code of community responsibility

How Do You Know?

Classrooms are meant to foster the exchange of ideas and opinions, therefore comments that are made in the classroom that are germane to the curriculum and a part of the exchange of competing ideas are not, in and of themselves, instances of harassment. A single incident that creates a distracting and uncomfortable atmosphere on a given day does not constitute harassment. However, isolated or sporadic acts that are severe may. It is possible for a series of individual incidents, each minor in itself, to have the cumulative effect of becoming pervasively harassing behavior.

How do you know when something you say or do may be an act of harassment?

The first sign is that someone is feeling intimidated or offended. “But” (you reply), “sometimes I'm just joking, and the person I'm joking with takes it wrong!” While this may be true, you should remember two things. First, the person who is offended sets the initial standard for harassment. In other words, if someone is feeling harassed—that's enough to begin an investigation. Second, according to the Colby-Sawyer Code, everyone is responsible for being attentive to and respectful of the feelings of others. It's very possible to offend someone without meaning to offend. If something you said or did appears to have offended or intimidated someone, you should check with that person, and try to clarify any misunderstanding.

If you are asked to change some behavior because it is harassing, for instance, to stop making a certain kind of joke, alter something displayed, or change the message on your voicemail, you should be willing to discuss the matter. Very often, a good resolution to the problem can be found through open and respectful discussion. If the action in question is a sexual advance, in the form of talk or touching, you should remember that “No” means No, and that verbal refusal, reluctant silence, uncertain hesitation, ambiguous response, or any such non-verbal cues from the other person mean that no more sexual talk or touching should occur until the uncertainty is specifically dispelled.

How do you know if you are being harassed?

As you'd expect, the first sign is that you feel offended or intimidated. If so, you should ask yourself a few questions: “Am I feeling belittled or threatened?”, “Have I asked this person to stop doing this before?”, “Am I starting to avoid this person, and do I dread seeing him/her?” If the answer to any of these is “yes,” then you should consider taking some action. Unjust, substantial, unreasonable, and/or consistent interference with an individual's participation in college life may be signified by responses such as: avoiding areas of the campus where the behavior in question typically takes place, academic performance or work assignments becoming more difficult because of the behavior in question, or leaving the college because of the behavior in question.

Options for action are described in the next section, Disclosure, Investigation, and Complaint Procedures.


Policy revised July 2013 by the vice president for student development and dean of students and the associate dean of students and director of citizenship education.

Rationale
  • Our living and learning community is based on equality and respect and though at Colby-Sawyer College we respect free expression, we do not condone that expression when it is demeaning or harassing behavior.

  • Community members must be able to expect a reasonable level of personal safety in order to attain academic and personal excellence.

  • Violence of any kind has no place in our community as it harms the targeted student(s) and, by ripple effect, instills a level of fear and suspicion that is detrimental to the community as a whole.

Values
  • Excellence
  • Interconnectedness
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Stewardship