Safer Spaces

Basic information

Policies and procedures to address discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

I. Purpose and Scope of Policy

I.A. Introduction

Calvin University is committed to performing all of our tasks as a caring and diverse community. Each person – faculty, staff, student, trustee, volunteer, visitor, contractor, and vendor – who has chosen to engage with the Calvin community thereby affirms a willingness to uphold the community's stated standards of conduct and ensure that Calvin University provides a safe environment for students, staff, faculty, and guests of the university.

Harassment, discrimination, and retaliation of any form are a violation of a person’s rights, dignity, and integrity. Such acts debase the integrity of the educational process and work environment and are contrary to the mission and values of Calvin University. In response to any reported misconduct, the university will take appropriate steps to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. The university will review and investigate all reports, and provide for fair and impartial evaluation and resolution. Retaliation against a person who makes a good faith report of harassment or discrimination or anyone participating as a witness in an investigation or hearing is prohibited.

I.B. Purpose of Policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide the Calvin University community with a set of behavioral standards, common understanding of definitions and key concepts, descriptions of prohibited conduct, and processes for submitting, investigating and resolving reports. The policy is intended to protect and guide those who have been affected by harassment and discrimination whether as a reporting party, a responding party, or a third party.

This policy also identifies resources and support for all members of the college community, identifies appropriate administrators and describes their roles, provides information about how to make a report, and provides information about how a report will be evaluated and resolved.

I.C. Scope

The policies below are subject to resolution using the university’s Resolution Process. Regardless of the status of the parties involved, the resolution process is available to students, student organizations, staff, faculty, administrators, trustees, volunteers, visitors, contractors, and vendors. This policy also extends to the university the right to act on incidents occurring on-campus, at university-sponsored events and programs, off-campus, and online conduct when the university determines that such conduct affects substantial university interests.

This policy also supersedes all current university policies and procedures pertaining to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

I.D. Inquiries

The Vice-President for Student Life at Calvin University serves as the university’s Safer Spaces Administrator (SSA) and will oversee the implementation of all civil rights policies and claims, including those arising under Title IX, related to discrimination and harassment. The administrator is charged with directing the university’s efforts to end alleged discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on individuals and the Calvin community. Reports of harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation should be promptly reported to the SSA or one of the university’s Safer Spaces Coordinators.

Inquiries about these policies and procedures may be made internally to:

Sarah Visser
Title IX Coordinator
Vice-President for Student Life
Spoelhof University Center 364
Calvin University
Grand Rapids MI 49546

(616) 526-6454

The SSA is supported by several Safer Spaces Coordinators from student life, staff, faculty, and athletics. Coordinators, assigned by appointment or as part of their position, carry out training, education, and climate checks on campus. They provide oversight of procedures that promptly and equitably eliminate discrimination and harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects on individuals and the Calvin community. Finally, the Coordinators organize and direct the review, inquiry, and resolution of reports and ensure that all appropriate interim measures are implemented.

Safer Spaces Coordinators for Students, Staff, Faculty, and Athletics

Jane Hendriksma, Dean of Students for Student Conduct
(616) 526-6117

Andrew George, Director of Human Resource Services
(616) 526-6056

Reports alleging harassment, discrimination, and retaliation should be directed to the SSA or one of the Coordinators. Reports can be made in person, submitted through one of the university’s online reporting mechanisms, and/or by using the university’s reporting hotline telephone number (1-866-943-5787).

II. University Policies related to Safer Spaces

II.A. Discrimination and Harassment

Several Federal, State and local laws prohibit harassment and discrimination in employment and education on the basis of legally protected characteristics. In addition, Title IX of the Federal Civil Rights Act, and the Federal Act, prohibits discrimination, including harassment and violence, on the basis of gender and sex in all programs, benefits and activities of institutions receiving federal funds.

In employment, in access to educational opportunities, and in all other areas of college life, Calvin University prohibits unlawful harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, gender, marital status, veteran status, gender identity, family status, height, weight, sexual orientation and any other characteristics protected by federal, state or local statute or ordinance.1

In addition, there are other forms of harassment and discrimination, based on characteristics that are not protected by these statutes. It is the policy of Calvin University that, although the law may not expressly prohibit such behaviors, such behaviors nevertheless have no place here, they violate this policy, and will be subject to disciplinary action. Illustrative examples include harassment or discrimination based upon physical appearance or social or economic status.

II.B. Accommodation of Disabilities

In addition to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, the university is committed to fulfilling its legal obligations to provide reasonable accommodations.

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking or caring for oneself.

  1. Studentswith Disabilities – Calvin University is committed to providing qualified students with disabilities with reasonable accommodations and support needed to ensure equal access to the academic programs and activities of the university. Requests for an accommodation should be directed to the Center for Student Success.

  2. Employees with Disabilities – Calvin University is committed to providing reasonable accommodation(s) to all qualified employees with known disabilities, where their disability affects the performance of their essential job functions, except where doing so would result in undue hardship to the university. An employee with a disability who needs an accommodation to perform the essential functions of his/her job should contact the Human Resources Office to make such a request.

III. Prohibited Conduct

The university is committed to creating and maintaining safe spaces for learning, living and working. Accordingly, the conduct described below is strictly prohibited.

III.A. Discrimination and Harassment.

Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical conduct. Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • epithets, slurs, denigrating jokes or negative stereotyping;
  • threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or other conduct which threatens or endangers health or safety;
  • written or graphic material that degrades or shows hostility or aversion;
  • pranks or horseplay intended to embarrass or humiliate;
  • imposing submission to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct;
  • stalking, bullying, hazing;
  • any other action that is motivated by the actual or perceived membership of the victim in a protected class.

This policy also prohibits discrimination based on race, age, disability, appearance, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law or by college policy. Discrimination is defined as unequal, adverse treatment of an individual because of a protected legal status, such as race, age, or gender that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive such that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone’s employment access, benefits or opportunities, and/or the ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program and/or activities, and is based on power differentials (quid pro quo), creates a hostile environment, or constitutes retaliation. For instance, different treatment of two similar individuals with respect to pay, opportunity for advancement, or educational opportunity constitutes discrimination if the reason for the different treatment is the protected status of one of the individuals.

III.B. Sexual Misconduct

Although many acts of sexual misconduct can be addressed within a general nondiscrimination and harassment policy, federal regulations require institutions of higher education who receive federal funding to specifically address sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following prohibited conduct: sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic abuse and consensual romantic and sexual relationships between people of unequal power. Definitions and illustrations of this conduct are found in Appendix B of this policy.

III.C. Retaliation

Retaliation, also called retaliatory harassment, is any adverse employment or educational action taken against a person because of the person’s participation in a report or investigation of harassment or discrimination of any kind. Retaliation against an individual for alleging harassment, for supporting a reporting party or for assisting in providing information relevant to a claim of harassment is a serious violation of Calvin University policy. Individuals who engage in such actions are subject to discipline up to and including suspension or dismissal from the university, consistent with the university’s procedures. Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the SSA or one of the Safer Spaces Coordinators and will be promptly investigated. Calvin University is prepared to take appropriate steps to protect individuals who fear they may be subjected to retaliation.

IV. Notice of Offenses under This Policy

IV.A. Reporting is Vital

Violations of this Policy, including gender and sex-based harassment and discrimination, must be reported under Federal law. Whoever receives such reports or observes such behavior is required to report all violations. The University’s commitment to an environment free from harassment and discrimination and calls on every member of the college community to be vigilant in deterring and reporting all violations.

IV.B. Guidance and Counseling to Support the Reporter

If a reporting party would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, the reporting party may speak with any of the following resources:

These on-campus resource people will maintain confidentiality except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or in cases of abuse of a minor. There are also off-campus local and state assistance agencies whose counselors will maintain confidentiality except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or abuse of a minor.

IV.C. Confidentiality

Confidentiality and privacy for the reporting party are valued. In working with reporting parties, the university will be guided by the goals of empowering the victim and allowing the victim to retain as much control over the process as the case allows, but no university employee (other than counselors, healthcare providers, and clergy) can or may promise confidentiality over the course of the process. When the investigation and/or resolution process requires disclosure of certain information, the university will keep the reporter informed, and protected to the extent permitted by the circumstances.

IV.D. Filing a Complaint

This Policy provides several choices for filing a complaint. Any member of the Calvin community or any visitor to the community who believes that the Safer Spaces policy has been violated is encouraged to contact the SSA or one of the Safer Spaces coordinators. It is also possible for employees to notify a supervisor, or for students to notify an administrator or faculty member. Members of the college community also may contact Campus Safety. These individuals will in turn notify the SSA promptly, generally within twenty-four hours or less. The university’s online reporting form or the hotline telephone number also can serve to initiate a complaint.

In addition to reporting acts of harassment, discrimination and retaliation internally to the SSA, students, faculty, and staff are also encouraged to report any and all suspected and/or actual criminal activity (accurately and promptly) to the office of campus safety or local law enforcement authorities.

IV.E. Report Intake

Following receipt of notice or a report, the coordinator will:

  • Meet with reporting party
  • Explain process and options
  • Answer questions/ address concerns
  • Consider interim remedies
  • Review resources and support

Selecting an Advisor

Reporting and responding parties may elect to have an advisor accompany them to meetings related to the university disciplinary process and in the Safer Spaces report resolution process. Parties may choose an advisor from within the Calvin University community (current student, staff or faculty member). In cases addressing reports of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, parties may elect to have a privately contracted attorney serve as their advisor.

Reporting and responding parties are required to provide advance notice of advisor’s name/contact information and to seek prior approval for advisor’s attendance. Advisors may accompany the reporting or responding party to meetings and provide quiet advice to the student. Advisors do not directly participate in meetings or ask/answer questions. The university will make reasonable accommodation for an advisor’s schedule. The university reserves the right to remove disruptive advisors from participation in the process.

Initial Assessment

The coordinator will complete an initial assessment and make an initial determination whether a policy violation may have occurred. If the report does not appear to allege a policy violation or if an informal resolution is desired by the reporting party, and appears appropriate given the nature of the alleged behavior, then the report does not proceed to investigation.

A full investigation will be pursued if there is evidence of a serious violation, a pattern of misconduct, a perceived threat of further harm to the community or any of its members, or the reporting party desires further action. Calvin University aims to complete all investigations within a 60 business day time period, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the SSA or Safer Spaces coordinators with notice to the parties.

IV.F. Amnesty for Reporting Prohibited Misconduct

Calvin University seeks to remove any barriers to reporting by making the procedures for reporting transparent and straightforward. The university recognizes that an individual who has been drinking or using drugs at the time of an incident may be hesitant to make a report because of potential consequences for his/her own conduct. An individual who reports misconduct, either as a reporting party or a third party witness, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the university for his/her own personal consumption of alcohol or drugs at or near the time of the incident, provided that the specific incident has not come to the university’s attention via normal reporting channels and/or any such violations did not and do not place the health or safety of any other person at risk. The university may, however, initiate an educational discussion or pursue appropriate intervention referrals regarding alcohol or other drugs.

IV.G. Bystander Intervention

Calvin University expects all community members to take reasonable and prudent actions to prevent or stop an act of misconduct. Taking action may include direct non-violent intervention, calling law enforcement, and seeking assistance from a person in authority. Community members who choose to exercise this positive moral obligation in good faith and a reasonable manner will be supported by the university and protected from retaliation.

IV.H. False Complaints

Calvin University will seriously investigate all reports. However, it also recognizes that false reports are likely to cause significant damage to the person and reputation of an individual who is wrongfully accused. Individuals found to have knowingly made false reports will be subject to disciplinary action. A report that is erroneous but made in good faith will not be subject to disciplinary action.

V. Investigation

The report will be referred to one or more Calvin Safer Spaces Committee persons properly trained to do investigations. The investigation will be conducted with no pre-disposition position towards any particular finding or result. The investigation will be a fair, objective, impartial and thorough inquiry into the allegations of the report, the responses and defenses raised by the responding party, and other relevant issues. Reporting parties and responding parties, as well as other witnesses, will be respected and their suggestions and input concerning the scope and focus of the investigation will be given due regard. When appropriate or needed, the SSA may utilize outside assistance in conducting an investigation.

The SSA will notify the President and appropriate Vice-Presidents when an investigation begins and update them as needed throughout the process.

Calvin University aims to complete all investigations within a 60 business day time period, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the SSA or Safer Spaces coordinators with notice to the parties.

Please note: Membership of the Calvin Safer Spaces Committee (CSSC) is communicated annually to campus members. The list of CSSC members can be found below.

Members of the CSSC are trained in all aspects of the resolution process and can serve as investigators and as members of the Calvin Hearing Panel (CHP). CSSC members, once trained, are required to attend annual refresher trainings.

Calvin Safer Spaces Committee


Sarah Visser
Title IX Coordinator
Vice-President for Student Life
(616) 526-6454


Jane Hendriksma, Dean of Students for Student Conduct
(616) 526-6117

Andrew George, Director of Human Resource Services
(616) 526-6737


Bill Corner, Director of Campus Safety
(616) 526-6751

Will Katerberg, Associate Dean
(616) 526-7322

Lisa Kooy, Disabilities Coordinator

Michelle Loyd-Paige, Executive Associate to the President for Diversity and Inclusion
(616) 526-8703

Nancy Meyer, Athletic Director

Jim Potter, Assistant Director of Campus Safety
(616) 526-6710

Additional Faculty and Staff as Investigators/Hearing Panel Members

Francene Lewis, Cataloging Librarian
(616) 526-6308

Karen Saupe, Professor of English
(616) 526-6467

Kumar Sinniah, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
(616) 526-6058

Jim Timmer, Athletic Director and Professor of Kinesiology
(616) 526-6037

Kate van Liere, Professor of History
(616) 526-6817

Adam Vedra, Associate Director of IT and Information Security Officer
(616) 526-7128

Rachel Venema, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Social Work
(616) 526-8741

Kevin VandeStreek, Professor of Kinesiology
(616) 526-6704

VI. Results of Investigation

The Coordinator will review the results of the investigation to confirm that the investigation has been fair, objective, impartial, and thorough and that university policies have been followed. The investigators will prepare a Report of Results of Investigation (RRI). The RRI will be appropriate to the facts of the case to the Report Resolution Process (RRP) that is likely to be, or has been, selected by the SSA/Coordinator The Coordinator may direct that the RRI be expanded or otherwise changed if the Report Resolution Process is changed or additional investigation has been requested.

The Coordinator will notify both parties simultaneously, in writing, to both the reporting party and the responding party.

When a hearing is selected as the Report Resolution Process, the RRI will be the primary evidence that is submitted at the hearing and upon which the decision will be based. Accordingly, the RRI in all cases involving formal hearing must be sufficiently detailed and thorough to support the hearing process and to provide fairness to all participants.

VII. Resolution Process

Based on the results of investigation the SSA or designated coordinator, will decide on the next step(s) which may include:

  • No further action
  • Additional investigation
  • Informal resolutions such as education, counseling, mediation or other informal remedial actions
  • Resolution without a hearing – see below
  • Hearing – see below

Informal forms of resolution may be selected by the SSA/Coordinator when all parties are willing and when consistent with the nature of the issue; informal resolution may not be used in cases of sexual assault or other violent behavior.

We may offer informal resolution such as mediation for appropriate cases. The university will not compel a reporting party to engage in mediation, to directly confront the responding party, or to participate in any particular form of informal resolution. Mediation, even if voluntary, may not be used in cases involving sexual assault. The decision to pursue mediation will be made when the Coordinator has sufficient information about the nature and scope of the conduct, which may occur at any time. Participation in mediation is voluntary, and a reporting party can request to end it at any time.

Resolution Without a Hearing – this process ordinarily will be based on a presentation of the results of the investigation to the responding party, acceptance of responsibility by the responding party and agreement between the SSA and the responding party on findings, sanctions and remedies. The reporting party is also informed of the outcome of a resolution without a hearing. Both parties are entitled to appeal based on the process outlined in the safer spaces policy.

Hearing – if either party contests the facts, findings, and/or other sanctions gathered, then the process will move to a hearing as described below.

VIII. Hearing

a. Calvin Hearing Panel (CHP)

The Safer Spaces Administrator will appoint a Chair and two additional members of the Calvin Safer Spaces Committee, none of whom have been previously involved with the report, to serve on the CHP. The SSA will consider the roles and functions of CHP members to ensure the panel has the necessary expertise to make sound judgments.

b. Notice of alleged policy violations

The Coordinator will notify the responding party of the alleged policy violation(s). Before the hearing the Coordinator will review the RRI with the reporting party and the responding party, including evidence that tends to support the charges and evidence that tends to refute the charges. The Coordinator will correlate the results of the investigation to each alleged policy violation.

A copy of the written charges is provided to the reporting party, the responding party, and the appropriate VP and other parties relevant to the particular case. In the case of a faculty member, the PSC and the President will be notified that a formal hearing is commencing.

c. Fair Hearing Rights

All parties are entitled to a fair hearing that will include the following opportunities and rights:

  • To be treated with respect by university officials
  • To have an advisor during the process. An advisor may accompany either party to an interview or hearing but may not otherwise address or participate in the process except to give quiet advice to the reporting or responding party. Parties are required to provide advance notice of the advisor’s name/contact information and to seek prior approval from the Safer Spaces Coordinator for the advisor’s attendance.
  • To respond to all evidence, specifically including the opportunity to review and respond to the contents of the RRI.
  • To a decision by the CHP that is based solely on evidence that is reviewed by all parties
  • To request “Resolution without a Hearing” or “Mediation” at any stage during the hearing; the CHP may confer with the SSA/Coordinator regarding such requests; the request should not be allowed to delay or distract from the hearing process.

IX. Interim Actions and Remedies

At any stage of the process the Coordinator may issue interim remedies, ordinarily in consultation with the applicable supervisory vice president(s) and/or other supervisors.

The remedy must be reasonably designed to:

  • Protect the safety and well-being of participants in the process or other persons in the college community;
  • Support the report and investigation process;
  • Otherwise support the goals, objectives and best interests of the university and its policies.

The remedies may include:

  • Counseling or other support services
  • Altering housing, work assignments and schedules, academic assignments and/or responsibilities;
  • Escorts, other security arrangements;
  • Suspensions with pay of employees;
  • Suspension of students or student organizations.
  • Regular – other actions appropriate to the circumstances

Violations of interim remedies are forbidden and such violations may result in additional charges and may subject the violator to sanctions up to and including expulsion or termination of employment.

X. CHP’s Recommendation, Findings and Sanctions

The CHP will conduct its deliberations in closed session and will base its recommended findings and sanctions solely on the evidence. The CHP will prepare its written Recommended Findings and Sanctions (RFS) based on the “preponderance of evidence” standard. The RFS will address each of the alleged policy violations and will list recommended sanctions. The RFS will be provided in writing to the SSA, who will determine and confirm that the hearing procedure and the RFS is consistent with and has followed College policies. Once the SSA has endorsed the RFS as following proper procedures, the SSA/Coordinator will distribute the RFS to the following: The reporting party, the responding party, the appropriate VPs, and the President. If the responding party is a faculty member, the RFS should also be provided to the Professional Status Committee (PSC).

XI. Appeals

All requests for appeal considerations must be submitted in writing to the SSA/Coordinator within 14 days of RRI.

Any party may appeal, but appeals are limited to the following:

  • A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.).
  • To consider new evidence, unknown or unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.
  • The imposed sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.

A three-member panel, chosen by the SSA and constituted following the process for the first hearing panel, who were not involved in the report previously, will consider all appeal requests. Appeal decisions will be delivered in writing to both parties within seven (7) days of the decision. Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final and binding: further appeals are not permitted.

XII. President’s Review

The SSA will provide the president with the RFS and confirmation of the fairness of the process. If the president wishes to change and/or remand the findings and/or sanctions, the president will do so in consultation with the SSA and others such as the supervisory VP and PSC.

XIII. Process for Revisions

The Safer Spaces Administrator reserves the right to change policy language in those cases where the federal government and/or the Office of Civil Rights changes its preferred language for certain kinds of behavior and when the description of the processes described here can be clarified and brought into compliance with the law. The changes will be published to the Calvin community and also communicated for information to the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees.

Appendix A: Statement on Racial Harassment

While the Safer Spaces policy generally prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment and in access to educational opportunities on the basis of legally protected characteristics (see section II.A.), this statement on racial harassment is intended to stipulate the university’s position prohibiting racial, ethnic, and cultural harassment within the Calvin University community. Therefore, this statement shall be interpreted in its broadest sense. The examples provided should not be treated as an exhaustive list of situations. This policy is not intended to discourage or impede serious and responsible attention to issues of race, ethnicity, or other markers of cultural differences. Rather, it is expected that this policy will guide the university’s efforts to become a safe environment for students, staff, faculty, and guests of the university.


No member of the Calvin University community shall engage in racial, ethnic, or cultural harassment. Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Harassing remarks or actions serving no scholarly, artistic, or educational purpose that are made directly or indirectly toward individuals or groups due to their race, ethnicity, or culture.
  2. Intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or demeaning remarks or actions based on race, ethnicity, or culture which, whether intentional or unintentional, interfere with or threaten an individual’s or group’s participation in the life of the University, including academic or co-curricular activities. This may include actions or public displays of material that serve no scholarly, artistic, or educational purpose.

Interpretive Guidelines

Examples of racial, ethnic, or cultural harassment include, but are not limited to: racial epithets, derogatory comments, jokes, or ridicule directed to a specific person or persons about their race, ethnicity, or culture; threats of or actual violence based upon race or ethnicity or culture of the victim; defacement of property based on race, ethnicity, or culture of the owner; remarks or conduct based on race, ethnicity, or culture, even if it is not directed at a specific person or persons, which unreasonably affects the ability of persons to participate in college programs.

In determining whether an act constitutes racial or ethnic harassment, the totality of the circumstances that pertain to any given incident in its context must be carefully reviewed and due consideration must be given to the protection of individual rights, freedom of speech, academic freedom, and advocacy.

Reporting of Offenses

  1. For guidance and counseling to support the reporter refer to section IV.B.

  2. For confidentiality guidelines refer to section IV.C.

  3. For the University’s policy on false complaints see section IV.H.

Report Resolution

See section VII for information on complaint resolution options.

Appendix B: Sexual Misconduct

This section includes the University’s Title IX policies and procedures. Prohibited sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, the following prohibited conduct: sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, sexual exploitation, and consensual romantic and sexual relationship between people of unequal power.

A. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive such that it unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone’s employment access, benefits or opportunities, and/or the ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational program and/or activities, and is based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation.

B. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact

Non-consensual sexual contact is defined as any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by one person upon another that is without consent and/or by force.

Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with the breasts, groin, genitals, mouth or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner.

C. Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse

Non-consensual sexual intercourse is defined as any sexual intercourse, however slight, with any object, by one person upon another that is without consent and/or by force.

Intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger, or oral copulation.

D. Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation refers to a situation in which a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another, and situations in which the conduct does not fall within the definitions of sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual intercourse or non-consensual sexual contact.

E. Stalking/Invasion of Privacy/Unconsented contact

Stalking or unconsented contact may refers to any behavior directed against another person that violates reasonable expectations of personal privacy and/or privacy of personal information; behavior which the party knows or should know is unwelcome; or behavior which would cause a reasonable person to feel fear or anxiety. Staking or unconsented contact may include actions or contact through a third party.

F. Relationship Violence (also called “Domestic Violence”)

Relationship violence refers to any behavior within a relationship (typically, an intimate or domestic relationship) that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to those in the relationship. Violence is considered the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person that results in a high likelihood of injury and/or psychological harm and sometimes may result in death.

G. Romantic and/or Sexual Consensual Relationships between People with Unequal Power

There are inherent risks in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals in unequal positions (e.g., faculty and student, supervisor and employee). The unequal power inherent in such relationships, even if consensual, heightens the vulnerability of the person with less power and heightens the potential for coercion and abuse. In addition, these relationships may be less consensual than perceived by the individual whose position confers power. The relationship also may be viewed in different ways by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual involvement, this past consent may not remove grounds for a later charge of a violation of applicable sections of this policy. Such relationships can also create a hostile learning and work environment for others.

Examples of the kinds of relationships prohibited by this policy include:

  • Faculty and students. The decision to become a faculty member at the university presumes an educational and mentoring relationship with any student and precludes engaging in such a romantic relationship with any student.
  • Staff or volunteers who have mentoring or supervisory relationships with students. The decision to become a staff member or a volunteer in a position that is defined by mentoring or supervision precludes engaging in such a romantic relationship with any student.
  • Supervisors and subordinates. Romantic relationships are not allowed between employees of Calvin University when a supervisory relationship is involved. This applies to all employees and their supervisors. The power differential makes such relationships open to abuse and to charges of sexual harassment or unprofessional conduct. Such relationships can also create a hostile work environment for others. Should romantic relationships develop, the supervising employee should inform their supervisor so that appropriate actions can be made to remove the involved supervisor from direct supervision of the employee.

Note that Calvin’s Policy on Employment of Relatives (Handbook for Teaching Faculty, Section 6.7 and Staff Handbook) forbids spouses and other immediate family members from supervising one another, and requires approval of the Associate Vice-President for Human Resources for spouses to be co-workers in the same department.

Where students have supervisory employment roles with other students (e.g., in Food Services), a mentoring role (e.g., resident assistants in the residence halls), or otherwise have authority that affects the work or educational environment of other students, they are discouraged from having a romantic relationship with a student under their authority. If such relationships exist, the student in the supervisory role must disclose this to his/her supervisor.

Exceptions to the above prohibitions (e.g., in the circumstances of a pre-existing relationship) will be considered by the provost or the Vice President for People, Strategy and Technology on a limited, case-by-case basis. Faculty or staff with questions about the application or effect of this policy should consult with the Provost or the Vice President for People, Strategy and Technology.

Appendix C: Mandatory Reporters

This appendix is intended to outline Calvin University’s policy regarding mandated reporting of concerning behaviors, discrimination, harassment, and crimes committed by or committed against employees or students. It explains briefly the meaning and purpose of mandatory reporters, outlines the legal context, and articulates a straightforward set of guidelines for all employees to follow.

Mandatory Reporters: What and Why?

There are three federal laws that establish responsibilities for employees of colleges and universities to report certain types of crimes and incidents, especially sexual misconduct—the Clery Act, Title VII and Title IX. Each of these areas of federal law has a different purpose, but generally the laws are intended to protect members of the campus community, visitors and guests from criminal and discriminatory behavior. The responsibilities established by these laws give rise to the term “mandatory reporter.” Reporting of concerning and disruptive behaviors is a policy mandate to assist the university in early identification and detection of at-risk situations. Additionally, state and federal law impose mandates with respect to the reporting of child abuse and sexual abuse.

The Legal Context

The Clery Act creates a duty for institutions to report crimes in 15 different categories and has the broadest scope. It is the university that has the duty to report these crimes and failure to do so can result in substantial fines being imposed on the institution by the Department of Education. Guided by the language of the Clery Act and subsequent amendments, the university is required to define which employees must report crime information they receive.

The language of the Clery Act would allow the university to exclude some faculty some of the time and many professional staff from the obligation to report. Such an approach, however, risks creating confusion for faculty and staff, takes a minimalist approach to the ethical obligation to inform our community about serious crimes, and makes the institution more vulnerable to enforcement action.

Title VII focuses on sexual harassment in the workplace and failure to take appropriate action can lead to financial liability for the university. In this case, the law creates a duty to report for employees who supervise other employees, including students being paid by the university. As with the Clery Act, this language means that some faculty and staff would be expected to report while others might be exempted. Once again, however, this selective approach may create confusion and risk; and it fails to ask all of us to share the responsibility to create a work place free of discrimination and harassment.

Title IX focuses on the adverse consequences faced by victims of gender discrimination and sexual harassment and creates obligations for the university to investigate and to provide a “prompt and effective remedy.” If the victim is a student, Title IX means among other things that the university must provide a safe environment that does not interfere with the victim’s right to pursue an education. The university incurs this obligation when a victim has given notice to a “responsible employee,” or when the university, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about the assault or harassment. As with the other laws, the definition of “responsible employee” under Title IX would allow the university to treat only some faculty and staff as mandated reporters but with the same possibility of confusion and risk of institutional exposure.

University Policy

Calvin University has decided to adopt a policy that defines all employees as mandatory reporters except those listed above as confidential employees (note that confidential employees are only exempt while working in their professional positions). If you learn about harassment, discrimination or sexual assault, you are expected to promptly contact one of the campus Safer Spaces Coordinators. They will take responsibility for prompt notification of Campus Safety and other appropriate university officials. Other serious crimes covered by the Clery Act must be reported to Campus Safety.

All concerning and disruptive behaviors must be reported in a timely manner to the Safer Spaces Coordinators at

When reporting harassment or discrimination or sexual assault, a university employee may initially be able to omit personally identifiable information (the name of the victim, the name of the accused individual, and other identifying details about witnesses, location, etc.). The Safer Spaces Coordinator will guide you with regard to how much detail is needed in an initial report. Subsequent to an initial report, campus officials may need additional information in order to fulfill the university’s obligations under Title IX. In taking these subsequent actions, the university will always be guided by the goals of empowering the victim and allowing the victim to retain as much control over the process as possible, but no employee (other than counselors, health care providers, and clergy) can or should promise confidentiality.

The Clery Act requires reporting of 15 serious crimes, including sexual assault. Sexual harassment and discrimination are not covered by the Clery Act, but reporting of such incidents is required under Title IX. Employees are expected to report crimes covered by the Clery Act to the Department of Campus Safety without delay. Employees may choose—but are not required—to provide personally identifiable information (the name of the victim, the name of the accused individual, and other identifying details about witnesses, specific location, etc.) unless a clear threat to health or safety is present, as determined by Campus Safety.

The Clery Act does not establish an obligation for Campus Safety to conduct an investigation of the reported crime, only to report the crime as a statistic following Clery Act guidelines. In some cases, Campus Safety may also be required to release a timely warning to the community about a threat to the community. In such cases, an initial investigation or determination of the nature of the threat may be conducted, after which a warning will be issued immediately.

Mandatory Reporting Under the Clery Act, Title VII and Title IX:
Guidelines for Employees of Calvin University

  1. The university has defined all employees, except those identified in the safer spaces policy as confidential reporters, as mandatory reporters.

  2. When an employee becomes aware of an alleged act of harassment, discrimination or assault, the employee must promptly contact one of the Safer Spaces Coordinators. The employee should use the reporting form, which can be found at Alternatively, the employee may call one of the safer spaces coordinators and then follow-up by filing the form.

  3. The Safer Spaces Coordinator will promptly inform the Campus Safety about the report.

  4. When an employee thinks that a student may be about to report an act of harassment, discrimination or assault, the employee should, if at all possible, tell the student that the university will maintain the privacy of the information, but the employee cannot maintain complete confidentiality and is required to report the act and may be required to reveal the names of the parties involved. If the student wishes to proceed, the employee should inform the student of the implications of sharing the names of the parties involved, which puts the Calvin University on notice.

    1. Rather than speaking to the student about confidential information, the employee should offer to refer or accompany the student to the Center for Counseling and Wellness, Health Services, or Campus Ministries.
  5. Under the Clery Act, university employees are mandatory reporters for a broader array of serious crimes, including the following:
    1. Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter – The willful killing of one human being by another.
    2. Negligent Manslaughter – The killing of another person through gross negligence.
    3. Robbery – The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.
    4. Aggravated Assault – An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. (It is not necessary that injury result from an aggravated assault when a gun, knife, or other weapon is used which could and probably would result in serious personal injury if the crime were successfully completed.)
    5. Burglary – The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft. For reporting purposes this definition includes: unlawful entry with intent to commit a larceny or felony; breaking and entering with intent to commit a larceny; housebreaking; safecracking; and all attempts to commit any of the aforementioned.
    6. Motor Vehicle Theft – The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. (Classify as motor vehicle theft all cases where automobiles are taken by persons not having lawful access even though the vehicles are later abandoned, including joyriding.)
    7. Arson – Any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, etc.
    8. Arrests for Weapon Law Violations – The violation of laws or ordinances dealing with weapon offenses, regulatory in nature, such as: manufacture, sale, or possession of deadly weapons; carrying deadly weapons, concealed or openly; furnishing deadly weapons to minors; aliens possessing deadly weapons; and all attempts to commit any of the aforementioned.
    9. Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations – Violations of State and local laws relating to the unlawful possession, sale, use, growing, manufacturing, and making of narcotic drugs. The relevant substances include: opium or cocaine and their derivatives (morphine, heroin, codeine); marijuana; synthetic narcotics (Demerol, methadones); and dangerous nonnarcotic drugs (barbiturates, Benzedrine).
    10. Arrests for Liquor Law Violations – The violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting: the manufacture, sale, transporting, furnishing, possessing of intoxicating liquor; maintaining unlawful drinking places; bootlegging; operating a still; furnishing liquor to a minor or intemperate person; using a vehicle for illegal transportation of liquor; drinking on a train or public conveyance; and all attempts to commit any of the aforementioned. (Drunkenness & driving under the influence are not included in this definition.)
    11. Domestic violence – Asserted violent misdemeanor and felony offenses committed by the victim’s current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, or person similarly situated under domestic or family violence law, or anyone else protected under domestic or family violence law.
    12. Dating violence – Violence by a person who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Whether there was such relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.
    13. Stalking – A course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
    14. Hate crimes – A criminal act motivated by bias against any person, or group of persons, or the property of any persons or group of persons because of the ethnicity, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability of the person or group of persons, or bias upon the perception that the person or group has one or more of those characteristics. For Clery reporting purposes, the only hate crime reported are those associated with “reportable crimes” identified in the definitions above.
    15. Disciplinary Referrals for Weapon Law Violations
    16. Disciplinary Referrals for Drug Abuse Violations
    17. Disciplinary Referrals for Liquor Law Violations
    18. Hate Crimes
    19. Sex Offenses
      1. Forcible – Any sexual act directed against another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent.
      2. Sex Offenses-Nonforcible – Unlawful, nonforcible sexual intercourse.
        1. Incest – Nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
        2. Statutory Rape – Nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.2

1 First Amendment Considerations: Because Calvin University is a Christian institution, the university may, under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and various relevant statutes, lawfully discriminate on the basis of religious and confessional criteria in its employment and educational practices. One example is the University’s use of religious faith, confessional commitments and church membership as conditions of employment for faculty and administrators with faculty status. Another example relates to sexual conduct. Though it is the University’s policy to assure equal opportunity in its hiring, personnel practices and admissions without regard to marital status or sexual orientation, sexual relations outside of marriage are proscribed (see e.g., Handbook for Teaching Faculty, Section 6.1.2). Marriage is understood by the University and the Christian Reformed Church, with which it is affiliated, to be a covenantal union between a man and a woman.

2 34 C.F.R. Part 668, Appendix E to Part 668.47.


Sarah Visser

Sarah Visser

Vice President for Student Life
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