Discrimination, Harassment & Sexual Misconduct Policy
Note: The University will be updating this policy frequently because of the rapidly developing progression of "best practices" in this area and ongoing changes in the regulatory environment. Students and employees are encouraged to review this section regularly in order to remain current on these important policies.
Pfeiffer University is a Methodist affiliated academic community, committed to providing and maintaining a learning and working environment that is free from sexual, racial, and other forms of harassment and misconduct. Pfeiffer University believes its students, faculty members, employees, and campus guests should be able to enjoy an environment free from sexual misconduct and from harassment based on an individual’s race, sex, age, national origin, disability, military service, or any other legally protected status.
In compliance with federal and state laws, it is the policy of Pfeiffer University to prohibit unlawful harassment and sexual misconduct by any person and in any form.
No student, faculty member, supervisor, employee, or other individual shall engage in sexual misconduct, threaten, or harass any other individual or insinuate harassment toward another individual through their conduct, or through any communication of any nature. Pfeiffer University will investigate all complaints of harassment or sexual misconduct, formal or informal, verbal or written, and take appropriate action or discipline against any person who is found to have violated this policy.
Pfeiffer University recognizes that it may be difficult to specifically define what constitutes harassment under the law. As a result, Pfeiffer University will not tolerate any type of inappropriate behavior that may lead to forms of illegal harassment. Inappropriate behavior includes, but is not limited to, unwanted physical contact; foul language; sexually oriented explicit pictures, cartoons, or other materials such as graffiti that may be offensive to another employee or student; ethnic jokes or racial slurs; and teasing about religious or cultural observance. Because many of the above may be considered offensive to another individual, these activities are prohibited at Pfeiffer University.
Statement of Compliance with Title IX
It is the policy of Pfeiffer University to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination (including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct or violence) based on sex in the University's educational programs and activities. Title IX also prohibits retaliation for asserting or otherwise participating in claims of sex discrimination, harassment, or misconduct.
Pfeiffer has designated the Director of Human Resources as the Title IX Coordinator and has appointed two individuals to serve as Deputy Coordinators who will collectively insure the University’s compliance with Title IX. The University will also train faculty or staff to serve as investigators in potential Title IX violations. The Title IX Coordinator’s responsibilities include the development, implementation, and monitoring of meaningful efforts to comply with Title IX legislation. At Pfeiffer University, the Title IX Coordinator oversees monitoring of University policy, implementation of grievance procedures, including notification, investigation and disposition of complaints; distribution of educational materials and training for the campus community; conducting and/or coordinating investigations of complaints received pursuant to Title IX and ensuring a fair and neutral process for all parties.
Title IX Deputies are appointed by the University's President to assist with the implementation of the Title IX policy and education. Investigators are also appointed by the President to coordinate all investigations regarding potential Title IX violations.
In order to take appropriate corrective action, officials at Pfeiffer University must be aware of harassment, sexual misconduct, or related retaliation. Therefore, any member of the Pfeiffer University community who believes that he or she has been the subject of or has witnessed any form of discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, or related retaliation should promptly report such behavior to a University official as outlined below. Additionally, anyone in a supervisory, advisory or evaluative role (e.g. supervisors, managers, department chairs or faculty members) who experiences, witnesses or receives a written or oral report or complaint of harassment, sexual misconduct, or related retaliation shall promptly report it to the appropriate University official as outlined in the “Reporting Harassment or Sexual Misconduct” section of this policy.
Title IX Coordinator
Twyla H. Kidd
Director of Human Resources
Location: First Floor Administration Office, Suite 101
Sexual Harassment & Sexual Misconduct
Pfeiffer University is committed to encouraging and maintaining an educational, working, and living environment characterized by civility and mutual respect. Sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, in any form, does not reflect the high standards and ideals of our community and will not be tolerated at Pfeiffer University. As an institution of higher education, Pfeiffer University has adopted this sexual harassment and sexual misconduct prevention and response policy in an effort to eliminate sexual misconduct and sexual harassment on our campus through education, training, clear policies, and serious consequences for violations of these policies. The University’s Title IX Coordinator has responsibility for ensuring compliance with Pfeiffer’s policies regarding sexual misconduct.
Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment that create a hostile environment are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and may violate other federal and state law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and North Carolina state law. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault or acts of sexual violence. Gender-based harassment may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment of a student create a hostile environment if the conduct is sufficiently serious that it interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the recipient’s program.
Sexual harassment includes incidents in which the harasser either provides or denies an employment or educational benefit in exchange for sexual favors, or makes an adverse employment or educational decision on the basis of rejection of sexual advances.
Sexual harassment also occurs when the working, learning, or living environment is made hostile or abusive. An abusive or hostile environment is one that is reasonably and actually perceived by the complaining party as abusive such that it makes it difficult to perform job duties or to pursue one's education.
Sexual harassment is defined by the perception of the person who feels harassed: that is, whether it involves sexual conduct unwelcome to that person. In other words, harassment is subjective and it is “in the eye of the beholder.” Conduct can be sexual harassment whether or not any harassment or hostile feelings were intended.
Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Pressure for a dating, romantic, or intimate relationship
- Unwelcome touching, kissing, hugging, or massaging
- Pressure for or forced sexual activity
- Unnecessary references to parts of the body
- Remarks about a person's gender or sexual orientation
- Sexual innuendoes or humor
- Obscene gestures
- Sexual graffiti, pictures, or posters
- Sexually explicit profanity
- Bullying (conduct that may be physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating)
- Stalking or cyber-bullying that is based on gender or sex
- E-mail, texting (“sexting”) and Internet use that violates this policy
- Sexual misconduct (sexual violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking)
A hostile environment can exist by virtue of a combination of individual incidents that would not, individually, constitute sexual harassment. Even one serious incident may, however, constitute hostile environment harassment.
Both women and men are protected from sexual harassment under these policies, whether the harassment is perpetrated by a member of the same or the opposite sex. Sexual harassment may be committed by a male or a female toward either a male or a female.
Members of the Pfeiffer University community, including students, staff, faculty, and guests, have the right to be free from sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is non-consensual sexual activity and is a violation of Title IX. Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, sexual violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating and domestic violence. Pfeiffer University will not tolerate sexual misconduct of any form. Such conduct violates the values and principles of our community and disrupts the living, learning, and working environment for students, faculty, staff and guests.
Students and employees are expected to comply with the University’s policies on discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and stalking whether on or off campus. Any student or employee who violates these University's policies on or off campus is subject to disciplinary sanctions.
Definitions for the Policy
Consent is affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Past consent does not imply future consent. Silence or absence of resistance does not imply consent. Consent must be clearly demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or actions. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. Consent to one form of sexual activity cannot be assumed to be consent to any other form of sexual activity. Relying on non-verbal communications can lead to misunderstandings. Whether consent has been given will be determined contemporaneously with the activities in question.
If the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that the victim cannot understand the fact, nature or extent of the sexual situation, and the condition was or would be known to a reasonable person, there is no consent. This includes conditions due to alcohol or drug consumption, or being asleep or unconscious.
Sexual assault is any form of sexual contact directed against another person that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient, including sexual acts committed against a person who is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the individual being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the individual from having the capacity to give clear, unambiguous consent). Sexual assault may occur through the use of verbal, emotional, or physical force, intimidation, or coercion. Sexual assault includes sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, statutory rape, attempted rape, and non-consensual sexual contact. It also includes any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object or body part, by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman, without explicit consent of that individual. Sexual assault can be committed by students, university employees, or third parties visiting or working on the Pfeiffer University campus.
Under North Carolina criminal law, sexual assaults may be prosecuted as Assault and Battery or under the prohibitions of the Criminal Sexual Conduct laws. Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree occurs when the assailant sexually batters a victim with one or more of the following aggravating circumstances: 1) the assailant used aggravated force to accomplish the sexual battery; 2) the victim submits to sexual battery after being a victim of forcible confinement, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, robbery, extortion, burglary, housebreaking, or other similar act; or 3) the assailant causes the victim to become mentally incapacitated or physical helpless by administering, distributing, dispensing, delivering, or causing to be such a controlled substance or intoxicating substance. Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Second Degree occurs where the assailant uses aggravated coercion as defined as threats to use force or violence of a high and aggravated nature, where the victim reasonably believes the assailant has the ability to carry out the threat, or where the assailant threatens to retaliated in the future by infliction of physical harm, kidnapping or extortion. Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree occurs when the assailant the assailant uses force or coercion to accomplish the sexual battery or the assailant has reason to know the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.
Non-consensual sexual contact includes any form of sexual touching, however slight, with any object or body part, by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman, without the consent of that individual. It may include, but is not limited to, sexual assault or sexual violence as described above.
Domestic Violence is defined under state criminal law as “physical harm, bodily injury, assault or the threat of physical harm” directed toward “persons who have a child in common, and persons cohabiting or formerly cohabiting.” Domestic violence may also include a pattern of abusive or violent used by one partner in a domestic relationship to gain or maintain power and control over another partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Dating Violence occurs when one person intentionally hurts or scares someone they are dating and includes physical, emotional, and sexual violence.
- Physical abuse may include hitting, shoving, kicking, biting, or throwing objects.
- Emotional abuse may include yelling, name-calling, bullying, embarrassing, preventing interaction with friends, telling someone that they deserve the abuse, or providing gifts to "make up" for the abuse.
- Sexual abuse and violence is forcing someone to engage in a sexual activity or engaging in sexual activity when one of the persons is unable to consent due to use of alcohol or drugs.
Stalking is defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear. Stalking behaviors may include persistent patterns of leaving or sending the victim unwanted items or presents that may range from seemingly romantic to bizarre, following or laying in wait for the victim, damaging or threatening to damage the victim's property, defaming the victim's character, or harassing the victim via the Internet by posting personal information or spreading rumors about the victim. North Carolina criminal law defines stalking as a “pattern of intentional, substantial and unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a targeted person that causes the person and would cause a reasonable person in their position to suffer mental distress.”
Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy
Pfeiffer University provides education on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking to all members of the University community through mandatory training, campus programs, printed educational materials, and official campus policies. In addition, mandatory training for all new students is provided at the start of the school year to educate students about sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. All students are required to participate in this training.
Reporting Sexual Harassment or Sexual Misconduct
Any member of the staff or faculty, or any guest, who believes he or she has been the victim of sexual misconduct or harassment based on an individual’s sex, pregnancy, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, military service, or any other legally protected status by a student, faculty member, member of the staff, or other university personnel, or who has knowledge of or has observed such behavior, should immediately report the alleged acts to an appropriate individual who, depending on the circumstances, may be, the chief administrator in his/her division, the Title IX Coordinator or one of the deputy coordinators.
If any member of the Pfeiffer University community believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual misconduct, discriminated against, or harassed by the person to whom he or she would normally report the incident, then the report should be made to one of the other officials listed below.
Any student who believes that he or she has been the victim of sexual misconduct or harassment based on the student’s sex, gender, pregnancy, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, military service, or any other legally protected status by another student, faculty member, member of the staff, guest, or any other University personnel, or who has knowledge of or has observed such behavior, should immediately report the alleged acts to an appropriate individual who, depending on the circumstances, may be a faculty member, their residence director, a student development dean or staff member, the Title IX Coordinator, or one of the Deputy Coordinators. A report can also be made to any one of the other officials listed below:
Title IX Coordinator
Director of Human Resources: Twyla H. Kidd
Location: First Floor Administrative Conference Room Phone: 704-463-3067
Title IX Deputy Coordinators
- Robyn Horner, Head Women’s Soccer Coach/SWA
- Jay Laurens, Director of Career Services and Internships
Title IX Investigators
- Dr. Marissa Schwalm, Assistant Professor of English
- Brian Joura, Web Content Manager
- Leslie Tucker, Administrative Assistant to the Nursing Program
- Enoch Park, Director of Distance Education
- Dr. Deb Lung, Coordinator of Human Services Substance Abuse Program, Charlotte Campus
A complaint may be made by telephone, email, regular mail, or in person. A student has the right to make an anonymous complaint; however, it may be more difficult to prove the alleged misconduct that is the subject of the complaint and to take action against the respondent without the evidence and information, which the reporter may have or be able to provide. Students may also submit complaints to the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.
This complaint procedure applies to complaints alleging harassment by University employees, other students, or third parties.
The University will take appropriate steps to eliminate illegal discrimination or sexual harassment, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its discriminatory effects on the complainant and others as quickly as possible. In some cases, interim measures may be taken before the investigation and disciplinary process has been completed in order to eliminate or diminish the opportunity for additional discrimination or harassment or to alleviate the effects of the conduct that is the subject of the complaint. Any interim sanctions will respect the rights of all students to be treated with fundamental fairness.
Rights of the Complainant and Respondent
The University strives to provide a prompt and fair process for investigating and resolving complaints related to sexual assault or other sex-related misconduct. Throughout this process, both the complainant and respondent have the following rights, many of which are described in greater detail in this policy:
- To be treated with respect and dignity.
- To receive assistance from the University in reporting the incident to law enforcement at any stage of the process.
- To receive information about the process the University will employ for conducting the investigation, hearing, determination, and appeal.
- To receive information about support available from University or community resources.
- To privacy to the extent possible consistent with applicable law and University policy.
- To have an advisor present throughout the process.
- To choose whether or not to participate in the investigation process.
- To a prompt and thorough investigation of the allegations.
- To have a reasonable time to provide information, including any oral or written statement, to the investigator.
- To raise any question regarding a possible conflict of interest on the part of any person involved in the investigation or determination.
- To appeal the decision and any sanctions made by the investigators.
- To notification, in writing, of the case resolution, including the outcome of any appeal.
Investigating Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Harassment
In accord with the Pfeiffer University policy concerning harassment and sexual misconduct, the University will thoroughly investigate and review the facts and circumstances of each allegation of harassment or sexual misconduct involving a student, faculty member, staff member or campus guest. The University may impose a sanction against the accused individual that is appropriate for the act committed. In accordance with Title IX of the education amendments of 1972, Pfeiffer University will make every effort to conduct investigations that are prompt and equitable and intended to eliminate sexual misconduct on our campus.
Confidentiality and Reporting
The University strongly supports a student’s interest in confidentiality in cases involving sexual violence. However, there are situations in which the University must override a student’s request for confidentiality in order to meet its obligations under federal law to provide an educational environment that is safe and free from sexual harassment or sexual violence. To the extent possible, information regarding alleged incidents of sexual violence will be shared only with individuals who are responsible for handling the University’s response.
Honoring a request that the complainant’s name not be revealed to the accused person or that the University not investigate or seek action against the accused person may limit the University’s ability to respond fully to the incident and pursue appropriate disciplinary action.
If a student requests that his or her name not be disclosed to the accused person or that the University not investigate or seek action against the accused person, the University will need to determine whether or not it can honor such a request while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students. If the University determines that it can respect a student’s request not to disclose his or her identity to the accused person, it will take all reasonable steps to respond to the complaint consistent with the request.
The University will consider a range of factors when weighing a student’s request for confidentiality that could interfere with a meaningful investigation or potential discipline of the accused person. If the factors indicate an increased risk of the accused person committing additional acts of sexual violence or other violence, the University may be unable to honor the request for confidentiality. A student may withdraw a request for confidentiality, in which case a full investigation will be conducted to the extent possible.
The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for evaluating requests for confidentiality.
Making a Confidential Report
Students may be assured of confidentiality by reporting a sexual assault only to a therapist, doctor, attorney, or other person who is legally obligated to maintain patient or client confidentiality. If you choose this option, please consider asking your doctor, therapist, or counselor to make a confidential report of the assault without including facts that would reveal your identity. While the University will probably not be able to take any disciplinary action against the person who assaulted you, university officials will have a better picture of crime on the campus and may be able to warn the campus community about methods or patterns of attacks.
The following are campus or community resources that can provide counseling, advocacy, and support and may be able to accommodate confidential reports of sexual assault.
- Laura Herrick, Director of Counseling Services
- Dana McKim, Minister to the University
- Sherri Barnes, Associate Director of University & Church Relations
All other Pfeiffer University staff and faculty members are required by University policy to report observations or actual knowledge of incidents of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct. In addition, reports made to other employees may have to be disclosed in criminal or civil court proceedings.
Whether or not a student or employee requests confidentiality, Pfeiffer University is committed to maintaining confidentiality throughout the entire investigatory process to the extent that is practical and appropriate. When a formal report is made, persons have the right and can expect to have incidents of sexual misconduct or harassment impartially investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. Confidentiality implies that only people who need to know will be informed, and that information will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.
Investigation Procedure and Follow Up
Upon receipt of a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Coordinator will designate one or more Title IX investigators who will conduct an adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of all complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, and all complaints will be resolved promptly and fairly. After a thorough investigation, the Investigators will deliver a report and recommendation to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator will normally render a finding to the complainant and respondent within 60 days after the complaint was received. An investigation may occasionally take longer because of unusual circumstances or the availability of necessary parties critical to the investigation process.
Investigation of complaints will be as confidential as possible to acquire the information needed and will respect the rights of both the complainant and the respondent. Both parties will have the opportunity to present witnesses and other evidence to the Title IX investigators. The complaint will be decided using a preponderance of evidence standard. A preponderance of evidence means deciding whether the respondent is more likely than not to have committed the behavior for which they have been accused.
In the course of the investigation, the University may seek to use voluntary informal discussions or mediation for resolving some types of sexual harassment complaints. However, the complainant has the right to end the informal process at any time, in which case the investigation will continue to its conclusion. In cases involving allegations of sexual assault, mediation is not appropriate and will not be used. Any agreed resolution of a complaint should fully and effectively address safety, fairness, and other appropriate concerns of the complainant, the respondent, and the University as a whole.
Both the complainant and the respondent will have the same opportunities to have others present during any part of the proceedings, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by the advisor of their choice. The role of the advisor is limited to providing support, guidance, or advice to the student throughout investigation and disciplinary process.
During meetings and hearings, the student and advisor may talk quietly with each other. Advisors do not have the right to question or cross-examine witnesses, present arguments, answer questions posed to a student, or otherwise take an active role in the disciplinary proceedings. Advisors cannot disclose to other persons any confidential student information, which is disclosed to the advisor in the course of the proceedings. The University will remove or dismiss advisors who become disruptive or who do not abide by the restrictions on their participation.
Notice of Outcome
Both parties will be promptly notified in writing of the outcome of the complaint process. With respect to complaints of sexual harassment or sexual violence, the University will disclose to the complainant information about any sanctions imposed on the respondent. In order to comply with the Clery Act, both parties will also be informed of all sanction information if the offense involved is a sex offense.
Individuals who are accused of sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with Pfeiffer University’s Community Values and Expectations (see the Pfeiffer University Student Handbook). At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator overseeing the case, an individual accused of sexual misconduct or harassment may be immediately suspended or restricted from campus pending final disposition of any disciplinary proceedings. Individuals found to have committed harassment or sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary sanctions, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the University.
Request for Reconsideration
Either party may make a request for reconsideration of the initial decision by providing a written request for reconsideration to the Title IX Coordinator within three (3) days after written notice of the decision has been given. Both the complainant and the respondent will be given notice of the request and an opportunity to respond. A request for reconsideration may be made exclusively on one of the following grounds:
- There is new and significant evidence that has not yet been considered.
- The published student conduct process was not followed
- The sanctions imposed are not appropriate to the investigation finding.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee will consider the request and issue a final written decision within twenty (20) days after receiving the written request. A decision may occasionally take slightly longer because of unusual circumstances or the absence of necessary parties during school breaks.
Interim sanctions, including sanctions previously imposed and any additional appropriate sanctions, may be imposed or continued during the time the request is under consideration. The University shall respect and protect the rights of both parties until the request for reconsideration is resolved.
Both parties will be promptly notified in writing of the outcome of the request for reconsideration, which shall be final. The respondent will be notified of any changes to the sanctions, and the complainant will be given any notice of sanctions or changes in sanctions to which he or she is entitled, as described above.
Right to File a Criminal Complaint
Many forms of sexual misconduct are also prohibited by North Carolina and federal law and could result in civil liability or criminal prosecution. The university encourages students to contact the Misenheimer Police at 704-463-3000 (in an emergency call 911) for more information about how to report a crime and the criminal process. At the student’s request, the Campus Safety Office and the Office of Student Development can assist him/her in contacting local authorities. A criminal investigation does not relieve the University of its obligation to respond under Title IX, and both a criminal and University investigations may proceed simultaneously.
Any individual who is found, after appropriate investigation, to have engaged in harassment of or retaliation against another individual who reports an incident of alleged harassment or sexual misconduct, or any person who testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding, investigation, or review relating to such reports of harassment or sexual misconduct will be subject to appropriate disciplinary actions, up to and including immediate termination or dismissal from the University. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment.
A complainant, whose allegations are found to be false and brought with willful intent, will be subject to disciplinary action under the Campus Wide Code of Conduct found in the Pfeiffer University Student Handbook, which may include, but is not