Faculty Senate reflects on harassment issue

The Faculty Senate will debate a resolution regarding the University’s definition of sexual harassment April 14, said Professor Linda Gallo, co-chair of the ad hoc committee examining the policy.

Sexual harassment is wrong and illegal, said Ed Caress, executive associate dean of the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences and co-chair of the ad hoc committee. The University is required by law to have a sexual harassment policy, Caress said.

The resolution, when approved, will encompass the entire University and will affect students, staff and faculty.

Currently, there is only an interim policy for sexual harassment.

The interim policy has never had faculty approval, Gallo said.

The basic notions are not changed from the interim, Caress said.

The interim policy breaks the process into several stages, Caress said. First, a confidential consultation is arranged with a coordinator from the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, according to the Interim Policy and Procedures Governing Sexual Harassment Complaints. The coordinator, with the individual, will take action in the form of an informal complaint.

There is no time limit to file an informal complaint.

If an informal complaint is filed, the coordinator investigates the matter and informs both parties involved in the complaint of the investigation’s findings. The coordinator makes recommendations on a course of action.

If either party is dissatisfied with the results of the informal complaint, a formal complaint can be filed. A special panel will hear the case.

Parties have 15 business days to file a formal complaint, according to the interim policy. The policy was last revised April 14,1999.

The ad hoc committee of the Faculty Senate developed the sexual harassment resolution. After the Faculty Senate approves the resolution its recommendation will be sent to administrators who will make adjustments and then decide whether to accept the resolution as the University’s new policy.

The resolution was scheduled for debate this Friday but was delayed because we are trying to work out the language of the report, Caress said. He said another reason for the delay was to accommodate a meeting with members of the GW Law School for their input.

Gallo said she expects debate the resolution in the April meeting.

There are difficult issues that are part of (the resolution), she said. Gallo cited academic freedom, consensual relationships and the process itself as issues that will probably be discussed.

Since the drafting of the interim policy, the ad hoc committee looked at the policies and procedures of other institutions, considered the changing status of the law on sexual harassment and interviewed GW community members, Gallo said.

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