What is a Safer Spaces Report?

Calvin University is committed to creating and maintaining a safe, caring, and diverse learning community. Calvin University has established the safer spaces policies and procedures to address reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

A Safer Spaces report means alerting the university to an incident. A complaint means a formal request for an evidence-based investigation resolution process. You may report an incident to the university with or without a formal complaint.

What types of things should I report?

If you do not see what you've experienced described below, contact Jane Hendriksma, our Title IX Coordinator, for more information or a referral.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome conduct, on the basis of sex, determined by a reasonable person, to be so severe, and pervasive, and objectively offensive, that it effectively denies a person equal access to Calvin University’s education program or activity.

Sexual Harassment, as an umbrella category, includes the offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault/offense, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

  • Quid Pro Quo Harassment

    When an employee of Calvin University conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of Calvin University, on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct.

  • Sexual Offense

    Any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the Complainant, including instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent.

    • 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 or object, without the consent of the Complainant or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
    • 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 (without consent), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

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

    The full consent policy is listed here.

  • Dating and Domestic Violence

    Dating Violence: 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.

    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. For the purposes of this definition:

    • Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
    • Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

    Domestic Violence: 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 Michigan, 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 Michigan.

    *To categorize an incident as Domestic Violence, 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.

  • Stalking

    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**.

    Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the Respondent directly, indirectly, or by any means follows, monitors, observes, threatens, or communicates to or about a person or their property.

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

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

  • 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).

    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.
  • Sexual Exploitation

    Sexual Exploitation is taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for their own benefit or for the benefit of anyone other than the person being exploited, and that conduct does not otherwise constitute sexual harassment under this policy.

    Examples of Sexual Exploitation include, but are not limited to:

    • Sexual voyeurism (such as observing or allowing others to observe a person undressing or using the bathroom or engaging in sexual acts, without the consent of the person being observed).
    • Invasion of sexual privacy
    • Engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) or infection (STI), without informing the other person of the infection
    • Causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person (through alcohol, drugs, or any other means) for the purpose of compromising that person’s ability to give consent to sexual activity, or for the purpose of making that person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity
    • Misappropriation of another person’s identity on apps, websites, or other venues designed for dating or sexual connections
    • Forcing a person to take an action against that person’s will by threatening to show, post, or share information, video, audio, or an image that depicts the person’s nudity or sexual activity
    • Knowingly soliciting a minor for sexual activity
    • Engaging in sex trafficking
    • Creation, possession, or dissemination of child pornography
Racial and Discriminatory Harassment
  • Racial Harassment

    No member of the Calvin University community shall engage in racial, ethnic, or cultural harassment. Harassment is an act that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or a pervasive pattern of behavior usually directed toward a person or group.

    Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

    • 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.
    • 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.

    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 or pattern 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.
  • Discriminatory Harassment

    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.

    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.
  • Other Safer Spaces Policies
  • 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.[6] This discriminatory effect results from harassing verbal, written, graphic, or physical conduct that is severe or pervasive and objectively offensive.

    When discriminatory harassment rises to the level of creating a hostile environment, Calvin University may also impose sanctions on the Respondent through application of the Formal Grievance Process.

    Calvin University reserves the right to address offensive conduct and/or harassment that :

    • Does not rise to the level of severe, pervasive, and persistent and/or does not create a hostile environment.
    • Is of a generic nature and not based on a protected status. Addressing such conduct will not result in the imposition of discipline under Calvin University policy, but may be addressed through respectful conversation, remedial actions, education, effective Alternate Resolution, and/or other informal resolution mechanisms.
  • Retaliation

    It is prohibited for Calvin University or any member of Calvin University’s community to take materially adverse action by intimidating, threatening, coercing, harassing, or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by law or policy, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this policy and procedure.

    Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator and will be promptly investigated. Calvin University is prepared to take appropriate steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.

  • Other Civil Rights Offenses

    Violation of any other Calvin University policies may constitute a Civil Rights Offense when a violation is motivated by actual or perceived membership in a protected class, and the result is a discriminatory limitation or denial of employment or educational access, benefits, or opportunities.

    • Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse, or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person;
    • Discrimination, defined as actions that deprive, limit, or deny other members of the community of educational or employment access, benefits, or opportunities;
    • Intimidation, defined as implied threats or acts that cause an unreasonable fear of harm in another;
    • Hazing, defined as acts likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within Calvin University community, when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining, or any other group-affiliation activity as defined further in the Hazing Policy;
    • Bullying, defined as: Repeated and/or severe pattern of conduct directed at another person; aggressive behavior likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control, or diminish another person, physically and/or mentally that is not speech or conduct otherwise protected by the First Amendment.

The full prohibited conduct policy is listed here.