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Harassment Policy

Statement of Policy

It is the policy of The Boston Conservatory to promote a learning, living and work environment that is free of all forms of harassment.   Harassment on the basis on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national and ethnic origin, disability, and military or veteran status undermines the basic principles of the Conservatory community.  It is not acceptable behavior at the Conservatory and will not be tolerated.

Harassment is defined as the use of derogatory comments or act(s) directed toward an individual’s race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national and ethnic origin, disability, and military or veteran status that:

  1. Humiliates and/or intimidates an individual;
  2. Has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or offensive learning, living, or working environment;
  3. Impedes and/or interferes with learning or living environment, work performance, or campus life activities.

This Policy applies to any allegation of harassment regardless of whether the alleged harassment occurred on or off-campus. Although there is no geographical limitation to invoking this Policy, harassment that is alleged to have occurred at a significant distance from the Conservatory may be more difficult to investigate.

Moreover, there is no time limit to invoking this Policy in responding to complaints of alleged harassment.  Nevertheless, members of The Boston Conservatory community are encouraged to report harassment immediately in order to maximize the Conservatory’s ability to obtain evidence and conduct a thorough, impartial, and reliable investigation.

A retaliatory action or behavior taken toward an individual as a consequence of his or her decision a report a complaint or a retaliatory action or behavior taken toward an individual who cooperates in an investigation is prohibited. Retaliatory acts may include intimidation, threats, harassment, and/or other adverse action threatened or taken against a complainant or third party.   Such retaliation shall be considered a serious violation of this Policy and shall be independent of whether a charge of harassment is substantiated. Retaliation should be reported promptly to the Conservatory official handing the complaint by submitting a Complaint Form (see Reporting Harassment). The Boston Conservatory also considers filing an intentionally false report of harassment a violation of this Policy. 

The filing of a complaint of harassment under this Policy is independent of any criminal investigation or proceeding, and the Conservatory will not wait for the conclusion of any criminal investigation or proceedings to commence its own investigation and/or judicial process. 

Because of the greater frequency of expressed concerns about sexual harassment, most of this Policy refers to that topic.  However, this is not intended to limit the Policy’s application to sexual harassment.  To the contrary, the procedures in this Policy are intended to apply equally to other forms of harassment covered by federal and state laws and/or by Conservatory policy.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is a violation of The Boston Conservatory policy as well as federal and Commonwealth statutes.  The Conservatory views with the utmost seriousness offenses against an individual such as inappropriate sexual touching, sexual assault and any other form of non-consensual sexual activity.

For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexual assault and all other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s academic or employment status;
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting an individual;
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance, or campus activities or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment in which to learn or work. 

The Boston Conservatory considers sexual harassment a very serious matter.  Any person found to be responsible for sexual harassment will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination from a job and/or expulsion from The Boston Conservatory or its residence halls.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can be directed toward a person of the opposite sex or same sex and can take many forms.  Sexual harassment may occur regardless of the intention of the person engaging in the conduct.  The following are some examples of conduct which, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment, depending upon the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

  • Sexual advances (whether they involve physical touching or not);
  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised academic or job benefits such as favorable grades or continued employment;
  • Sexual jokes;
  • Use of sexual epithets, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life and comments on an individual’s body, sexual activity, deficiencies or prowess;
  • Displaying sexual objects, pictures, written materials or cartoons;
  • Leering, brushing against the body, sexual gestures or suggestive or insulting comments;
  • Sexual exhibitionism;
  • Inquiries into one’s sexual activities;
  • Cyber-harassment including non-consensual videos, audio tapings of sexual activity, texting, emailing, and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
  • Sexual assault or coerced sexual acts.

In evaluating any complaint of sexual harassment, the perceived offensiveness of a particular expression, standing alone, is not sufficient by itself to constitute sexual harassment.  The conduct in question must be objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive and interfere with a person’s right to equally participate in work, academic programs and/or other programs and activities of the Conservatory.   

Sexual Assault

The most egregious form of sexual harassment is sexual assault.  For the purposes of sexual assault violations, the following definitions apply:

Consent is an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexually explicit touching or sexual penetration.  Consent must be informed and freely and actively given.  It is incumbent upon each individual involved in the activity to either obtain or give consent prior to any sexual activity, and again, prior to sexual penetration.  If at any time during the sexual interaction any confusion or ambiguity should arise on the issue of consent, it is incumbent upon each individual involved in the activity to stop and clarify, verbally, the other’s willingness to continue.

  • A verbal “no,” even if it may sound indecisive or insincere, constitutes lack of consent.
  • When consent is requested verbally, absence of any explicit verbal response constitutes lack of consent.
  • It is expected that, after consent has been established, a person who changes his/her mind during the sexual activity will communicate through words or actions his/her decision to no longer proceed.
  • Past consent to sexual activity does not imply future on-going consent, and the fact that two persons are in an on-going relationship does not preclude the possibility that sexual misconduct or sexual assault might occur within that relationship.
  • A student’s use of alcohol and/or other drugs does not diminish a student’s responsibility to obtain consent.

Sexually explicit touching is the unwanted touching of another person in a sexual manner.  Examples of sexually explicit touching include, but are not limited to, the touching, either directly or through clothing, of another person’s genitalia, breasts, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with a clothed or unclothed body part or object.

Sexual assault is engaging, or attempting to engage in, any one or more of the following sexual acts with or directed against another person:

  • Sexual penetration without the consent of the other person;
  • Sexually explicit touching through the use of coercion or where the person is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity;
  • Sexual penetration through the use of coercion or where the person is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Coercion is the use of force, or the threat of force; the use of a threat of immediate or future harm; or the use of physical or severe and/or pervasive emotional intimidation to cause or attempt to cause another person to engage in or submit to certain activities.  Coercion also includes the administration of a drug, intoxicant or similar substance that impairs the faculties of a person.

Incapacity is defined as a person incapable of giving consent because he/she is asleep, unconscious, losing or regaining consciousness or clearly mentally or physically incapacitated.  Signs of being incapacitated include, but are not limited to, difficulty walking, inability to speak in a coherent manner, and vomiting or the presence of vomit.

Sexual penetration is defined as any degree of insertion of a penis, hand, finger, tongue or any object into a person’s anus or vulva, or any degree of insertion of genitalia into the mouth.

Communication

Clear communication is required by The Boston Conservatory’s sexual assault definitions, which require each participant to obtain and give consent before engaging in any sexual activity.  Relying solely upon nonverbal communication is not sufficient.  Communication is a foundational process that affects all of our relationships and interactions.  

Basic elements of communication take on even greater significance when they pertain to intimate and possible sexual relationships.  Healthy communication demonstrates a respect for the dignity of both individuals, allows mutual self-expression, and requires careful listening.  Individuals must take responsibility to communicate effectively by articulating their thoughts and feelings and asking for clarification when they are uncertain or where they do not understand. 

The effectiveness of communication increases when individuals are aware of their own personal motivations and when they are sensitive to the meaning intended by another.  Open, honest and direct communication requires courage and commitment to the process of communication and to each other.

Clarity in communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is essential during a sexual encounter.  Physical expression between two individuals marks the integration of thoughts, feelings and actions in a way that values, esteems and respects the dignity of oneself and another.  This expression should reflect the depth of intimacy shared in the context of a relationship.  Any sign of reservation or hesitation should be clarified verbally before proceeding.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Students are urged to exercise caution if they choose to use alcohol or drugs.  The consumption of alcohol and/or the use of drugs often lower inhibitions, may cause some people to become more aggressive and always impair judgment.  Sexual activity with someone who has consumed alcohol or drugs creates the potential for later dispute over questions of consent.  Sexual activity with a person who is thus impaired may be considered a violation of the law and the Student Code of Conduct. Conversely, being under the influence of alcohol is not an excuse for committing sexual assault. 

It is a violation of Conservatory policy and Commonwealth law to have any sexual activity with someone who is unable to give consent because of alcohol or drugs or other impairment.  If your partner is very drunk, you may be guilty of sexual misconduct even if your partner said yes.

Procedures and Resources

When a student is sexually assaulted, he or she has reporting options.  If a student has just experienced an assault and needs immediate assistance, he or she should get to a safe place.  A student can then:

  1. Call Boston Conservatory Public Safety at (617) 912-9191 or the Boston Police Department at 911.  Either will help whether or not a student chooses to prosecute the assailant.  Reporting a sexual assault to the police does not commit someone to further legal action.  In an off-campus emergency, the student is encouraged to call 911 or the police department in the city or town where he or she is located. 
  2. The student is also encouraged to call a friend, family member or someone he or she trusts and can talk with (e.g., Residence Life staff member, Director of Counseling or Conservatory Counselor, or another Student Affairs staff member).
  3. Get medical attention immediately.  Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center are experienced and prepared to help sexual assault victims.  A prompt medical examination will test for pregnancy (where applicable) and STDs and can secure valuable evidence that can be used later, should the student wish to have the assailant prosecuted.
  4. Seek counseling.  Regardless of whether a student reports the assault, it is often helpful to seek counseling to cope with the traumatic experience.  The Counseling Services provided by The Boston Conservatory, Fenway Health, or Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) are available regardless of where or when the assault may have occurred.  Students are reminded that they can contact Boston Conservatory counselors and Fenway Health counselors if they wish to confidentially discuss any concerns they have.  One exception from confidentiality is if the student poses imminent risk of harm to self or others.
  5. File a written complaint (Complaint Form) with the appropriate Conservatory official (see Reporting Harassment and Harassment Investigation) asking for an investigation. 

Reporting Harassment

Any member of the Boston Conservatory community who believes that he or she has been subjected to harassment may complete a Complaint Form and give it to the appropriate official named below. Complaint Forms are available in the offices of the three designated Conservatory officials listed below and in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students who is also the Title IX Coordinator.  

Title IX Coordinator
Dean Christopher Reade
Dean of Students
Rm. 004, Student Center, Basement of 24 the Fenway
617-912-9121
creade@bostonconservatory.edu

The Complaint Form is also available on-line here.

While the Conservatory strongly encourages the use of its Complaint Form, designated Conservatory officials will also accept a written document which includes:  the Complainant’s name, contact information and signature, a description of the conduct believed to be discriminatory, harassing and/or retaliatory with approximate dates(s) when these actions occurred, and the name(s) of the subject/s of the complaint.

Complaints about a Boston Conservatory student can be made to:

TBA
Director of Housing and Student Life/Judicial Officer
Room 001, Student Center, Basement of 24 the Fenway
617-912-9165

Complaints about a Boston Conservatory faculty member can be made to:

Dean James O'Dell
Associate Dean for Academic Operations
Suite 104C, 8 the Fenway
617-912-9155
jodell@bostonconservatory.edu

Complaints about a Boston Conservatory staff member can be made to:

Carrie Bourque (or designee)
Employment Manager, Human Resources
8 the Fenway
617-912-9275
cbourque@bostonconservatory.edu

After submitting a Complaint Form to the appropriate Conservatory official, a complainant may request alterations related to academic classes, housing and/or dining services, Student Life activities or other accommodations based on the circumstances.   Decisions regarding such requests will be made by the designated Conservatory official after consultation with appropriate Conservatory faculty and/or staff while preserving confidentiality to the extent possible.

Depending upon the circumstances, both the complainant and the subject of the complaint may be issued administrative orders to have no contact with each other.  This allows the matter to proceed while at the same time trying to minimize any possible harassment or miscommunication between parties.

The Boston Conservatory will not pursue disciplinary action against a student who claims to be a victim of harassment in connection with reporting that harassment or against students named as witnesses as long as the complaint is made in good faith.

Harassment Investigation

Upon receipt of a written Complaint Form, the Conservatory will undertake a fair and thorough investigation with due regard for the rights of all parties.  The investigation is designed to provide a fair process for both parties while also ensuring the complainant’s protections under the law.  Consistent with due process, the accused person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.  Further, the Conservatory will ensure that no person who is the subject of a complaint will be assigned to investigate the complaint.

Except in unusual or unexpected circumstances, all harassment complaints will be investigated and a decision made and communicated within 60 business days of receiving the complaint.   

If the complainant does not wish to pursue formal or informal resolutions and/or requests that his or her complaint remain confidential, the Conservatory will investigate and take reasonable action in response to the complainant’s information although the Conservatory’s ability to respond may be limited.  Even if the Conservatory cannot take disciplinary action because the complainant does not wish to do so or insists on confidentiality, the designated Conservatory official reserves the authority to issue a “no-contact” order and/or take other reasonably necessary measures to limit the effects of the alleged harassment and prevent its recurrence..

The Boston Conservatory has adopted both informal and formal resolution procedures to deal with harassment complaints.  

Informal Resolution

Upon receipt of a Complaint Form, and after discussion, some complaints may be resolved informally.  After discussion with the designated Conservatory official, the complainant may choose to utilize one of the following informal procedures:

1. One-on-one communication.  If the complainant feels comfortable dealing with the situation without the direct involvement of a third party, he or she can communicate directly with the subject of the complaint.  It is appropriate to use face-to-face individual communication only when the complainant does not feel threatened, there is no risk of physical harm, and if he or she believes the other person will be receptive. If the complainant chooses to communicate face-to-face, he or she should also send an email if possible and keep copies of written communication.

2. Communication with the assistance of the designated Conservatory official.  If the complainant chooses to proceed informally but would like the assistance of someone else, he or she may ask the designated Conservatory official for assistance.  The complainant should not rely on other students or co-workers who are not familiar with Conservatory policy to intervene on their behalf when discussing their concerns with the subject of the complaint.

3. Mediation.  Mediation consists of facilitated discussion conducted with the assistance of the designated Conservatory official.  It is designed to help the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of a dispute.  Mediation may be appropriate when:

  • The complainant and the subject of the complaint wish to continue to work together;
  • The facts are not disputed, but the behavior was perceived as unwelcome and/or offensive;
  • No one has been physically harmed;
  • The complainant is able to articulate a desired outcome; and
  • Both are committed to resolving their dispute and not “winning” an argument.

In cases involving complaints of sexual assault, use of informal resolution, including mediation, is not viewed as appropriate even on a voluntary basis and will not be used.  Furthermore, complainants are not required to follow the informal procedures before filing a formal complaint.  Finally, at any time during the informal process, the complainant may decide to stop the informal process and file a formal complaint instead.

Formal Resolution

The formal complaint procedure is initiated after a written complaint has been filed with the designated official asking for a formal investigation to be conducted (see above for Complaint Form).

The subject of the complaint is a student. If the subject of the complaint is a student, the case will heard by The Boston Conservatory Judicial Board according to judicial procedures outlined in the Student Handbook.

Upon receipt of a completed Complaint Form, an investigation of the complaint will be initiated by the Judicial Officer assisted by the Public Safety Operations Manager.  This investigation will consist of interviewing the complainant, the subject of the complaint, all third-party witnesses, and where applicable, examining any pertinent evidence. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the Judicial Officer will meet individually with the complainant and the subject of the complaint to present the results of the investigation.

If it is determined that a judicial hearing should be held, the Judicial Board Chair and members of the Judicial Board will be provided with the results of the investigation prior to the hearing. 

A student judicial hearing shall endeavor to accommodate concerns for the personal safety, well-being or fears of confrontation of the complainant, the subject of the complaint, or witnesses during the hearing to the extent possible by providing alternate means of communication when and as determined to be appropriate by the Judicial Officer.  The Judicial Board will use a preponderance of evidence standard in deciding the cases.  

When the judicial process has concluded, the designated Conservatory official will inform both the complainant and the subject of the complaint of the outcome in writing.  The designated Conservatory official will also inform the Vice President for Student Affairs.   Both the complainant and the subject of the complaint may appeal the decision of the Judicial Board according to the appeal process outlined in the Student Handbook. In compliance with Title IX regulations, in cases of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, appeals must be submitted to the Associate Dean for Academic Operations instead of the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students who is the Title IX Coordinator.  The Associate Dean for Academic Operations will inform the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students of the outcome of the appeal.

The subject of the complaint is a faculty member, staff, member, or contractor secured by the Conservatory.  If the subject of the complaint is a faculty member, staff member, or contractor, a formal investigation will be conducted by the designated Conservatory official and another Conservatory administrator.  All investigations will include private interviews with the complainant, the subject of the complaint, as well as third-party witnesses and will also include consideration of other relevant evidence.  When the investigation has been completed, the designated Conservatory official will inform both the complainant and the subject of the complaint of the outcome in writing.  The Conservatory official will also inform the Vice President for Student Affairs who is the Title IX Coordinator. The decision of the designated Conservatory official is final. 

Prevention and Education

The Boston Conservatory endeavors to educate students, faculty, and staff about harassment in a variety of ways:

  1. Incoming students are required to complete the MyStudentBody Essentials Course, which includes a Sexual Violence and Bystander Intervention module.  This course is available for all continuing students as well.
  2. The Counseling and Wellness Library contains a variety of titles addressing sexual harassment (including sexual assault), which are available to all students.
  3. Training on harassment is held for faculty and staff as well as student staff (RA’s and  Orientation Leaders).
  4. Training on harassment is held for the Boston Conservatory Judicial Board (non-academic violations).
  5. Training on harassment and conducting harassment investigations is held for designated Conservatory officials.
  6. The Office of Counseling and the Office of Wellness Services provide on-campus programming on harassment including sexual assault.
  7. The Conservatory’s harassment policy, Title IX Policy, and related resources are communicated to in-coming students during New Student Orientation, to returning students in their registration packets, and to new faculty and staff members at their Orientation. 

Student Support and Resources

The Boston Conservatory encourages students to make use of appropriate resources and will assist all persons involved in an allegation of harassment.  Support structures include the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, the Director of Counseling (or designee), the Director of Wellness Services, the Director of Housing and Student Life, the Director of Public Safety, or the Public Safety Operations Manager.  Each office is prepared to offer assistance to students both in an emergency and on an on-going basis.  In addition to these on-campus resources, referrals for off-campus counseling and support services can be provided for both the student complainant and the accused student at the student's request. 

Community Resources

Boston community resources include:

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC)
1-800-841-8371 (24-hr. hotline)
617-492-6434 (TTY Number) 

Behavioral Health
Fenway Health
617-927-6202

Fenway Health
Violence Recovery Program
http://www.fenwayhealth.org/site/PageServer?pagename=FCHC_srv_services_v...
617-927-6250 or 1-800-834-3242

Jane Doe, Inc.
(Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) 
JaneDoe.org
MA Safelink (1-877-785-2020)
1-877-521-2601 (TTY Number)

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)

Commonwealth and Federal Remedies

In addition to the above, if you believe you have been subjected to harassment, you may file a formal complaint with the following government agencies:

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), John F. Kennedy Federal Building, 475 Government Center, Boston, MA 02203; (1-800- 669-4000; http://www.eeoc.gov)

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), One Ashburton Place, Sixth Floor, Room 601, Boston, MA 02108; 617-994-6000; http://www.mass.gov/mcad

Office for Civil Rights (OCR), United States Department of Education, 33 Arch Street, Suite 900, Boston, MA 02110-1491; 617-289-0111; email: ocr.Boston@ed.gov; web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr

 

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