University reasserts policies against discrimination, harassment

Justin Kelley, Reporter

DeKALB — NIU’s Ethics and Compliance Office announced a COVID-19 update to remind students and faculty about its high priority to keep discrimination and harassment out of academic and work spaces.

The update lets the campus community know that the office is still open and will be operating on a remote basis for the remainder of the semester. The update also provides ways people can report incidents of discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.

Students and faculty can report acts of discrimination or harassment using the “compliant resolution” tab on its website. If that is not an option, students and faculty can contact the Ethics and Compliance office at ECO@niu.edu.

The investigations for these reports will be done remotely, and interim protective measures may be issued to ensure that any discriminatory or harassing behaviors are addressed promptly.

Sarah Garner, Ethics and Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator, said interim measures are implemented when there is a report of discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct. The measures taken depend on the situation and can range from movement of resident halls to issuing no-contact orders for the people involved.

“In this setting, now all of the students are working remotely, we’re more looking toward how to manage interactions in the virtual environment,” said Garner. “Whether that be some sort of non-contact order or making sure students are not assigned to the same groups when there is an issue between the two.”

The update also reminds people that the the university’s policies on discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct also apply to online and virtual misconduct. It states that any in-person behavior that is prohibited by policy is likely to be prohibited in cyber forms like cyber harassment and cyberstalking.

Faculty and staff who are deemed “responsible employees” are reminded that they’re expected to report sexual misconduct incidents, especially when members of the campus community are involved regardless of how they learn of the potential misconduct.

Garner says the “responsible employee” term comes from the Title IX amendment, and the definition comes from the federal government.

“[A responsible employee] is anyone who has the authority to action, to address sexual misconduct, has the duty reporting sexual misconduct and the student reasonably believes has the authority or the duty to report sexual misconduct,” Garner said.

Garner said all staff and faculty are considered “responsible employees,” but members of the confidential resources are not.

To view the update or make a report you can visit NIU’s Ethics and Compliance website.