SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
COMMUNITY STANDARDS AND PROCEDURES FOR RESOLVING DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS
Seattle Pacific University holds that all persons are created in the
image of God and possess intrinsic dignity and worth. Likewise, the University
respects and values the uniqueness of each racial and ethnic group and
values the right of our community members to work, study, and communicate
with one another in an atmosphere free from sexual or racial harassment,
discrimination based on gender, race, age or status as a person with
rights to disability accommodation.
Therefore, it is the policy of Seattle Pacific University not to
discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age
or disability in its programs or activities, as required by applicable
laws and regulations.
As a religious educational institution operating under the auspices
of the Free Methodist Church of North America, Seattle Pacific University
is permitted and reserves the right to prefer employees or prospective
employees on the basis of religion.
If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact either
of the following persons:
- Associate VP for Academic Affairs/Dean of Student Life
Room 209 Student Union Building
Seattle Pacific University
3307 Third Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119
- Executive Director of Human Resources
330 W. Nickerson St.
Seattle Pacific University
3307 Third Avenue West
Seattle, WA 9811
Violations of the University’s Nondiscrimination or Community
Standards Policies should be reported as soon as possible after the
alleged action to the Complaint Coordinators (defined below) for possible
resolution, investigation, and corrective action (if necessary).
Click here to download a graphic form of these definitions (PDF).
Click here to see a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
“Complainant” means a person who files a Complaint
under these procedures.
“Complaints” are expressions of
dissatisfaction over something a person has experienced and that
may be a violation of the University’s Nondiscrimination or
Community Standards Policies. In order to begin the grievance procedure
(whether informal or formal), the Complaint should be presented to
a Complaint Coordinator as soon as possible after the alleged action.
If a Complaint does not involve an alleged violation of the University’s
Nondiscrimination or Community Standards Policies, the Complainant
may be directed to other University offices (for example, Student
Life or Human Resources) or other resources (e.g. Student or Staff
Handbook). The University, in its sole discretion, may decide not
to follow these procedures in the case of Complainants or Respondents
who are not University employees or students, and the University
reserves the right to take any action it deems appropriate to protect
the University community and the University’s best
“Respondent” means the person accused by the Complainant
of violating the University’s Nondiscrimination or
“Area Vice President” means a vice president of
“Decision Maker” means the Vice President for Academic
Affairs if the Respondent is a student or faculty member (including
regular and adjunct faculty members and instructors, whether employees
or contractors), and in other cases means the Area Vice President
who has supervisory authority over the Respondent or responsibility
over matters involving the Respondent. For example, if the Respondent
is an employee of a University vendor, and the vendor’s
contract or relationship with the University falls
within the area of responsibility of the Vice President
for Business and Planning, then the Vice President
for Business and Planning is the Decision Maker for
purposes of these procedures. If the Complaint involves
an Area Vice President (or any other employee reporting
only to the President) as the Respondent, then the
President (or designee) is the Decision Maker. If the
Complaint involves the President as the Respondent,
then the Chair of the Board of Trustees (or designee)
is the Decision Maker. If deemed necessary or appropriate,
the Chair may refer the matter to the Board of Trustees
or its Executive Committee.
“Determination” means the decision made by the
Decision Maker on a Complaint.
“Decision Reviewer” means the person, committee
or board who reviews the Determination, if
appealed. If an Area Vice President is the Decision Maker, then
the President (or designee) is the Decision Reviewer. If the President
is the Decision Maker, then the Chair of the Board of Trustees
(or designee) is the Decision Reviewer. If the Chair of the Board
of Trustees (or designee) is the Decision Maker,
then the Board of Trustees (or designee, for example the Executive
Committee), is the Decision Reviewer.
“Complaint Coordinators” are responsible for responding
to questions regarding the University’s
Non Discrimination and Community Policies.
Complaint Coordinators also (1) evaluate Complaints
in order to assign them to a Mediator (if appropriate)
or to a Complaint Investigator; (2) receive
and review recommendations from the Mediator
or Investigator; and (3) evaluate material
and recommendations received from the Mediator
or Investigator, and submit recommendations
and materials to the appropriate Decision Maker.
The following individuals are the Complaint
- Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs/Dean of Students
or designee (206) 281-2123
- Executive Director of Human Resources or designee
If one of the Coordinators is the Respondent, please contact the
other Coordinator. If both Coordinators are Respondents (or they
and their designees are unavailable), then please contact any Area
Vice President or the President. The President or Vice President
contacted by the Complainant should then appoint a special Complaint
Coordinator to handle the Complaint.
“Complaint Investigators” or “Investigators” are
responsible for investigating and making recommendations
to the Complaint Coordinator for resolving Complaints. The Investigator
is the University employee or agent appointed
by the Complaint Coordinator who first receives the Complaint.
The Complaint Coordinator shall consult with the Decision Maker
in selecting the Investigator.
“Mediators” are responsible for attempting to resolve
a Complaint between the Complainant and the
Respondent. The Mediator is the University employee or agent appointed
by the Complaint Coordinator who first receives the Complaint.
The Complaint Coordinator shall consult with the Decision Maker
in selecting the Mediator. Nothing prohibits the Mediator in a
matter from later serving as the Investigator, if the Complainant,
Respondent, Complaint Coordinator and Decision Maker agree.
“Business Day” means any day other than a Saturday,
Sunday or University Holiday.
“University Holiday” means those holidays scheduled
on the University’s master calendar when the University’s
administrative offices are closed for
Deadline for Filing a Complaint.
of alleged violations of the University’s Nondiscrimination
or Community Policies should be reported as soon as possible, but
normally, no later than 180 calendar days after
the alleged incident.
Reports of Complaints.
Who Receives Complaints. Complaints of alleged violations of the University’s
Nondiscrimination or Community Policies should be made
to one of the Complaint Coordinators. The Complaint Coordinator
should schedule a meeting with the Complainant as soon
as reasonably possible to discuss the Complaint, the
process, and to gather additional information. Please note,
any community member who feels he or she is in immediate
danger should call Campus Security at 281-2911.
Responsibilities of the University’s Supervisory Employees. A University supervisory employee or faculty member who has reasonable
cause to believe the University’s Nondiscrimination or Community
Policy has been violated should promptly report the incident to one
of the Complaint Coordinators. For purposes of these procedures,
the term “supervisory employees” mean any University
employee whose normal job responsibilities include supervising the
work of any other University employee.
Form and Contents of Complaints. Complaints may be verbal
or in writing. A writing includes electronic documents, such
as emails. The Complaint Coordinator or assigned Complaint Investigator
may request a written and signed statement from the Complainant.
If the Complaint Coordinator accepts a verbal Complaint, the
Complaint Coordinator should summarize the Complaint in writing
and ask the Complainant to sign the summary as evidence of its
accuracy. The Complaint should include as much of the following
information as possible: (1) the name of the Complainant; (2)
the identity of the Respondent (or description if the identity
is not known), and any available contact information for the
Respondent; (3) the date, time and location of the alleged incident
or incidents and any pattern of similar behavior; and (4) a description
of the alleged incident. A copy of the Complaint should be provided
to the Respondent (or a summary if only a verbal Complaint is
received). The Complaint Coordinator will also need to know the
Complainant’s contact information and should request the names
and contact information for any potential witnesses; a description
of any available evidence; a description of the Complainant’s
reaction to the incident; a description of any prior incidents; and
any other information that the Complainant believes may be helpful
to an investigation. This additional information need not be included
in the Complaint, but may be provided or documented in a separate
University Initiated Complaints. The University, in its sole
discretion, may initiate its own Complaint if an alleged victim
declines to file a Complaint.
Who Receives Copies of Complaints. The Complaint Coordinator
who receives the Complaint should provide copies of the Complaint
or summary of the Complaint to the following individuals (unless
the Complaint Coordinator is also the person entitled to notice):
- The Decision Maker.
- When the accused is a student
(including student in capacity as student employee),
Vice President of Academic Affairs/Dean of Students should
- When the accused is an employee of the University,
Director of Human Resources should be notified.
Informing the Respondent.
After receipt of a
Complaint, the Complaint Coordinator should notify the Respondent
promptly, and should provide a copy of the Complaint or a summary
of the Complaint (if a written Complaint has not been filed). The
Complaint Coordinator should briefly describe the University process
and direct the Respondent to these procedures. The Respondent
should be reminded that it is a violation of University policy and
may be a violation of federal law (depending on the allegations)
to retaliate in any way against the Complainant. The
Respondent should be reminded to abide by the confidentiality
provisions of these procedures. The Respondent shall have five
Business Days to provide a written response to the Complaint,
unless the Complaint Coordinator (in the Coordinator’s sole discretion) expressly
permits in writing a longer period of time. The Respondent must make
a written request for the extension before the end of the five-day
period. The Coordinator should consider vacation, leave schedules
and extraordinary circumstances before permitting an extension. If
the Respondent wishes, a verbal response may be given to the Complaint
Coordinator, who will prepare a written summary to be approved by
the Respondent. If the Respondent has no corrections or declines
to sign the summary, the summary shall be deemed accurate and complete
for purposes of these procedures. Notwithstanding the foregoing,
if the Respondent is not a faculty member, other employee or student
of the University, then the Decision Maker or the President may elect
to handle the matter outside of these procedures. For example, the
matter may have to be investigated with the help or cooperation of
the Respondent’s outside employer.
The Complainant may request that the Complaint be handled through
this informal resolution process. Both the Complaint Coordinator
and the Respondent must agree to the informal resolution process.
If appropriate, the Complaint Coordinator may suggest that the Complainant
consider pursuing an informal resolution. If the Complainant does
not wish to attempt an informal resolution, then the matter shall
proceed to investigation. See Section 6 below. Generally an informal
resolution of a Complaint will not involve a formal investigation,
findings, or unilateral disciplinary action. Complaints involving
possible misunderstandings or miscommunication between the parties
should be considered for informal resolution. This informal resolution
process may not be appropriate if the allegations involve more serious
violations, intentional violations or a repeated incident after a
prior informal resolution involving the Respondent.
If the Complainant desires to attempt informal resolution, then
the Complaint Coordinator shall provide the Respondent with a copy
of the Complaint, or a summary of the Complaint if there is no written
If the Respondent agrees to participate in the informal resolution
process, the Complaint Coordinator shall assign a Mediator to the
matter (if deemed appropriate), and shall provide the Mediator with
a copy of the Complaint or a copy of the summary provided to the
Respondent, along with the contact information for both parties.
The Mediator will be selected in consultation with the Decision Maker.
The Mediator shall contact both parties and schedule a mediation
session as soon as possible. The Mediator may interview the parties
before the mediation and ask for documents or other evidence from
the parties. The Mediator should clearly set forth the ground rules
for the mediation process. Information and discussions during informal
negotiations are confidential and not to be considered part of any
later formal investigation related to the original complaint (unless
required by law), nor is the mediator available to be called upon
for information during any subsequent formal investigation.
The goal of this informal resolution process is to achieve a voluntary
and mutually acceptable resolution of the Complaint. The Mediator
shall not be required to follow any particular process or approach.
Either party, the Mediator or the Complaint Coordinator may end the
informal resolution process at any time. In the event of a termination
of the informal resolution process, the Mediator should immediately
inform the Complaint Coordinator, and should submit a written report
to the Complaint Coordinator. The report may contain non-confidential
information disclosed during the informal resolution process (including,
but not limited to, statements made by the parties and the identity
and statements of any witnesses or other evidence).
If the mediation results in a resolution of the Complaint, the
Mediator shall document the resolution in a writing signed by both
parties, and then provide a copy to the parties and the Complaint
The Complaint Coordinator should evaluate the appropriateness of
the resolution. If the Complaint Coordinator does not believe the
resolution is voluntary and mutually acceptable or otherwise believes
the resolution is inappropriate, the Complaint Coordinator may still
initiate a formal investigation of the Complaint. The Complaint Coordinator
and the University may disregard any informal resolution.
Formal Grievance Investigation.
If the Complaint
has not been informally resolved, the informal resolution process
is not used, the informal resolution process has been terminated,
or the Complaint Coordinator believes a formal grievance investigation
is warranted, then the Complaint Coordinator shall assign a Complaint
Investigator to proceed with an investigation. The Investigator will
be selected in consultation with the Decision Maker. The investigation
may be streamlined, but should be impartial and as thorough as appropriate
under the circumstances. A Complaint Investigator should be assigned
by the Complaint Coordinator as soon as possible after receiving
notice that the informal resolution process has been terminated,
or after determining that an investigation should take place.
The Complaint Coordinator shall provide
the Complaint Investigator with a copy of the Complaint, the Respondent’s
response (if any) and any other information or documents that the Complaint
Coordinator believes should be shared with the Investigator, including
summary report, if any.
The Complainant and the Respondent should be interviewed by the
Complaint Investigator and given an opportunity to submit any evidence.
The Complaint Investigator should also interview any key witnesses
who may have knowledge bearing on the matter and may require the
Complainant or Respondent to provide additional documentation, information
or evidence as appropriate. The investigation should be completed
as expeditiously as reasonably possible, depending on the seriousness
of the allegations, witnesses, available evidence, schedules and
available resources. The investigation need not be exhaustive, but
should be reasonably complete, depending on the circumstances.
Parties may seek outside legal counsel at their
own expense, but such counsel may not participate in the University’s
After completion of the investigation, the Investigator should
prepare written recommended findings as to the validity of the Complaint,
and should provide those recommended findings to the Complaint Coordinator.
Within seven Business Days after receipt of the written recommended
findings, the Complaint Coordinator should recommend resolution of
the Complaint to the Decision Maker, or should refer matter back
to the Investigator if the Coordinator believes additional investigation
is warranted. The Coordinator may interview the Investigator and
ask for clarification or ask any questions. The Decision Maker will
make the Determination and communicate the Determination to the Complainant
and the Respondent. The Decision Maker may ask questions of the Investigator
or Complaint Coordinator, and may refer the matter back to the Complaint
Coordinator if the Decision Maker believes that additional investigation
For purposes of the Determination, facts shall be deemed established
if the existence of a fact is more probable than its non-existence.
The Determination should be supported by the established facts on
a more probable than not basis.
Appeal of Determination.
Either party may appeal the Determination by filing a written Notice
of Appeal (“Notice”) with the Decision Maker. The Notice
must be filed within seven Business Days after the Determination
is mailed to appealing party or five Business Days after the Determination
is received by the appealing party (whichever is earlier), or such
other longer deadline indicated in the Determination. The Notice
must include a copy of the Determination and a description of the
errors being appealed. A Notice is deemed “filed” when
the Decision Maker or the Decision Maker’s office receives
the Notice. The Decision Maker should immediately forward the Notice
of Appeal to the Decision Reviewer.
The appealing party shall also provide copies of the Notice to
the Complaint Coordinator. The Complaint Coordinator will provide
a copy of the Notice to the other party. The other party may file
a rebuttal statement to the appeal within seven Business Days after
the Notice is mailed to the other party, or five Business Days after
receipt of the Notice by that party, whichever is earlier.
The Decision Reviewer shall review the appeal. Errors of fact should
be corrected if clearly erroneous and prejudicial. Errors in the
final determination should be reversed or modified if resulting from
an abuse of discretion. The Decision Reviewer (in its sole discretion,
based on the best interests of the University) may take any appropriate
action, including, but not limited to, affirming, modifying or reversing
the Determination or requiring that additional investigation be performed.
The Decision Reviewer shall provide a copy of the written appeal
decision to (1) both parties, (2) the Decision Maker, and (3) the
Complaint Coordinator. The decision of the Decision Reviewer shall
Nothing in these procedures shall prevent qualified faculty members
from pursuing remedies or procedures available under the Faculty
Employment Handbook or otherwise provided by the University.
All persons involved in (a)
reporting a Complaint, (b) the informal resolution process, or (c)
investigation, whether as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness are
expected to hold in confidence the substance of the allegations made
in the Complaint and all matters they know related to the Complaint,
the informal resolution process or investigation. Complaints often
involve sensitive matters, and all the facts may not be known. Any
premature disclosure of information outside the informal resolution
or investigation process may not be fair to the Respondent or the
Complainant. University representatives may share information on
a need-to-know basis, or as required or permitted by law or regulation
(for example, in response to requests by the EEOC or OCR).
Prospective Complainants with concerns about confidentiality or
the desire to keep confidential their identity should discuss these
with the Complaint Coordinator before filing a Complaint (whether
verbally or in writing). The University cannot guarantee that the
confidentiality of a Complainant’s or prospective Complainant’s identity,
but may take into account the concerns of the Complainant or prospective
Complainant and the need to protect the community, if deemed appropriate
in the University’s sole discretion.
The University strictly prohibits
any retaliation, intimidation, or coercion directed against any
person who files a Complaint, reports any violation of the University’s
Nondiscrimination and Community Policies, or intends to file a Complaint
or report any such violation or otherwise participates in a Complaint
resolution process (whether formal or informal). Any person who,
after appropriate investigation, has been determined to have retaliated
against any person for using, or expressing the intent to use, these
grievance procedures may be subject to disciplinary action, up to
and including immediate dismissal/expulsion. Any person who believes
he or she has been retaliated against for filing a Complaint, threatening
to file a Complaint or otherwise participating in a Complaint resolution
process should contact one of the Complaint Coordinators or the President’s
These procedures may not fully anticipate
or address all possible situations. Therefore, the University reserves
the right to amend or clarify these procedures at any time, with
or without prior notice.