Here are the steps involved in an investigation when a discrimination complaint is filed.
Step 1: Concern is reported to EDS
- Hate/bias reports or reports about behavior that might violate UWM’s Discriminatory Conduct Policy can be made to the Office of Equity/Diversity Services (EDS): by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), by phone (414-229-5923) or by using UWM’s Hate/Bias reporting site.
- After a report is received, EDS will contact the reporting party to gather additional information about the concerns and to share resources and support options.
- For students, those resources include the Dean of Students Office, University Counseling, the confidential victim advocate (for cases of sexual violence) and University Housing.
- With the agreement of the reporting party, hate/bias reports can be shared with UWM’s Rapid Response Team, a group of representatives from different campus offices who provide care and support in response to incidents of hate and bias. The Rapid Response Team may reach out to the reporting party and offer support, communicate with the campus community (with the agreement of the reporting party), connect with impacted individuals, and assist in organizing campus programs.
Step 2: Formal, written complaint is filed with EDS
- If the reporting party chooses to do so, they can file a formal complaint, or, at the reporting party’s request, EDS can file the formal complaint on the reporting party’s behalf. In rare circumstances — particularly where there is an ongoing safety threat to the campus or local community, or a pattern of alleged behavior by the same respondent — EDS may proceed with a formal investigation even though the reporting party chooses not to file a formal complaint.
- EDS will review the complaint to ensure (1) that the respondent is a student, faculty, guest, vendor or contractor (as they are subject to UWM policies) and (2) that the conduct alleged is covered by the Discriminatory Conduct Policy or the Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy.
- In general, prohibited behavior under the Discriminatory Conduct Policy includes discrimination (conduct that adversely affects any aspect of a person’s work, education or participation in activities at UWM and is based on a characteristic of the person that is protected under law, such as race, gender identity, religion, etc.) and discriminatory harassment (conduct of any type — verbal, written or electronic — that is directed toward an individual because of the person’s protected status and which unreasonably interferes with the person’s work, education or participation in activities at UWM).
- Conduct that does not violate the Discriminatory Conduct Policy could still violate other UWM policies. In those cases, EDS could refer the matter to other offices, such as the Dean of Students Office (for potential student conduct charges under the student code of conduct, Ch. UWS 17), or Human Resources (for review under the Faculty/Staff Code of Conduct).
Step 3: EDS investigates complaint
- After receiving a formal, written complaint, EDS provides a notice of investigation to the respondent and other UWM officials.
- During a formal investigation, EDS interviews the parties to the complaint as well as other witnesses. EDS also collects and reviews documentary evidence (emails, text messages, social media posts, etc.) and any other information that is relevant to the complaint.
- After a formal complaint has been filed, the parties can agree to resolve the complaint in an alternate fashion — for example, by participating in a restorative justice practice like a facilitated discussion or “circle.” If the parties choose to resolve a complaint through this kind of negotiated resolution, the EDS complaint is dismissed.
Step 4: EDS issues final investigatory report
- At the conclusion of its investigation, EDS provides a written investigatory report to the parties and the provost, who oversees academics, research and student success.
- In its final report, EDS summarizes the evidence that was collected in the investigation. EDS determines whether it is more likely than not that the conduct alleged in the complaint occurred, and analyzes whether the conduct violates the Discriminatory Conduct Policy.
Step 5: Provost issues final decision
- After EDS issues its final report, the parties have the opportunity to provide an additional submission to the provost.
- After any additional submissions have been provided, the provost reviews the EDS report and issues a final decision on whether the Discriminatory Conduct Policy was violated. In the decision, the provost can also address conduct that violates any other University policy (such as the Faculty/Staff Code of Conduct).
- For cases involving student respondents, violations of the Discriminatory Conduct Policy are referred to the Dean of Students Office for proceedings under UWS Ch. 17.