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Discrimination + Harassment Policy + Process Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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I just experienced or someone I know has just experienced discrimination or harassment. What should I do?

  • Confidential support options are available. These options include the Student Wellness Center, SOS, Inc. (if you’ve experienced sexual or domestic violence or stalking).
  • You may also wish to report your experience to law enforcement. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. You may report to ESU Police and Safety at 620-341-5337 or Emporia Police Department at 620-342-1766.
  • To report the behavior to the University, you may report online, via email to or via phone to the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at 620-341-5507.

Laws and Policies

What is the ESU policy?

  • ESU’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy prohibits sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, and stalking. The policy applies to all students, faculty, and staff, as well as University vendors, contractors, visitors, guests, third parties, and others associated with the campus community.

What is Title VI and VII?

  • Title VI and Title VII prohibit discrimination and harassment for classes protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws that protect against discrimination and harassment. Title VI specifically protects people from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin. Other laws prohibit discrimination based upon age, disability status, ethnicity, genetic information, and veteran status. ESU policy further protects gender, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other factors which cannot lawfully be considered.

Title VI/VII Investigations

What happens when I make a report?

  • The Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer (AA/EEO) will reach out to the complainant identified (either by self-reporting or a third party report) offering to meet the individual.
  • Follow-up contact is made if there is no response within 7-10 business days.
  • If the complainant wishes to meet, then the AA/EEO meets with the complainant and reviews the Complainant’s Rights and Resources. Complainants may decide at that time how they wish to proceed or decide later. Complainants are given three primary options for moving forward:
    • Keep the report on file in case fo future incidents or in case the complainant changes their mind.
    • Engage in an informal resolution, as spelled out in policy.
    • Engage in the formal investigation process.

What does the formal investigation process look like?

  • Each party is given an opportunity to provide written statements, evidence, and a list of witnesses.
  • The AA/EEO investigates the complaint, interviewing individuals, including witnesses, that may have information relevant to the complaint.
  • Neither party is present when the other party is interviewed. Both parties may participate according to their comfort level.

Can I or someone I know file a report to be investigated without giving my name?

  • When a Complainant requests that their name or identifiable information not be disclosed to the identified Respondent, the University’s ability to respond to the complaint may be limited. In cases in which a Complainant requests anonymity or does not wish to proceed with an investigation, the University generally honors that request. However, in some instances, there may be a need to proceed with an investigation based on concern for the safety of the broader campus community. Factors considered in making this determination include but are not limited to situations in which there may be a pattern of reports, a history of violence, threats of future violence, multiple perpetrators, a pattern of reports regarding a specific location or by a particular group, use of a weapon, the age of the Complainant, and whether there are other means to obtain relevant evidence.

Who are the Complainant and Respondent?

  • The Complainant is the complaining party alleging to have experienced behavior contrary to the University Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
  • The Respondent is the party alleged to have engaged in behavior that is contrary to the University Discrimination and Harassment Policy.

Who knows about an investigation and what information do you share?

  • While an investigation of alleged discrimination or harassment is not confidential, the AA/EEO does not share information about an investigation with anyone who does not need to know the information. When information sharing is required, the AA/EEO shares only necessary information with that individual.
  • The AA/EEO does not share information regarding an investigation with the broader campus community unless information falls under requirements for reporting according to campus safety policy.

Can the Respondent refuse to cooperate with an investigation?

  • Students may refuse to cooperate with an investigation, and that refusal will not be considered in the decision-making process. Staff or faculty that dose not cooperate with a University investigation may be grounds, in some instances, for discipline.
  • A Respondent’s refusal to cooperate with an investigation does not stop an investigation. The investigator will reach findings based on the preponderance of the evidence gathered during the investigation.

What if discrimination or harassment occurs off-campus? Can ESU do anything?

  • Yes, if the incident occurs in connection with an ESU program or activity, it involves a Respondent who is connected to the University, or if it has a continuing effect related to ESU.
  • ESU provides support services and protective measures for a Complainant even when ESU’s ability to investigate an incident and take direct action against an alleged perpetrator may be limited.

What does ESU do for Respondents?

  • ESU’s policies and procedures provide Respondents with the right to a fair and impartial proceeding. Respondents receive and review the Respondent’s Rights and Resources document before discussing allegations with the AA/EEO. Respondents may have a support person or advisor with them at all proceedings. Respondents may speak with the investigator and provide evidence in support of their positions. Respondents may receive free, confidential counseling and can request interim measures during an investigation. Respondents will be informed of the findings of an investigation at the same time that the Complainant is informed. Respondents also have the right to appeal a decision or sanction.

What does ESU do for Complainants?

  • ESU’s policies and procedures provide Complainants with the right to a fair and impartial proceeding. Complainants may have a support person or advisor with them at all proceedings. Complainants may speak with the AA/EEO and provide evidence in support of their positions. Complainants may receive free, confidential counseling and can request interim measures during an investigation. Complainants will be informed of the findings of an investigation at the same time that the Respondent is informed. Complainants also have the right to appeal a decision or sanction. In addition, ESU’s policy prohibits retaliation against people for bringing complaints of sexual misconduct.

What role does academic freedom and free expression play in discrimination and harassment cases?

  • ESU is firmly committed to free expression and academic freedom. We are equally committed to creating and maintaining a safe, healthy, and harassment-free environment for all members of our community. Discrimination, harassment and retaliation against members of the ESU community are not protected expression and are not the proper exercise of academic freedom.

What is the standard of proof used in a discrimination or harassment investigation?

  • ESU uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which essentially means that the alleged conduct is more likely than not to have occurred. A preponderance of the evidence means that over 50% of the evidence supports a finding of a violation.

Interim Measures

What is an interim measure?

  • Interim measures are services or accommodations offered to the Complainant or Respondent. These can occur prior to, in lieu of, during, or after an investigation.
  • Examples of interim measures include but are not limited to contact restrictions, academic assistance, alternative housing placement, alternative work schedules/locations, or others. Not all interim measures may be available in some instances.

How do I request interim measures?

  • Even if you do not wish to file a complaint with the AA/EEO, you may receive interim measures. You may contact the AA/EEO to talk about your options or email


What will happen if someone is found responsible for discrimination or harassment?

  • ESU policy does not dictate one required sanction for violation of the Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
  • The AA/EEO drafts a letter of notification to the Complainant and Respondent identifying the recommended outcome, including recommended sanctions, if appropriate. The AA/EEO will consider such factors as the need to eliminate a hostile environment for the Complainant and others, the facts of the specific incident, and any mitigating factors relevant to the investigation.
  • The AA/EEO then submits the full report, along with the parties’ written responses to the factual evidence, and other evidence used, to the appropriate adjudicating body.
  • The adjudicating body considers the information submitted by the AA/EEO and any previous misconduct or behavioral issues, in their final determination of outcome.
  • Disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed include, but are not limited to, written warnings, loss of privileges, mandatory training or counseling, probation, suspension, demotion, loss of annual pay increase, exclusion, expulsion, and termination of employment, including revocation of tenure.

What is someone makes a false report?

  • ESU talks all allegations of discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, and retaliation very seriously. However, knowingly filing a false complaint to harass another member of the campus community is considered an abuse fo the complaint resolution process and may be subject to sanction. Sanctions can include termination of employment or expulsion. A knowingly false claim is different from a claim that cannot be substantiated by the preponderance of the evidence. Studies have shown that knowingly false complaints are uncommon.

Responsible Employees

Am I a responsible employee?

  • Most likely. All University employees, including student employees such as GTAs and RAs, are considered responsible employees, which means that if you believe or are told that discrimination or harassment are occurring, you must report to the AA/EEO or Title IX Coordinator online, via email at, or via phone at 620-341-5042.

What is a confidential employee?

  • Some limited, specific staff are not required to report incidents of discrimination or harassment to the AA/EEO. If you are unsure if you’re a responsible employee, please contact the AA/EEO at
  • Confidential resources will not disclose information about incidents of discrimination or harassment to anyone, including law enforcement or the University, except in very limited situations, such as when failure to disclose the information would result in imminent danger to the individual or others.
  • Because of the confidential nature of these resources, disclosing information to or seeking advice from a confidential counselor does not constitute a report or complaint to the University and will not result in a response or investigation by the University.