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Range of Options

1. Oral communication between recipient(s) of perceived offensive conduct and the alleged offender(s)

  • What Occurred (the facts)
  • The response(s) of those who were offended (unwelcome, uncomfortable, interfered with work)
  • Clear request for no future similar conduct
  • What else the recipient(s) might want (apology, opportunity to repeat an assignment, formal working relations, transfer, etc.)

2. Written communication between recipient(s) and offender(s)

  • Similar content to oral communication
  • Possible disadvantages to written letter:
    • Does not allow immediate follow-up or resolution in cases of misunderstanding
    • May make alleged offender more defensive, may move toward escalation or counter-charge
  • Possible advantages to written letter:
    • Statement can be written thoughtfully & revised, to achieve the appropriate balance of clarity and self-protectiveness
    • Letter can be read privately, alleged offender has no need to respond immediately, may reflect on implications of allegations & responses
    • Face-to-face interaction can be avoided
    • The person who has been offended keeps a copy of the letter and creates a personal record

3. Third party intervention (informal)

  • A respected peer or colleague, or designated neutral may communicate to the alleged offender(s) the perception of the incident(s), how it made the offended people feel, what they want
  • Allows for clarification, explanation, and follow-up. May go back and forth to reach acceptable solution
  • May take into account the “reasonable” persons’ view, may include responsible coaching on possible responses and consequences

4. Third party intervention (formal)

  • A supervisor may also engage in shuttle diplomacy to facilitate communication and get the alleged offensive conduct to stop
  • If a supervisor or other person with a formal role is involved, a record may be created

5. Generic solutions

  • Positive educational action is taken to alert all members of a unit to policy interpretations, and possible consequences of violations and of retaliation against one who makes a complaint
  • Advantages of generic options:
    • Written materials, seminars or workshops, forma or informal approaches may be custom-designed for each particular unit
    • Provides education not only for alleged offender(s) but for all colleagues, bystanders and supervisors
    • Especially appropriate when identity of offenders is unknown or in doubt
    • Gives unit leaders opportunity to state their commitment to policy, that they will not tolerate offensive conduct
  • Disadvantages of generic options:
    • Avoids determining accuracy of alleged incidents, avoids naming or creating a record on any particular individual
    • Alleged offender(s) may not be aware of specific conduct that has caused offense, no means of assessing if due warning has been received

6. Initiate a formal investigation

  • File a formal grievance through the proper grievance procedures for faculty and staff.