Office of the Provost

The University of Michigan Faculty Handbook

2.B University Policies and Statements

The University has a number of policies that relate to promoting diversity and preventing discrimination. Through University policies, as well as applicable state and federal laws, the University provides a supportive and inclusive environment in which members of this community can pursue their educational and professional objectives.

2.B.1 Regental Statement of Nondiscrimination

As the governing body of the University of Michigan, the Regents have adopted the following policy on nondiscrimination, a version of which appears on all official University documents:

The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status. The university also is committed to compliance with all applicable laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action.

Bylaw 14.06 (revised April 2009).

2.B.2 Value of Diversity Statement

The Senate Assembly, representing the faculty of the University, passed the following statement on January 26, 1998:

The University of Michigan Senate Assembly, the elected governing body of the faculty, believes that the goals of an institution of higher learning should be to generate new knowledge, to convey knowledge to others, and to involve its faculty, students, and staff in using this knowledge to address contemporary social problems. For the University to excel in reaching these goals, the rich diversity of contemporary society is a resource that needs to be tapped. Not only does the education of students from diverse backgrounds itself address societal problems, but collaborative efforts within the University among persons with diverse points of view can facilitate the development of new ideas in our intellectual enterprise and help us to formulate creative solutions to societal problems. Civility in discourse and the generation of mutual empathy among diverse parties are crucial to the effectiveness of this process.

Our commitment to diversity means at the most basic level a willingness both to recognize the value of disparate experiences and visions and to weave them into the fabric of our institution. Because of this, we are committed to a policy of recruiting and maintaining a culturally and racially diverse student body and faculty that are representative of contemporary society, and to assuring that these diverse influences are respected and incorporated into the structure of the University. In this way, we can provide students with the unique educational experience and intellectual stimulation that can only come from interacting with and learning to respect a broad range of people with differing backgrounds, life experiences, beliefs, and ideas

In order for the University to retain its leadership role within the educational community, it must continue and expand upon these efforts to reach out and include all who comprise our diverse society in order to engage effectively its students, faculty, and staff with the major societal problems of the present and future. It is only through such a commitment that the University of Michigan can positively and effectively influence the future of American education and the world of the twenty-first century.

2.B.3 Discrimination and Harassment Policy

It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination and harassment for all students, faculty, and staff. Discrimination and harassment are contrary to the standards of the University community. They diminish individual dignity and impede educational opportunities, equal access to freedom of academic inquiry, and equal employment. Discrimination and harassment are barriers to fulfilling the University’s scholarly, research, educational, patient care, and service mission.

Discrimination and harassment based on race, sex, color, religion, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or veteran status will not be tolerated at the University of Michigan See SPG 201.89-1.

2.B.4 Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation Policy

It is the policy of the University that educational and employment decisions should be based on an individual’s abilities and qualifications and should not be based on irrelevant factors or personal characteristics that have no connection with academic abilities or job performance. An individual’s sexual orientation is among the factors which should be irrelevant to educational and employment decisions. See SPG 601.06.

2.B.5 Policy Regarding Individuals with Disabilities

The University is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Towards that goal, it has a policy that sets forth the action to be taken by the University and its employees concerning employment opportunities for qualified individuals with disabilities and provides for implementation and self-policing. See SPG 201.84.

2.B.6 Religious Academic Conflicts Policy

The University of Michigan as a public institution does not observe religious holidays. However, it is the University’s policy that every reasonable effort should be made to help faculty and students avoid negative academic consequences when academic requirements conflict with their religious obligations. The official University policy, which is available on the Office of the Provost website at <www.provost.umich.edu/calendar>, states:

Although the University of Michigan, as an institution, does not observe religious holidays, it has long been the University's policy that every reasonable effort should be made to help students avoid negative academic consequences when their religious obligations conflict with academic requirements. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence. Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance shall be provided with a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete such academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which they will be absent. Such notice must be given by the drop/add deadline of the given term. Students who are absent on days of examinations or class assignments shall be offered an opportunity to make up the work, without penalty, unless it can be demonstrated that a make-up opportunity would interfere unreasonably with the delivery of the course. Should disagreement arise over any aspect of this policy, the parties involved should contact the Department Chair, the Dean of the School, or the Ombudsperson. Final appeals will be resolved by the Provost.

2.B.7 Sexual Harassment Policy

It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of sexual harassment for students, faculty, and staff. Sexual harassment is contrary to the standards of the University community. It diminishes individual dignity and impedes equal employment and educational opportunities and equal access to freedom of academic inquiry. Sexual harassment is a barrier to fulfilling the University’s scholarly, research, educational, patient care, and service missions. It will not be tolerated at the University of Michigan. See SPG 201.89-0 and Chapter 11 “Sexual Harassment.”

2.B.8 Standards of Faculty Conduct

The University of Michigan strives to create and maintain a community that enables each person to reach his/her full potential.  To do so requires an environment of trust, openness, civility and respect. The University is firmly committed to a policy of prohibiting behaviors which adversely impact a person’s ability to participate in the scholarly, research, educational, patient care, and service missions of the University.  

The University has a compelling interest in assuring an environment in which productive work and learning may thrive. At the same time, the University has an interest in respecting freedom of speech and protecting academic freedom and in preserving the widest possible dialogue within its instructional and research settings. As such, the University recognizes and expects there to be open discourse and exchanges that may cause some of its members to feel uncomfortable.  It is through such exchanges that the flow of ideas and countervailing thoughts and experiences are expressed which can facilitate deeper understanding and learning.  However, the University also expects its community members to engage in such interactions in a professional manner.  This is particularly true of its faculty, as the faculty have not only the obligations of all citizens in the community at large but also the obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars.  The faculty’s privileges and protections, including that of tenure, rest on mutually supportive relationships between the central functions of the University and the faculty’s special professional competence, academic freedom in research, publication, teaching, service, and intra-and extramural communication.   These relationships are also the sources of the professional responsibilities of faculty members. 

It is the intent of this policy to protect academic freedom and to help preserve the highest standards of teaching and scholarship in order to advance the mission of the University.  This policy is specific to conduct which is not protected and covered under the principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom but rather conduct that the community would view as counter to its norms and expectations and which hinders other members of the community in the exercise of their professional responsibilities and academic freedoms.  The University is prepared to act to prevent or remedy behaviors that interfere with, or adversely affect, a person’s ability to learn or do his/her job.  Thus, responsible efforts to ensure compliance with this and other University/unit policies are consistent with the Standard Practice Guide (SPG).

The schools and colleges may supplement this policy with unit-specific measures that enhance the policies expressed in the SPG.  All such policies must be in accordance with all of the policies of the University and with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations. 

Definitions

The following types of behaviors may be subject to professional sanction, including discipline up to and including dismissal in accordance with the appropriate procedures.
These behaviors include oral, written, visual, or physical actions by a member of the faculty that:

  1. Have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance; and/or
  2. Have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive climate for an individual’s employment, academic pursuits, living environment, or participation in a University activity. 

Some examples of conduct that may violate this policy include, but are not limited to:  threatening behavior, actions, or comments; bullying behavior (defined as a persistent pattern of negative behavior based upon a real or perceived power imbalance which belittles another member of a unit); disruption of functions or activities sponsored or authorized by the University; forcible detention, threats of physical harm to, or harassment of another member of the University community; and behavior that results in a hostile  working or learning environment.  This list is not exhaustive, and faculty may be subject to sanction and disciplinary action for any type of conduct which, although not specifically enumerated, meets the standard for unacceptable faculty behavior set forth above.

Alleged Violations of this Policy

Alleged violations of this policy should be reported on a timely basis to an administrator (e.g., dean, chair or director in an academic unit, Academic Human Resources, or the immediate supervisor of the person alleged to be in violation of the policy). This administrator must ensure that appropriate action is taken to address the situation.  If warranted, a prompt inquiry shall be undertaken, and the faculty member shall be afforded an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him or her prior to a determination as to whether the policy has been violated. 

Prior to the imposition of any significant sanction or disciplinary action, to ensure that a level of peer review has occurred, the administrator shall consult with a relevant faculty executive or advisory committee. Each unit will determine the process by which peer review can be effectively and efficiently achieved and the appropriate sanction or sanctions recommended.  Concerns regarding alleged unprofessional conduct may arise from a pattern of behavior and interactions, rather than a single event.  The faculty who provide the peer review should look at the totality of the circumstances and not just the precipitating event.

The University will take appropriate steps to ensure that a person who, in good faith, reports or participates in a resolution of a concern brought forward under this policy is not subject to retaliation.  In addition, subjecting such a person to retaliation is itself a violation of this policy.  

Violation of this policy may result in appropriate sanction or disciplinary action.    If dismissal is proposed, the matter will be addressed through the appropriate procedure (e.g. Regents’ Bylaw 5.09, SPG 201.12).  A faculty member who is sanctioned or disciplined under this policy may have the right to appeal such action under the applicable procedure, typically the school/college faculty grievance procedure.

Faculty Handbook: Diversity and Nondiscrimination: