5.22 Harassment

Statement on Harassment

Verbal, written, or physical, harassment of any kind is unacceptable in the Macalester community. Members of the College community and guests have the right to be free from all forms of harassment and violence. Any individual who harasses or abuses another is subject to the disciplinary procedures of the College and the civil and criminal laws that may pertain. The College expects its members will educate themselves about such behavior and be vigilant in protecting the right to an environment free of harassment and abuse.

Macalester College values the right to free speech and the open exchange of ideas and views in our learning environment. We, as a community, are committed to embracing multiculturalism, internationalism, anti-racism, social justice and a celebration of all forms of diversity. Macalester College is dedicated to assuring dignity for all and desires to be welcoming to every member of the campus community. Allegations of any act that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably or substantially interfering with an individual's safety, security, or educational opportunities by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or working environment, will be investigated. If a respondent is found responsible for acts of harassment, serious sanctions will be used to ensure that such actions are not repeated.

Statement on Consensual Relationships

Relationships between a faculty member and a student, a student and a staff member, or a supervisor and employee (including student supervisors and student employees) are considered professional, whereby the initiation of a sexual or romantic relationship is against college policy. Anyone who engages in a sexual or romantic relationship where a degree of power or authority exists must understand that the degree to which such a relationship is truly mutually consensual can be questioned.

The power differential inherent in faculty/student, staff/student, and supervisor/employee relationships compromises the subordinate's ability to freely decide. The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor in giving praise or blame, grades, recommendations for further study and future employment, greatly diminish the student's actual freedom of choice should sexual favors be included among the professor's demands or requests. The same is true with respect to a staff member and student, and a supervisor and employee.

Faculty and staff members (including student employees) involved in a pre-existing romantic or sexual relationship with a student or employee for whom the faculty or staff member has a supervisory or academic responsibility or who is otherwise under the direction of the faculty or staff member must promptly report the relationship to their supervisor. Upon receiving notice, the College will make alternative staffing arrangements and such other additional arrangements as are necessary under the circumstances.

This language is taken from the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.


In general, harassment includes any verbal, written, or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with or deprives someone with academic, social or work-related access, benefits, or opportunities in the College community. Harassment that is directed at a person’s actual or perceived race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability or any other characteristic or behavior is prohibited at Macalester.

Hate incidents may also be a form of harassment. Hate incidents are words or actions that target, threaten, or attack an individual or group because of their actual or perceived race, color, national or ethnic origin, religious affiliation, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. It becomes harassment when these words or deeds unreasonably interfere with or deprive someone of educational access, benefits, or opportunities.

Sexual harassment is covered under the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.


The requirements of this harassment policy apply regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, age, race, nationality, class status, ability, religion or physical appearance. For reference to the pertinent state statues on harassment, see www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.748

Two primary types of Harassment:
1. Hostile Environment
2. Retaliatory Harassment

1. Hostile Environment: Includes any situation in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive/persistent and patently/objectively offensive that it alters the conditions of education or employment, from both a subjective (the victim’s) and an objective (reasonable person’s*) viewpoint. The circumstances to determine whether an environment is hostile could include:

  • The frequency of the conduct
  • The nature and severity of the conduct
  • Whether the conduct was physically threatening
  • Whether the conduct was humiliating.
  • The effect of the conduct on the victim’s mental or emotional state;
  • Whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
  • Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct
  • Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the alleged victim’s educational or work performance
  • Whether the statement is an utterance of an epithet which engenders offense in an employee or student, or offends by rudeness
  • Whether the speech or conduct deserves the protections of academic freedom
  • *Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim.

2. Retaliatory harassment is any adverse employment or educational action taken against a person because of the person’s participation in a complaint or investigation of discrimination, assault or harassment.

Other Examples of Harassment

Not all workplace or educational conduct that may be described as harassment affects the terms, conditions or privileges of employment or education. For example, a one-time utterance of an ethnic, gender-based, or racial epithet that creates offensive feelings in an individual may not affect the terms and conditions of that individual’s employment or education.

For instance, a boss who frequently yells may cause an intimidating or stressful work environment, but if they refrain from making any discriminatory statements about a particular person, then they may not be exhibiting harassment. The supervisor may be found responsible for other charges or policy violations, however, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress. The College would take these violations seriously but would pursue investigation and response via other College processes (i.e., employment or conduct).

For a behavior to be termed as harassment, it must be pervasive and constitute a pattern and/or degree of severity that the behavior reasonably interferes with or deprives the targeted person of employment, educational access, benefits, or opportunity. For example:

  • A student continues to send racially oriented jokes around on an email list, even when asked to stop, causing one recipient to avoid the sender on campus and in the residence hall where they both live.
  • A student’s roommate repeatedly tells jokes that are derogatory toward gays and lesbians, despite being asked to stop by the roommate. The offending student justifies the jokes by saying, it’s ok because he/she has many gay friends
  • Graffiti is found written on residence hall memo boards that includes images of swastikas, and anti-Jewish sentiments


Different people on campus have different legal reporting responsibilities, and different abilities to maintain your confidentiality, depending on their roles at the college.

On campus, some individuals may be able to maintain your complete confidentiality, offering you options and advice without any obligation to tell anyone, unless you want them to. Other resources are primarily there for you to report policy violations, and they will take action when you report harassment to them. Most resources fall in the middle of these two extremes. Neither the college nor the law requires employees to divulge private information that you share with them, except in situations where they receive information or reports about sexual misconduct, described below. You may seek assistance from them without being required to file a complaint.

Legally Confidential Resources

Individuals who desire the details of what they share to be kept confidential, should speak with a medical professional, professional counselor, minister or other pastoral counselor, or trained victims' advocates. These resources include:

Non-Confidential Reporting Resources

Any report of harassment reported to a Macalester employee other than the confidential resources above should be shared with the Title IX Coordinator. This information should not be shared with law enforcement without the consent of the person who made the report. This information is otherwise considered private and will only be shared with other College employees on a need to know basis (e.g., housing or course reassignment, other interim measures). Reports made to the Macalester College Sexual Assault Support Team (SAST) should also be reported to the Title IX Coordinator.

You are encouraged to make a formal complaint of incidents that will be investigated by the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. You have the right and can expect to have incidents of harassment be taken seriously by the College when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team process. Formal reporting means that your report will be kept as private as possible, but it also means that people who need to know will be told, and information will be shared as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused. If information needs to be shared it will be as limited as possible to preserve your rights and privacy. Deans, Vice Presidents, or other administrators with supervisory responsibilities, campus security, and employment services are legally mandated to follow up on any report of harassment.

Complainants and Respondents Responsibility to Confidentiality

The complainant is the person who is the target of the Harassment who has chosen to make a complaint. The respondent is the person who is accused of engaging in harassment and is responding to the complaint. Both complainants and respondents are expected to observe community standards of responsibility and confidentiality. During the course of an investigation, the investigators may impose restrictions on the parties and other participants for the purpose of maintaining the confidentiality of those involved in the investigation and minimizing the potential disruptiveness that the investigation may have on the College community. Anyone involved in an investigation that violates such restrictions will be subject to appropriate sanctions.


The College encourages anyone who has been harassed to report the situation and seek appropriate emotional/medical support and to consider filing a formal complaint. Sometimes students choose to make a report, meaning sharing an account of the harassment that has occurred, to a confidential resource while the information is fresh in their minds and determine later if they want to file a formal complaint. Reports may also be filed anonymously using the online reporting form without requesting further action from the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. Reports and formal complaints noting offenses occurring within campus boundaries are represented in the annual crime statistics published by the college.

A complaint is an official written statement given by the victim of harassment (or on their behalf), that is used as the basis for initiating the complaint resolution process with the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. In most cases, complaints are only pursued upon the request of the victim. The College reserves the right to pursue a report of harassment if information is given that suggests there is a risk to members of the community. Victims should be aware of confidentiality and mandatory reporting (as discussed above) in order to make informed choices concerning filing a report.

Reporting Options

  • Call 911 immediately if you are in physical danger or in need of medical attention
  • Avoid touching objects or area where an incident or a crime has occurred. Call Campus Security staff (651-696-6555) who will photograph vandalism and graffiti for future record. Campus Security will also contact a professional staff member trained to deal with crisis situations to assist with further follow-up and reporting.
  • Contact the Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity, Karla Benson Rutten (651-696-6258), the Dean or Associate Dean of Students, located in the Office of Student Affairs, 119 Weyerhaeuser Hall (651-696-6220), or any other member of the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. They can discuss reports of harassment and assist the victim(s) in identifying support resources and options. Community members may also use the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team as a resource regarding questions or concerns about an incident or situation without registering a complaint. Please note: Sharing names of accused harassers to Title IX Bias and Harassment Team members will likely initiate a response from the College.
  • Report confidentially or anonymously via an Harassment or Bias Incident Report form, found on the Harassment and Bias Prevention, Support & Resources website.
  • Talk with a trusted member of the Macalester staff or faculty who could support you and assist you as you make decisions about how you’d like to proceed.  Please note: All College employees , unless they are confidential resources, are required to report information regarding harassment and sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity.

The Title IX Bias and Harassment Team member who receives a report from a victim will offer support services to the individual and determine whether a report must be made to the police (the law requires reporting in certain instances). Regardless of whether a report to the police is made, the team member will follow established Macalester procedures independent from any police involvement and is specifically prohibited from engaging in any information outside of established college procedures except as the law requires.

Community Hate Incident Notification Procedures

Hate incidents are an affront to the entire community. If one occurs, the entire Macalester College community will likely be informed via the College’s official daily communication vehicle, the Daily Piper. Notification about hate incidents is necessary both to protect the safety of community members, as well as to raise campus awareness. Notification is necessary for facilitating the healing process for the targeted person, group, and the entire community through campus dialogue and collective problem solving.

A Hate Incident Notice will be sent as soon as agreed upon by the investigation team after the incident has been reported to campus officials. A Hate Incident Notice will be issued if the incident occurred on camps or in the surrounding neighborhood and a Macalester community member was the target.


If a victim wants to file a complaint, they may use any of the above reporting options and indicate that they want to file a complaint.  The Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity or a member of the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team will contact the person directly.

Title IX Bias and Harassment Team

All harassment complaints, except against the College President, will be received and processed by the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. Official complaints against the President will be promptly heard and dealt with by the Macalester Board of Trustees.

The Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity will conduct an initial review and assessment of the complaint and designate members of the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team to participate in complaint resolution process. The Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity assumes responsibilities for coordinating the team throughout the process.  Additional members of the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team will serve as part of the appeal process, if necessary.


The College is able to respond formally to situations:

  • that occurred on campus, or
  • were part of official College programs (regardless of location), or
  • where the complainant (victim) and respondent (accused) are members of the campus community.

Even if the perpetrator is unknown or is not a member of the college community, College staff will assist victims in identifying appropriate campus or civil authorities and making a report.


The College does not limit the time frame for a report of harassment. Reports may be taken at any time after an offense has occurred, although the College’s ability to take action may be limited if significant time has passed.

Evaluation of Complaint

The Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity and the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team members receiving the complaint will determine the appropriate course of action that could include:
1. No Action Option
2. Informal Resolution
3. Formal Resolution

In evaluating a case to determine the appropriate course of action, past records may be consulted. In cases involving a third party bringing forward a concern, the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team will consult with the individual reportedly being harassed. Persons named as respondents in the complaint will also be promptly notified of the complaint and informed of procedures and options available to them.

1. No Action Option. Following initial review of the complaint, if the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team concludes that no further investigation or action is warranted, a memorandum detailing the complaint and the reasons for this conclusion will be completed for the files.

2. Informal Resolution Option.  In essence, informal resolution includes a variety of ways for resolving conflicts or misunderstandings between a complainant and respondent (i.e., facilitated conversations, mediation, written communication). When the complainant chooses to move forward with the complaint resolution procedure, the complainant has the option to proceed informally, when permissible.  In cases involving sexual assault, informal resolutions are not appropriate and are never permissible.  If an informal resolution is pursued, the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team will attempt to facilitate a resolution that is agreeable to the complainant and the respondent.  Participation in informal resolution is voluntary, and the complainant and respondent have the option to discontinue the informal process at any time and request a formal investigation. If at any point during the informal resolution process, the complainant or respondent or the College wishes to cease the informal resolution process and to proceed through the formal resolution process, the informal resolution process will stop and the formal resolution process outlined below will be invoked.

Outcomes of informal resolutions are not part of a student’s permanent record. The goal of any informal option is for two parties, using a facilitated problem-solving approach, to come to a mutual agreement regarding the solution to the problem or issue between them. They then clearly specify any changes in behavior toward one another to which the parties have agreed. Institutional sanctions or punishments are not permitted outcomes of informal resolutions.

If the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team determines that informal resolution is appropriate at any point after receiving a complaint, it will be recommended and explained to both the complainant and respondent. If both parties agree to participate, a facilitator from the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team will be provided to discuss informal options.  Once the informal resolution process is completed, a report will be filed at its conclusion, successful or unsuccessful.

3. Formal Resolution Option. A formal action becomes part of a student’s permanent record. The respondent is notified of the decision to engage in a formal resolution and is able to have access to all reports and information used to determine responsibility.

Rights of the Complainant

  • To receive respect, sensitivity, and dignity
  • To receive assistance in formulating a complaint
  • To receive information on campus and community services.
  • To have a meeting/interview with the Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity that includes:
    • An opportunity to review all information included in the case
    • An explanation of all the options available
    • Clear information on procedures to be followed
    • The right to participate or decline to participate in the complaint resolution process, with the acknowledgement that not participating, either totally or in part, may not prevent the process from proceeding with the information available
    • An explanation of the time table involved
    • Identity of Title IX Bias and Harassment Team members involved in the case
  • To present information on their own behalf, including written and oral statements and physical exhibits
  • To know all information of the case
  • To have a support person/advisor of their choice throughout the process
  • To present witnesses who are familiar with information pertinent to the case.
  • To receive a timely written decision
  • To have confidentiality as provided by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • To appeal the decision.

Rights of the Respondent

  • To receive respect, sensitivity, and dignity.
  • To receive assistance in formulating a statement response.
  • To receive information on campus and community services.
  • To have a meeting/interview with a the Title IX Coordinator & Director of Equity that includes:
    • An explanation of specific charges
    • An opportunity to review all information included in the case
    • An explanation of all the options available
    • Clear information on procedures to be followed
    • The right to participate or decline to participate in the complaint resolution process, with the acknowledgement that not participating, either totally or in part, may not prevent the process from proceeding with the information available;
    • An explanation of the time table involved
    • Identity of Title IX Bias and Harassment Team members involved in the case
  • To present information on their own behalf, including written and oral statements and physical exhibits.
  • To know all information presented against them.
  • To have a support person/advisor of their choice throughout the process
  • To present witnesses who are familiar with information pertinent to case.
  • To receive a timely written decision.
  • To have confidentiality as provided by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • To appeal the decision.

In resolving formal cases involving a student as the respondent, the Vice President for Student Affairs will be the relevant authority. In cases involving a faculty member as the respondent, the Provost will be the relevant authority, and in cases involving a staff member, the Director of Employment Services will be the relevant authority. If the specifics of a case require one of the above named authorities to recuse themselves from a case, one of the other authorities will take the case.


A designated member of the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team and the relevant College authority will serve as adjudicators for the case and meet to make a determination regarding the case, including any sanctions that are warranted. Past records will normally be reviewed only at the sanctioning phase of the investigation.

The relevant College authority will also prepare a written “Case Determination” that describes the decision and sanctions in detail. This document must indicate whether any record is to be placed in the respondent’s academic and/or personnel file and if so, the precise statement is to be attached to the document and will be included in the case file kept by the Title IX Coordinator. The College authority will email the respondent to inform them of the decision and provide a copy of the Case Determination and any attachments. In most cases, the complainant will be made aware of the outcome of the case.

The College reserves the right to take whatever measures deemed necessary in response to an allegation of harassment in order to protect a victim’s rights and personal safety. Not all forms of harassment will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and the College reserves the right to impose differing sanctions. The College will consider the concerns and rights of complainants and respondents in determining sanctions. Other information on sanctioning:

  • Sanctions for staff may range from reprimands or training to immediate termination of employment, depending on the severity of the incident and taking into account any previous employment concerns
  • Sanctions for students may range from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident and taking into account any previous campus conduct violations
  • In the case of sanctions against a member of any collective bargaining unit, contractual grievance and arbitration procedures will remain available to the employee.
  • When a severe sanction against a faculty member is recommended, a hearing must first be held and conducted according to the rules stipulated by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)*. A hearing will take place before the Faculty Personnel Committee. Members who find it necessary to recuse themselves will be replaced by available former members of the Committee with preference given to those having served most recently.  (*In cases of sexual misconduct, the complaint resolution process detailed in the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy applies and supersedes any other process.)
  • Sanctions take effect at the time in which they are determined, unless otherwise specifically noted. Should a respondent provide an intention to appeal, the implementation of sanctions will be delayed until the outcome of the appeal is determined.
  • The respondent will be notified about the decision/sanction in writing.
  • The complainant will be notified in writing about the appropriate relevant information of the decision/sanction.


Appeals of decisions made by the adjudicators may be submitted by either party within ten working days of the date of the letter notifying the parties of the decision. Appeals should be submitted in writing and outline the basis for the appeal. Appeals are accepted on the basis of procedural errors that may have impacted the final decision, new information that was not previously available, or claims that the decision or sanctions were arbitrary or capricious. Appeals will be heard by two members of the Title IX Bias and Harassment Team. The appeal review team may overturn the decision determined through formal action or request that the Vice President reconsider the case. Decisions of the appeal review team are final.

*The procedures described in this policy are intended as guidelines describing how harassment complaints will typically be handled. The College reserves the right to vary from these procedures based upon its evaluation of the circumstances of each matter.