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Statement of Principles
In order to educate undergraduate and graduate students of diverse social, economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, it is essential that the University of Texas at Austin provide equal educational opportunities for all students. The University also should foster understanding of cultural diversity and cultivate the ethical and moral values that are the basis of a humane social order. To fulfill these aspirations, the University must strive to establish and maintain an environment free of racial intimidation, humiliation, and harassment.
Racist attitudes and beliefs may be revealed in threats and other communications or acts of violence, hatred, abuse of authority, or ill will that assault the person or the sense of self-worth of the victims. Such communications and acts vilify, ridicule, and humiliate the victim and also can cause serious emotional distress, impede the learning process, and, in the form of "fighting words," may provoke a violent response. Racist behavior also brings dishonor to the perpetrator, demoralizes and disrupts the academic community as a whole, and diminishes the stature of the University. For all of these reasons, the University unequivocally condemns racist behavior in all of its forms.
The University also is committed to the principles of free inquiry and expression. Members of the University community have the right to hold, vigorously defend, and express their ideas and opinions to flourish or wither according to their merits. Respect for this right requires that students tolerate expression of views that they find abhorrent. But whatever the legal boundaries of free speech, the members of an educational community should voluntarily adopt standards of civility and good taste that reflect mutual respect, understanding, and sensitivity among its diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. In particular, members of the faculty represent the University and have a special role and position of authority with respect to students. They should treat students with respect and should be sensitive to the impact of their words and opinions on them.
Disciplinary Rules and Definition of Racial HarassmentIt is the policy of the University of Texas at Austin to strive to create and maintain an educational environment free from racial harassment, humiliation, and intimidation of students. "Racial harassment" is defined as extreme or outrageous acts or communications that are intended to harass, intimidate, or humiliate a student or students on account of race, color, or national origin and that cause them to suffer severe emotional distress. Racial harassment of students is expressly prohibited, and any student, faculty, or non-faculty employee who engages in such conduct is subject to appropriate disciplinary action whether the harassment takes place on or off the campus. (See Chapter 11, Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities, Appendix C, General Information; Sections 9.49 and 9.49a, Handbook of Operating Procedures; and Sections 3.18 and 4.03, Handbook of Operating Procedures.)
If a violation is committed of a regents' rule or any other properly promulgated and published University rule, policy, or procedure, other than those defining and punishing racial harassment, because of the race, color, or national origin of a student or students directly harmed by the violation, such a discriminatory purpose shall be treated as an aggravating factor for the purpose of determining the appropriate discipline or penalty.
Procedure for Redressing Racial Harassment Complaints of Students
The race relations counselor with the Office of the Dean of Students has been given the primary responsibility for responding to student inquiries about and receiving complaints of racial harassment, assisting such students, familiarizing them with complaint procedures and rights of appeal, and educating the members of the University community of their responsibilities under this policy. Students who believe that they have been subjected to racial harassment may consult with the race relations counselor, but students also may choose to address their questions or complaints to the department chairperson, dean of a college/school, or other University administrative official. In the latter case, the chairperson, dean, or administrator should immediately contact the race relations counselor for consultation.
Upon the receipt of an allegation of racial harassment, the race relations counselor shall ascertain the facts and provide mediation services to assist the student. These mediation services may include consultation with the student and alleged wrongdoer, either separately or together, and with student affairs staff, deans, or other administrative officers of the University. If such mediation efforts result in a solution satisfactory to the student, the student shall be asked to complete a written and signed statement to that effect. Where such mediation efforts fail or the student does not wish to pursue mediation, the student complainant may seek a formal resolution upon the submission of a written and signed statement to the race relations counselor, department chairperson, or dean. The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will coordinate the investigation and resolution of such formal complaints which shall be handled following established University policies and procedures applicable to student and employee discipline. Disagreement by any person with the resolution of the complaint may be pursued according to the University's established procedures for grievances.
Confidentiality in mediation, investigation, and resolution activities shall be maintained to the extent permitted under the law, and the rights of individuals involved will be protected.
Race Relations Advisory Panel
A Race Relations Advisory Panel, consisting of students, faculty, and staff appointed by the president, has been established to review and advise on the effectiveness of the University's policies prohibiting racial harassment. The panel shall meet periodically with the executive vice president and provost and the race relations counselor to discuss the procedures used to mediate and resolve alleged cases of racial harassment. The panel may make recommendations on modifications in the policies that it deems advisable.
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