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Bias Resources

Penn State Law wants to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are aware of resources available at the central university to address discrimination, bias, and retaliation. If you have any questions, you can reach out to the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ssw11@psu.edu
 

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION OFFICE

The Affirmative Action Office responds to complaints of or concerns about prohibited harassment or discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Members of the PSL community who experience discrimination, sex or gender-based harassment, or harassment related to other protected categories by University employees should file a complaint with the Affirmative Action Office.
 

OFFICE OF STUDENT CONDUCT

The University identifies and outlines 19 overarching categories of unacceptable student/student organization behavior in the Code of Conduct. Individuals and student organizations are encouraged to review  and familiarize themselves with all materials on the Office of Student Conduct website as well as take the time to review the description of each Code category and the student and student organization conduct procedures in order to be fully aware of their individual and organizational responsibilities and options, to allow it to inform their everyday decision-making, and to understand the agency they have regarding the conduct process. 

In 2021, the Student Code of Conduct was updated to address bias more explicitly. Some of the changes include a definition for discriminatory harassment, an option for restorative justice practices, and a module for students on the code. Here is a related Penn State News story.

The Office of Student Conduct is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all its forms. We embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusive excellence that supports both broad and specific diversity initiatives, leverage the educational and institutional benefits of diversity, and engage all individuals in an effort to help them thrive. To learn more about this commitment, please visit the Action Together website. Additionally, you can review Penn State's Nondiscrimination Statement on the Affirmative Action Website. Make a report online.

 

REPORT BIAS

This website provides students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests with a Penn State User ID with a web form for reporting acts of bias or intolerance that occur at Penn State. Students may use the form to report any act of intolerance they experience themselves or observe directed against anyone else. Report a Bias Incident.

 

UNIVERSITY POLICY

AD91 Discrimination and Harassment and Related Inappropriate Conduct

Acts of Bias. Bias incidents refer to conduct that is in violation of a University policy, rule or regulation and is motivated by discriminatory bias against or hatred toward other individuals or groups based on characteristics such as age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, genetic information, national origin, political belief, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation gender identity or veteran status.

Bias incidents may violate the Student Conduct Code, and other University policies or laws, while some acts of bias may be considered protected speech or expression. Penn State protects free expression of ideas, even if they are unpopular, because this is vital in promoting learning in an educational setting. Freedom of speech can sometimes protect controversial ideas and sometimes even offensive and hurtful language; however, it does not protect personal threats, discriminatory conduct or other acts of misconduct that violate the Student Code of Conduct, other University policies or relevant federal, state and local laws.

Discrimination is conduct of any nature that denies an individual the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a University program or activity, or otherwise adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or living environment, because of the individual’s age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation,  gender, perceived gender, gender identity, physical or mental disability, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, genetic information or political ideas.

Gender-based harassment is verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostile conduct based on sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation or gender identity, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities. For example, persistent disparagement of a person based on a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity or exclusion from an activity based on sexual orientation or gender identity also may violate this Policy.

Harassment means behavior consisting of physical or verbal conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it substantially interferes with an individual’s employment, education or access to University programs, activities or opportunities and would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances. Harassment may include, but is not limited to, verbal or physical attacks, graphic or written statements, threats, or slurs. Whether the alleged conduct constitutes prohibited Harassment depends on the totality of the particular circumstances, including the nature, frequency and duration of the conduct in question, the location and context in which it occurs and the status of the individuals involved.

Retaliation, as defined in University Policy AD67, is also prohibited by this policy and may subject the individual who retaliates in violation of this or other University policy to discipline or sanctions.

Sex-based harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing or is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement (quid pro quo); or (2) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities (hostile environment).

Information regarding issues of sex-based harassment specifically, including definitions and information about the University’s procedures for reporting and processing such incidents, can be found in University Policy AD85.  After an initial assessment of the facts, the Title IX Coordinator will determine if the alleged Prohibited Conduct falls under the guidelines of Title IX (Policy AD85). If not, the case will be managed subject to the procedures set forth in this Policy.

AD29 Statement on Intolerance