Overarching Policy on Nondiscrimination

Iowa Wesleyan University adheres to all federal, state and local civil rights laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination in private institutions of higher education. The University does not discriminate against any employee, applicant for employment, student, or applicant for admission because of: race, color, sex (including pregnancy), genetic information, national origin (including ancestry), gender, physical or mental disability, age, religion, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other protected status in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws. Additionally, the University does not discriminate on the basis of hearing status, political affiliation, citizenship status, marital status, gender expression, or physical appearance.

Any form of discrimination or retaliation is not allowed. When brought to the attention of the University, any such discrimination will be promptly and fairly addressed and remedied by the University according to the grievance processes described in this document (Process A or B, depending on Title IX jurisdiction).

This policy covers nondiscrimination in both employment and access to educational opportunities. Therefore, any member of the University community whose acts deny, deprive, or limit the educational or employment access, benefits, and/or opportunities of any member of the Iowa Wesleyan University community, guest, or visitor on the basis of that person’s actual or perceived membership in the protected classes listed above is in violation of the University Policy on Nondiscrimination.

The University is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) employer. All aspects of the employment relationship are covered by this policy and those found in the Employee and Faculty Handbooks, and all employees and applicants are protected from unlawful discrimination in recruiting, hiring, placement, training, evaluation, job assignments, pay, benefits, promotions, termination, layoffs, recall, transfer, leave of absence, compensation, or discharge.

Policy on Disability Discrimination and Accommodation (addressed by Administrative Resolution; see Process B in Appendix B)

Iowa Wesleyan University is committed to full compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities, as well as other federal, state and local laws and regulations pertaining to individuals with disabilities.

Under the ADA and its amendments, a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.

The ADA also protects individuals who have a record of a substantially limiting impairment or who are regarded as disabled by Iowa Wesleyan University, regardless of whether they currently have a disability. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, or caring for oneself.

The Director of Accessibility has been designated as Iowa Wesleyan University’s ADA/504 Coordinator responsible for overseeing efforts to comply with these disability laws, including responding to grievances and conducting investigations of any allegation of noncompliance or discrimination based on disability.

a. Students with Disabilities

Iowa Wesleyan University is committed to providing qualified students with disabilities with reasonable accommodations and support needed to ensure equal access to the academic programs, facilities, and activities of the University.

All accommodations are made on an individualized basis. A student requesting any accommodation should first contact the Director of Accessibility, who coordinates services for students with disabilities. The Director reviews documentation provided by the student and, in consultation with the student, determines which accommodations are appropriate for the student’s particular needs and academic program(s) in accordance with the University’s applicable policies.

b. Employees with Disabilities

Pursuant to the ADA, Iowa Wesleyan University will provide reasonable accommodation(s) to all qualified employees with known disabilities when their disability affects the performance of their essential job functions, except when doing so would be unduly disruptive or would result in undue hardship to Iowa Wesleyan University.

An employee with a disability is responsible for submitting a request for an accommodation to the Director of Human Resources and providing necessary documentation. The Director will work with the employee’s supervisor to identify which essential functions of the position are affected by the employee’s disability and what reasonable accommodations could enable the employee to perform those duties in accordance with the University’s applicable policies.

Policy on Relationships between Employees and Students (addressed by Director of Human Relations and the University President, unless any misconduct falls under the Jurisdiction of Title IX, Process A)

This policy applies to all full and part-time faculty, staff, administrators, those who teach (even if they do not have a faculty contract), guest lecturers, graduate students classified as employees (only with respect to the students they are currently directly teaching or supervising), athletic coaches, supervisors of student employees, residence hall advisors (only with respect to the students they are directly and currently advising), other advisors, and directors of student organizations (collectively referred to only for the purpose of this policy as “employees”).

The University is committed to creating and maintaining a positive educational environment where students can develop and flourish. Dating, romantic, or sexual relationships between employees and students can negatively impact a student’s learning environment. These relationships also raise questions as to bias and fairness for other students. In addition, relationships between employees and students have an inherent inequality of power and status, and students have a heightened vulnerability to actions by employees and are more easily subject to coercion by an employee. If an employee engages in a romantic or sexual relationship with a student, it can lead to an interference with a student’s learning environment at the University and subject the employee and the University to potential liability.

It is the policy of the University that employees shall not have any romantic or sexual relationship with any students enrolled in any capacity at the University, even if the romantic or sexual relationship is believed to be consensual. This policy applies even if there is no direct supervisory or evaluative relationship between the employee and the student. This policy applies whether classes are in session or not, and applies when employees or students are on leave of any nature.

This policy also prohibits any employee from cohabiting in any way with any students of the University. However, the University recognizes that there may be times when an employee may be in a position to lease or rent a room or housing to a student. Prior written approval from the University is necessary for these arrangements, and any employee seeking approval for such an arrangement must make a written disclosure and request for approval to the University Vice President in the employee’s reporting structure. The University will use its sole discretion in deciding whether to approve such requests.

The University recognizes that prior to becoming an employee of the University, an employee may have a pre-existing relationship with an enrolled or prospective student of the University. If this situation occurs, the prospective University employee must disclose the relationship prior to accepting the job offer, and the University President will make the final decision as to whether the situation is a violation of this policy. If the situation is permitted, the University will create a management plan to avoid conflicts of interest. A prospective employee’s failure to disclose a pre-existing relationship will constitute a violation of this policy.

Accommodations under this policy for pre-existing relationships (i.e., a marriage) between an employee and a prospective student may be considered on a case by case basis by the University President, who will make the final decision on any accommodation requests. A failure to comply with the required notification under this policy for any such situations is a violation of this policy.

Violations of this policy will result in discipline up to and including termination of employment of the employee. Due to the nature of the conduct governed by this policy, there may not be direct evidence establishing a violation of this policy. Therefore, it is recognized that the University will review and rely upon the best available evidence to determine whether there has been a violation of this policy, which may include indirect evidence.

Any violations of this policy should be immediately reported to The Director of Human Resources. If the Director of Human Resources is the person who is reported to have violated this policy, the report should be made to the President. Violation of this policy is a Human Resources matter and is not addressed under the Title IX grievance process unless the elements of the definition of harassment are met.

If the University determines that a violation of this policy has occurred, disciplinary action, including termination, will be taken in accordance with the disciplinary processes applicable to the situation potentially including handbooks, policies, and contracts.

Policy on Discriminatory Harassment

Students, staff, administrators, and faculty are entitled to an employment and educational environment that is free of discriminatory harassment. This policy is not meant to inhibit or prohibit educational content or discussions inside or outside of the classroom that include germane but controversial or sensitive subject matters protected by academic freedom.

The sections below describe the specific forms of legally prohibited harassment that are also prohibited under Iowa Wesleyan University policy. When speech or conduct is protected by academic freedom and/or the First Amendment, it will not be considered a violation of the University’s policy, though supportive measures will be offered to those impacted. All offense definitions encompass actual and/or attempted offenses.

Discriminatory harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct by any member or group of the community on the basis of actual or perceived membership in a class protected by policy or law.

Iowa Wesleyan University does not tolerate discriminatory harassment of any employee, student, visitor, or third-party and will act to remedy all forms of harassment when reported, whether or not the harassment rises to the level of creating a “hostile environment.”

A hostile environment is one that unreasonably interferes with, limits, or effectively denies an individual’s educational or employment access, benefits, or opportunities. 3 This discriminatory effect results from harassing verbal, written, graphic, and/or physical conduct that is severe or pervasive and objectively offensive.

When discriminatory harassment rises to the level of creating a hostile environment, Iowa Wesleyan University may also impose sanctions on the Respondent through application of the grievance processes described in this policy (Process A or B, depending on Title IX jurisdiction).

Iowa Wesleyan University reserves the right to address offensive conduct and/or harassment that 1) does not rise to the level of creating a hostile environment, or 2) that is of a generic nature and not based on a protected status. Addressing such conduct will not result in the imposition of discipline under University policy, but may be addressed through respectful conversation, remedial actions, education, effective Alternative Resolution, and/or other informal resolution mechanisms.

Policy on Sexual Harassment (addressed through Process A-the grievance resolution process defined by the Department of Education as part of the 2020 Title IX Regulations)

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the State of Iowa regard sexual harassment, a specific form of discriminatory harassment, as an unlawful discriminatory practice.

Acts of sexual harassment may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity of those involved.

Iowa Wesleyan University has adopted the following definition of sexual harassment in order to address the unique environment of an academic community. Sexual harassment, as an umbrella category, includes the offenses of sexual harassment (Quid Pro Quo and/or sexual harassment-hostile environment), sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and/or stalking, and is defined as:

Conduct on the basis of sex/gender or that is sexual in nature that satisfies one or more of the following:

1) Quid Pro Quo occurs when an employee of Iowa Wesleyan University (including Graduate Assistants and Teacher Assistants when in authority over others) implicitly or explicitly conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct.

2) Sexual Harassment-Hostile Environment, defined as unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, and pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to an Iowa Wesleyan University education program or activity.

Unwelcomeness is subjective and determined by the Complainant (except when the Complainant is younger than the age of consent). Severity, pervasiveness, and objective offensiveness are evaluated based on the totality of the circumstances from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances (“in the shoes of the Complainant”), including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced.

3) Sexual Assault, defined as:

a) Sex Offenses, Forcible is any sexual act (described below) directed against another person without the consent of the Complainant including instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent.

An unwelcomed ‘sexual act” is specifically defined by federal regulations to include one or more of the following:

Forcible Rape: Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the Complainant.

Forcible Sodomy: Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age below 18 years, or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Sexual Assault with an Object: The use of an object or instrument to penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age below 18 years, or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

Forcible Fondling: The touching of the private body parts of another person (buttocks, groin, breasts), for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age below 18 years, or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

b) Sex Offenses, Non-forcible:

Incest: Non-forcible sexual intercourse, between persons who are related to each other, within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by Iowa law.

Statutory Rape: Non-forcible sexual intercourse, with a person who is under the statutory age of consent of the State of Iowa.

4) Dating Violence, defined as violence on the basis of sex committed by a person who is in or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant.

a. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the Complainant’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

b. For the purposes of this definition dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.

c. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

5) Domestic Violence, defined as violence on the basis of sex committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant by a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common, or by a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of Iowa, or by any other person against an adult or youth Complainant who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of Iowa.

*To categorize an incident as Domestic Violence under this policy, the relationship between the Respondent and the Complainant must be more than just two people living together as roommates. The people cohabitating must be current or former spouses or have an intimate relationship.

6) Stalking, defined as engaging in a course of conduct on the basis of sex directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety, or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.

*For the purposes of this definition:

a. Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the Respondent directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.

b. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.

c. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Force, Coercion, Consent, and Incapacitation

As used in the offenses above, the following definitions and understandings apply:

Force: Force is the use of physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that is intended to overcome resistance or produce consent (e.g., “Have sex with me or I’ll hit you,” which elicits the response, “Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.”).

Sexual activity that is forced is, by definition, non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not necessarily forced. Silence or the absence of resistance alone is not consent. Consent is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. While resistance is not required or necessary, it is a clear demonstration of non-consent.

Coercion: Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive conduct differs from seductive conduct based on factors such as the type and/or extent of the pressure used to obtain consent. When someone makes clear that they do not want to engage in certain sexual activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.

Consent: is knowing, voluntary and clear permission by word or action to engage in sexual activity.

Individuals may perceive and experience the same interaction in different ways. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each party to determine that the other has consented before engaging in the activity.

If consent is not clearly provided prior to engaging in the activity, consent may be ratified by word or action at some point during the interaction or thereafter, but clear communication from the outset is strongly encouraged.

For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct. Reasonable reciprocation can be implied. For example, if someone kisses you, you can kiss them back (if you want to) without the need to explicitly obtain their consent to being kissed back.

Consent can also be withdrawn once given, as long as the withdrawal is reasonably and clearly communicated. If consent is withdrawn, that sexual activity should cease within a reasonable time.

Consent to some sexual contact (such as kissing or fondling) cannot be presumed to be consent for other sexual activity (such as intercourse). A current or previous intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.

Proof of consent or non-consent is not a burden placed on either party involved in an incident. Instead, the burden remains on the University to determine whether its policy has been violated. The existence of consent is based on the totality of the circumstances evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances, including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar and previous patterns that may be evidenced.

Consent in relationships must also be considered in context. When parties consent to bondage, discipline/dominance, submission/sadism, and masochism (BDSM), non-consent may be shown by the use of a safe word. Resistance, force, violence, or even saying “no” may be part of the BDSM and thus consensual, so Iowa Wesleyan University’s evaluation of communication in BDSM situations should be guided by reasonableness, rather than strict adherence to policy that assumes non-BDSM relationships as a default.

Incapacitation: A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious, for any reason, including by alcohol or other drugs. As stated above, a Respondent violates this policy if they engage in sexual activity with someone who is incapable of giving consent. “Should have known” is an objective, reasonable person standard that assumes that a reasonable person is both sober and exercising sound judgment.

Incapacitation occurs when someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing/informed consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of their sexual interaction).

Incapacitation is determined through consideration of all relevant indicators of an individual’s state and is not synonymous with intoxication, impairment, blackout, and/or being drunk.

This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition, involuntary physical restraint, and/or the consumption of incapacitating drugs.


3 This definition of hostile environment is based on Federal Register / Vol. 59, No. 47 / Thursday, March 10, 1994: Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Racial Incidents and Harassment Against Students At Educational Recipients Investigative Guidance.