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University Policy 109

Campus/Workplace Violence Prevention and Management

Formerly Executive Memorandum 96-121
Initially Approved: November 21, 1996
Revised: November 13, 2003
Revised: February 26, 2008
Revised: September 28, 2009
Revised: August 15, 2012
Revised: October 26, 2016

Policy Topic: Personnel
Administering Offices: Office of Human Resources, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Legal Counsel Office

 

I. POLICY STATEMENT

Western Carolina University (the “university”) seeks to provide a safe and secure working and learning environment. Violence, threats, intimidation and possession of unauthorized weapons are inconsistent with this objective. It is the policy of the university to promote civility and mutual respect and to prohibit violence within the university community.

II. SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF POLICY

This policy applies to the following: 

  1. Employees:  Conduct of all employees while functioning in the course and scope of employment on the university’s main and Millennial campuses, any instructional site (e.g., Biltmore Park) or any other property owned, leased or otherwise controlled by the university (such locations are hereinafter referred to collectively as, the “university community”).  This policy also applies to off-duty conduct (occurring within the university community or elsewhere) that may have an adverse impact on university operations or any member of the university community, as provided in Section IV of this policy.

    It is intended that this policy conforms in every material aspect to the requirements of the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources (“OSHR”) policy on workplace violence and replaces former University Policy #63, “Workplace Violence”. With regard to employees who are subject to the State Human Resources Act (“SHRA”), this policy applies to SHRA full-time and part-time employees with permanent, probationary, trainee, time-limited permanent or temporary appointments.

  2. Students:  Conduct of all students while attending classes within the university community. This policy also applies to conduct that occurs outside the university community that may have an adverse on university operations or any member of the university community.

  3. Contractors and Visitors:  Conduct of all contractors and visitors that may have an adverse impact on WCU operations or any member of the university community.

II. DEFINITIONS

The following definitions are consistent with those included in the OSHR policy on workplace violence. These definitions are not intended nor should they be construed to have application to: (i) any WCU policy pertaining to discrimination or unlawful harassment; (ii) any policy, general order or regulation promulgated by the university police; (iii) the Code of Student Conduct (“code”); or (iv) any State of North Carolina criminal statute or other laws or regulations.

Bullying” is unwanted offensive and malicious behavior which undermines an individual or group through persistently negative attacks. There is typically an element of vindictiveness and the behavior is calculated to undermine, patronize, humiliate, intimidate or demean the recipient.

Domestic violence” is the use of abusive or violent behavior, including threats and intimidation, between people who have an ongoing or prior intimate relationship. This could include people who are married, live together or date, or who have been married, lived together or dated.

Intimidation” is engaging in actions that include, but is not limited to, behavior intended to frighten, coerce, or induce duress.

Physical attack” is unwanted or hostile physical contact such as hitting, fighting, pushing, shoving or throwing objects.
  
Property damage” is intentional damage to property and includes property owned by the State of North Carolina as well as university employees, visitors, contractors or vendors.

Stalking” involves harassing or pestering an individual either in person, in writing, by telephone or by electronic communication. Stalking also involves following an individual, spying on them, alarming the victim or causing them distress and may involve violence or the fear of violence.

Threat” is the expression of intent to cause physical or mental harm. An expression constitutes a threat without regard to whether the party communicating the threat has the present ability to carry it out and without regard to whether the expression is contingent, conditional or future. 

Violence” or “violent conduct” includes, but is not limited to, intimidation, bullying, stalking, threats, physical attack, assault, rape or other sex offense, domestic violence or property damage, and includes acts of violence committed by employees, students, contractors or visitors to the university community.

IV. PROHIBITED CONDUCT AND SANCTIONS

  1. Prohibited Employee Conduct
    It is a violation of this policy for an employee to:
    1. Engage in violence as defined herein; or
    2. Use, possess or threaten to use an unauthorized weapon during a time covered by this    policy, in violation of University Policy #91; or
    3. Misuse authority in such a way that it violates this policy.

      With regard to SHRA employees, a violation of this policy shall be considered “unacceptable personal conduct” as defined in University Policy #78, Disciplinary Policy and Procedures for SHRA Employees.  Acts of violence may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.  An act of off-duty violent conduct may also be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal; provided that WCU demonstrates that the disciplinary action is supported by the existence of a rational nexus between the type of violent conduct committed and the adverse impact on the employee’s or another employee’s ability to perform his/her assigned duties and responsibilities.

      With regard to EHRA non-faculty and faculty, a violation of this policy may subject the offending employee or faculty member to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, in accordance with the Employment Policies for University Employees Exempt from the State Human Resources Act or the Faculty Handbook, as the case may be. 

      In addition, any person who violates this policy may be trespassed from WCU property and/or be prosecuted for any violation of applicable state or federal law.
  2. Prohibited Student Conduct
    It is a violation of this policy for a student to:
    1. Engage in violence as defined herein; or
    2. Use, possess or threaten to use an unauthorized weapon during a time covered by this    policy, in violation of University Policy #91; or
    3. Violate any corresponding provision(s) of the Code.

      Violations of this policy by a student are considered "prohibited behavior" as defined by the Code and shall subject the offending student to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.  In addition, any person who violates this policy may be trespassed from WCU property and/or be prosecuted for any violation of applicable state or federal law.  The Division of Student Affairs administers investigations of potential violations of the Code and disciplinary proceedings for offending students.

  3. Prohibited Contractor/Visitor Conduct
    It is a violation of this policy for a contractor or campus visitor to:
    1. Engage in violence as defined herein; or
    2. Use, possess or threaten to use an unauthorized weapon during a time covered by this    policy, in violation of University Policy #91.

      Any person who violates this policy may be trespassed from WCU property and/or be prosecuted for any violation of applicable state or federal law.   

V. REPORTING VIOLENT CONDUCT

IF CONDUCT INVOLVES AN ACTUAL OR IMMINENT THREAT OF PHYSICAL HARM TO AN INDIVIDUAL, THE UNIVERSITY POLICE MUST BE NOTIFIED IMMEDIATELY AT 8-911.

IF ANYONE HAS WITNESSED OR HAS KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE COMMISSION OF A CRIME, THE UNIVERSITY POLICE MUST BE NOTIFIED IMMEDIATELY. 

IN ANY EVENT, THIS POLICY IS NOT INTENDED TO PROHIBIT ANY VICTIM OF OR WITNESS TO VIOLENT ACTIVITIES AND CONDUCT FROM CONTACTING THE UNIVERSITY POLICE. 

  1. Obligation to Report 

    All employees are encouraged to be alert to the possibility of violence on the part of employees, former employees, students, former students, clients, visitors or vendors, and shall report all acts of violence and threats of violence to the appropriate supervisor or higher level administrator, or if those individuals are not available, directly to the applicable policy co-coordinator - either the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources for faculty/staff issues or the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for student issues.

  2. University Response

    A supervisor or administrator who receives a report of violence may conduct a preliminary inquiry, but is encouraged to seek immediate assistance from the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources for faculty/staff issues or the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for student issues.  

    Based upon initial information available to the policy co-coordinator may elect to convene the Behavioral Assessment Team (“BAT”) and others to initiate a full investigation and in-depth assessment of potential risk to the university community in accordance with Section VII below.
     
    The following information shall be provided by the university official making initial contact with victims of violence:
     
    1. A general understanding of this policy and the investigative process, including which university grievance procedures are applicable to the victim’s situation;
    2. Information regarding forms of support or immediate interventions available to the victim of violence, such as on and off-campus resources and interim measures;
    3. Information regarding any accommodations that may be appropriate concerning the victim's academic, university housing, transportation, and/or university employment arrangements;
    4. Information about how the university will protect his/her confidentiality, including the omission of the victim’s identifying information in publicly-available records to the extent permissible by law; and
    5. Information about the role of the university police.  University officials should ascertain whether the victim (i) wishes to notify university police or other law enforcement authorities; (ii) wishes to be assisted in notifying university police or other law enforcement authorities; or (iii) does not wish to notify university police or other law enforcement authorities.  University police should be contacted immediately when an individual believes there is an imminent threat to his/her own, or someone else’s, safety.

      All reports of violence will be handled in a confidential manner, with information released only as necessary for disciplinary or law enforcement purposes, or to protect the health and safety of members of the university community.

  3. Victim Support and Assistance

    The university shall make efforts to protect victims of violence by offering reasonable security measures. Victims may also need special accommodations or adjustments to their work or class schedule, location or working/learning conditions in order to enhance their safety. The university will accommodate these requests and needs whenever possible and appropriate.

    University officials are expected to offer support to victims of violence. This support should include encouragement of employee victims to use the services of the university employee assistance program administered by the Office of Human Resources.  Student victims should be directed to Counseling and Psychological Services.  In addition, university officials shall consult with the Office of Human Resources regarding any requisite leave (i.e., flex scheduling, vacation leave, sick leave, and leave without pay) that employee victims may need for health care appointments, court appearances or counseling appointments related to trauma and/or victimization.  

VI. POLICY CO-COORDINATORS

  1. Roles and Responsibilities

    1. General Responsibilities

      It is the responsibility of all employees and students to conduct themselves in such a way as to contribute to a safe and violence-free university community.  University managers and employees have a special responsibility to create and maintain such an environment.  Should any manager or employee have knowledge of violent conduct as defined in this policy, or receive a complaint of violence, immediate steps must be taken to deal with the matter appropriately.  University administrative and academic managers have the responsibility for ensuring that violence prevention education programs are provided to employees and students.

    2. Responsible Institutional Officer(s) – Co-coordinators

      The Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs shall serve as co-coordinators of this policy and have oversight responsibility for policy implementation and administration.  Each co-coordinator has the delegated authority to create and/or oversee any system that identifies and mobilizes appropriate consultative resources to implement the violence prevention and management plan contemplated by this policy.  The Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources shall be responsible for plan implementation and administration pertaining to employee behavior, and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs shall be responsible for plan implementation and administration pertaining to student behavior. Each co-coordinator has the authority to appoint a designee to serve in their capacity based upon situational need and availability.

    3. Communication; Education & Training

      The co-coordinators of this policy shall ensure appropriate procedures are in place to effectively ensure the dissemination of this policy, including the proper response to violence, at new faculty orientation, new staff orientation, and new student orientation.

      The co-coordinators shall ensure that this policy, including the proper response to violence, is disseminated each year to existing employees and returning students by means of WCU email blast and/or other effective means of communication.

      The co-coordinators shall arrange for the provision of periodic, mandatory training for supervisors/managers on workplace violence prevention and response.

VII. INVESTIGATION OF VIOLENT CONDUCT

  1. Behavioral Assessment Team

    The BAT is responsible for investigating potentially threatening situations, and providing recommendations to administrators regarding potential actions to remove, mitigate or respond to safety risks to members of the university community.  The BAT shall conduct a regular meeting each semester, and meet as needed to address safety risks that arise.

    The co-coordinators (or their designees) will make preliminary assessments of potentially threatening situations and, if warranted, convene the BAT.  The Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (or designee) shall convene the BAT for employee-related issues and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (or designee) shall convene the BAT for student-related issues.  The co-coordinator convening the BAT shall serve as chair of the BAT for that issue.

    Members of BAT convened to discuss an employee issue shall include representatives from the university police, counseling and psychological services and/or the department of psychology, and others as may be appropriate in the judgment of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, including the emergency manager and representatives from the division, department or office involved.

    Members of BAT convened to discuss a student issue shall include representatives from the university police, counseling and psychological services and/or the department of psychology and others as may be appropriate in the judgment of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, including the emergency manager and representatives from academic affairs.

    In all circumstances, the co-coordinators are convening meetings of the BAT at the direction of university legal counsel pursuant to this policy.  Legal Counsel’s Office shall provide legal counsel to the BAT and maintain all BAT records, including records of meetings, reports, investigations, and university response/action, all of which are confidential attorney work product records.

    Investigations must be tailored to specific circumstances, with a focus on individual behaviors and communications.  BAT may conduct interviews and request records and information, in accordance with university policies and applicable state and federal laws and regulations, from campus constituents such as university police, faculty, academic advisors and support units, the Office of Student Conduct, counseling and psychological services, health services, and residential living staff.   External sources such as law enforcement agencies, social services agencies, and mental health care providers may also be interviewed.

  2. Interim Measures; Investigatory Leave; Psychological Assessment; Trespass

    It may be necessary during an investigation of a potential violation of this policy to remove an employee from campus until the investigation is concluded.  Employees may be placed on paid investigatory leave for up to thirty (30) days.  The period of leave may be extended for good cause for an additional thirty (30) days with the prior approval of the chancellor. A person placed on investigatory leave may appeal the administrator’s decision by submitting to their vice chancellor/provost a written request for review within five (5) days of the effective date of the leave.  The vice chancellor/provost shall review the appeal and determine whether the terms of the leave will be accepted, rejected or modified. 

    An employee who violates or potentially violates this policy may also be subject to interim administrative measures of a non-disciplinary nature (e.g., reassignment of duties or office).

    Further, administrators may, at any time, require an employee who has violated or potentially violated this policy to undergo a psychological or other assessment to determine any risk of violence in the campus community.  In such cases, administrators should contact the Office of Human Resources for referral information. 

    Students who appear to present a risk of harm to self or others may be removed from campus and suspended on an interim basis in accordance with the code.  Students may also be referred for mandatory assessment in accordance with applicable student affairs regulations. 

    In some cases, employees and students under investigation may be “trespassed” from campus by the university police.

  3. Related Criminal Investigations

    When violations of this policy also potentially constitute violations of criminal laws, university police or other local law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction, will take the lead role in coordinating and conducting investigations and preparing cases for prosecution as deemed appropriate by the local district attorney and university officials.  A pending criminal investigation should not delay student disciplinary action, personnel disciplinary actions initiated within the work unit, or review of the incident by the BAT.

  4. Critical Incident De-briefings

    BAT shall consult with employees and students who have been affected/victimized by violent conduct and university officials and representatives from external resources, if applicable, to evaluate the university’s response to violence and discuss opportunities for improvement and the development of preventive measures.

VIII. NON-RETALIATION

Employees and students who act in good faith by reporting real or apparent violent behavior or violations of this policy will not be retaliated against or subjected to harassment.

IX. POLICY REVIEW

This policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary every four (4) years.

X. RELATED POLICIES AND RESOURCES

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

Jackson County Emergency:  911
University Police Department / Emergency: 8-911

NON-EMERGENCY NUMBERS

University Police Department / Non-emergency: 227-7301
Office of Human Resources: 227-7218
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs: 227-7234
Health Services: 227-7640
Counseling and Psychological Services: 227-7469
Office of Student Conduct: 227-7234
Legal Counsel Office: 227-7116

POLICIES

UNC Policy Manual: http://www.northcarolina.edu/policy/index.php
University Policy #91, Weapons on Campus
University Policy #78, Disciplinary Policy and Procedures for SPA Employees
University Policy #107, Employee Assistance Program
University Policy #89, Serious Illness and Disability Leave for Faculty

Code of Student Conduct
Student Affairs Helping Students Guide
Office of Student Conduct

Office of Web Services