Anti-Harassment Policy

ASMS is committed to equality of opportunity and the maintenance of an environment free of any discriminatory or harassing conduct based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, genetic information, age, or veteran status. In addition, students at ASMS should not be subjected to threatening or offensive conduct based on one’s socioeconomic status, academic status, social, mental or physical ability, or other personal characteristics.

It is the policy of ASMS that no member of the community may engage in speech or conduct that is unlawfully discriminatory or that constitutes harassment, stalking, hazing, bullying, or sexual violence. All students are guaranteed the right to live and learn in an environment founded on mutual respect for all persons and recognition of the dignity of all members of the community free from harassment and retaliation while enrolled at ASMS. The Office of Student Affairs will inform new students of the policy during orientation and when appropriate. This policy works in conjunction with other policies outlined in this Handbook, including the ASMS Anti-Bullying Policy.

Definitions

The following definitions apply for the purpose of this policy:

Discrimination is unlawful, adverse treatment of a person on the basis of that person’s race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender-identity, religion, disability, genetic information, age, or veteran status.

Bullying means a continuous pattern of intentional behavior on or off of school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored function including, but not limited to, cyberbullying or written, electronic, verbal, or physical actions that are reasonably perceived as being motivated by any characteristic of a student, or by the association of a student with an individual who has a particular characteristic, if the characteristic falls into one of the categories of personal characteristics contained in this policy. To constitute bullying, a pattern of behavior may do any of the following:

  • Place a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property.
  • Have the effect of substantially interfering with the educational performance, opportunities, or benefits of a student.
  • Have the effect of substantially disrupting or interfering with the orderly operation of the school.
  • Have the effect of creating a hostile environment in the school, on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored function.
  • Have the effect of being sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.

Harassment is discriminating conduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s academic or residential performance and/or creates a hostile environment for that individual, affecting his/her personal safety or participation in educational or residential activities. Harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents.

Hazing refers to any activity expected of an individual joining a group (or seeking to maintain full status in a group) that subjects the person to humiliation, degradation or the risk of emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.

Hostile environment means the perception by an affected student that the conduct of another student constitutes a threat of violence or bullying and that the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person, under the circumstances, would agree that the conduct constitutes bullying, threat of assault, or assault.

Retaliation is defined as adverse treatment taken against individuals exercising their rights under the harassment policy. Retaliation against an individual who in good faith utilizes the reporting procedures included in this policy and/or participates in any investigation related to an allegation of prohibited harassment, bullying, hazing, cyber-bullying or discrimination is expressly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Sexual Harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, that is severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to create a hostile environment. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can include conduct such as touching of a sexual nature; making sexual comments, jokes, or gestures; writing graffiti or displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials; calling students sexually charged names; spreading sexual rumors; rating students on sexual activity or performance; or circulating, showing, or creating emails or websites of a sexual nature. When the harassment is of a sexual nature it should be reported to the ASMS Title IX Coordinator.

Sexual Violence is defined as sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol or intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. Sexual violence can be reported to any ASMS staff or faculty member or a member of law enforcement.

Stalking is repeated, unwanted attention; physical, verbal or electronic contact; or any other course of conduct directed at an individual that is sufficiently serious to cause physical, emotional, or psychological fear or to create a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment for a reasonable person in similar circumstances.

Student as used in this policy means a person who is enrolled in ASMS.

Reporting

Any employee who learns of situations involving student discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, stalking, hazing, bullying, or sexual violence has an obligation to report those circumstances to the Title IX Coordinator. Any employee who learns of situations involving allegations of sexual harassment involving students must promptly report such allegations to the Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Scarlette Studdard (251-441-3175; email: sstuddard@asms.net). ASMS will grant any student’s request to report harassment to a member of the same sex. Any student who knows of situations involving discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, stalking, hazing, bullying, or sexual violence can and should report the incident to any adult member of the ASMS community. Any student associated with ASMS engaging in such improper conduct will be appropriately disciplined, which could result in dismissal for misconduct. Any reported cases will be reviewed for possible referral to the appropriate legal authorities. A false accusation is considered misconduct and may result in appropriate disciplinary action.

Coverage and Complaint Procedures

The right of confidentiality, both of the complainant and of the accused, will be respected consistent with the law and with the necessity to investigate allegations of misconduct and to take corrective action when misconduct has occurred.

A reasonably prompt and impartial investigation will be made of all cases alleging harassment based on presented facts surrounding the misconduct. ASMS will review the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the alleged conduct constitutes harassment. Unless independent evidence exists, the victim must be willing to testify in order for ASMS to take corrective action against the accused. Any interference, coercion, restraint, or reprisal of any person complaining of harassment is prohibited.

ASMS shall investigate the complaint and take appropriate remedial action, if any, within 60 calendar days from receipt of the written complaint. Due to the sensitive nature of the investigation of harassment complaints, this deadline supersedes any requirements stated in the Student Code of Conduct. The Title IX Coordinator may independently investigate matters reported by third parties in the absence of a formal complaint.

Objectives

Research indicates that creating a supportive school climate is the most important step in preventing harassment. The following objectives have been established to create a supportive school climate:

  • Disseminate to all students ASMS’s anti-harassment policy statement;
  • Sensitize students to the subject through training, orientation, and literature;
  • Promptly investigate reports of suspected harassment;
  • Offer mediation by the designated administrators as an alternative to a formal hearing;
  • Use established disciplinary and hearing procedures in addressing harassment; and
  • Document all efforts taken to prevent harassment and to respond to complaints.

Responsibility

The ultimate responsibility for the ASMS Student Anti-Harassment Prevention Plan lies with the President. However, the Director of Student Affairs is responsible for coordinating the plan and advising as appropriate all parties involved in cases alleging student harassment. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for investigating and obtaining any additional information in cases alleging harassment. All ASMS employees and students are responsible for maintaining an environment free of conduct defined as harassment or retaliation.

Program Coordination and Process

  1. The Title IX Coordinator coordinates orientation and training programs, meets with parties involved in alleged harassment, investigates allegations, and monitors disciplinary actions.
    1. Orientation for new and returning students includes discussion of the anti-harassment policy and prevention plan.
    2. Student Life curriculum addresses adolescent development issues, including protecting students from harassment.
  2. The Title IX Coordinator, or designee, offers mediation as an alternative to formal hearing procedures.
    1. The Title IX Coordinator, or designee, meets individually with the accuser and accused.
    2. The Title IX Coordinator, or designee, then facilitates a discussion that includes all parties to mediate an acceptable outcome.
  3. The ASMS Counseling Services Office offers counseling to students involved in harassment.
  4. If the accused is a student, resulting disciplinary action is handled through the regular judicial process outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. If the accused is an employee, the regular employee disciplinary procedures are followed. The employee will not be allowed to resign to avoid dismissal or other disciplinary action without the written consent of the accuser.
  5. Appropriate disciplinary action will be imposed on those who (a) interfere or retaliate against any person alleging harassment, or (b) make unfounded charges of harassment.
  6. The accused may appeal any disciplinary action through the appropriate grievance procedure.

The Title IX Coordinator and the General Counsel will evaluate this program annually based on the effectiveness of training programs, number of complaints, nature of cases, and their outcome through the internal complaint procedures; and compliance with program requirements.

Violations

Violations of this policy are defined as Major Violations under the Student Code of Conduct and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.