Office of the President

University's Racial Harassment Policy; Superceded by EM 91-014

Executive Memorandum 90-020 March 21, 1990

From: Robin S. Wilson, President

Subject: University's Racial Harassment Policy; Superceded by EM 91-014


To provide an intellectual, cultural, and physical environment in which the contributions of racial diversity are recognized and enhanced.


Because racial harassment creates an atmosphere of intimidation and hostility inconsistent with university goals, this policy and the procedures it establishes aim to

  • prevent racial harassment in the University;
  • enable investigations of alleged racial harassment;
  • provide for the appropriate formal or informal action as a result of such investigations; and
  • disseminate information concerning issues, rights, procedures, and outcomes.


1. California State University, Chico endeavors to provide an environment conducive to growth in mind, spirit, and human sensibility. Racial harassment is inimical to such an environment.

2. All current and new students, administrators, staff, and faculty should be knowledgeable of the university' s policies and procedures regarding racial harassment.


Racial harassment includes any behavior, verbal, written, or physical, that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, or ancestry and that threatens or interferes with an individual's employment, admission, performance evaluation, or participation in university-sanctioned activities by creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment.

Forms of racial harassment may include

1. Making written, verbal, or physical contact conveying racial overtones. Examples include

  • written--adversely discriminatory letters, notes, newspaper articles, invitations;
  • verbal--derogatory comments, jokes, epithets, or ethnic slurs; physical--physical violence and destruction of property, the display of racially offensive objects or pictures, cartoons, or posters.

2. Explicit adverse discriminatory behavior.

3. Reprisals, threats of reprisal, or implied threats of reprisal following a racial harassment complaint.

Whether a specific act violates the policy will be determined on a case-by-case basis with proper regard for all circumstances. Due consideration must be given to the protection of individual rights, freedom of speech, religious and moral convictions, academic freedom and advocacy.

California State University, Chico affirms freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution while at the same time rejecting discriminatory conduct which goes beyond the legally defined boundaries of free speech.



Complaints against employees should be submitted to the Associate Vice President for Faculty and Staff Affairs. Where such an approach is deemed appropriate, the Associate Vice President or the ad hoc administrative or supervisory designee will attempt to resolve the matter by means of confidential conference with the employee whose alleged behavior is the cause for the complaint. When a complaint appears to require formal disciplinary action, the Associate Vice President will initiate such action under the applicable disciplinary procedures.

Complaints by or against students should be submitted to the Coordinator for Student Judicial Affairs, who will investigate the complaints and initiate appropriate action.

Informal Inquiry

1 . The President will designate individuals to receive informal inquiries from students or employees regarding possible incidents of racial harassment. Persons with such questions may choose to discuss their concerns with one or more of these designees.

These designees will be charged with supplying information and clarification on the nature and definition of racial harassment and the administrative mechanisms for dealing with complaints. Their function is informal and advisory, aimed solely at aiding complainants to determine if incidents as described constitute grounds for complaint and, if so, how complaints are to be filed.

Designees will neither investigate nor adjudicate complaints of racial harassment.

2. At any stage in the inquiry/complaint process, persons initiating an inquiry have the right to be accompanied by a person of their choice when discussing such alleged incidents.

3. Discussions at the informal inquiry are completely confidential.

Persons who believe they are victims of harassment may meet with the presidential designees. They also have a wide variety of other persons from whom to seek advice. (See Attachment 1.)

Disciplinary Action

Formal complaints may be filed in accord with the disciplinary procedures applicable to the alleged perpetrator(s). Violations of this policy by administrators, faculty, and staff shall be regarded as unprofessional conduct, and the perpetrators may be subject to disciplinary actions ranging from verbal reprimand to dismissal.

Students are subject to similar sanctions.


1. Responsibility for enforcement of this policy lies with the university president or designee.

2. To ensure awareness of this policy,

  • orientation programs for new administrators, faculty, and staff will include explanation of university policy on racial harassment; materials for new students such as those distributed at summer orientation, in registration packets, and at arena registration will include the University Policy on Racial Harassment;
  • brochures and other materials will be developed and distributed to students and employees. The brochures should contain a statement of university policy, provide example of situations covered by the policy, and include instructions to follow when an alleged racial harassment incident has occurred.
  • a central telephone number will be established to provide information about racial harassment, including the location of appropriate offices to be contacted in case racial harassment has occurred and the names of persons appointed by the university president to handle racial harassment complaints;
  • workshops, forums, seminars, and other education programs will be developed for supervisory personnel (deans, chairs, staff supervisors) in order to sensitize supervisory personnel to issues of racial harassment. Supervisory personnel will transmit such information to persons under their direction. These educational programs are to include university employees with expertise in racial affairs.
  • a library catalog of printed and audiovisual materials will be established for education on valuing racial diversity.

3. This policy and its implementation will be reviewed annually by an appropriate Senate Committee for a period of three years and triennially.

May 21, 1990

TO: Campus Community

FROM: Robin S. Wilson, President

SUBJECT: University's Racial Harassment Policy

I send you herewith a copy of EM 90-20, which is the Policy on Racial Harassment formulated by the Faculty Senate and approved by me on May 21, 1990. Like all policies aimed at the reform of manners and morals, it is frail, but it is the product of much thoughtful study, it is an excellent base upon which to erect future policy, and it is probably the best we can do at a time when the law is uncertain, social attitudes are changing, and the lexicon for dealing with matters of this nature is filled with words which--like coins too long circulated-­ bear images worn to blurry indistinction. "Racism," "sexism," "discrimination," and even the newest, "diversity," are semantically slippery and too often defined merely by ostentation, i.e., they mean what some person says they mean when he points to an incident and applies the tag. What follows is my own attempt to avoid some verbal pitfalls and say as plainly as I can what I believe our emerging policy on these matters ought to convey.

Like the great majority of you, I am committed to ensuring the greatest possible degree of self-realization for every individual on the campus of California State University, Chico. Among other things, this means that I abhor those words and actions that warrant the terms sexist or racist, or that imply any other unjust assessments of people based upon irrelevant considerations of gender, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual preference, physical capacity, or cultural identity.

Most people on our campus believe as we do, but sadly not all. It is to this very small minority--the uncivil among us--that I address the next several paragraphs of this note, which are grouped into three parts.

Part One is as stern an admonition as I can express. We do not want you who are bigots to remain among us. Your irrationality dims the light of reason that guides the academy; your venom poisons the sweetness of the arts; your actions, whatever your age, are juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted social and psychological development, and belittling to the maturity of mind which we aim to achieve here.

Our communal response to your hatred is to exile you from our company or, should this not be possible, to shun you. My executive reaction to your loathsome behavior will be to impose on you as swiftly as possible whatever sanctions criminal law, the California Education Code, and Trustee policy permit.

Part Two is a plea for reform and an invitation to you haters to abandon that corrosive emotion, to accept the easy burdens of civility, and to join our community. This plea and invitation is not directed toward those of you who know better but act out of sheer malice, a disease for which the academy has no cure. You--like Hamlet's mother--are better left to heaven. Our plea and invitation is for those who may hate out of ignorance, a condition for which the academy has many cures.

Therefore, you who simply don' t know, who have somehow failed so far in life to get the word, please understand this:

In one important way, the diversity of human kind is irrelevant because in our common humanity we are all of a piece, all sisters and brothers under the skin, behind the morphology of gender, above the sandy footprints of caste, class, and culture. In another important way, that same diversity is critically relevant as the great aesthetic glory of the human condition which defines our nature. How exhilarating to the ego that we are individuals, every one of us as unique in detail as a fingerprint encoded in a fragment of DNA! How splendid to the eye that we come in such a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors! And from a purely prudential point of view, what a superb survival characteristic for our species is our diversity! Because of it, each of us is very good at something and all of us together are pretty good at everything: hence our capacity over the past few millennia to emerge from mankind's long history of darkness and brutality into a measure of genuine enlightenment.

Part Three is a word or two for bigots about the word "civil," which I use repeatedly here and which means far more than merely "courteous" or "polite." We talk much of civil rights and civil liberties. I ask you who are given to hatred to consider also those civil (not "civic") duties which come naturally to those of us not maimed by malice or incapacitated by ignorance. These duties, the practice of civility--the art of participating productively and harmoniously in an orderly community--are as necessary to our University, our state, and our nation as are the means of production, the defense of our shores, the maintenance of the commonwealth, and the provision of clean air and water. It is an art to be taught and learned.

As for all the rest of us who are trying our best to live together in productive comity, if the intoxication of humor or the heat of political passion or the distress of just having had a bad day leads one of us to a slip of the tongue, to an unconscious lapse in civility, then those of us who are offended might pause before returning fire, might recall Owen Wister's Virginian, who when a man at a poker game asserted his mother's caninity, drew his pistol, "and with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a little more than usual...he issued his orders to the man...:

"When you call me that, smile!"

This too is civility.