Policies and Handbook

Community Policies

College of the Atlantic is committed to creating and maintaining a community in which students, faculty, and staff can work, live, and learn together in a supportive, respectful environment. Membership in this community places a significant expectation upon its students, faculty, and staff to respect the dignity and autonomy of others – and to act with forethought and consideration of the social and environmental impacts their actions may have. This community thrives on the freedom of inquiry and expression that extends from the classroom into the social life of the College. This freedom is manifest in the vigorous debates that take place in our classrooms, committees, and residence halls and which bring together students, faculty, and staff. By necessity, such freedom comes from an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence that must also extend from classroom to committee to residence hall.

With these expectations in mind, there are few stated restrictions on behavior at the college – nevertheless, students are expected to adhere to the social and academic policies stated in all college documents. With one possible exception, the policies that follow have been developed and endorsed by the ACM as necessary for the functioning of this community

The following procedures apply for students. Students who are concerned about the actions of a faculty or staff member should talk with any of the following faculty or staff members: the Academic Dean, any of the Associate Deans, the Director of Public Safety, the Administrative Dean or the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. Any forthcoming charges against faculty and staff will be handled according to the procedures set forth in the faculty and staff manuals.

This section is not a comprehensive list of all campus community policies. Included here is important information about our drug/alcohol and safe community policies. Policies related to community resources are included in the appropriate section. The full texts of COA policies can be found in the governance section of the COA website.

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is a breach of common standards of academic honesty as well as a breach of any particular instructions provided by a professor in a given class; for example, cheating, plagiarism, or any other form of using the work of another person without proper acknowledgment. For more guidance on this see the ‘Academic Integrity’ section within the Academic Program and Policies portion of the course catalog. Students who are suspected of academic misconduct may reasonably expect to be processed through a Judiciary Hearing process.

Social Misconduct

Students who engage in conduct which harms, or is intended to harm, another person or another’s property in the community (including college property) will be held accountable by the College. Harassing and intimidating behavior is particularly injurious to community life and will likely be subject to significant disciplinary action. The College also expects students to behave in accordance with the community policies outlined below. Social Misconduct may be dealt with administratively or through a Judiciary Hearing process.

Judiciary Hearing

A student can be charged with misconduct by any member of the College community. The following steps should be taken in any situation except those involving sexual harassment. Sexual harassment issues are covered in the “Sexual Harassment” section of this handbook.

For complaints of Academic Misconduct, the Academic Dean or his/her designee will serve as the Chair for the Judiciary Hearing Board; for complaints of Social Misconduct, the Dean of Student Life or his/her designee will serve as the Chair. This judiciary hearing process is an internal COA procedure, separate from and in addition to any legal actions outside the college which may be appropriate.

Generally, it is anticipated that the vast majority of complaints are the result of imperfect communication rather than malice or ill-intent – and can therefore be resolved informally through communication and mediation. If a community member is concerned about the actions of a student, he/she is encouraged to address that student’s behavior directly and respectfully. If a community member is uncertain about how to address the behavior, he/she can seek help and advice from a variety of sources: the Dean of Student Life, the Director of Public Safety, the Academic Deans, the Resident Advisers, or any faculty or staff member he/she feels comfortable with.

In the event that a community member feels uncomfortable confronting a student’s behavior directly, he/she should discuss his/her concerns directly with either the Dean of Student Life or the Academic Dean. They will be able to advise you of your options. In the event that a written complaint is deemed necessary, they can assist you deciding whether an informal or formal resolution is appropriate. Please keep in mind that all parties need to be willing to engage in and complete an informal resolution in order for it to be successful. In the event this is impossible, the complaint will be referred to a judiciary hearing board for formal resolution. A person who feels uncomfortable approaching either of the Dean of Student Life or the Academic Dean should talk with any faculty or staff member who can speak on his or her behalf.

The full procedure can be found at the end of this section.

Alcohol

COA is required to comply with the Drug Free Campuses Act, as well as the laws of the State of Maine, which include but are not limited to:

  • Individuals must be 21 years old to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol in the state of Maine.
  • Persons under 21 years of age may not purchase, consume, possess, or transport alcoholic beverages.
  • It is illegal to present false identification, either written or oral, in the attempt to procure alcoholic beverages.
  • No person may furnish, procure, or deliver alcohol to a minor or allow any minor in his/her control to drink alcohol.
  • No person may furnish, procure, or deliver alcohol to/for an intoxicated person.
  • Only licensed liquor dealers may sell alcoholic beverages in Maine.
  • Charging admission to parties where alcoholic beverages are available "free" is illegal.
  • No person may drink alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. In addition, an excessive blood alcohol level (0.08) could result in a suspension of your driver's license and/or a fine. If you are under 21 years old, the state considers you intoxicated if your blood alcohol level reaches 0.02.
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places is illegal without a special license or permit issued by Maine state officials.

In order for COA to comply with these laws and to maintain a safe campus, the following policy has been enacted:

  • All COA students, staff, and faculty are personally responsible for complying with Maine state and local laws regarding consumption, sale, transportation, and procurement of alcohol.
  • Individuals under the influence of alcohol will be held fully accountable for their actions, including physical or verbal abuse to individuals, or any action resulting in damage to personal or college property. Intoxication is not an acceptable defense or excuse for disorderly conduct.
  • Making reference to alcohol is discouraged in campus advertisements or announcements for social events.
  • Consumption of alcohol is prohibited in spaces regularly frequented by the public, including but not limited to Blair Dining Hall; Thorndike Library; Gates Community Center; Deering Common, access ways to buildings; parking lots and drives, hallways, lobbies, and common areas of buildings; formal gardens; and at all COA functions except under conditions noted below.
  • At the discretion of the Director of Public Safety or his delegate, any individual who is potentially disruptive or impaired by alcohol must cease his/her behavior upon request.
  • Consumption of alcohol in campus housing is only permitted by residents 21 or older, in private student rooms in housing not designated as substance free. Alcohol is not permitted to be stored in common spaces. Any student storing alcohol in a student room will be held responsible for any consequences resulting from the consumption of that alcohol whether by themselves or others. The household and the Resident Advisor will determine further guidelines, with the assistance of the housing office as needed. The household policy must be in accordance with the community guidelines and all members of the household are to share in the responsibility of upholding the policy.
Any community member violating this policy will be held accountable through measures that may include a warning or referral to appropriate social misconduct or personnel procedures. Complaints of social misconduct can be brought through the offices of either the Director of Campus Safety or the Dean of Student Life. Violations of Maine laws occur at the risk of the individuals involved - and are not the responsibility of the College.

Drug-free Workplace and Campus

College of the Atlantic, in compliance with and in support of the Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988 and other Federal and State laws, hereby notifies all employees and students that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of controlled substances is prohibited at COA. Individuals will be prosecuted through either the College’s internal policies and/or local law enforcement agencies.

Smoking on campus

In compliance with the Maine Workplace Smoking Act of 1985 and additional legislation in 1993 banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, COA is committed to providing a smoke-free work environment. Smoking is therefore prohibited in and within a 25 foot zone around all college buildings, except for specific designated smoking areas. Smoking is also prohibited in all college owned vehicles.

Community members who smoke are asked to do so in such a way that they do not expose those who do not smoke, to second-hand smoke. Those who want to smoke in areas without a specific designation are asked to be respectful of the needs of those who do not smoke by requesting permission to or refraining from smoking if the area is already in use, or stopping smoking if asked to do so.

Smoke-free areas:

The Newlin Gardens area (the “Red Bricks” area) including the stairways leading to the Newlin Gardens, the Campus Walk (the pathway connecting the Newlin Gardens to the Davis Center), the courtyard of Blair-Tyson, and the courtyard created by Deering Common, Seafox, and the Kathryn W. Davis Residence Village

Designated smoking areas:

The lean-to at Buildings and Grounds, the overhang at the northwest entrance to TAB, the porch of the KWD Residence Village Bike Shed, and a lean-to to be constructed adjacent to the bike shed at Blair-Tyson. At the discretion of CPBC these areas can be changed or moved.

Discrimination

The College is committed to maintaining an environment in which the age, race, color, creed, religion, marital status, sexual preference, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental handicap or veteran status of an individual or group are respected and not disparaged. Therefore, the following procedures will be followed should any member of our community feel that infringement of rights or discrimination has occurred.

The procedure utilized in the investigation of any complaint of civil rights infringement or discrimination will be the same as those used for the investigation of gender or sexual harassment. These procedures are outlined in the Sexual Harassment section of this Handbook.

If a community member is uncertain about whether he/she has experienced discrimination, has questions or would like clarification, or needs help, he/she is strongly encouraged to contact any of the following: the Associate Dean of Student Life, the Director of Public Safety, the Academic Dean, or the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity officer. Any of these people will be glad to help.

If a community member decides to pursue a complaint, the first person to be contacted in such an event should be the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity officer. Anna Murphy is the College’s AA/EEO officer – and can be reached via e-mail or at x5602

Sexual Assault & Misconduct policy

COLLEGE STANCE
Members of the College of the Atlantic community, guests, and visitors have the right to be free from sexual misconduct and violence. This policy is intended to define community expectations, to establish definitions to aid in determining when behavior violates these expectations, and to outline the options available in response to sexual misconduct. It is our expectation that each individual will exhibit the respect, consideration, and responsibility that would prohibit sexual misconduct. Further, while we expect that individuals engaging in any kind of sexual activity will communicate clearly with each other, it is the responsibility of the person(s) pursuing sexual activity to ensure that she/he/they have the consent of any partner(s). An instance of sexual misconduct is a violation of the rights of the individual as well as a significant betrayal of the fundamental trust and values of our community. COA believes that rape, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation are unacceptable and therefore sexual misconduct will not be tolerated.

The College will regard all reports of sexual misconduct as worthy of earnest response. It is our goal to provide prompt, effective, and sensitive assistance to anyone requesting support as a result of sexual misconduct. This includes taking action to protect community members from harm, to impose serious disciplinary consequences to ensure misconduct is not repeated, and to educate our community appropriately. The college will strive to empower the victim/survivor regarding decisions about notification, medical or other services, legal or campus action, and other matters. Previous behavior on the part of the victim/survivor (attire, intoxication, previous sexual history, etc.) will never be considered as grounds to justify sexual misconduct.

Included in this policy:

  • definitions relevant to the policy
  • consequences of violating the policy
  • college response options for support and action, including information about confidentiality
  • notification, education and training

LANGUAGE
COA recognizes that there is much discussion about appropriate terminology- victim or survivor. While we recognize the awkwardness of the construction, we have chosen to use “victim/survivor” where possible throughout this document in recognition that each person should have the right to determine the language that best describes where they are in the process of coming to terms with what they have experienced.

SCOPE
This policy covers incidents or behavior that occur on campus (including farms and islands), off-campus, on COA-sponsored trips or programs in which one or more of the parties are members of the COA community.

DEFINITIONS
For the purposes of this policy the following definitions are used:

Consent: is unambiguous, voluntary, and knowing agreement demonstrated by positive and active participation and cooperation between partners prior to and during a sexual encounter for any kind of sexual activity. Consent can only be given by a person with the capacity to do so and who has not been coerced into doing so.

The following are offered to further understanding of the definition of consent:

  • Consent can be given by word or action, but verbal consent is usually the clearest;
  • Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity or the same activity again;
  • Silence--without actions demonstrating permission--cannot be assumed to show consent;
  • Previous sexual encounters with or prior consent from the same partner(s) cannot imply consent to future sexual acts;
  • Consent given prior to or during an encounter does not preclude consent being withdrawn later in that encounter;
  • Under this policy, “No” always means “No,” and “Yes,” if produced while a person is being coerced or does not have the capacity to consent, may not always mean “Yes.”

Sexual Misconduct: Sexual misconduct offenses include but are not limited to the following each to be defined further: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Assault- Unwanted Sexual Contact, Sexual Assault- Rape (or the attempt to commit such actions).

Sexual Harassment: is unwelcome gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from COA’s educational program, work environment, and/or activities, and is based on the creation of a hostile environment, retaliation or power differentials (quid pro quo).

Sexual Exploitation: occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of other sexual misconduct offenses.

Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to:

  • invasion of sexual privacy;
  • prostituting another student;
  • non-consensual video or audio-taping of sexual activity;
  • non-consensual digital or online sexual behavior;
  • engaging in voyeurism without the consent of the parties having sex;
  • knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV to another student;
  • exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances;
  • inducing another to expose their genitals; stalking and/or intimidation

Sexual Assault-- Unwanted Sexual Contact: is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or foreign object, by a person upon another person regardless of gender, that is without consent and/or by force.

Sexual Contact includes:

  • intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals;
  • touching another with any of these body parts;
  • making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts;
  • or any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner that doesn’t involve contact with/of/by breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth or other orifice.

Sexual Assault-- Rape: is any sexual intercourse however slight, with any body part or foreign object, by a person upon another person regardless of gender, that is without consent and/or by force.

Intercourse includes:

  • vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex, no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

Incapacity: is the lack of ability to consent resulting from mental disability, sleep, lack of consciousness, involuntary physical restraint, alcohol intoxication, or from the consumption of drugs including but not limited to rohypnol, ketomine, GHB, burundanga, etc. (More information on these drugs can be found at http://www.911rape.org/) or other drugs/substances.

NOTE: Because alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to consent in question, sober sex is less likely to raise such questions. When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to consent if they lack the capacity to reasonably understand the situation-understanding is demonstrated by knowledge of who, what, when, where, why, or how. In situations where alcohol or drug use are involved, if one person is incapable of functioning and the other, capable of functioning, takes advantage or exploits the first person’s incapacitation- there is no consent.

Administering drugs to another person for the purpose of reducing inhibitions, gaining or rendering a person incapable of giving consent is a violation of this policy.

Force: is the use of physical violence and/or the imposition on someone physically to gain sexual access and can also include threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent . The absence of resistance does not imply the absence of force.

NOTE: The use of physical force including partner (domestic or dating) violence, constitutes a stand-alone non-sexual offense as well, as it is our expectation that those who use physical force (restraint, battery, etc.) would face consequences not just for sexual misconduct, but also additional consequences for assaultive behavior. Similarly, emotional abuse used to control, isolate, or manipulate another person constitutes misconduct for which additional consequences can be imposed.

Coercion: is when one person is pressured unreasonably for and/or manipulated into sex and is clearly distinct from seduction. Coercing someone into sexual activity violates that person’s agency and autonomy and this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into sex.

CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLATING THE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY
The misconduct hearing process is detailed in a separate policy. However it is relevant to include here that COA never assumes a community member is in violation of COA policy without due process. Hearings are conducted to take into account all evidence available, from all relevant sources.

In addressing sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct, not just those acts that would meet a criminal standard, COA aims to uphold our community expectations of respect, the right to autonomy, and a campus environment that is safe for all.

Not all forms of misconduct covered in this policy will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and COA reserves the right to impose different consequences, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion/employment termination, depending on the severity of the offense.

That said, the following are offered as guidelines for hearing boards when addressing complaints of sexual misconduct:

  • Any student/employee found responsible for violating the policy on sexual harassment or sexual exploitation will likely receive a recommended consequence ranging from warning to expulsion/employment termination, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
  • Any student/employee found responsible for violating the policy on Sexual Assault- Unwanted Sexual Contact (where no intercourse has occurred) will likely receive a consequence ranging from probation to expulsion/employment termination, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
  • Any student/employee found responsible for violating the policy on Sexual Assault-Rape will likely face a recommended consequence of suspension or expulsion/employment termination.

COA will consider the concerns and rights of both the victim/survivor and the person accused of sexual misconduct when addressing sexual misconduct complaints. The hearing board may solicit input from a victim/survivor about potential consequences to aid in their deliberations. The hearing board or any person reviewing a request for appeal should follow the range of recommended consequences unless compelling justification exists to do otherwise.

RESPONSE
COA will work with anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct to make accommodations and offer appropriate services. COA reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct in order to protect community members’ rights and safety. Options available to victims/survivors may include but are not limited to changes to housing or work situations, changes to course or work schedules, access to medical and counseling services including transportation, limited or no contact agreements with persons involved, and campus disciplinary procedures, as well as assistance in accessing legal options including reporting misconduct to the police. COA may also choose to institute interim suspension from campus pending a hearing when appropriate.

AMNESTY
Any person, who in the course of seeking support for being sexually assaulted, admits to a violation of COA policy will be granted amnesty and will not face disciplinary action or consequences for that policy violation (ex. underage drinking or use of illegal drugs). 

OPTIONS FOR SUPPORT AND PURSUING ACTION
When seeking support or reporting sexual misconduct, all parties should be aware of confidentiality, privacy and reporting requirements in order to make informed choices. Different people on campus have different reporting responsibilities and different abilities to maintain confidentiality, depending on their roles at COA and upon COA policy. Individuals are encouraged to ask questions about a person’s ability to maintain confidentially or to maintain privacy, before consulting and are reminded that they do not have to share any information that they do not wish to share when seeking support.

To Seek Confidential Support:
Individuals wishing to maintain absolute confidentiality can seek support from COA mental health counselors and nurses, from other mental health practitioners or clergy in town, or from our community partners working with victims/survivors of sexual assault. Campus counselors are available to help you free of charge. These people can offer you confidentiality, discuss options and offer advice without any obligation to tell anyone unless you want them to do so.

To Seek Support and Have Personally Identifiable Information Remain Private:
Individuals can seek support and or advice from most college employees (faculty members, advisors, RAs, student life staff, etc ) and not have their private, personally identifiable information shared with others (unless there is cause to fear for the individual’s safety, or the safety of others). College employees will be required to report some statistical information (date, location, category of misconduct/crime, potential for danger) as outlined more fully in a following section, but not any of the victim/survivor’s personally identifiable information.

In accordance with the federal regulations, the report of statistical information will be shared with the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Public Safety, or the Dean of Student Life. These reports do not include any personally identifiable information without the permission of the victim/survivor, except in the event that the report reveals a possible threat to the victim/survivor or other members of the community. If personally identifiable information is shared, it will only be shared as necessary with as few people as possible, and all efforts will be made to protect the victim/survivor’s privacy. The Title IX coordinator, the director of public safety and the dean of student life, will be notified of any reports of sexual assault made to college employees, in order to determine whether a potential threat to the community exists. In the event that a threat does exist, appropriate and timely notification will be issued. All possible measures will be taken to maintain confidentiality within the response team and anonymity for the victim/survivor within the larger COA community.

To Take Action and Make a Formal Report (non-confidential):
In order to begin a disciplinary process, leading to possible administrative action and/or a misconduct hearing and a resolution that can end in the consequences described in the appropriate section above, individuals are encouraged to make a formal report to the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Public Safety, or the Dean of Student Life. Formal reporting means that only people who need to know will be told, and information about the victim/survivor will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.

EDUCATION AND INFORMATION SHARING
Informing the COA Community and Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations:
All college employees, including RAs, but excluding campus counselors, have a duty to report instances of sexual misconduct according to federal reporting guidelines. All personally identifiable information is kept confidential (except in circumstances involving potential threats of bodily harm) but the date, the location of the incident (on or off campus) and the category of misconduct/crime must be passed along to the Title IX coordinator and director of public safety for publication in the annual Campus Security Report required by the federal government. This reporting protects the identity of the victim/survivor and may be done anonymously.

The Campus Security Report helps provide the community with a clear picture of the extent and nature of campus crime, to ensure greater community safety. This report is available online and will be distributed to the COA community. Copies can also be requested from the Director of Public Safety.

COA will also issue an addendum to the Campus Safety Report that will include statistics about sexual misconduct not mandated to be reported by the Clery Act. Sexual misconduct is significantly underreported nationwide and can contribute to a false sense of security. Reporting all incidents of sexual misconduct will keep the COA community informed of the true frequency of these events.

Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations:
Victim/survivors of sexual misconduct should also be aware that COA must issue immediate timely warnings for incidents reported to them that are confirmed to pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. COA will make every effort to ensure that a victim/survivor’s name and other identifying information are not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger. The reporters for timely warning purposes are the director of public safety and the dean of student life.

Education and Training:
COA recognizes the importance of raising awareness of the issues surrounding sexual misconduct and assault. Therefore we commit ourselves to ensuring that community members (students, faculty and staff) have adequate information on this topic and are offered appropriate training on sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual assault on a regular basis. We further commit to ensuring that those responsible for responding to those who have experienced sexual misconduct or those responsible for addressing sexual misconduct complaints have been sufficiently trained to carry out those responsibilities with sensitivity, compassion, and fairness.

Amorous Relationships

Amorous relationships between paid professionals (faculty and staff) and students are prohibited at COA. Should any faculty or staff member enter into an amorous relationship with a student, that staff or faculty member will be expected to take unpaid leave for the duration of the student’s time at the college.

Complaint Procedures - Under revision, September 2014

Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedure

The primary goal of this procedure is to provide a mechanism for handling questions, concerns, and complaints about sexual harassment – including sexual assault. These guidelines are intended to facilitate communication, prevention and resolution of sexual harassment issues within the COA community. All members of the community will be treated as equal individuals in these proceedings. Mediation and/or resolution of the complaint will not depend, in any way, on the duration of the complainant’s or respondent’s anticipated stay or contributions to COA. In order to prevent an adversarial environment, legal counsel is not allowed to be present during any of the informal and formal procedures. If the complainant feels uncomfortable without legal counsel, the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer (EEOO) will advise him/her of alternative options, including the Maine Human Rights Commission. Complaints will be handled as expeditiously as possible.

INFORMAL PROCEDURES

If a community member is uncertain as to whether they are being harassed or have been harassed, he/she should pursue the following steps:

1. If a community member is unsure whether harassment is occurring (or has occurred), he/she should talk with the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer (EEOO). Initiating this conversation does not mean that a complaint has been filed. The EEOO is always available to answer questions and provide information about harassment and appropriate procedures.

2. In the event that a community member feels certain that they have experienced sexual harassment, he/she may decide in consultation with the EEOO to pursue either an informal or formal complaint procedure. As a general guide, moving directly to a formal complaint procedure would be initiated for situations in which there was significant emotional or physical injury that could not be easily resolved through mediation. Complaints of sexual assault will be processed through the formal procedures outlined following.

3.In the event that a community member decides to pursue a resolution through informal procedures such as mediation, their complaint should be made to the EEOO. A community member seeking a solely internal resolution to an instance of sexual harassment may file a complaint up to six months after the date of the alleged harassment. The community member should then submit a signed, written complaint to the EEOO outlining the details of the harassment, listing any witnesses or documents that might support the claim. To the extent permitted by law, any complaint that is made will be kept confidential in the interest of the complainant and the respondent.

4.The EEOO will speak individually to the complainant and the respondent to clarify the complaint within seven in-school days. Throughout the inquiry, the EEOO will act as a mediator between the two parties in order to bring a resolution to the complaint if at all possible. The EEOO will also assist in ensuring that the individuals involved fee safe in their daily routines on campus. With both parties’ knowledge, this may require disclosure of certain information to either or both the Associate Dean of Student Life and the Director of Campus Safety. The College may then choose to implement interim measures (such as shifting class schedules or moving residence hall rooms) pending completion of the process. If the complaint cannot be resolved informally in a maximum of 20 in-school days, the complaint will automatically progress to the formal complaint procedure below – and both parties notified accordingly. In the event of either a successful of unsuccessful resolution, the EEOO will write a narrative summary of the resolution process and its outcomes to be kept in his/her files.

5.Retaliation against anyone who makes or is involved in a complaint of harassment is illegal and will not be tolerated, even if the allegations are not substantiated. Retaliation will be viewed as a basis for a separate complaint under these procedures.

FORMAL PROCEDURES:

All involved parties have the right to ask the EOO about the status of these proceedings at any time.

1. In the event that a community member decides to pursue a resolution through these formal procedures, their complaint should be made to the EEOO. A community member seeking a solely internal resolution to an instance of sexual harassment may file a complaint up to six months after the date of the alleged harassment. The community member should then submit a signed, written complaint to the EEOO outlining the details of the harassment, listing any witnesses or documents that might support the claim. To the extent permitted by law, an complaint that is made will be kept confidential in the interest of the complainant and the respondent.

2. The respondent will be notified of a formal complaint with a written statement prepared by the EEOO, and accompanied by a copy of the signed complaint. The respondent will have the option to meet with the EEOO to discuss the complaint, submit a written response to the complaint, and be informed of the College’s sexual harassment procedures. At this time, the EEOO will also notify the President that a formal complaint has bee made. If the case involves an employee, the Personnel Committee also will be notified but will not receive any names or details in order to maintain confidentiality.

Retaliation against anyone who makes or is involved in a

complaint of harassment is illegal and will not be tolerated, even if the allegations are not substantiated. Retaliation will be viewed as a basis for a separate complaint under these procedures.

3. Whether the respondent is a student, faculty, or staff member, and pending a sexual harassment hearing, the President is empowered to take whatever interim measures necessary to ensure the emotional and

or physical safety of both parties involved, including suspending an individual from campus in the interest of preserving the integrity of community life.

4.At this time, the EEOO will ask the Director of Campus Safety to begin a formal investigation to gather further information pertinent to the complaint. The complainant and respondent are expected to provide the Director of Campus Safety with a list of likely witnesses and any

supporting documents (such as letters or e-mail) to th complaint.

5.Within seven working days of the formal complaint being filed, the EEOO will bring together a hearing board comprised of students, faculty, and staff, for an initial meeting to review its goals and function. At this point, the board will only be aware of the names of the complainant and the respondent. (The process for assembling the board is outlined towards the end of these procedures.)

6.The hearing board then has seven working days to conduct a hearing with the respondent, the complainant, and individuals with knowledge of the alleged harassment, in order to clarify the complaint. The role of the board is to determine if harassment occurred, the nature and severity of the alleged harassment, and to make a recommendation of possible sanctions, if appropriate. The respondent must have an opportunity to present his/her side of the story and to respond to whatever has been said by others about the incident. All meetings any conversations of the board, as well as those of the included parties, shall remain confidential to the extent permitted by law. The board will then have four working days to give the President (and Personnel Committee, if concerning an employee) their written conclusions and recommendations.

7.Within four working days, the President (and the Personnel Committee, if concerning an employee) will respond, confirming the board's recommendation or suggesting alternative actions. In the latter case, the

board will reconvene in one week to amend or reconsider its recommendation. The President will be notified of the final, revised resolution--which will, if necessary, be sent to the Administrative Dean for implementation. The EOO will follow the course of implementation of the actions agreed upon by the hearing board.

Appeals: If one or both parties find a final resolution of the college

unacceptable, a request for an appeal may be filed with the President. Upon receipt of such a request the President or his/her designee, shall arrange mediation between the college and the party(ies), to be conducted by a pre-designated external mediator. These arrangements by the president include the delimitation of the amount of time and resources to be allotted toward mediation. The President will then render a final and binding resolution of the case, based upon the above process and various findings. This ends the internal process of the College of the Atlantic.

Potential Sanctions: The ramifications of harassment will certainly differ in various circumstances. Below is a partial list of sanctions that could be imposed on members of the community. In all cases, the punishment will be congruent with the severity of the charge. Sexual harassment can represent serious personal misconduct, and can be grounds for dismissal of an employee for cause under relevant sections of the Personnel Policy Manual. Repeat or previous offenses will also be taken into consideration when a sanction is recommended. These sanctions reiterate that harassment in any form is unacceptable to the COA community.

For students:

  • letter of apology
  • letter of probation
  • required counseling (on or off campus)
  • limits/conditions placed on individual’ s actions within the COA community
  • required leave from the college or permanent expulsion

For faculty and staff:

 

  • letter of apology
  • letter of censure
  • required counseling
  • limits/conditions placed on individual’s actions within the COA community
  • change in position and/or responsibilities
  • required suspension from campus
  • termination of employment

Selection of the Sexual Harassment Hearing Board:

The hearing board is chaired by the EEOO. Each formal hearing board will have five members including, at minimum, one student, one staff, and one faculty member. The categories of the two remaining members will match the categories of the complainant and the respondent respectively.

At the beginning of the school year, using a randomized selection method and a list of the current term’s respective full-time students, staff, and faculty, the EOO will generate an initial pool of five individuals from each category (students, faculty, and staff) – all of whom have agreed to serve on the board. The EEOO will educate and train them about sexual harassment, confidentiality, the goals of the board, and appropriately related issues. When a formal complaint is filed, the EEOO will contact members of the pool and choose at least three individuals from each category depending on availability, balance of gender, and category of

complainant and respondent. The respondent and complainant will each have the opportunity to remove one of the three names presented for each position on the board; the EEOO will name the final board from the remaining names. The parties are also able to request removal of a member of the board on the basis of actual bias. The EEOO, as chair, has the authority to determine whether any actual bias exists such that it would interfere with the fundamental fairness of the proceedings. Removed members may be replaced from the pool of the same category.

Conflict of Interest Statement: If for any reason, a potential board member believes he/she will be unable to maintain an unbiased viewpoint, then he/she shall decline from participating in the grievance proceedings. As noted above, members may be removed for actual bias as determined by the EEOO and replaced by members of the same categories. No one who is named in a complaint (as the complainant, respondent, or direct witness) may serve as a mediator, investigating officer, or hearing board chair.

Retaliation: Retaliation against anyone who makes or is involved in a complaint of harassment is illegal, even if the allegations are not substantiated. Retaliation will be viewed as a basis for a separate complaint under these procedures. However, if there is evidence that a complaint has been intentionally dishonest or malicious, the EEOO will meet with the original respondent to discuss whether he/she wishes to pursue a complaint as a means of achieving resolution between the two parties.

Personnel Policy Manual: The Sexual Harassment policy and procedure is used instead of the Grievance Procedure for other personnel issues. However, when the hearing board recommends suspension or termination of employment, the procedures under sections of the Personnel Policy Manual still apply.

Duplicate procedures: Any complaint filed under the COA procedures will be processed even if the complainant files a complaint with an outside agency. Complainants should be aware that, at the time of printing, the State of Maine has a 180-day statute of limitations on the filing of claims of sexual harassment.

Maine Human Rights Commission Statement: At any point in the above procedure, the complainant or respondent may contact the Maine Human Rights Commission and request their services. Their contact information is:

MAINE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
51 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0051
Phone: 207-624-6050
TTY/TTD: 207-624-6064
FAX: 207-624-6063

Judiciary Hearings

The following procedures apply for students. Students who are concerned about the actions of a faculty or staff member should talk with any of the following faculty or staff members: the Academic Dean, any of the Associate Deans, the Director of Public Safety, the Administrative Dean or the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. Any forthcoming charges against faculty and staff will be handled according to the procedures set forth in the faculty and staff manuals.

Formal Procedures for Resolving a Complaint:

The following are the procedures and time frame for a formal resolution to a complaint. All involved parties have the right to be informed by the Chair of the Hearing Board about the status of these proceedings at any time.

1. A complaint should be made in writing to the relevant Judiciary Hearing Board Chair.

2. Depending upon the nature and severity of the complaint, or lacking a specific victim and on behalf of the College, a complaint may be brought by the Director of Campus Safety, the Associate Dean of Student Life, or the Academic Dean (or his/her designee).

3. Depending upon the nature or severity of the complaint, either or both parties may be suspended from the College by the Associate Dean of Student Life, the Academic Dean, or the President pending a Judiciary Hearing.

4. The respondent will be notified of a complaint with a written statement prepared by the Chair and accompanied by a copy of the signed complaint with a minimum

of 48hrs notice of the hearing. At this time, the Chair will also notify the President of the College that a complaint has been made.

5. Within one week of the complaint, the Board will be created using the Selection Process outlined below and hold a preliminary meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to review the goals and function of the Board with regard to the Judiciary Hearing process and to determine if the complaint has sufficient merit to proceed with a hearing. It is the role of the Board to determine the nature and severity of the alleged misconduct, and to make a recommendation of possible sanctions, if appropriate.

6. Within two weeks of the complaint, the five Board members will meet privately with the complainant, the respondent, their advisors, and individuals with direct

knowledge of the complaint (or affidavits thereof) in order to make a recommendation to the President. All meetings and conversations of the Board, as well as those of the included parties, shall remain confidential to the extent

permitted by law.

7. Both the complainant and the respondent are entitled to have the support of an advocate from within the College community. The advocate for each party is expected to advise and support their student; they should not directly address the Committee unless called as a witness. The claimant and respondent are responsible for making their own cases, albeit with the support and advice from their advocates. However, allowing advocates to directly shape the course of a hearing disables a student’s ability and responsibility to represent themselves; an advocate will be excused by the Chair for inappropriate behavior.

8. Witnesses will be asked to remain outside the hearing room until invited in, in turn, to give their testimony. They may be asked to remain outside until they are formally released by the Chair. The claimant and the respondent will both submit the names of their witnesses to the Chair prior to the Hearing. Once the Committee has finished its questioning, the claimant and the respondent will each, and in turn, have the opportunity to question each witness.

9. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, or need for further interviewing, the committee will make a decision on the case in private before they adjourn. The Judiciary Hearing Board may recommend any of the following actions when consensus (defined as general cooperative agreement in action(s) to be taken in response to a situation) of committee members is reached:

  • Dismissal of the complaint;
  • Establishment of a "social contract" and/or "probation period" between the College and the respondent;
  • Suspension from the College;
  • Expulsion;
  • Other, as appropriate.

In the event that consensus cannot be reached within the Hearing Board, the Chair’s recommendation to the President will clearly outline the points of disagreement for his/her consideration. The recommendation will then be read out loud to the respondent, the claimant, and their advisors.

10. Within 48 hours, the President will respond, confirming the board's recommendation or suggesting alternative actions. In the latter case, the board will reconvene within one week to amend or reconsider its recommendation. The President will be notified of the final, revised resolution – which will, if necessary, be sent to the appropriate administrative offices for implementation. The Chair will follow the course of implementation of the actions agreed upon by the board.

11. If one or both parties find the final resolution of the college unacceptable, a request for an appeal may be filed in writing with the Chair within 48 hours. Based upon the above process and various findings, the President may choose to uphold the Judiciary Hearing Board’s decision or take responsibility for another course of action. The President will then render a final and binding resolution of the case. This ends the internal process of the College of the Atlantic.

A confidential record of the hearing will be maintained by the Chair. At the conclusion of the Hearing, all records will be sealed and given to the Associate Dean of Student Life. A copy of the final sanction letter will be maintained in the individual student’s judicial file maintained by the Associate Dean. The information kept in a student’s judicial file (which could include resolution documentation from either a mediated informal resolution or from a Judicial Board hearing) will be kept for up to 36 months from a student’s last attendance at the College. At that point, the student’s file will be expunged and the records destroyed.

Selection of the Judiciary Hearing Board:

In addition to the Chair, each Hearing Board will be comprised of four members including two students, one staff, and one faculty member.

With the receipt of a formal complaint, the Chair will create an initial pool for the Judiciary Hearing Board using a randomized selection method and a list of the current term’s respective full-time students, staff, and faculty. Following the sequence of the selection method, each potential Hearing Board member will be invited to participate in the hearing process. The Chair will advise each potential member of the names of the claimant and respondent (without identifying the nature of the complaint or their roles within it) and ask them whether they would be able to maintain an impartial viewpoint regarding either party. If for any reason, a potential board member believes he/she will be unable to maintain an impartial viewpoint, then he/she shall decline from participating in the proceedings. (Prior to invitation, the Chair has the authority to excuse any potential member of the board who he/she determines may be unable to maintain an impartial viewpoint, whether any actual impartiality exists, that would interfere with the fairness of the hearing.) Ultimately, this process will generate a final pool of four students, three staff, and three faculty.

The claimant and respondent will then be informed of the final pool and will each have the opportunity to remove one of the three names presented for each position on the board; the Chair will name the final board from the remaining names. The claimant and respondent will both be reminded that they should not contact any members of the Judiciary Hearing Board regarding the complaint.

sexual assault & misconduct

To read COA's Sexual Assault & Misconduct Policy, click here. To download a PDF copy of the document, click here.

reporting

  • To report an on-campus crime:

    Millard Dority

    Director of Public Safety

    207.801.5690

    mdority@coa.edu

     

    To report sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or gender-based discrimination:

    Sarah Luke
    Dean of Student Life

    Title IX Coordiantor

    207.801.5670

    sluke@coa.edu