Guidance on Dignity@Study

Introduction

As a place of learning, the College provides an environment in which to exchange ideas, opinions and views: freedom of expression and tolerance of others are integral to this. The College is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment in which the rights and dignity of all members of its community are respected.

The College expects all members of its community to treat each other with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times. All members of the College community have the right to expect professional behaviour from others, and have a corresponding responsibility to behave professionally towards others.

The College and wider University recognise that to work and study effectively, students need a climate of equal opportunity in which they are respected and valued for their contribution, irrespective of their sex, gender identity (including reassignment), marital, parental or partnership status, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, disability, sexuality, religion or belief, or age. The College will not tolerate the harassment or bullying of any member of its community by another.

There is a need for procedures to deal with any less positive relationships in general and in particular with inappropriate behaviour (including bullying, harassment, victimisation, or discrimination) that may affect the well being of individuals within the College. This document provides guidance to students who may experience or witness inappropriate behaviour. It also outlines the action that is recommended to address inappropriate behaviour, with support if needed, in the knowledge that any concerns or complaints will be dealt with appropriately and fairly by the College, or within the wider University as appropriate. It should be read in conjunction with the University's documents on Dignity@Study.

This Guidance is intended primarily for students who have complaints concerning the behaviour of others (e.g. a member of College staff, another student at this College or another student at another College or another member of University staff), and who consider that the behaviour constitutes harassment or bullying.

This guidance is aimed at current students of the College and is suggested for use by them as well as by staff supporting students or working with them. It sits alongside and complements existing complaint procedures, such as the various formal procedures that are provided for in the College's Statutes and Ordinances.

The College has a number of other policies (such as its policy on racial and sexual harassment) and this Guidance should be read in conjunction with those other policies.  
 

Definitions: Inappropriate Behaviour

Behaviour is defined as inappropriate if:

•               it is unwanted by the recipient;
•               it is perceived by the recipient as violating their dignity and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment; and 
•               the behaviour could reasonably be considered as having that effect having regard to all the circumstances, including the recipient's perception.
 
These definitions apply whether or not there was an intention to cause the effect. Inappropriate behaviour may include a number of specific behaviours - such as bullying, or harassment on account of sex (including gender reassignment), race, ethnic or national origin, colour, disability, sexuality, religion or belief, or age. Behaviour that may appear trivial as a single incident can constitute harassment or bullying when repeated.

Criminal Offences

Some types of harassment may be criminal offences. Students are strongly encouraged to inform the police about any forms of harassment that are criminal offences. Students should consider doing this themselves, but they may prefer to ask someone else to help them do so, or to inform the police on their behalf: the Dean or the Domestic Bursar will usually be the appropriate individual in these circumstances. Internal action according to the procedures set out in this document may still take place whether or not the police decide to proceed. However, in some cases there may have to be a delay whilst police investigations are carried out.

If a student is physically injured in any way in an assault, or if they suffer rape or a sexual assault, the individual should seek medical help and advice immediately.

The College's Commitment and Complaints Procedure

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour of any kind will be taken very seriously by the College, and could result in disciplinary action. The College will take action to ensure that a student raising a genuine concern related to harassment and bullying, or other inappropriate behaviour, is not victimised as a result. However, should such allegations are proven to be vexatious or malicious, a complainant may be the subject of disciplinary action.

The College has a process for dealing with complaints, including those of inappropriate behaviour. The College aims to handle complaints in a way that is sympathetic, fair, and efficient, which encourages informal conciliation, facilitates early resolution, maintains individual privacy and confidentiality, and permits useful feedback.

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