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

 

I.  POLICY STATEMENT

Western Carolina University (“WCU”) 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 WCU to promote civility and mutual respect and to prohibit violence in the university community.

II. SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF POLICY

This policy applies to the activities and conduct of all employees and students on WCU’s Cullowhee campus or any WCU work or educational program site located off the campus (collectively the “university community”), as well as activities and conduct occurring off campus that may have an adverse impact on the university community.  This policy also addresses circumstances where visitor conduct and activities adversely affect WCU employees and students. 

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

This policy applies to the conduct of all employees while functioning in the course and scope of employment as well as off-duty conduct that has a potential adverse impact on the employee’s or another employee’s ability to perform the assigned duties and 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.  WCU 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.  WCU administrative and academic managers are responsible for ensuring that violence prevention education programs are provided to employees and students.

II. DEFINITIONS

The following definitions are consistent with those included in the North Carolina Office of State Personnel 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 University Police policy, general order or regulation; (iii) the Code of Student Conduct (“Code”); or (iv) any State of North Carolina law or regulation.

“University community violence” or “violence” 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 students, employees, clients, customers, relatives, acquaintances, contractors or visitors.

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

“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.

“Stalking” involves harassing or pestering an individual, in person, in writing, by telephone or electronic format. 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. 

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

IV. POLICY CO-COORDINATORS

The Director of 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.  The Director of 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.

The co-coordinators of this policy shall oversee the development and administration of a university community violence prevention and management program that shall include: (i) a process for disseminating WCU’s policy to new and existing employees, and new and returning students; (ii) a procedure for employees and students to report violations of this policy; (iii) a procedure for investigating a report of a violation of this policy, including a description of WCU preparedness and precautionary measures to be taken in responding to acts or threats of violence; (iv) a procedure for providing instruction and training to all employees and students regarding proper response to acts or threats of violence; (v) a procedure for reporting, collecting and maintaining information regarding incidents of university community violence and threat assessment activities; and (vi) a procedure for facilitating critical incident stress debriefings for employees and students who have been affected by an event related to trauma and victimization.   

V.  BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT TEAM

The WCU Behavioral Assessment Team (“BAT”) shall be composed of a core group of multi-disciplinary professionals who will analyze potentially threatening situations and advise administrators as to recommended courses of action to mitigate risk to the campus.  The co-coordinators will make preliminary assessments of potentially threatening situations and, if warranted, convene the BAT.  The Director of Human Resources shall convene the BAT for employee related issues and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs shall convene the BAT for student related issues.  The co-coordinator who convenes the BAT shall serve as Chair of the BAT for that meeting/issue.  When the BAT is convened to discuss an employee, the Director of Human Resources shall include University Policy, Counseling and Psychological Services and/or the Department of Psychology, and others as may be appropriate in the judgment of the Director of Human Resources, including the Emergency Manager and representatives from the Division, Department or Office involved.  When the BAT is convened to discuss a student, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs shall include 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 the Division of Academic Affairs.    The Legal Counsel Office shall provide legal counsel to the BAT.

VI. PROHIBITED CONDUCT

A.  Prohibited Employee Conduct

It is a violation of this policy for an employee to:

1. Engage in university community 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 SPA employees, a violation of this policy shall be considered “unacceptable personal conduct” as provided in University Policy #78, Disciplinary Policy and Procedures for SPA Employees. Acts of violence, as defined herein, 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 EPA non-faculty employees 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 Personnel Act or the Faculty Handbook, as the case may be.

B.  Prohibited Student Conduct

It is a violation of this policy for a student to:

1. Engage in university community 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 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. The Division of Student Affairs administers disciplinary action for offending students.

VII. SANCTIONS

WCU employees who violate this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal/discharge for cause.  An act of off-duty violence may also be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including dismissal/discharge for cause if there is a relevant relationship between the type of conduct committed and the potential adverse impact on the employee’s or other employee’s ability to perform his/her assigned duties.  WCU students who violate this policy on or off campus may be subject 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.

VIII. INVESTIGATORY LEAVE / INTERIM MEASURES

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 or Provost a written request for review within five (5) days of the effective date of the leave.  The Vice Chancellor or 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 an 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.

IX. REPORTING PROHIBITED 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. 

It is the responsibility of all employees and students at WCU to be alert to the possibility of violence on the part of prospective, current or former employees or students as well as campus visitors.
Individuals shall immediately report any potential violence, threatening behaviors or other violations of this policy by employees to their immediate supervisor (or second level supervisor if the alleged perpetrator is the immediate supervisor) and the Director of Human Resources. 

Individuals shall immediately report any potential violence, threatening behaviors or other violations of this policy by students to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the Director of the Department of Student Community Ethics. 

The University Police will notify employees and students as necessary of pending or imminent threats or acts of violence in accordance with any applicable state or federal laws.

X. SUPPORT AND PROTECTIONS

WCU shall make efforts to protect victims of university community 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. WCU will accommodate these requests and needs whenever possible and appropriate.

Management is expected to offer support to victims of university community violence, which includes domestic 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, management shall use their discretion to grant employee victims leave time for medical, court, or counseling appointments related to trauma and/or victimization. The following options should be considered: flex scheduling; vacation leave; sick leave; and leave without pay.

XI. 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.

XII. 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 WCU 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.

XIII. POLICY REVIEW

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

XIV. RELATED POLICIES AND RESOURCES


EMERGENCY NUMBERS

• Jackson County Emergency:  911
• University Police Department / Emergency: 8-911
• University Police Department / Non-emergency: 227-7301


• University 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
• Code of Student Conduct
• Student Affairs Helping Students Guide, http://www.wcu.edu/WebFiles/PDFs/helping_students.pdf
• Department of Student Community Ethics


• 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
• Department of Student Community Ethics: 227-7234
• Legal Counsel Office: 227-7116
 

 

 

 

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