A revised anti-harassment policy, designed to protect the dignity of each member of the ACU community and offer guidelines surrounding a harassment issue, became effective Oct. 5.
The policy, available in the student handbook, was revised and released in accordance with a campuswide anti-harassment training program for full-time faculty and staff who are supervisors of non-student employees, said Suzanne Allmon, associate vice president for Human Resources.
Allmon said the broad-based training is an opportunity for faculty and staff to learn more about the topic. It also created an ideal time to revise the policy, although it is reviewed for accuracy annually. Prior to its revision by Human Resources and Legal Services, the policy outlined how students should address incidents of harassment using technical and potentially confusing language.
“We want to make it more user-friendly, clearer and less confusing, and it was a good time as we were launching this training,” Allmon said.
The information in the former version is still valid, but Allmon said the revised version is simpler for readers.
“There’s a lot of lengthy material in it, and we tried to make it a little more concise, flow a little better and make more sense,” she said. “It’s primarily a lot of rearranging to make it easier to read and easier to follow.”
Allmon said the new version describes how investigations are conducted, factors taken into consideration surrounding a harassment case and plans of action should ACU be faced with a harassment case.
“We want to make sure that we have a working and learning environment in which the dignity of every individual is respected, whatever role you play on campus,” Allmon said. “It also helps minimize risks at ACU in the event that we have some sort of lawsuit. If we can show we have a policy and training, it’s very helpful.”
Allmon said she encourages the ACU community to take time to read and become familiar with the policy. According to the text, “this policy applies to all members of the ACU community, including trustees, faculty, staff, students and volunteers at Abilene Christian University.”
Abigail Sutphen, junior biology major from Houston, said she was unaware a policy existed.
“It’s good that we have it, but it would be a good idea to let us know about the policy,” Sutphen said. “It is comforting, though, to know that they’ve put this much effort into it.”
Allmon said such effort is placed on revising the policy is to ensure a positive workspace for the ACU community.
“It’s really about trying to educate our students, faculty and staff so that we can be respectful of one another and have a good learning environment.”
Students can access the updated policy by following the link provided in the student handbook. Allmon said an updated version will likely be printed in next year’s handbook.