and any witnesses identified by either you or the person complained against. It may also include talking to other persons that the staff thinks might be helpful. When interviewing the accused the staff will reveal your name and the nature of the complaint/concern. Every person contacted will be advised of her/his responsibility to maintain confidentiality regarding all aspects of the review. Copies of the University’s policy prohibiting discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation will be provided and reviewed.