Frequently Asked Questions

Institutional Equity

What is the role of Institutional Equity?

The office of Institutional Equity (IE) promotes an environment of equal opportunity, equity, access, and excellence for all members of the University community, and provides compliance oversight regarding applicable laws, regulations, and policies to ensure a welcoming, safe, civil and inclusive environment.

Where is IE located?

Institutional Equity
1903 West Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5405 USA
Location:  1220 Trimpe
(269) 387-6316
wmich.edu/equity

GPS address (using Google maps)
1003 Ring Road South
Kalamazoo, MI  49006

What is the University Nondiscrimination Policy?

Western Michigan University prohibits discrimination or harassment which violates the law or which constitutes inappropriate or unprofessional limitation of employment opportunity, University facility access, or participation in University activities, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, height, weight, or marital status. (Revised April 2006)

What is harassment and discrimination?

Verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct constitutes harassment if it is based on a person's protected status and creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or academic environment that unreasonably interferes with work or academic performance or negatively affects and individual's employment or academic opportunities. Harassment can occur between any individual or group associated with the University, e.g., an employee and a supervisor; coworkers; faculty members; a faculty, staff member, or student employee and a customer, vendor or contractor; or a student and a faculty member. The University is committed to providing a workplace that is free of harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, height, weight, or marital status. Discrimination (disparate treatment and disparate impact) occurs when an adverse employment or academic action is taken and is based on a protected group identity. Disparate treatment occurs when an employee or student suffers less favorable treatment than others because of the protected status. Disparate impact occurs when an employment policy, although neutral on its face, adversely impacts persons in a protected group.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action

What is EEO?

Equal Employment Opportunity refers to state and federal laws that ensure equal opportunity employment and employment benefits for all people. It protects against illegal discrimination on the basis of a protected group identity in any term, condition or privilege of employment.

What is the purpose of Affirmative Action?

Affirmative Action is designed to help eliminate effects of past and present discrimination. It is a process in which employers identify areas of improvement, set goals, and take positive steps to enhance opportunities for protected class members - individuals with disabilities, minorities (Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, Native American Indian), protected veterans (disabled veterans, special disabled veterans, campaign badge veterans, and recently separated veterans), and women.

Affirmative Action focuses on outreach, recruiting, hiring, training, and promoting qualified protected class members where under-representation exists.

What is an Affirmative Action Program (AAP)?

Western Michigan University is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination for all persons and, towards that goal, has developed an AAP. An AAP is designed to ensure that whenever employment decisions and personnel actions are made, the University will make a determined effort to identify and include all pools of candidates qualified under-represented racial/ethnic groups, women, disabled veterans, Vietnam era veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

What is the Utilization Analysis (UA)?

The UA determines the availability of individuals in the workforce for positions by job group in the University. The UA report is information provided to hiring agents when seeking to fill a position. The report includes workforce demographics for the department and where there are University job group goals for the position the department is seeking to fill. It also identifies University goals for individuals with disabilities and benchmarks for protected veterans. In receiving the UA early in the hiring process, it can help hiring agents determine where to post openings and recruit qualified applicants to reach any identified goals.

What is the Job Opportunity Program (JOP)?

The JOP is a system for announcing non-bargaining job openings to University employees. It is designed to encourage employee promotions and career development. Current University employees who are qualified applicants are to be given priority consideration for any opening, unless the position is underutilized. In this case, external applicants in the underutilized category are considered along with the internal bidders.

What training is available?

The trainings we currently offer are Implicit Bias Workshop for Search Committees and How to Respond to a Disclosure of Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment or Violence. For more information and to register for these trainings please go to; https://wmich.edu/equity/training.

Complaints and Investigations

What types of complaints does IE investigate?

IE handles complaints surrounding incidents, allegations and charges of protected class discrimination and harassment, and retaliation prohibited by federal and state civil rights laws and regulations involving WMU students and employees, and other members of the University community.

Does IE represent the victim (Complainant) or the accused (Respondent)?

IE assists both the Complainant and the Respondent in understanding their rights and responsibilities. Staff are neutral fact finders who listen to all parties with the goal of determining whether there is sufficient evidence to support a policy violation. Resources and support are offered to all parties.

How do I file a complaint?

To report an incident of; prohibited class bias, discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct or retaliation, please use the Incident Reporting Form. For assistance in filing a criminal complaint and preserving physical evidence, contact WMU Department of Public Safety or your local law enforcement agency. You may also contact a civil rights office to file a complaint.

Why should I file a complaint with IE?

You should file a complaint when you believe you have experienced any form of protected class discrimination, harassment, bias or retaliation. Filing a complaint is the best way to access support and resolution options.

What happens when I file a complaint?

You may view our flowchart detailing what happens after a complaint is filed with IE.

If I have an interview, may I bring someone with me?

Yes. It is limited to one support individual (family, friend, etc.). Witnesses or extra parties to the investigation are discouraged from participating as a support individual. Please note that support individuals are not able to speak on your behalf or actively participate in the interview process.

May I bring or use an attorney?

Yes. You may bring an attorney; however, your attorney is not able to speak on your behalf or actively participate in the interview process.

What happens during an investigation?

You may view our flowchart detailing what happens during an investigation. Sexual misconduct investigations follow a slightly different process, mapped on this flowchart.

Do I have to participate in the investigation process?

No. However, the University may proceed without the benefit of your input. You will be notified if the University must proceed with an investigation.

Is my involvement or what I say private and confidential?

Yes. The University is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in a report of protected class harassment or discrimination. Throughout the process, every effort will be made to protect the privacy interests of all individuals in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review of the reported incident.

What are options for a resolution other than an IE investigation?

IE can facilitate an informal or voluntary resolution; an agreement designed to eliminate a hostile environment by taking alternative actions that do not involve disciplinary action against a Respondent. This may include, protective measures, accommodations, targeted or broad-based educational programming or training, supported direct confrontation of the Respondent and/or indirect action.

Retaliation

What is retaliation?

Acts, words or attempts to take adverse action against the Complainant, Respondent, or any individual or group of individuals because of their good faith complaint or participation in an investigation and/or resolution of an allegation of prohibited conduct. Retaliation can be committed by an individual or group of individuals, including, but not limited to a Respondent or Complainant. Retaliation can take many forms, including threats, intimidation, pressuring, continued abuse, violence or other forms of harm to others. Retaliation is prohibited and may result in a separate charge, investigation and/or any violation.

What do I do if I believe retaliation is occurring?

Report the retaliation to IE using the Incident Reporting Form, or over the phone, (269) 387-6316.

Disability

How do I request job accommodations for my disability?

Complete the ADA Accommodation Request form. Completed form(s) should be submitted to Institutional Equity, Western Michigan University, 1220 Trimpe, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5405, (269) 387-6316 (or) attach to email and send to; oie-info@wmich.edu.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities.

What about reporting discrimination or harassment on the basis of disability?

If an individual believes they are treated differently in employment or educational programs because of their disability, perceived disability, or association with a disabled person, they may report the activity to IE by completing the Disability Concern Form.

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 states that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance."

What is sexual misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is a category of prohibited behavior which includes sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, harm to others, stalking and intimate partner violence. For more information see the University Sexual Misconduct Policy.

What is a Title IX Coordinator?

The Title IX Coordinator at WMU is the person designated to receive all reports of sexual or gender-based harassment and violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence, and oversee the University's centralized review, investigation, and resolution of those reports to ensure compliance with the University Sexual Misconduct Policy

What is a Responsible Employee?

A Responsible Employee includes any employee who has the authority to take action to redress sexual or gender-based harassment or violence, has the duty to report to appropriate school officials sexual or gender-based harassment or violence or any other misconduct covered by the University Sexual Misconduct Policy; an individual could reasonably believe has the authority or responsibility to take action.

What are campus security authorities (CSA) according to the Clery Act?

Any individual or organization specified in an institution's statement of campus security policy as an individual or organization to which students and employees should report criminal offenses. An official of an institution who has significant responsibility for student and campus activities, including, but not limited to, student housing, student discipline and campus judicial proceedings. An official is defined as any person who has the authority and the duty to take action or respond to particular issues on behalf of the institution.

What does it mean to give consent?

Consent consists of an affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Participants must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved. A person is unable to give consent, when asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring.

Will IE tell the police, my parents or my instructors what happened?

Reports made regarding WMU students are handled privately; parents, the police and faculty are not notified (unless requested by the person bringing forth the report). However, reports made regarding minors visiting campus must be shared with the police.

Will I get in trouble for underage alcohol drinking or taking illegal drugs before the incident?

A person reporting sexual misconduct will not face disciplinary action for the own personal consumption of alcohol or other drugs around the time of the incident.

What if I want to report an incident, but I don't want an investigation?

The person bringing forth the report has a say in how the matter is handled. The Title IX Coordinator will discuss options for resolution. There may be a situation that arises whereby a complainant does not wish to move forward with an investigation, but the behavior described is egregious enough that the University may desire to take action to protect the broader community from potential harm. These situations would be evaluated on a case by case basis. The complainant would be informed of any potential action taken by the University.

Bullying

What is bullying? What are behaviors that constitute bullying?

Bullying refers to severe or repeated behavior or speech that a reasonable person would consider insulting, humiliating, abusive, or intimidating, and an abuse or misuse of authority or position of power in ways and/or through means that degrade, socially exclude, offend or harm the person being bullied.

Bullying can take the following forms but is not limited to; shouting or raising one's voice, using obscene or intimidating gestures, using personal insults, engaging in public humiliation or subjecting the target to attacks indirectly through an empowered assistant/associate.

Is bullying a form of discrimination or harassment?

Yes, it can be. Bullying behaviors based on protected group identities can be considered a form of discrimination or harassment.

Where do I report bullying behavior?

You may report incidents of bullying on the basis of protected group identities to IE. Students who wish to report incidents of bullying that fall outside of the protected group identities may report them to the Office of Student Conduct. Employees who would like to report incidents of bullying that fall outside of protected group identities may report to their managers, supervisors, and/or Human Resources.

Bias Incidents

What is a bias incident?

Bias incidents refer to conduct, speech, images or expression that demonstrate conscious or unconscious bias which targets individuals or groups based on, but not limited to, their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, socioeconomic status or other social identities.

Where do I report bias incidents?

You may report incidents of bias on the basis of protected group identities to IE. Staff will refer you to other resources as appropriate.

Resources and Support

Where can I find confidential resources (e.g., if I do not want to report the incident to IE or the police, what are my other options)?

The following resources are confidential (not required to report to WMU):

Counseling Services
Sindecuse Health Center
(269) 387-3287
No charge for students

YWCA Sexual Assault Program
(269) 385-3587
24 hour crisis line, treatment and trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) for medical services and forensic evidence collection. Services available for men and women age 13 and older. No charge.

HelpNet
Employee Assistance Program
(269) 372-4500 or (800) 523-0591

Where can I find support for managing conflicts in my work area?

Campus Employee Dispute Resolution Services (CEDRS) provides voluntary mediation services to employee disputes and disagreements. The CEDRS Coordinator will provide a confidential consultation about your situation and will help you choose which CEDRS service or other available resolution options may be of most assistance to you.