University Policy 63
Workplace Violence

Formerly Executive Memorandum 96-121
Initially Approved: November 21, 1996
Revised: November 13, 2003, September 28, 2009
Administering Office: Human Resources and Student Affairs
Posted: November 2, 2009

REPLACED BY POLICY 109, 8/17/2012

I. POLICY STATEMENT

Western Carolina University (“WCU”) seeks to provide a safe and secure working and learning environment. Violence, threats, intimidation and possession of unauthorized weapons are inconsistent with this objective. It is the policy of WCU to promote civility and mutual respect and to prohibit violence in the university community.

II. SCOPE AND APPLICABILITY

This policy applies to the activities and conduct of all employees and students on WCU’s campus or any WCU work or educational program site located off the campus (collectively the “university community”), as well as activities and conduct occurring off campus that may have an adverse impact on the university community.  This policy also addresses circumstances where visitor conduct and activities adversely affect WCU employees and students. 

It is intended that this policy conforms in every material aspect to the requirements of the North Carolina Office of State Personnel policy on workplace violence. With regard to SPA employees, this policy applies to SPA full-time and part-time employees with permanent, probationary, trainee, time-limited permanent or temporary appointments.

This policy applies to the conduct of all employees while functioning in the course and scope of employment as well as off-duty violent conduct that has a potential adverse impact on the employee’s ability to perform the assigned duties and responsibilities.

It is the responsibility of all employees and students to conduct themselves in such a way as to contribute to a safe and violence-free university community.  WCU managers and employees have a special responsibility to create and maintain such an environment.  Should any manager or employee have knowledge of violent conduct as defined in this policy, or receives a complaint of violence, immediate steps must be taken to deal with the matter appropriately.  WCU administrative and academic managers are responsible for ensuring that violence prevention education programs are provided to employees and students.

III. POLICY COORDINATORS

The Director of Human Resources and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs shall serve as co-coordinators of this policy, and have oversight responsibility for the implementation and administration of this policy.  The co-coordinators may seek policy oversight and other assistance from the WCU Violence Response Team , which shall include the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, the Chief of University Police, and University Legal Counsel. 

IV. VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT PLAN

The co-coordinators of this policy shall oversee the development and administration of a university community violence prevention and management program that shall include:

  1. A process for disseminating WCU’s policy to new and existing employees, and new and returning students;
  2. A procedure for employees and students to report violations of this policy;
  3. A procedure for investigating a report of a violation of this policy, including a description of WCU preparedness and precautionary measures to be taken in responding to acts or threats of violence;
  4. A procedure for providing instruction and training to all employees and students regarding proper response to acts or threats of violence;
  5. A procedure for reporting, collecting and maintaining information regarding incidents of university community violence and threat assessment activities; and
  6. A procedure for facilitating critical incident stress debriefings for employees and students who have been affected by an event related to trauma and victimization.  

V. DEFINITIONS

The following definitions are consistent with those included in the North Carolina Office of State Personnel policy on workplace violence.  These definitions are not intended nor should they be construed to have application to (i) any WCU policy pertaining to discrimination or unlawful harassment, (ii) any University Police policy, general order or regulation, (iii) the Student Code of Conduct, or (iv) any State of North Carolina law or regulation.

“University community violence” includes, but is not limited to, intimidation, bullying, stalking, threats, physical attack, domestic violence or property damage and includes acts of violence committed by students, employees, clients, customers, relatives, acquaintances, contractors or visitors.

“Intimidation” is engaging in actions that includes but is not limited to behavior intended to frighten, coerce, or induce duress.

“Bullying” is unwanted offensive and malicious behavior which undermines an individual or group through persistently negative attacks. There is typically an element of vindictiveness and the behavior is calculated to undermine, patronize, humiliate, intimidate or demean the recipient.

“Stalking” involves harassing or pestering an individual, in person, in writing, by telephone or electronic format. Stalking also involves following an individual, spying on them, alarming the victim or causing them distress and may involve violence or the fear of violence.

“Threat” is the expression of intent to cause physical or mental harm. An expression constitutes a threat without regard to whether the party communicating the threat has the present ability to carry it out and without regard to whether the expression is contingent, conditional or future. 

“Physical attack” is unwanted or hostile physical contact such as hitting, fighting, pushing, shoving or throwing objects.
 
“Domestic violence” is the use of abusive or violent behavior, including threats and intimidation, between people who have an ongoing or prior intimate relationship. This could include people who are married, live together or date or who have been married, lived together or dated.
 
“Property damage”
is intentional damage to property and includes property owned by the State, employees, visitors, contractors or vendors.

VI. PROHIBITED CONDUCT

A. Employee Prohibited Conduct

It is a violation of this policy for an employee to:

  1. Engage in university community violence as defined herein; or
  2. Use, possess or threaten to use an unauthorized weapon during a time covered by this policy, in violation of University Policy #91 (available at the URL provided in Section XII below); or
  3. Misuse authority in such a way that it violates this policy.

With regard to SPA employees, a violation of this policy shall be considered “unacceptable personal conduct” as provided in University Policy #78 (available at the URL provided in Section XII below). Acts of violence, as defined herein, may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.  An act of off-duty violent conduct may also be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal; provided that WCU demonstrates that the disciplinary action is supported by the existence of a rational nexus between the type of violent conduct committed and the adverse impact on the employee’s ability to perform his/her assigned duties and responsibilities.

With regard to EPA non-faculty employees and faculty, a violation of this policy may subject the offending employee or faculty member to disciplinary action in accordance with the Employment Policies for University Employees Exempt from the State Personnel Act or the Faculty Handbook, as the case may be.

B. Student Prohibited Conduct

It is a violation of this policy for a student to:

  1. Engage in university community violence as defined herein; or
  2. Use, possess or threaten to use an unauthorized weapon during a time covered by this policy, in violation of University Policy #91 (available at the URL provided in Section XII below); or
  3. Violate any corresponding provision of the Student Code of Conduct (available at the URL provided in Section XII below).

Violations of this policy by a student are considered "prohibited behavior" as defined by the WCU Code of Student Conduct and shall subject the offending student to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion. The Division of Student Affairs administers disciplinary action for offending students.

VII. REPORTING PROHIBITED CONDUCT

If the reported prohibited conduct involves an imminent threat of physical harm to an individual, the University Police Department must be notified immediately at 8-911.

In any event, this policy is not intended to prohibit any victim of or witness to violent activities and conduct from contacting the University Police Department.  Additionally, if anyone has witnessed or has knowledge about the commission of a crime, the University Policy Department must be notified immediately.  The University Police Department may notify employees and students as necessary of pending or imminent threats or violence.

A. Employee Reports to Human Resources

When a WCU employee experiences or has knowledge of prohibited conduct in violation of this policy, that individual must immediately report this to his/her supervisor and the Director of Human Resources, who will conduct a preliminary investigation and seek assistance as necessary from the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Violence Response Team, or the Threat Assessment Team (described in Section XI below). 

B. Student Reports to Student Affairs

When a WCU student experiences or has knowledge of prohibited conduct in violation of this policy, that individual must immediately report this to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, who will conduct a preliminary investigation and seek assistance as necessary from the Director of Human Resources, the Violence Response Team, or the Threat Assessment Team.

VIII. SUPPORT AND PROTECTIONS

WCU shall make efforts to protect victims of university community violence by offering reasonable security measures. Victims may also need special accommodations or adjustments to their work or class schedule, location or working/learning conditions in order to enhance their safety. WCU will accommodate these requests and needs whenever possible and appropriate.

Management is expected to offer support to victims of university community violence, which includes domestic violence. This support should include encouragement of employee victims to use the services of the university employee assistance program.  Student victims should be directed to Counseling and Psychological Services.  In addition, management shall use their discretion to grant employee victims leave time for medical, court, or counseling appointments related to trauma and/or victimization. The following options should be considered: flex scheduling; vacation leave; sick leave; and leave without pay.

IX. RETALIATION

Employees and students who act in good faith by reporting real or apparent violent behavior or violations of this policy will not be retaliated against or subjected to harassment.

X. RELATED CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS

When violations of this policy also potentially constitute violations of criminal laws, the University Police Department, or other local law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction, will take the lead role in coordinating and conducting investigations and preparing cases for prosecution as deemed appropriate by the local District Attorney and WCU officials.   A pending criminal investigation should not delay student disciplinary action, personnel disciplinary actions initiated within the work unit, or review of the incident by the Violence Response Team or Threat Assessment Team.

XI. RELATED POLICIES AND RESOURCES

Phone Numbers

  • Emergency:  911
  • University Police Department / Emergency: 8-911
  • University Policy Department / Non-emergency: 227-7301
  • Office of Human Resources:  227-7218
  • Division of Student Affairs:  227-7234
  • Chair of Student Crisis Response Team /Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs:  227-7234
  • WCU Health Services:  227-7640
  • WCU Counseling and Psychological Services:  227-7469
  • REACH of Jackson County:  631-4488
 

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