United Theological Seminary

I

Nondiscrimination/Title IX Policy

Abbreviated Nondiscrimination/Title IX Policy

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (United) encourages, and actively works for, the achievement of a diverse community of students and faculty. The doors of the seminary are open to all persons whose backgrounds and abilities qualify them for graduate professional education. The denomination in which graduates are ordained may expect certain constructive theological positions and may take certain positions with regard to qualifications for ordination. However, United does not require a creedal agreement for graduation.

United is open and affirming and does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual’s denominational preference, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnic or national origin, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, physical abilities or conditions, status as a protected veteran or any other classification protected by applicable law.

Any student or employee found to have violated the nondiscrimination policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for employees and expulsion for students.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding Title IX, United’s compliance with regulations implementing Title IX, Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

Christian Eriksen, Title IX Coordinator
Registrar
United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
3000 Fifth St NW, New Brighton, MN 55112-2598
655.255.6120

For further information on notice of non-discrimination, contact the local Office for Civil Rights:

Chicago Office, Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
Citigroup Center
500 W Madison St, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661-4544
Telephone: 312.730.1560
FAX: 312.730.1576; TDD: 800.877.8339
Email: OCR.Chicago@ed.gov

Full Nondiscrimination/Title IX Policy

Notice of Nondiscrimination

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (United) encourages, and actively works for, the achievement of a diverse community of students and faculty. The doors of the seminary are open to all persons whose backgrounds and abilities qualify them for graduate professional education. The denomination in which graduates are ordained may expect certain constructive theological positions and may take certain positions with regard to qualifications for ordination. However, United does not require a creedal agreement for graduation.

United is open and affirming and does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual’s denominational preference, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnic or national origin, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, physical abilities or conditions, status as a protected veteran or any other classification protected by applicable law.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. In addition to Title IX, United complies with regulations of Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The seminary seeks to create an environment in which the greatest academic potential of students and professional potential of employees may be realized. Therefore, in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the seminary is committed to providing a campus environment free of sex/gender based discrimination and prohibits: (1) sexual harassment, (2) sexual exploitation, (3) sexual violence including sexual assault and other non-consensual sexual touching (forcible or not), (4) relationship violence (including domestic and dating violence), (5) voyeurism, (6) stalking, and other gender-based misconduct, as all described in the policy as “Sexual Misconduct.” These behaviors will not be tolerated. Any student or employee found to have violated the nondiscrimination policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for employees and expulsion for students.

Scope of Policy

This policy covers all forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, including rape, domestic/dating violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence), and stalking. The policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, visitors, and all vendors and contractors on campus. This policy also applies to the off-campus conduct of members of the seminary community that is likely to have a substantial adverse effect on the seminary community.

Reporting Sexual Offenses

The seminary encourages all community members to report sexual misconduct in order to achieve a safe campus environment free of sex-based discrimination, harassment and violence. Victims of sexual misconduct may report the incident in the following manner:

Emergency Reporting Options:

Individual safety is paramount. Victims of sexual violence who are in an emergency situation or are uncertain about what they should do are encouraged to call 911 to request assistance from emergency personnel including law enforcement and emergency medical personnel. Local law enforcement and emergency medical personnel are trained to help victims of sexual violence and can recommend the best options to ensure preservation of evidence, ensure the victim’s safety, and to begin a criminal investigation into the incident.

Campus Reporting Options:

  1. Title IX Coordinator: The seminary strongly encourages all individuals to report any incident of sexual misconduct directly to the Title IX Coordinator or a member of the Title IX team. The Title IX Coordinator is charged with coordinating the initial assessment, initiating an investigation, and responding to allegations of sexual misconduct to stop the harassing conduct, address its effects and prevent it recurrence. Federal law requires Title IX Coordinators to immediately investigate any report of sexual misconduct they receive or of which they become aware. All information reported to the Title IX Coordinator will only be shared with those seminary employees who will assist in the investigation and/or resolution of the complaint.
    1. Title IX Coordinator: Christian Eriksen, registrar@unitedseminary.edu, 651.255.6120
  2. Responsible Employees: Victims may report incidents of sexual misconduct to a “responsible employee,” which includes administrators, deans and all residential faculty. Responsible employees are required to share with the Title IX Coordinator all information regarding sexual misconduct for which they are aware, including the identities of the parties if known.
  3. Confidential Reporting: Victims who want to make a report of sexual misconduct, but do not want to trigger an investigation by the Title IX Coordinator, may report the incident to Cindi Beth Johnson, cbjohnson@unitedseminary.edu, 651.255.6137), or John Lee, jlee@unitedseminary.edu, 651.255.6156. These individuals are not required to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.

Off-campus Reporting Options:

  1. Local Law Enforcement: The seminary encourages victims to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual misconduct with local law enforcement in addition to reporting the incident to the seminary. The Title IX Coordinator will advise victims of their rights to file a criminal complaint and will assist victims in contacting local law enforcement. The seminary will cooperate with local law enforcement agencies if a victim decides to pursue the criminal process. The filing of a criminal complaint will not suspend the seminary’s investigation of the incident, unless doing so temporarily will aid local law enforcement. A victim may see resolution through the seminary’s complaint process, may pursue criminal action, may choose one but not the other, or may choose both. Law enforcement’s determination whether or not to prosecute a Respondent or the outcome of any criminal prosecution are determinative of whether sexual misconduct occurred under this policy.
  2. Off-campus Organizations: Victims may report incidents of sexual misconduct to off-campus organizations. List to follow.

Anonymous Reporting:

Victims may report incidents of sexual misconduct without being required to request disciplinary actions at that time. The seminary will respect an individual’s autonomy in making these important decisions and will assist each individual in making that determination.

Reporting Considerations:

  1. Victim Alcohol or Drug Use: The seminary seeks to remove any barriers to reporting sexual misconduct. The seminary will offer any student who reports sexual misconduct limited immunity from being charged for policy violations related to the personal ingestion of alcohol or other drugs. The seminary may recommend education or therapeutic remedies for those individuals.
  2. False Reporting: A reporting party who makes a report that is later found to have been intentionally false or made maliciously without regard for the truth may be subject to disciplinary action. This provision does not apply to reports made in good faith, even in the facts alleged in the report are not substantiated by an investigation.
  3. Third Party Reporting: Any individual may make a report of an act of sexual misconduct. The report may be made without disclosing the identities of the parties involved. However, the seminary’s ability to respond to the third party report of sexual misconduct may be limited by the amount of information provided.

Resources

Any individual affected by sexual misconduct will have equal access to support and counseling services offered through the seminary. The seminary encourages any individual who has questions or concerns to seek support of the seminary’s resources. These campus resources are available to provide information about policy and procedure and to provide assistance to any party in the event a formal complaint is made.

  1. Emergency Support Services: The seminary encourages all victims of sexual violence to immediately seek emergency medical care and/or law enforcement. This is the best option to provide physical safety, emotional support and medical care to the victim. It is also the best option to ensure the preservation of evidence. Contact information for emergency medical care and law enforcement are listed below:

Main Campus
New Brighton Police Department
Address: 785 Old Hwy 8 NW, New Brighton, MN 55112
Phone: 651.288.4100

Twin Cities School of Theology (TwinSoT)
Minneapolis Police Department
Address: 350 S 5th St #130, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Phone: .612.673.3000

  1. Campus Resources: The seminary’s Title IX Coordinator and Co-coordinator can provide victims with timely information on available on-campus and off-campus resources, reporting options, and will provide guidance regarding the various reporting options, including filing a criminal complaint against the accused perpetrator.

Title IX Coordinator: Christian Eriksen, registrar@unitedseminary.edu, 651.255.6120

  1. Education and Prevention Programs: The seminary is committed to the prevention of sexual misconduct through education and awareness programs. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for providing ongoing training to existing students and employees on campus.

Interim Measures

Upon receipt of a report of sexual misconduct, the seminary will impose reasonable and appropriate interim measures designed to eliminate the reported hostile environment and protect the parties involved. A Complainant or Respondent may request separation or other protection, or the seminary may choose to impose interim measures at its discretion to ensure the safety of all parties, the seminary community and the integrity of the investigation.

The seminary will implement at its discretion the following interim measures which may be applied to the Complainant or the Respondent:

  1. Access to counseling services
  2. Imposition of an on-campus no contact order
  3. Rescheduling exams and assignments
  4. Providing alternative course completion options
  5. Changing class schedules
  6. Changing work schedules or job assignments
  7. Allowing a voluntary leave of absence
  8. Providing an escort to ensure safe movement between classes
  9. Providing medical services
  10. Providing academic support services (i.e., tutor)

Title IX Coordinator

The Title IX Coordinator has the ultimate oversight and responsibility for ensuring the seminary complies with the mandate of Title IX. The seminary’s Title IX Coordinator is Christian Eriksen, registrar@unitedseminary.edu, 651.255.6120. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating compliance efforts across campus. The Coordinator oversees the complaint and investigation processes and is also charged with identifying and addressing systemic patterns of sexual misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator is specifically trainer in analyzing and investigating claims of sexual misconduct and understands the seminary’s grievance procedures.

Confidentiality

The seminary is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in a report of sexual misconduct. Every effort will be made to protect the privacy interests of all individuals involved in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review of the allegations. The privacy of the parties will be respected and safeguarded at all times. For purposes of this policy, privacy and confidentiality have distinct meanings:

Privacy means that information related to a report of sexual misconduct will only be shared with a limited number of individuals who are seminary employees who need to know in order to assist in the active review, investigation, or resolution of the report.

Confidentiality means that personally identifying information, such as names or information that directly or indirectly identifies the individuals involved in the incident, cannot be revealed to any individual other than those involved in the review without express permission of the individual, unless there are circumstances posing an imminent risk of harm to self or others. Complete confidentiality is only available when information is disclosed to professional who are mandated by law to protect the confidential disclosures. On campus, these individuals include: Cindi Beth Johnson, cbjohnson@unitedseminary.edu, 651.255.6137) or John Lee, jlee@unitedseminary.edu, 651.255.6156.

Any seminary employee who is not specifically designated as a completely confidential resource is required to share reports of incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.

Where a Complainant makes a report but requests that a name or other identifiable information not be shared with the Respondent or that no formal action be taken, the seminary will balance this request with its dual obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for the entire seminary community. The seminary will consider the following when deciding whether to grant the Complainant’s request for confidentiality: Whether the Complainant wants to participate in an investigation; the severity and impact of the sexual misconduct; the respective ages of the parties; whether the Respondent has admitted to sexual misconduct; whether the Respondent has a pattern of committing sexual misconduct; the existence of independent evidence; and the extent of prior remedial methods taken with the Respondent.

The seminary will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to a Complaint of sexual misconduct consistent with the Complainant’s request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation.

If the seminary is unable to take action consistent with the Complainant’s request for confidentiality, a member of the Title IX team will communicate with the Complainant about the seminary’s chosen course of action, which may include the seminary choosing to seek disciplinary action against the Respondent. Alternate course of action may also include steps to limit the effects of the alleged harassment and prevent its recurrence that do not involve formal disciplinary action against the Respondent or revealing the identity of the Complainant.

Non-retaliation

Actual or threatened retaliation, or any act of intimidation to prevent or obstruct the reporting of sexual offenses, is prohibited and will result in disciplinary action regardless of the outcome of the underlying complaint of sexual offense.

Prohibited Conduct and Definitions

The following conduct is prohibited:

  1. Sexual Offenses: Broad expression encompassing a range of prohibited gender or sex-based and -motivated behaviors, including, but not limited to: sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, or any conduct prohibited by applicable federal, state or local law. Individuals who commit sexual offenses may face significant disciplinary sanctions, including expulsion as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action for committing a sexual offense.
  2. Sexual Assault: Illegal sexual contact that involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent due to age or physical or mental incapacity. Sexual assault includes the following:
    • Oral, vaginal or anal penetration, no matter how slight, with any object or body part without consent
    • Non-consensual touching of another person in a sexual manner
    • Intentional contact with the intimate parts of another, causing another to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without permission
  3. Sexual Violence: Refers to acts perpetrated against a person’s will. Sexual violence can be committed by anyone (students, employees, or third parties), and includes rape, sexual assault and sexual battery. Sexual violence is divided into two categories:
    • Forcible Sexual Violence: use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is complete
    • Non-forcible Sexual Violence: attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure
  4. Sexual Harassment: Unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either:
    • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the individual’s employment or of the individual’s status in a program, course or activity; or
    • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions, a criterion for evaluation or a basis for academic decisions or other decisions affecting such individual; or
    • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational experience or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment.
    • Sexual harassment also includes harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex/gender or sex/gender stereotyping.
  5. Sexual Exploitation: act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose. Examples include: observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity; non-consensual streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; prostituting another individual; or exposing one’s genitals in a non-consensual circumstance.
  6. Stalking: A pattern of unwanted contact and harassment directed at a specific person that places the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or reasonably causes substantial emotional distress. Stalking includes cyber-stalking, which is a form of stalking occurring in electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts or emails that are used to pursue, harass or to make unwelcome contact with another person in an unsolicited fashion. Examples of stalking include: unwelcome and repeated visual or physical proximity to a person; repeated oral or written threats; unwelcome/unsolicited written communications, including letters, cards, texts, emails, instant messages or messages on social media or message bulletin boards.
  7. Domestic/Dating Violence (a.k.a. intimate partner violence): Describes physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. Domestic/Dating Violence can vary in frequency and severity. It occurs on a continuum, including physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence and stalking. The abuse can occur in person or electronically. It often takes the form of threats, assaults or property damage.
  8. Hostile Environment: Conduct that is sufficiently serious to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program offered by the seminary. When assessing whether a hostile environment exists, the seminary will consider such factors as the harm caused, repetitiveness and extreme nature of the conduct.
  9. Consent: The voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Consent is lacking when a person knows or should have known that the person subject to sexual contact did not give consent. Consent is not effective it if results from the use of physical force, intimidation, or coercion, or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise their free will. A verbal “no” constitutes lack of consent, even if it sounds insincere or indecisive. An individual who is incapacitated from alcohol or drugs (voluntarily or involuntarily) or is asleep, unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless is considered unable to give consent. Furthermore, past consent does not imply future consent.

Investigations

Initial Process: The Title IX Coordinator will make an initial assessment for every report of sexual misconduct for any risk of harm to individuals or to the campus community. The Coordinator will take steps necessary to address risks associated with sexual misconduct. These steps will include interim measures to provide for the safety of the individual and the campus community.

Investigation: The Title IX Coordinator may determine if an investigation of the report of sexual misconduct should be conducted. This determination is based on a variety of factors, such as the Complainant’s wish to pursue disciplinary action, the risk posed to any individual or the campus community by not proceeding, and the nature of the allegation. The Title IX Coordinator may designate an investigator of its choosing. Any investigator used by the seminary, whether internal or external, must have specific training and experience investigating allegations of sexual misconduct.

Fact Finding Investigation: The investigator will coordinate a fact-finding inquiry by interviewing the Complainant, the Respondent, and any other individuals who may have information relevant to the determination. The investigator will also gather any available physical or medical evidence, including documents, communications between the parties, and other electronic records as appropriate. The investigator may also consider prior allegations of, or findings of responsibility for, sexual misconduct by the Respondent. In gathering such information, the investigator will comply with applicable laws and seminary policies. The investigation will be thorough, impartial and fair, and all individuals will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect.

Information gathered during the investigation will be used to evaluate the responsibility of the Respondent, provide for the safety of the individual and the seminary campus community and impose remedies as necessary to address the effects of the alleged conduct. Any investigative report will serve as the foundation for all related resolution processes.

Time Frame for Resolution: The investigation and resolution (including appeal) of all reports will generally be completed within 60 to 90 days. Extenuating circumstances including the complexity and severity of a complaint may arise that require the complaint process to extend beyond 60 to 90 days. In general, a Complainant and Respondent can expect to receive periodic updates as to the status of the review or investigation. In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the seminary will notify all parties of the need for additional time and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner.

Grievance Procedures

See “Student Grievance Procedures” and “Faculty Grievance Procedures” in the Student Handbook and the Faculty Handbook.

Sanctions

The seminary will respond according to the severity or pervasiveness of the offense and the threat it poses to the community. Individuals who are found responsible under this policy may face disciplinary sanctions up to and including expulsion and/or termination of employment. Because behavior that violates this policy may also be a violation of law, any individual who has been subjected to sexual assault or harassment is also encouraged to consider criminal or civil legal options. An individual may also fine a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Chicago Office
U.S. Department of Education
Citigroup Center
500 W Madison St, Suite 1475
Chicago, IL 60661-4544
Telephone: 312.730.1560
Facsimile: 312.730.1576
Email: OCR.Chicago@ed.gov