Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
July 2, 1999

Racial and ethnic harassment policy completed

by Anne Dolan

Iowa State's policy on racial and ethnic harassment has been completed and will be forwarded to the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education.

OCR officials visited campus in 1998 as part of a review of schools receiving federal education funds. A racial harassment policy and racial harassment training for employees and students were the heart of the universitys subsequent agreement with OCR.

Carla Espinoza, assistant vice president for human resource services and affirmative action director, said the President's Office will circulate the policy to university employees. The policy also is available online from the Human Resource Services Web site. Espinoza; Paul Tanaka, director of university legal services; and Derrick Rollins, chemical engineering and statistics associate professor and adviser to the president on diversity, led the effort to write the policy.

"That we (Iowa State) are willing to prepare this policy is a strong statement," Espinoza said. "Only about a half dozen universities have a policy structured as ours is. Others have statements or principles addressing respect and community."

She said the policy doesnt contain any significant changes since the second draft was prepared and discussed at a campus forum in April. Recent editorial changes mostly help clarify language and procedures.

In addition to behavior that fits the legal definition of racial harassment -- that is behavior that is severe, persistent or pervasive -- Iowa State's policy takes aim at behavior, such as pranks, jokes or comments, that is inappropriate for a work or educational environment. Espinoza noted that the racial and ethnic policy is similar to Iowa States sexual harassment policy in that supervisors are held to a higher standard. Even if a complaint hasnt been made, when a manager becomes aware of allegations of racial or ethnic harassment, he or she must inquire to determine if action should be taken.

Accompanying the policy is a new university grievance process (formal and informal options) to be used to respond to many kinds of discrimination and harassment on campus. (Sexual harassment claims will continue to be addressed under separate procedures.)


Training of students and employees on the new policy began in March when President Martin Jischke hosted a training day for academic deans and his cabinet members on both sexual harassment and racial/ethnic harassment prevention.

"The candid questions and discussions that took place during that training were eye-openers for all of us," Espinoza said. "Racial and ethnic harassment seems to be more emotional than legal."

Training for directors and others in the areas of external affairs and business and finance will continue this summer, with student affairs and academic units scheduled this fall. Espinoza said a final decision hasnt been made yet on whether "assistors" will be recruited to help educate and respond to complaints of racial or ethnic harassment. A team of about 40 assistors helps with sexual harassment prevention on campus.

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