President’s Procedure for Addressing Students’ Complaints of Racial or Ethnic Harassment
This procedure is available to any student who believes that he or she has been harassed on account of race or ethnic origin by any member of the Yale Community. For purposes of this procedure, racial or ethnic harassment will be considered to occur when any individual is subjected to arbitrary, capricious or discriminatory treatment on the basis of race or ethnic origin. In determining whether the alleged conduct constitutes racial or ethnic harassment, the President’s Committee on Racial and Ethnic Harassment will look at the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the incident complained of and the context in which the incident occurred. The Committee’s jurisdiction is limited to matters not already reviewed through other available University grievance processes; as a result, this procedure is not available to any student whose claim has been heard through any other University grievance process.
I. Informal Resolution
Any student who believes that he or she has been harassed on account of race or ethnic origin may first wish to consider discussing the problem with the person whose actions he or she had found to be objectionable.
Regardless of whether such discussion takes place, the student may initiate this procedure by informing one of the committee members of the complaint and by requesting that the committee member investigate the complaint. Whether or not the complaint is presented orally or in writing to the committee member, the student should describe in detail the problem and all facts upon which the complaint is based, as well as what resolution or redress the student seeks. The complaint should be brought to the attention of a committee member as soon as possible after the action giving rise to it, but it is expected that the complaint will be brought to the attention of the committee member not later than 45 days after the action complained of. If a complaint is in some manner associated with the conduct of a course, the complaint must also be submitted to the committee member within 45 days after the action upon which it is based but the student may request that no action be taken on the complaint until after the conclusion of the term in which the course has been offered.
The committee member will undertake an informal investigation of the matter and may consult with whomever he or she deems appropriate in an attempt to resolve the complaint or to obtain a reconciliation acceptable to both parties. The committee member’s review will be carried out within a period of time mutually agreed upon by the student and the committee member but in no case will the period be shorter than thirty days.
When that time period has expired the committee member will prepare a report on each case that has not been resolved which will (1) state the issues that were presented by the student and (2) include any facts that were found. Any written report of the committee member, which will be sent to both parties, will also apprise the parties of the availability of the review as described below. The student has the opportunity at any time to withdraw the complaint, which action will close the matter.
II. Review by the President’s Committee on Racial and Ethnic Harassment
If a resolution of the complaint has not been achieved and the student wishes to pursue the complaint further, he or she may request the full President’s Committee on Racial and Ethnic Harassment* to consider the matter. The student should write to the Convener of the President’s Committee within two weeks after receiving the committee member’s informal investigation report to specify that a review by the President’s Committee is requested and to indicate what remedy or resolution is sought and what issues remain in question.
The Convener of the President’s Committee will inform the parties involved that the Committee will be reviewing the complaint and will provide the person against whom the complaint has been lodged a copy of the materials sent by the student to the Convener. The Convener will obtain a copy from the committee member of the report and will invite both parties to send a supplemental statement clarifying, correcting, or amplifying any portions of the report of the committee member by the committee member if they so desire. Reasonable time (at a minimum one week and ordinarily within two weeks) is to be allowed between the receipt of the written notification and the date of the commencement of the review in order to provide the parties time to prepare for a meeting with the President’s Committee if either of the parties or the Committee wish it. The supplemental statements will also be shared with the parties before any meeting with the Committee.
In any meeting with the President’s Committee, the student and the person complained against may each be accompanied by any member of the Yale community (i.e., student, faculty, member, dean, administrator or other employee); however, these advisers may not have a law degree.† The proceedings are in their nature nonadversarial and the advisers, while they may counsel the individual whom they are accompanying, may not participate directly in the proceedings. The student and the person complained of will have the opportunity to present information and witnesses deemed by the committee to be relevant and to have questions presented to the other party’s witnesses. The complainant and the person against whom the complaint has been filed will be permitted to inspect those documents or parts of documents directly relating the student’s specific complaint that the Committee deems relevant and concludes were not written under the presumption of confidentiality. Ordinarily both parties will be present when any witness is being interviewed or documents discussed; however, the Committee may enter into closed session (i.e., with neither of the parties present) upon the vote of a majority of the members of the Committee.
The President’s Committee, having thus conducted its inquiry and having interviewed whatever further witnesses it deems necessary, will then deliberate in closed session and will prepare a written Report stating its findings of fact and conclusion whether or not it believes that racial or ethnic harassment has occurred. In a separate section of the Report, the Committee may recommend what actions, if any, it would suggest that the President undertake; however, such recommendations are not binding on the President. The Report of the Committee will be adopted only upon the majority vote of the members of the Committee who participated in the Committee’s inquiry. Any dissenting statements made by members of the Committee will be furnished to the President with the Committee’s Report.
It is expected that the investigation will be completed as expeditiously as possible and the Committee’s Report should ordinarily be completed within 45 days after receipt of the student’s letter to the Convener in which a review by the Committee is requested. If the student’s school is not in session during part of that 45-day period or in instances where additional time is required because of the complexity of the case or the unavailability of parties or witnesses, the Committee may extend the period for rendering its Report. However, if the report is extended the student and the person against whom the complaint was filed must be informed of the extension.
III. Final resolution by the President
The Committee will submit its Report to the President. The President will permit the student and the person against whom the complaint was lodged to inspect the Committee’s findings of fact and conclusions in the Report and to indicate in writing what clarifications each party believes appropriate; however, since the Report is a confidential document advisory to the President, only the President and neither of the parties is entitled to a copy of it.‡
The President will accept the Committee’s findings of fact as to whether racial or ethnic harassment occurred. In any case where the President disagrees with the recommendations of the Committee, the President will inform the Committee of the reasons for disagreement prior to the issuance of his of her decision. The President will then make a decision on the matter and convey the decision in writing to the student, the person against whom the grievance was lodged and the Committee. If disciplinary sanctions appear warranted, the President will forward the case to the appropriate disciplinary body for action. The President’s decision is final.
*The President’s Committee on Racial and Ethnic Harassment will be a standing committee composed of seven members appointed annually by the President. The Committee will include three students (two from Yale College, one from the Graduate or Professional Schools), two faculty members, and two other members who may be academic administrators, staff members or members of the bargaining unit. In appointing the student members, the President will consider names suggested from the Black Student Alliance at Yale, Black Law Students Union, Asian- American Students Association, Movimiento, Estudantil Chicano de Aztlan, Despierta Boricua, Black Graduate Network, and any other student organization that offers recommendations of suggested nominations.
Members of the President’s committee who may be directly involved in any complaint are to excuse themselves during the review of that complaint. The student and person against whom the complaint is lodged will have the right to challenge individual members of the President’s Committee where such challenge is for cause (i.e., close personal contact with one of the parties). Peremptory challenges will not be permitted.
The President’s Committee, excluding persons being challenged, will decide the disputed issues in cases of challenge, and its decision will not be subject to appeal. When members are excused or are otherwise unavailable to participate in the deliberations or have been successfully challenged for cause, the President will designate substitutes to serve for the duration of the pending case.
† However, if the person complained against has a law degree, the person bringing the complaint may be counseled by a member of the community who has such a degree.
‡ However, copies of previous Reports are available for review by the Committee to assist the Committee in making recommendations that are not inconsistent with previous findings.