Employee Handbook

Page 5: Standards of Conduct

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Policy 410: Standards of Conduct

Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer
Effective Date: October 1994
Reviewed/Updated Date:  November 2022
Date of Scheduled Review:  November 2026

 

I.  PURPOSE
To assure safe, efficient and harmonious operations and to fully inform all employees of their responsibilities.

II.  SCOPE
This policy applies to all faculty and staff and select student-employee positions that carry additional expectations as set out in their job descriptions unless otherwise specified below at ACU.

III.  POLICY
The university’s standards of conduct are established for the guidance of all employees. Infractions will lead to corrective action up to and including discharge (See Policy 430 Performance Improvement).

     BREACHES OF STANDARDS OF CONDUCT (Partial List)

  • The use of tobacco or alcoholic beverages by faculty or staff members with or in students’ presence, regardless of the location.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior including but not limited to viewing pornography; an unmarried employee cohabitating with a romantic partner; internet or electronic sexual misconduct; adultery; same-sex dating, relationships, or marriage; or sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman.
  • Falsifying employment applications, timesheets, personnel records or other university documents.
  • Unauthorized use of university material, time, equipment or property.
  • Insubordination or refusal to comply with instructions or failure to perform reasonable duties which are assigned.
  • Engaging in acts of dishonesty, fraud, theft or sabotage.
  • Disorderly conduct which may endanger the well-being of others or university operations.
  • Damaging or destroying university property through careless or willful acts.
  • Threatening, intimidating, coercing, using abusive or vulgar language or interfering with the performance of others.
  • Carrying weapons or explosives, illegal gambling or violating criminal laws on university premises.
  • Dating between a faculty/staff member and a student is, under most circumstances, inappropriate and is strongly discouraged by the university. Before any such conduct, the employee must discuss it with their supervisor. The supervisor will consult with appropriate university officials, including the vice president or dean of the faculty/staff member’s division, to determine if the proposed conduct is acceptable to the university. Appropriate levels of confidentiality will be maintained. If the university determines that the proposed conduct is inappropriate, that decision will be communicated to the faculty/staff member. Any failure by the employee to comply with this advance notice requirement or the university’s decision will be subject to strict disciplinary action, including suspension or termination.
  • Conduct that the university determines reflects adversely on the employee or university.

This list is intended to represent the types of activities that may result in corrective action. It is not intended to be comprehensive and does not alter the employment-at-will relationship between employees and the university.

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Policy 410.5: Code of Ethics

Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator:
 Chief of Human Resources Officer
Effective Date:
 September 2011
Reviewed/Updated: January 2021
Date of Scheduled Review:
 January 2025

I. PURPOSE
The purpose of the Code of Ethics (the “Code”) is to set forth the ethical expectations of members of the Abilene Christian University community. Other University policies provide specific rules and regulations that govern the conduct of University community members and the Code does not modify the application or enforcement of those policies in any way. This document also provides guidelines for reporting suspected or observed violations of the Abilene Christian University Code of Ethics.

II. SCOPE
This policy applies to all members of the ACU community – faculty, staff, administrators, students, members of the Board of Trustees, and volunteers acting on behalf of the University.

III. OVERVIEW AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Abilene Christian University is a Christian University committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values. All members of the Abilene Christian University community are responsible for maintaining the standards of the institution. We value integrity, honesty, and fairness and strive to integrate these values into our daily practices.

Our ethical expectations are found in Holy Scripture and the University Mission Statement. Holy Scripture provides the ultimate source for our ethical standards, including the two great commands taught by Jesus: the duty to love God and love one’s neighbor as one’s self (Matthew 22: 37-40).

In this spirit, we commit ourselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct. We act with integrity; we treat others with respect and dignity; we carefully steward the University’s resources; we avoid conflicts of interest or commitment; we maintain confidentiality; and we comply with legal and professional obligations. We are individually accountable for our own actions, and we are collectively accountable for upholding these standards of behavior and complying with all applicable laws, policies, standards, and regulations. While human and therefore fallible, we constantly strive to meet our ethical expectations. Moreover, because the Abilene Christian community is composed of many distinct constituencies, we understand that, beyond the general ethical principles outlined in this document, we may be subject to additional rules of conduct specific to our respective roles within the community.

  1.  We Act with Integrity: We seek to be people who are honorable, forthright, and upright at all times. Our commitment to integrity demands more than mere satisfaction of legal and ethical obligations, although we comply with the law and conform to the highest standards of ethical conduct. Our commitment to integrity means that we actively discern what is right from what is wrong; that our behavior is congruent with the life and values of Christ; that we seek consistency between our inner self and our outward conduct. We value people; we speak the truth; we have the courage of our convictions; and we keep our commitments. We do not condone any form of dishonesty-such as fraud, theft, cheating, or plagiarism-as described more specifically in student, faculty, and staff handbooks and policies. For further information see the Academic Integrity and Honesty Policy and the Standards of Conduct from the Employee Handbook.
  2. We Treat Others with Respect and Dignity: As members of the ACU community, we are committed to principles of equality and fairness. We follow the profound truth found in the Golden Rule, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
    We do not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of any status or condition protected by applicable federal or state law. For further information on the University’s hiring practices see Chapter Two of the Faculty Handbook and the Nondiscrimination Policy of the Employee Handbook.
    We respect the inherent worth of each member of the community. We do not engage in or overlook any form of harassment of others. Those in positions of authority, including administrators, supervisors, faculty members, and student leaders exercise their authority prudently, fairly and appropriately.
  3. We are Good Stewards of the University’s Resources. We use University resources for business purposes on behalf of the University. We exercise reasonable judgment in the use of University resources, acting with care and prudence. We do not use University resources for personal gain.
    We competently prepare clear financial records. To the best of our ability, we will record all entries into the University’s financial records accounts accurately. In reporting on the University’s resources, we do not hide, conceal, or purposely mislead, and we promptly and appropriately report such misconduct when it is discovered.
    We abide by the Information Technology Policies, which contain information about the appropriate use of technology resources.
  4. We Avoid Conflicts of Interest and Commitment: We do not have direct or indirect interests or commitments, financial or otherwise, which conflict with the proper discharge of our duties to the University. The primary professional allegiance of all full-time employees lies with Abilene Christian University and the advancement of its mission. We disclose potential conflicts of interest to the appropriate supervisor or officer as soon as possible after we realize that a conflict may have arisen. Additional information regarding this commitment is located in the University Conflicts of Interest policy.
  5. We Maintain Confidentiality: We observe and respect the confidentiality rights of all other members of the community, and this duty continues even after we are no longer affiliated with the University. This right of confidentiality applies to all academic, financial, health-related, personnel, or other non-public information protected either by law or by University policy. However, the right does not preclude the consensual release of information or the disclosure of information within the University when there is a legitimate need for its disclosure. Additional information is located in the Personnel Records and Privacy Policy, Records Management Policy, and in the Annual FERPA Notice to Students.
  6. We Comply with Legal and Professional Obligations: We comply with applicable state and federal laws and conform to the highest standards of professional conduct. We transact University business in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and University policies and procedures. We do not misrepresent our status or authority in our dealings with others. To the extent that we belong to professions that are governed by standards specific to the profession (such as attorneys, psychologists, or certified public accountants), we adhere to such professional standards. We conduct ourselves in accordance with professional principles for scholarly work, including upholding academic codes of conduct and professional standards for research.

IV. COMMITMENT TO REPORT OBSERVED OR SUSPECTED VIOLATIONS
In order to maintain the integrity of the community, we report observed or suspected violations of this code of ethics with a spirit of fairness, honesty, and respect for the rights of others. Those who report alleged misconduct and those against whom allegations are reported are afforded all rights provided by University policies, as well as all applicable state and federal laws. Those who are found to have violated this code will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion, termination of employment, or termination of relationship.

We are governed by an ethos of care and respect, virtues that transcend the provisions of this code. We are called to something greater and nobler than mere compliance with the law or a written code of ethics. We are called “to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world” (University Mission Statement). We are called “to live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received . . . , bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2). We are called to “follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

V. PROCESS FOR REPORTING A VIOLATION OF THE CODE OF ETHICS
We report observed or suspected violations of the Code in a spirit of fairness, honesty, and respect for the rights of others. The University encourages the use of informal processes when appropriate to resolve questions or concerns about violations of the Code.

Violations of the Code should be reported in accordance with the process provided under the applicable University policy. Reports of violations may be made anonymously online or by calling 325-674-2594

For violations or concerns that do not fall under an existing University policy or that do not have an established reporting process, the following guidelines should be followed:

  1. Faculty Members: Faculty members should report violations or concerns to their department chair or to their dean. If violations or concerns involve their department chair or dean, and the faculty member fears reprisal or suppression of the concern, that member should bring the violation or concern to the attention of the Provost.
  2. Staff Members: Staff members should report violations or concerns to their immediate supervisor. If it is not appropriate to report the violation to one’s immediate supervisor for any reason, the staff member should report the violation to the supervisor’s superior or the Human Resources office.
  3. Students: Students should report violations or concerns to the office of the Vice President of Student Life. Student employees should report violations or concerns related to their employment to their immediate supervisor. If it is not appropriate to report the violation to one’s supervisor for any reason, the student employee should report the violation to the supervisor’s superior or the Human Resources office.
  4. Members of the Board of Trustees: Members of the Board should report violations to the Chair of the Board or the Office of General Counsel.
  5. Volunteers: University volunteers should report violations or concerns to the University employee who coordinates their volunteer activity with the University. If it is not appropriate to report the violation to the coordinating employee for any reason, the volunteer should report the violation to the coordinating employee’s supervisor, the Center for Christian Service and Leadership, or other University employee with whom the volunteer interacts in the capacity as volunteer.

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Policy 411: Conflict of Interest

Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer
Effective Date: January 1994
Reviewed/Updated: January 2021
Date of Scheduled Review: January 2025

I. PURPOSE
To protect the integrity of Abilene Christian University’s information, products, services and employee efforts.

II. SCOPE
This policy applies to all full-time and reduced full-time faculty and staff (hereinafter referred to as “employees”).

III. DEFINITIONS

  1. “Outside work” includes non-university employment, consulting or research projects or any other personal business opportunities.
  2. A “conflict of interest” or “actual conflict of interest” exists when university employees have personal, professional or economic interests that interfere with their responsibilities or obligations to the university or oppose the best interests of the university. An “apparent conflict of interest” exists when an independent observer reasonably questions whether a conflict of interest exists.By way of example, the following are circumstances and conditions where actual or apparent conflicts of interests may arise:
    1. Engaging in outside work that interferes with the time commitment of employees to ACU or makes inappropriate use of university resources;
    2. Engaging in business transactions with the university of a private nature and unrelated to employment, such as purchasing or influencing the purchase of equipment or materials from companies in which employees or members of their immediate family have a material personal interest;
    3. Unauthorized and unreimbursed use of university property or resources for the benefit of outside work of employees or companies in which employees or members of their immediate family have a material personal interest;
    4. When engaging in outside work, allowing client(s) to believe that work is being done by or on behalf of the university or implying that certain personal ideas represent the university’s position;
    5. Use of confidential or privileged information acquired as a result of employment with the university;
    6. Conducting research projects in coordination with or sponsored by governmental agencies or private business;
    7. Involving ACU students or other university employees in outside work if such involvement is coerced or if it conflicts with their commitments or obligations to the university; and
    8. Engaging in a business similar in nature to the university or service provided by the university or when spouses or other immediate family members of employees are engaged in such a business or service.

IV. POLICY

  1. Employees are expected to devote their best efforts to the interests of the university and the conduct of its affairs. Employees are also expected to avoid using their connection with the university for personal advantage.
  2. The university recognizes the right of employees to engage in activities outside of their employment at ACU of a private nature and unrelated to the university’s business. However, prior to accepting any outside work, employees must first consider their primary obligations and responsibilities to the university and whether an actual or apparent conflict of interest could arise. Employees should not accept outside work that would create a conflict of interest. Additionally, because the appearance of a conflict of interest can be as detrimental as an actual conflict of interest, any apparent conflict of interest should also be avoided.
  3. Employees who have, directly or through family or business connections, an interest in suppliers of goods or services or in contractors with the university, should not act for the university or influence actions of the university in any transaction involving that interest.
  4. Employees should avoid accepting gifts of more than nominal value from any party that does or seeks to do business with the university. An employee should consult with his/her supervisor if unsure about whether to accept a gift.
  5. A policy of full disclosure will be followed to assess and prevent conflicts of interest from arising. In this regard, upon hire and once each year (on a date that will be determined and publicized by Human Resources), all employees will submit a completed Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement to their immediate supervisor. Additionally, if at any time employees determine that an actual or apparent conflict of interest may be presented under any circumstances described in this policy, they should submit a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement to their immediate supervisor. Upon receipt of a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement, the supervisor, in consultation with the responsible Dean or Vice President (as applicable), will determine whether a conflict of interest exists and what conditions or restrictions, if any, should be imposed to reduce or eliminate such conflict.
  6. Failure to disclose conflicts of interest may lead to corrective action up to and including discharge. The university reserves the right to inquire and receive complete disclosure regarding actual or apparent conflicts of interest as it may deem appropriate.

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Policy 412: Title IX – Sexual Misconduct

(Including Sexual Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence)


Responsible Department: Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer and Title IX Coordinator
Effective Date: May 2012
Revised: July 2021
Date of Scheduled Review: July 2022

I. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to maintain a work and academic environment that is free of sexual misconduct, as defined herein. This policy provides information related to sexual misconduct reporting, supportive measures, and prompt and equitable procedures to resolve complaints.

II. SCOPE AND JURISDICTION

This policy provides reporting options, supportive measures and prompt and equitable procedures to resolve sexual misconduct complaints for ACU students, employees, or anyone else participating in or attempting to participate in ACU’s Educational Programs and Activities. As explained below, its application is not necessarily limited solely to ACU’s campus but extends to its Educational Programs or Activities or conduct that, while occurring elsewhere, impacts the educational or employment environment. Misconduct that is alleged to have occurred outside of these contexts or that is committed by a person outside the ACU community may be more difficult to investigate and remedy. Still, where the university’s response is so limited, it will advise the reporting party regarding their right to applicable Supportive Measures and rights to file a complaint with the alleged Complainant’s school or local law enforcement within the jurisdiction where the misconduct occurred.

III. POLICY

    1. Prohibition Against Sexual Misconduct – Sexual misconduct, as defined below, will not be tolerated at Abilene Christian University. It is a breach of community that expresses disrespect, exploits and undermines relationships based on trust, and interferes with learning and productive work. Inquiries about the application of these laws may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator or the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education.
    2. Responding and Reporting – Any person who experiences sexual misconduct or who otherwise becomes aware of such an incident may object to this behavior by telling the Respondent to stop. Reporting options and obligations related to alleged conduct violations are set out in Sections V and VI of this policy. ACU encourages all reports to be made in good faith. If an investigation results in a finding that an accusation of Sexual Misconduct or retaliation was made in bad faith or maliciously, the accuser may be disciplined appropriately. However, filing a complaint or providing information that a party or witness genuinely believes is accurate but which is ultimately dismissed due to insufficient evidence or found to be untrue does not constitute intentional false reporting.
    3. Amnesty from Code of Conduct Violations – Under Texas law, the university may not take any disciplinary action against an enrolled student or employee who in good faith reports to the institution being the victim of, or a witness to, an incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking or a violation by the student or employee of the university’s Code of Conduct occurring at or near the time of the incident (e.g., underage drinking, drug use, or curfew violations), regardless of the location at which the incident occurred or the outcome of the institution’s disciplinary process regarding the incident, if any. This means that while the university may provide support and education options, it will not discipline students or employees for conduct violations in such cases. Such immunity does not apply to students or employees who are the subject of the complaint.
    4. No Retaliation – Neither ACU nor any other person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by this policy or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this part. Intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination, including charges against an individual for Code of Conduct violations that do not involve sex discrimination or sexual harassment, but arise out of the same facts or circumstances as a report or complaint of sex discrimination, or a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by this policy, constitutes retaliation. A party may also be responsible for retaliation by someone affiliated with them (e.g., a friend or family member). Any such behavior should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator or designee immediately. Allegations of retaliation will be investigated and addressed under the process set out in this policy.
    5. Conflicts of Interest or Bias – If the Complainant or Respondent contends that the Coordinator, Deputy Coordinator, Investigator, Adaptable Resolution Facilitator, or a Decision Maker has a conflict of interest in fulfilling their responsibilities under this policy, the university encourages the party to raise those issues with the Coordinator so that they can be considered and addressed. Parties must raise the issue of a conflict of interest within two business days of learning the identity of the administrator and their role in the process. Failure to raise a conflict of interest concern within two business days of learning the identity of the administrator assigned will act as a waiver of any perceived conflict.
    6. Notification and Training – In an effort to prevent sexual misconduct, ACU will provide, near the beginning of each long semester, all employees and students with a notification regarding this policy and protocols for reporting, including where to file a complaint. It will also provide periodic training for employees and training for all new freshmen and undergraduate transfer students before or during the first semester enrolled. Participation in such training is required.

 

IV. DEFINITIONS AND PROHIBITED CONDUCT

    1. “Report” – information related to an alleged incident of sexual misconduct
    2. “Reporter” – the person that reports the alleged sexual misconduct to the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Office (Title IX Office) or Title IX Coordinator. Reporters might be the Complainant or someone else like an employee, friend, or parent.
    3. “Supportive Measures” – Non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the Complainant or the Respondent before or after the filing of a Formal Complaint or where no Formal Complaint has been filed.  (also known as Interim or Protective Measures)
    4. “Complainant”– an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute Sexual Misconduct
    5. “Respondent” – an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute Sexual Misconduct
    6. “Formal Complaint” – A written document signed by the Complainant and/or Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual misconduct against a Respondent.
    7.  “ACU’s Educational Program and Activities” – includes locations, events, or circumstances over which ACU exercised substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the Sexual Misconduct occurs, and also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by ACU. This includes ACU’s remote learning platform (Canvas).
    8.  “Sexual Misconduct” – A broad term encompassing a range of non-consensual sexual activity or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. This term includes sexual harassment, Quid Pro Quo harassment, sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, or stalking. Sexual Misconduct can be committed by men or women, strangers or acquaintances, and can occur between or among people of the same or opposite sex. Based on varying applicable laws, ACU has developed the following categories and related definitions for the types of Sexual Misconduct.
      1. Category One Sexual Misconduct
  • Sexual Harassment in Employment Context – unwelcome, sex-based verbal or physical conduct which unreasonably interferes with a person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment
  • Sexual Harassment in Education Context – unwelcome, sex-based verbal or physical conduct which is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that the conduct interferes with a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from educational programs or activities at a postsecondary educational institution.
  • Sexual Exploitation – Any act where one person violates the sexual privacy of another or takes unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another. Sexual exploitation may include: surreptitiously observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; recording, photographing, transmitting, showing, viewing, streaming, or distributing intimate or sexual images, audio recordings, or sexual information without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; exposing one’s genitals or inducing another to expose their genitals in non-consensual circumstances.
      1. Category Two Sexual Misconduct – Applies to conduct occurring anywhere that negatively impacts the Complainant’s educational or employment environment (i.e., non-Title IX)
  • Sexual Assault – An offense that meets the definition of rape or other sex offenses:
    • Rape – The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the victim’s consent.
    • Other Sex Offenses – Any sexual act directed against another person without the victim’s consent, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.
      • Fondling – The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the victim’s consent, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
      • Statutory Rape – Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
  • Dating Violence – Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. For the purposes of this definition, dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
  • Domestic Violence – A felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by (i) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; (ii) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (iii) a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; (iv) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred, or (v) any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred
  • Stalking – Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.
    • Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property;
    • Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the victim;
    • Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
  • Complicity in Sexual Assault – Any act that knowingly aids, facilitates, promotes, or encourages the commission of Sexual Assault by another person. A Complainant may allege that someone besides the Respondent is complicit in the Sexual Assault and that allegation will be investigated and addressed pursuant to the policies set out here as an allegation of Complicity in Sexual Assault.
      1. Category Three Sexual Misconduct – Applies only to conduct on the basis of sex occurring in ACU’s Education Programs and Activities within the United States (i.e., Title IX applies)
  • Sexual Harassment
    • Quid Pro Quo Harassment by Employee – An ACU employee conditioning the provision of aid, benefit, or service on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct
    • Denial of Equal Access – Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the ACU education program or activity (including employment)
  • Sexual Assault – Any sexual act including Rape, Sodomy, Sexual Assault With An      Object, or Fondling      directed against another person without the consent of the victim, including           instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent. The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) offers the following definitions of sex offenses:
    • Rape – (Except Statutory Rape) The carnal knowledge of       a person, without the consent of the victim, including        instances where the victim is incapable of giving           consent because of his/her age or because of his/her   temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity
    • Sodomy – Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances       where the victim is incapable of giving consent  because         of his/her age or because of his/her temporary     or        permanent mental or physical incapacity
    • Sexual Assault With An Object – To use an object or    instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the      genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without the consent of the  victim, including instances       where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of     his/her age or because of his/her            temporary or permanent     mental or physical incapacity.
    • Fondling – The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
    • Statutory Rape – Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
  • Dating Violence – Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i)The length of the relationship; (ii)The type of relationship; (iii)The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
  • Domestic Violence – includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
  • Stalking –  engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.
    1. “Consent” – An informed, deliberate, and voluntary decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity.
      1. Consent must be mutually understood and clear: Consent can be given by words or actions as long as those words or actions create clear, unambiguous, mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of sexual activity. However, relying solely on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings and harmful consequences for all of the parties involved because this form of communication may be unclear. Consent may not be implied by silence, passivity, or lack of resistance. Instead, consent must be part of a mutual and ongoing process by both parties throughout the sexual interaction. Consent to engage in one sexual activity does not imply consent to engage in another or different sexual activity. A current or previous dating relationship or sexual relationship may not be taken to imply consent. Consent cannot be implied or inferred by attire, time or place (e.g., being invited to a person’s residence at a certain time of night).  Consent to sexual activity may be revoked at any time, as long as the revocation is communicated clearly, at which point sexual activity must cease immediately.
      2. Consent must be free and voluntary – Consent is not valid if acquired through means of physical force, the threat of physical force, intimidation, coercion, incapacitation, or any other fact that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his or her own free will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity. Because consent may never be provided by an incapacitated person, one must assume consent has been withdrawn should an individual become incapacitated at any point during a sexual act or encounter. However, Respondent must know or reasonably should have known that the Complainant was incapacitated at the time of the sexual activity.
    2. “Incapacity” – Any state where individuals cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because they lack the ability to understand the consequences of their actions. They cannot fully understand what is happening and therefore cannot consent even if they appear to be a willing participant. This includes but is not limited to persons incapacitated based on their voluntary or involuntary use of drugs or alcohol, unconsciousness, blackout, or sleep. Because it can be difficult to know when someone has passed from the state of intoxication to the point of incapacitation, if you have any doubt about a person’s ability to consent, you should not engage in sexual contact with them.  Moreover, engaging in sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair an individual’s ability to make sure they have received consent. The use of alcohol and/or drugs by the person initiating sexual activity will never be an excuse for failing to obtain consent.
    3. “Force” – The use of force to cause someone to engage in sexual activity is, by definition, non-consensual contact. Force is not limited to physical violence but also includes threats, intimidation, abuse of power, coercion, duress, or any combination of these behaviors.
      1. Physical Force, Violence –  Physical force is the use of power, violence, or strength upon another person’s body. An individual’s use of physical force, or violence, or threat of physical force or violence to make another person participate in or perform a sexual activity they might not have otherwise agreed to, or did not want to engage in, is a violation of this policy.
      2. Threats – A threat often occurs when someone says or implies that there will be negative consequences from failing to acquiesce to or comply with sexual activity. It is a violation of this policy if an individual uses threats to make another person participate in or perform a sexual activity that they would not have agreed to engage in otherwise.
      3. Intimidation or Abuse of Power/Authority – Intimidation or abuse of power/authority occurs when individuals use their real or perceived authority to influence other people to acquiesce or submit to sexual activity. Intimidation happens through a real or perceived display of superior power that someone uses to make another do what they want them to do.
      4. Coercion or Duress – Coercion and duress occur when continual and repeated pressure is used to compel someone to engage in sexual activity. Coercion and/or duress can be bullying an individual into sexual activity that they did not and/or would not have wanted to participate in but for the coercion and/or duress. Coercion or duress can be physical or verbal. Coercion can be a process that happens over a period of time. In assessing whether coercion was used, the frequency, duration, and intensity of the pressure applied will be taken into consideration.

V. EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE, MEDICAL TREATMENT, AND EVIDENCE PRESERVATION

If a person has concerns for their safety, they should contact the ACU Police Department (ACUPD) (325-674-2911) or the Abilene Police Department (APD) (911). If on-campus, ACUPD can also be contacted by activating one of the blue safety phones located throughout campus. Police can help with transportation to the hospital for sexual assault exams, connecting a person to other resources, and help in obtaining a restraining order. For more information, see In Case of Emergency.
Regardless of whether an incident of Sexual Misconduct is reported to the police or the university, ACU strongly encourages individuals who have experienced sexual assault or relationship violence to go to Hendrick Medical Center both to obtain medical treatment and to preserve evidence to the greatest extent possible, as this will best maintain all legal options for them in the future. Additionally, such evidence may be helpful in pursuing a complaint with ACU. While ACU does not conduct forensic tests for parties involved in a complaint of sexual misconduct, the results of such tests that have been conducted by law enforcement agencies (including ACUPD) and medical assistance providers may be considered as evidence in a university investigation or proceeding, provided they are available at the time of the investigation or proceeding. Additionally, ACUPD has officers specifically trained to work with Complainants who can explain their rights and options and provide relevant resources. (For more information, see “Hendrick Medical Center” section under In Case of Emergency.)

VI. REPORTING OPTIONS AND EMPLOYEE OBLIGATIONS

A variety of resources are available at ACU and in the area around campus to assist those who have experienced sexual misconduct. If you have experienced any of the behaviors described in this policy, the university encourages you to seek help and support by reporting this conduct. The university recognizes that reporting misconduct can be difficult, and Complainants may experience a multitude of emotions when considering whether or not to report the conduct. In that regard, there are multiple options to address this conduct, both through our disciplinary process and/or through the legal system or simply seeking support. Regardless of whether an individual ultimately chooses to file a Formal Complaint, upon receiving a Report, the university will provide Complainants with options related to Supportive Measures and provide information regarding filing a Formal Complaint and related resolution options. These various reporting options are detailed in the sections that follow.

    1. Direct Reporting to Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Office (“Title IX Office”)  – Reports can be made directly to members of the Title IX Office, including the Title IX Coordinator, the Deputy Coordinator, or Case Manager, who ACU has designated as the sole officials who have authority to administer this policy and institute corrective actions and measures on ACU’s behalf.  As noted above, reporting to the Title IX Office does not require pursuing a Formal Complaint (Please see Section VII for more information).  Reports can be made using the electronic reporting form, by email or telephone voice mail at any time, or in-person during business hours.

 

When using the online reporting form, providing contact information is optional except in situations where employees are required to report under Texas law, as explained in Section E. Anonymous Reporters should understand that while the university will do its best to address anonymous reports, it may be limited in its ability to investigate and otherwise respond to or address them.

Title IX Coordinator
Wendy Jones, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Human Resources Officer
Hardin Administration Building, Rm. 213
Abilene, Texas 79699
325-674-2359
wendy.jones@acu.edu

Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Prevention and Support
Sherita Nickerson, M.Ed.
Hardin Administration Building, Rm. 213
Abilene, Texas 79699
325-674-6802
sherita.nickerson@acu.edu

    1. Confidential Reporting/Support Options – If a Complainant desires to report but desires that their personally identifiable information not be reported to the university’s Title IX Office, they are encouraged to speak with one of the following: (1) On or off-campus mental health professional or health care service providers; (2) off-campus rape crisis resources; (3) off-campus clergy, and (4) on-campus Chaplains, who are designated as Confidential Individuals by the university. See Resources for contact information about making a confidential report. These individuals will maintain the confidentiality of a Complainant’s identity unless (i) they are given permission to share information by the person who disclosed the information; (ii) there is an imminent threat of harm to self or others; (iii) the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor under the age of 17; or (iv) as otherwise required or permitted by law or court order.  On-campus individuals are still required to report to the Title IX Coordinator only the type of incident reported and may not include any information that would violate an expectation of privacy.
    2. Reporting to Law Enforcement – Separate and apart from violations of this policy, many sexual misconduct offenses may also be crimes in the state or locality in which the incident occurred (see Appendix A).

 

      1. Reporting Encouraged and Assistance Available – ACU encourages any related criminal violations to be reported to ACUPD so that Complainants can consider legal options. The Title IX Office can provide a Complainant with assistance in notifying ACUPD, or if a Complainant declines to report the crime to law enforcement, the Title IX Office will only provide the type of incident reported and its approximate location as required by federal law. These options are available to the Complainants, who may change their minds about pursuing them at any time. For example, Complainants may seek a protective order from a court against the alleged Respondent(s), pursue a civil action, and/or participate in a law enforcement investigation and criminal prosecution of the alleged Respondent. The university will honor such protective orders. It is important to note that reporting to ACUPD or any other law enforcement does not require filing criminal charges and that there are options for filing criminal complaints using a pseudonym.  ACUPD can be contacted at:

ACU Police Department
325-674-2305 (non-emergency)
325-674-2911 (emergency)
acupolice@acu.edu
ACU Box 28010
1634 Campus Court
Abilene, Texas 79699

      1. Timely Public Warning – Under federal law, the ACUPD must issue immediate timely warnings for certain types, and circumstances of Sexual Misconduct reported to them if they believe they pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. If that is necessary, ACU will make every effort to ensure that the Complainant’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.
      2. Cooperation with Law Enforcement Requests – The University will comply with a law enforcement request for cooperation, and such cooperation may require the University to temporarily suspend any fact-finding aspect of an investigation while the law enforcement agency is in the process of gathering evidence. The University will promptly resume its resolution/investigation of the complaint after receiving approval from law enforcement or as soon as notified that law enforcement has completed the evidence gathering process, whichever is earlier. This length of time will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case, but in no case will the university suspend any investigation for an ongoing or indefinite period.

 

    1. External Reporting – Complainants always have the right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education.  A complaint must be filed within 180 calendar days of the date of the alleged conduct unless the time for filing is extended by OCR for good cause shown under certain circumstances.

Office for Civil Rights
Dallas Office
U.S. Department of Education
1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620
Dallas, TX 75201-6810
Telephone: 214-661-9600
Facsimile: 214-661-9587
Email: OCR.Dallas@ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
1.800.421.3481
ocr@ed.gov

    1. Employee Reporting Requirements –  Under Texas law, all university employees (besides the university Chaplains and health care professionals mentioned above) are considered mandatory reporters. This means if, in the course and scope of their employment, they witness or receive information regarding the occurrence of an incident that (1) they reasonably believe constitutes Sexual Misconduct under this policy and (2) is alleged to have been committed by or against a person who was a student enrolled at or an employee of the institution at the time of the incident, they must promptly report (preferably within 24 hours) the incident to the Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Office.
      1. Contents of Report – The report should include all relevant details needed to determine what occurred and address the situation, including the name(s) of the parties or witnesses and any relevant facts, including date, time, and location and requests for confidentiality. The University provides an incident reporting form for such reports to be made.
      2. Modifications to Reporting Requirements – There are two modifications to these reporting requirements:
        • Modification for Confidential Employees  The University Chaplain(s); on-campus medical and mental health service providers; or other employees who receive such information under circumstances that render the employee’s communication confidential or privileged under other law are only required to report the type of incident that occurred to the Title IX Office (and may not include information that would violate the legal expectation of privacy, absent consent to do so.)
        • Public Awareness Events – Employees who learn of incidents as a part of a public awareness event sponsored by ACU or related student organizations (e.g., Take Back the Night) are not required to report.
      1. Confidentiality – Although employees are required to report conduct under this policy to the Coordinator, they will otherwise maintain the privacy of the information related to the matter reported. In other words, notification to an employee does not necessarily mean information will be shared with the accused individual.
      2. Notice of Obligations – To the extent possible, the employee should explain this obligation to the Reporter before the report is made, identify reporting options (i.e., confidential, direct, and law enforcement), and clarify that the individual has an option to ask that the Coordinator maintain his or her confidentiality.
      3. Importance of Information – Even if no action is requested by the reporter or they are unsure about what they want to do, such reporting to the Coordinator is legally required by Texas law and is necessary for various reasons, including to ensure that persons possibly subjected to such conduct receive appropriate services and information; that ACU can track incidents and identify patterns; and that, where appropriate, ACU can take steps to protect the University community. Reported allegations will be reviewed by the Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator, who will assess the report and consult with the Complainant.
      4. Failure to Report – Employees who have an obligation to report under this policy and fail to do so may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination, as required by Texas law for failure to report Sexual Misconduct.  Determinations related to such action will be made in accordance with any applicable disciplinary procedure as established by policy or contract (e.g., Special Termination).

 

VII. INTAKE, SUPPORTIVE MEASURES AND NOTICE OF RIGHTS AND OPTIONS

    1. Intake and Notice – Once the Title IX Office receives a report of sexual misconduct, it will attempt to contact the Complainant within 24 business hours in order to offer Supportive Measures and explain the Complainant’s rights and options under this process, including evidence preservation, support in notifying law enforcement, prohibitions against retaliation, an explanation of the relevant resolution procedures, and the Complainant’s ability to pursue no action or file a Formal Complaint that results in either adaptable or structured resolution.  The Complainant will be provided with a copy of the relevant rights and options and provided a link to this policy.
    2. Supportive Measures – Supportive Measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the Complainant (or the Respondent) before or after the filing of a Formal Complaint or where no Formal Complaint has been filed.  They are designed to restore or preserve equal access to ACU’s education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or ACU’s educational environment or to deter Sexual Misconduct.
      1. General Examples – Such measures can include but are not limited to counseling or academic support services, leaves of absence, increased security and monitoring of certain areas of campus, or modification of classes or ACU work schedules (e.g., either a Complainant or Respondent may be permitted to drop an academic course without any academic penalty when the parties are enrolled in the same course). (To the extent possible, Complainant and Respondent will be offered counseling services by different counselors in the ACU Counseling Center.) The parties will also be informed regarding relevant on-campus and off-campus resources, which include the assignment of a Title IX Liaison, academic support services, and the right to report a crime or seek a protective/restraining order from campus or local law enforcement.  These measures and resources are available to Complainants even if they choose not to file or pursue a Formal Complaint or if the status of a Respondent to the university is unclear (e.g., un-enrolled student or non-employee). In keeping with legal requirements, such measures should be individualized and appropriate based on the information gathered by the Coordinator or designee, making every effort to avoid depriving any student of her or his education. The Coordinator or other designee is responsible for ensuring the implementation of Supportive Measures.
      2. Temporary Mutual No Contact Order – Mutual restriction on contact between the parties may be ordered by the Coordinator upon request of either party or based on the administrative prerogative of the Coordinator as a Supportive Measure.  Such an order will be in writing and serves to bar any communication between the parties allegedly involved prohibiting any attempt to contact or respond to any communication from the other party, either directly or through others (e.g., friends, family members). The Coordinator or designee will work with the parties involved to help facilitate the order between the parties so that they may attend classes and use common university facilities as appropriate. A No Contact Order may be extended after the conclusion of any resolutions process at the request of either party or based on the determination by the Decision Maker (i.e., Permanent Mutual No Contact Order). In cases where a demonstrated violation of this No Contact Order has been shown, the responsible party may face disciplinary sanction under this policy, including separation from the university pending the final resolution.
      3. Emergency Removal of a Student – If based on a report of Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator believes that the safety of any person is in imminent danger as a result of the incident, he/she will notify the President. The university also reserves the right to remove a student from campus or student housing based on the Title IX Coordinator’s individualized safety and risk analysis that determines the student presents a threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the report of Sexual Misconduct. Notification of emergency removal and the reasons for it will be communicated to the student as part of the removal process and sent to the student’s email following the process.  The email will also explain that the student has the immediate opportunity to appeal the removal decision by email to the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Engagement.  If the appeal is granted, the student may be allowed to return pending other necessary stipulations.  If the appeal is denied, the removal will remain in effect until a final decision has been made pursuant to the standard procedures unless, before a final decision is made, the Coordinator determines that the reasons for imposing the removal no longer exist.
      4. Administrative Leave of an Employee – The Title IX Coordinator may place an employee on paid or unpaid administrative leave based on Reports of Sexual Misconduct pending the outcome of any subsequent structured or adaptable resolution process.

VIII. COMPLAINANT RESPONSE

After understanding their rights, Complainants have the option of requesting no action be taken or filing a Formal Complaint.

    1. Request for No Further Action – If Complainant requests that their name not be revealed to the Respondent and/or request no further action against the Respondent, the Coordinator will evaluate such requests by balancing the Complainant’s desire with the university’s responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment as well as its ability to proceed without Complainant’s cooperation or participation. In other words, while the university wants to respect the Complainant’s request, it is important to note the law may require the university to override the request, especially in cases involving sexual violence that poses an ongoing risk to the campus community. In making this decision, the university will consider a number of factors, including but not limited to:
  • The seriousness of the alleged incident (e.g., force or violence was used, weapon involved, multiple Respondents);
  • Whether the institution has received other reports of Sexual Misconduct committed by the alleged Respondent;
  • Whether the alleged incident poses an increased risk of harm to others;
    • Does the incident pose an increased risk of the alleged Respondent committing additional acts (e.g., other complaints against the Respondent or threats of additional action by Respondent)?
    • Does the incident pose an increased risk of someone else committing additional acts under similar circumstances (e.g., a pattern of acting or a certain location)?
  • Whether the university possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence to proceed without Complainant’s participation (e.g., security cameras or physical evidence).

 

      1. Honoring Complainant’s Request – If the university determines that it can honor the Complainant’s request, it will ask the Complainant to sign a case drop form, and the case will be closed with the understanding that the Complainant can later change his or her mind. The university will still take any steps it determines necessary to protect the health and safety of the ACU community in relation to the Report consistent with the Complainant’s requests. For example, this might include taking steps to limit the effects of alleged misconduct, such as providing increased monitoring, supervision, or security at a location where the misconduct occurred or additional prevention or public awareness training with specific groups.
      2. Moving Forward Without Complainant – When the university determines it must move forward despite the Complainant’s request, the university will inform the Complainant of its need to move forward prior to commencing a Formal Complaint, which would include the identity of the Complainant. In response, the Complainant may request that the university inform the Respondent that he or she asked the university not to move forward, and the university will honor that request. In this type of case, the Coordinator will sign the Formal Complaint but will not be considered the adverse party or Complainant.
    1. Formal Complaint – Moving forward with either an adaptable or structured resolution process (see Sections XII and XIII) requires that the Complainant make and a Respondent receive a Formal Complaint, which is a written document signed by the Complainant (or Coordinator, if the Complainant is no longer involved) alleging Sexual Misconduct against a Respondent.
      1. Contents – The university will provide the Complainant with a form that will allow the Complainant to provide a summary of the allegations, including time, date, and location of the alleged conduct and the name of the Complainant. The Formal Complaint will also include and briefly explain whether Complainant prefers an adaptable or structured resolution process.
      2. Timing of Complaint – There is no time limit for the submission of a Formal Complaint under this policy.  Although laws specify timeframes within which any related legal claim must be brought, the University will assess all Formal Complaints as outlined below.

IX. INITIAL ASSESSMENT    

No later than five business days after receiving the Formal Complaint, the Coordinator will make an initial assessment related to whether the alleged conduct would constitute Sexual Misconduct even if proved. This is sometimes referred to as a reasonable cause determination. No reasonable cause exists when, even assuming that all the facts reported by the Complainant are true, no violation of this policy could exist.

    1. Mandatory Dismissal (No Reasonable Cause) – The Coordinator will dismiss the Complaint if the initial assessment reveals the alleged conduct, even if proved as Complainant alleges, would not qualify as Sexual Misconduct under this policy.  The case will be closed, and a Notice of Dismissal will be provided to the parties in accordance with Section X.
    2. Discretionary Dismissal – The Coordinator may dismiss the Complaint if the initial assessment reveals that the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the university at the time the Complaint is filed or specific circumstances prevent ACU from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the alleged conduct.  The Coordinator may also dismiss a Formal Complaint if at any time the Complainant notifies the Coordinator in writing that he/she would like to withdraw the complaint or any allegations. If dismissed, the case will be closed, and a Notice of Dismissal will be provided to the parties, as explained in Section X. If a Formal Complaint is dismissed for any reason, any related reports of University Code of Conduct violations may be forwarded to the Dean of Students or to Human Resources, as applicable, to be addressed under those policies and processes.
    3. Category One Transfer – If the Coordinator determines that reasonable cause exists, but the alleged conduct qualifies as Category One Sexual Misconduct under Section IV. H. 1., he/she may transfer the case to the Dean of Students or to Human Resources to be handled pursuant to applicable code of conduct or special termination processes, as applicable. In that case, a Notice of Transfer will be provided to the parties in writing along with a copy of the Formal Complaint.
    4. Reasonable Cause Exists – If reasonable cause exists, the Notice of Complaint will be provided to the parties, as explained in Section X. The Coordinator will also consider the appropriate resolution process in keeping with the Complainant’s request, category of misconduct, and his/her own discretion.

           

X. NOTICE OF DISMISSAL OR COMPLAINT

Depending on the outcome of the initial assessment of the Formal Complaint, the Coordinator will issue a Notice of Dismissal or Notice of Formal Complaint to the parties.

    1. Notice of Dismissal – The written Notice of Dismissal will include the Formal Complaint as well as the Coordinator’s rationale and basis for the dismissal.  It will also include whether the Coordinator has provided any information related to the alleged conduct to the Dean of Students or Human Resources, as applicable, to be addressed under other university policies and processes.  A Complainant may file an appeal related to the Coordinator’s decision to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Section XV, F of this policy.
    2. Notice of Complaint – The written Notice of Complaint will include the Formal Complaint as well as the Coordinator’s determination of the appropriate Category (1, 2, or 3) of the alleged conduct and outline the available and recommended resolution process (See Definitions, Section IV. H. and Resolution Processes, Sections XII-XV).  The Notice will also contain legally required statements related to the following:
      1. Presumption of Innocence – Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the resolution process;
      2. Advisor – Parties may have an advisor of their choice, who may be an attorney;
      3. Evidence –  Parties may inspect and review the evidence (inculpatory and exculpatory) in keeping with applicable law before a decision is made;
      4. False Statements – Both this policy (Section III, B) and ACU’s Student Code of Conduct that prohibits knowingly providing false or misleading information to a university authority;
      5. Meetings – Parties will receive written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of all investigative interviews, hearings, or other meetings, with sufficient time for the party to prepare to participate; and
      6. Supplement – If in the course of an investigation, ACU decides to investigate allegations that are not included in the notice, ACU will provide notice of the additional allegations.
    3. Timeframes for Resolution Processes – Generally, the university attempts to conclude all adaptable resolutions, internal or pre-hearing investigations within 60 calendar days of issuing the Notice of Complaint  As set out in the relevant sections below, an additional 30-60 calendar days is typically required for (1) parties to review the draft resolution agreements or investigations reports (and related evidence); (2) the investigator or facilitator to finalize the report or resolution agreement; Decision Makers to conduct a live hearing, where applicable; (3) Decision Makers to consider the evidence and draft a ruling; and (4) a separate Decision Maker to consider and rule on any appeals. Depending on the complexity and extent of the alleged conduct, more or less time may be required. In other words, the timeframes are not exact as the university allows for temporary delays of the resolutions processes or the limited extension for good cause with written notice to the parties of the delay or extension and the reasons for the action. Good cause may include considerations such as the absence of a party, a party’s advisor, or a witness; concurrent law enforcement activity; or the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities.

 

XI. RESPONDENT’S RESPONSE TO NOTICE OF COMPLAINT

    1. Initial Meeting with Respondent – After receiving the Notice of Complaint, the Respondent will have the opportunity to meet with the Coordinator or designee to address any questions related to the process and to explain the Respondent’s relevant rights and options, including (1) available Supportive Measures and resources and (2) whether Respondent is willing to pursue an adaptable resolution, if available. (The Coordinator will ultimately decide the appropriate resolution process in keeping with the parties’ requests, category of misconduct, and his/her own discretion. That determination will be shared with the parties in writing.)
    2. Refusal to ParticipateWithdrawal, or Transfer – If a Respondent refuses to respond or participate, the Coordinator will move forward with the applicable structured process. Pursuant to Texas law, after the Notice of Complaint has been issued alleging that the Respondent committed any sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking, ACU may not end the disciplinary process or issue a transcript to the student until the institution makes a final determination of responsibility.  Upon a student’s request, the university may remove the transcript hold if the institution determines that good cause exists.  Such requests should be made in writing to the Title IX Coordinator. In such incidents, ACU will expedite the resolution process as possible and necessary to accommodate the parties’ interests in a speedy resolution.

XII. ADAPTABLE RESOLUTION OPTIONS

With the approval of the Coordinator, the parties may elect to pursue adaptable resolution options, which can include but are not necessarily limited to those listed below.  The use of adaptable resolution procedures is optional and voluntary and may be ended at any time at the request of either party or at the discretion of the Coordinator or designee. Offering such options is not meant to discourage an individual from pursuing a structured resolution. In instances where the parties do not wish to engage in the adaptable procedure or in situations where attempts at the adaptable procedure are unsuccessful, the structured procedure may be followed.

    1. Verbal Warning  An adaptable resolution might take the form of the Coordinator or designee, appropriate supervisor/administrator, and/or Complainant discussing the issues with the Respondent in order to establish the kind of behavior that Complainant feels is objectionable and how repetition might lead Complainant to seek a structured resolution and related sanctions.
    2. Respect Agreement Process – The Respect Agreement Process (RAP) is a form of restorative justice that provides students with an opportunity for the parties to reach an agreement related to the harm caused by the alleged misconduct. (RAP is not available to employees). Rather than focusing on what policies have been violated, RAP identifies the harm caused, provides opportunities for those that caused harm to take responsibility for their behavior, and identifies mutually agreeable actions necessary to repair the harm.  By fully participating in this process, the Respondent will not be charged with a policy violation.

 

1. RAP Terms – While there are various ways to attempt to reach a Respect Agreement, the parties must agree to the following terms should they wish to participate in the process:

  • Both the parties must participate in individual conference meetings with appropriate staff to learn more about the RAP prior to participating;
  • Participation in this process does not constitute a responsible finding of a policy violation and therefore is not reflected on a Student’s disciplinary record;
  • Either party can end RAP at any time prior to signing the agreement (and Complainant retains the ability to file a formal complaint);
  • RAP can only be used once per Respondent;
  • Neither party will rely on or share statements or information disclosed as a part of the RAP process in any subsequent structured process.  However, parties must be aware that information used during the RAP process is subject to subpoena for use in any related or potential legal action. Participants can have an advisor present for any and all meetings;
  • Any agreements that are reached during RAP must be documented, approved by the Title IX Coordinator, and signed in-person or electronically by both parties; and
  • If no agreement is reached, the matter may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator for further action;
  • If parties fail to comply with the final agreement, they can be sanctioned under the Code of Conduct for failure to comply with university directive;
  • If the Respondent is later found responsible for any violations in the future, the respect agreement can be used in the sanctioning phase;
  • University reserves the right to suspend or terminate the process at any time, prior to both parties formally agreeing to the terms in the contract, and revert back to the structured process;

2. RAP Options – Examples of possible options that students and the Coordinator or designee may utilize in the RAP include but are not limited to the following: individual meetings with the parties, co-located or “shuttle” meetings, facilitated face-to-face meetings, exchange of written letters or statements that address structured questions related to the harm caused, impact and addressing the harm.  Statements could be shared either in person or by the Title IX Coordinator.

XIII. STRUCTURED RESOLUTION GENERALLY

ACU has established two structured resolution tracks that apply based on how the Coordinator categorizes the alleged conduct. The Internal Administrative Investigation track applies to Category One or Two Sexual Misconduct, while the Live Hearing track applies to Category Three Sexual Misconduct.  Both of these processes are outlined below. However, the following information applies to both tracks.  (It is important to note that at any time prior to reaching a determination under the structured process, the parties, with the Coordinator’s approval, can voluntarily agree to pursue an adaptable resolution.)

    1. Goals – The goals of the structured resolution processes are to determine (1) if a preponderance of the evidence shows that the alleged violation occurred (i.e., it is more likely than not) and (2), if so, what actions the university should take to respond to the violation and prevent a recurrence. In so doing, the university strives for the resolution processes to be prompt, fair, and equitable.
    2. Advisor – Parties involved in a structured resolution process may be more comfortable navigating the process with the help of a support person (Advisor). An Advisor is someone whom the party trusts to provide advice and support during the process. The Advisor need not be affiliated with the university but may not have personal involvement regarding any facts or circumstances of the alleged misconduct (e.g., the Advisor can be a friend, a family member, a person from a support or advocacy agency, or an attorney). The Advisor may accompany the party to any part of the resolution process, including any meetings with university personnel. (The process will not be significantly delayed to accommodate the Advisor’s schedule.) During the internal or pre-hearing investigation process, the Advisor’s only function will be to assist and/or consult with the party they are advising.  In other words, the Advisor may not actively participate in the process in any way. The Advisor may not act as a spokesperson or in any way interfere with the meetings or investigation.  As explained further below, during the Live Hearing portion of Track Two, the Advisor also serves the required role of cross-examining the other party or any witnesses. For students, in order for the university to disclose any case information to the selected Advisor, there must be a signed FERPA release form on file for that individual.
    3. Investigation and Gathering Evidence – The Coordinator will assign the internal administrative or pre-hearing investigation to an internal or external investigator. Although each investigation will vary based on allegations, scope, and other factors, the parties will be provided an equal opportunity to be interviewed regarding the alleged conduct and present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. During the course of the investigation, the investigator may utilize some or all of the following methods, in whatever order the investigator deems most appropriate: preparation of written statements (Track One only); interviewing the parties and key witnesses in order to gather relevant information; documenting or evidence-gathering or review, and consulting expert witnesses including local law enforcement or forensic experts (as necessary and available). It is the responsibility of the investigator, not the parties, to gather the relevant evidence from the parties and witnesses to the extent reasonably possible. Throughout the process, the investigator will maintain appropriate documentation and provide status updates to the parties.
      1. Written Statements – In Track One investigations, the Title IX Coordinator or the Investigator may request that parties prepare written statements related to their versions of the relevant facts surrounding the complaint, including evidence of a violation under this policy or relevant evidence related to consent, incapacity, or force as herein defined.
      2. Party Interviews – The investigator will interview the Complainant and the Respondent separately. This meeting is an opportunity for the participant to discuss his/her recollection of the event in question, voice any concerns, and work with the investigator to determine what information may be helpful in the investigation of the allegations, including the impact that this experience has had on them. The investigator may interview the parties more than once, as necessary.
      3. Witness Interviews – The parties have the right to identify any relevant witnesses, and the investigator will attempt to contact and interview any witnesses that he or she deems relevant to the resolution of the complaint. Witnesses should only be encouraged to cooperate and to speak the truth. If either party, individually or through others (e.g., friends, family members, attorneys), attempts to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise improperly influence a witness, such action may result in a separate disciplinary action by the university. The investigator will attempt to contact and interview any witnesses identified by the parties that the investigator deems to be relevant to the resolution of the complaint. The investigator may also interview any other persons who he/she finds to be potentially relevant to this matter. Witnesses may not bring support persons to their interviews. The investigator will employ best efforts to interview relevant witnesses who are no longer on campus, attempting to contact them by telephone or email.
      4. Expert Witnesses – The investigator reserves the right to consult with any experts deemed necessary to the determination of the facts of this case. An expert witness could be consulted to review or provide a professional opinion regarding evidence discovered in the investigation.
      5. Document Review – The investigator will attempt to obtain any documents or other materials deemed relevant to the investigation.
      6. Privileged Information – Investigators or Decision Makers, including Hearing Officers, will not require, allow, or rely upon, or otherwise use questions or evidence that constitute, or seek disclosure of, information protected under a legally recognized privilege unless the person holding such privilege has waived the privilege.
        • Medical Records – The university, as a part of any structured process, cannot access, consider, disclose, or otherwise use a party’s records that are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in the professional’s or paraprofessional’s capacity, or assisting in that capacity, and which are made and maintained in connection with the provision of treatment to the party, unless the university obtains that party’s voluntary, written consent.

b)  Sexual History – Questions and evidence about the party’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant unless such questions and evidence about prior sexual behavior related to (1) Respondent attempting to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, (2) specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent; and (3) attempts to prove that Respondent has a prior pattern or practice as it relates to the conduct alleged in the Complaint.

XIV. TRACK ONE – INTERNAL ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATION

    1. Review of Investigation Report Draft and Relevant Evidence – Once the investigation has been completed, the investigator will evaluate the information obtained during this process and prepare a preliminary draft report summarizing the relevant facts received through the investigation, noting and disclosing any evidence relevant and probative to whether the alleged conduct occurred (including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence). This typically includes but is not limited to interview transcripts, any written or electronic communications between the parties, social media posts, or physical evidence, redacted as necessary to comply with any applicable federal or state law regarding confidentiality. The investigator will share the preliminary report and related evidence with the parties and give them one week to provide written comments or feedback to the investigator.
    2. Report Finalized and Submitted – The investigator will then take up to an additional week to consider the feedback and revise the report as the investigator deems necessary and prepare a final report. The final report will include written findings of facts and the investigator’s recommendation as to whether a violation occurred, based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not). The investigator may also draw conclusions regarding the credibility of witnesses and reliability and relevance of documentation. The investigator will then submit the final report to the Coordinator.
    3. Determination by Coordinator – Upon determination by the Coordinator that all of the issues regarding the complaint have been appropriately investigated and addressed, he/she will take up to five business days to review the report and relevant evidence and determine whether it is more likely than not that the accused individual(s) violated the policy. In making this decision, the report will be considered and given deference by the Coordinator but is not binding on his/her decision. If the Coordinator concludes that it is more likely than not that the policy was violated, the Coordinator will also consider sanctions for violations (See Section XVI). If the Coordinator concludes that the preponderance of the evidence does not support a violation, the parties will be notified as set out below.
    4. Notice of Determination – When a determination is reached regarding findings and/or sanctions, the Coordinator will concurrently provide both parties with written notice of the same within seven days of the decision through email. The notice will inform both parties regarding (1) how the Coordinator weighed the evidence and information presented based on preponderance standard; (2) how the evidence and information support the result and sanctions. The Complainant should also be informed of any other remedies offered to him or her individually or actions taken by the university to prevent a recurrence. Finally, the notice will also include information regarding the parties’ right to appeal. Sanctions are typically not imposed until after the parties have had time for appeal.  However, the Coordinator may decide to impose sanctions immediately if deemed appropriate so long as that decision is communicated to the parties in the notice of determination.  Additionally, the Coordinator also has the discretion to allow a student Respondent to complete any pending coursework remotely if deemed appropriate by the relevant faculty members.
    5. Appeal – Either party may appeal the findings or sanctions imposed to a different Decision Maker(s) by filing a written appeal with the Office of General Counsel (via email to ogc@acu.edu) within three business days of the above notification. The appeal must indicate whether the findings or sanctions (or both) are being appealed and under which of the grounds for appeal. The only grounds for appeals are as follows:
      • Procedure – Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
      • New Evidence – New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made that could affect the outcome of the matter; and
      • Conflict or Bias – The Title IX Coordinator or investigator had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.

After receiving an appeal, the Office of General Counsel will provide the appeal to a Decision Maker, who will conduct an initial determination regarding whether the appeal meets one (or more) of the above grounds.   If the Decision Maker determines that the appeal, even if proved as alleged, would not meet one (or more) of the grounds for appeal, the Office of General Counsel will notify the appealing party that the appeal will be denied for failure to state an appropriate ground for appeal and notify the parties that the decision is final. If the Decision Maker determines that the appeal, if proved as alleged, would meet one (or more) of the grounds for appeal, the Office of General Counsel will notify the opposing party of the appeal and allow him or her the opportunity to file a response within one week. The appeal will be considered by a Decision Maker(s) selected by the Office of General Counsel.  The Decision Maker(s) will review the written appeal, any response from the opposing party, the Investigation Report, and the Coordinator’s decision. Within fourteen calendar days, after the appeal is filed or the response is received, the Decision Maker(s)will issue a final written decision simultaneously to both parties.

XV. TRACK TWO – PRE-HEARING INVESTIGATION AND LIVE HEARING

    1. Review of Pre-Hearing Investigation Report Draft and All Directly Related Evidence – Once the investigation has been completed, the investigator will evaluate the information obtained during this process and prepare a draft pre-hearing report summarizing the relevant evidence received through the investigation. The investigator will provide the parties and their Advisors, if any, with an opportunity to inspect and review both a copy of the draft report and any evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the Formal Complaint, including inculpatory or exculpatory evidence whether obtained from a party or other source. Such evidence will be provided in either electronic format or hard copy and will be preceded by a non-disclosure agreement for any Advisors. This typically includes but is not limited to interview transcripts, any written or electronic communications between the parties, social media posts, or physical evidence, redacted as necessary to comply with any applicable federal or state law regarding confidentiality. The parties will have ten calendar days to review this material and provide any written comments or feedback to the investigator.
    2. Report Finalization and Rereview to Parties – The investigator will then take up to an additional seven calendar days to consider the party’s feedback and revise the report as the investigator deems necessary and prepare a final report. The final report will include sections related to the allegations, procedure and findings of facts. Then, at least ten calendar days prior to any hearing, the investigator will provide the parties and their Advisors, if any, with a copy of the final report in either an electronic format or hard copy. The parties will then have the option of providing feedback on the final report prior to the hearing.
    3. Pre-Hearing Review – Prior to the hearing, the Decision Maker(s) will consider both the final report and any feedback. Procedures for the hearing will be provided at least ten calendar days in advance to all parties by the Office of General Counsel. If a party does not have an Advisor, ACU will assign an Advisor to the party. The Hearing Officer may also elect to meet with the parties and their Advisor to discuss any relevant evidentiary issues prior to the hearing and review the hearing process that sets out additional information related to the format of the hearing and roles of participants.
    4. Live Hearing – The Decision Maker(s) and designated Hearing Officer will conduct a live hearing during which both parties’ Advisors will have the opportunity to cross-examine any participating parties and any available witnesses that the Hearing Officer deems relevant.
      1. General Format – The hearing will be conducted live, either in person or virtually (at ACU’s discretion), with technology enabling participants simultaneously to see and hear each other.  Regardless of format, ACU will create a recording or transcript and make it available to the parties upon request for inspection and review.
      2. Roles and Cross-Examination
        • Hearing Officers – The Hearing Officer will oversee the hearing process, consider each question posed by the parties’ Advisors or anyone else for relevance, and explain any decision to exclude a question that is not relevant. The Hearing Officer may invite an explanation or argument related to why a question is relevant prior to making this decision.
        • Advisors – Advisors’ only role in the hearing is to ask relevant questions of the other party if they choose to participate in cross-examination, and any available witnesses.
        • Parties – Parties may not directly question the other party or witnesses.
        • Decision Maker(s) – The Decision Maker, who will make the decision following the hearing, will consider the evidence presented at the hearing and pose relevant questions to the parties and witnesses either directly or through the Hearing Officer.
      1. Evidence
        • Relevance – As mentioned above, relevance is the primary standard of admissibility of evidence and questions posed. Evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence, and the fact is of consequence in determining whether the allegation occurred. Although relevant, the Hearing Officer may exclude evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues or being misleading, or by considerations of undue delay, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.
        • Evidence Not Subject to Cross-Examination – Even if a party or witness does not submit to cross-examination at the hearing, the Decision Maker(s) may rely on any prior statement of that party or witness in reaching a determination regarding responsibility. In other words, a decision-maker may consider statements made by the parties and witnesses during the investigation, emails or text exchanges between the parties leading up to the alleged misconduct, and relevant statements about the alleged misconduct, regardless of whether the parties or witnesses submit to cross-examination at the live hearing.  A Decision Maker may also consider police reports, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner documents, medical reports, and other documents even if those documents contain statements of a party or witness who is not cross-examined at the live hearing. However, the Decision Maker(s) cannot draw an inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party’s or witness’s absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.
        • Availability of Evidence – The University will ensure that directly related evidence that is subject to the parties’ inspection and review is available at the hearing to give each party equal opportunity to refer to such evidence during the hearing, including for purposes of any cross-examination.
    1. Written Determination of Outcome – Following the hearing, the Decision Maker(s) will decide whether it is more likely than not that the policy was violated, and if so, the Decision Maker(s) will also consider appropriate sanctions for violations (See Section XVI). When a determination is reached regarding findings and/or sanctions, the Coordinator will concurrently provide both parties with written notice of the same within seven calendar days of the decision through email. The notice will address the following areas:
      1. Allegation – Identification of the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment;
      2. Procedure – A description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held;
      3. Findings of Fact – Findings of fact supporting the determination;
      4. Conclusion – Conclusions regarding the application of the policy to the facts;
      5. Rationale and Remedies – A statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions ACU imposes on the Respondent, and whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to ACU’s education program or activity will be provided by ACU to the Complainant; and
      6. Appeal – ACU’s procedures and permissible bases for appeal.

The Complainant should also be informed of any other remedies offered to him or her individually or actions taken by the university to prevent a recurrence. Sanctions, especially those requiring separation from campus, may be implemented immediately if deemed appropriate. The Coordinator also has the discretion to allow a student Respondent to complete any pending coursework remotely if deemed appropriate by the relevant faculty members.

    1. Appeal  Either party may appeal the findings or sanctions imposed to a different Decision Maker(s) by filing a written appeal with the Office of General Counsel (via email to ogc@acu.edu) within seven business days of the above notification. The appeal must indicate whether the findings or sanctions (or both) are being appealed and under which of the grounds for appeal. The only grounds for appeals are as follows:
      1. Procedure – Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
      2. New Evidence – New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter; and
      3. Conflict or Bias – The Title IX Coordinator, the investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) or hearing officer had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.

After receiving an appeal, the Office of General Counsel will provide the appeal to a Decision Maker, who will conduct an initial determination regarding whether the appeal meets one (or more) of the above grounds.   If the Decision Maker determines that the appeal, even if proved as alleged, would not meet one (or more) of the grounds for appeal, the Office of General Counsel will notify the appealing party that the appeal will be denied for failure to state an appropriate ground for appeal and notify the parties that the decision is final. If the Decision Maker determines that the appeal, if proved as alleged, would meet one (or more) of the grounds for appeal, the Office of General Counsel will notify the opposing party of the appeal and allow him or her the opportunity to file a response within one week. The appeal will be considered by a Decision Maker(s) selected by the Office of General Counsel. Within fourteen calendar days, after the appeal is filed or the response is received, the Decision Maker will issue a final written decision simultaneously to both parties.

XVI. SANCTIONS

    1. Range of Sanctions – Anyone who violates this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary sanctions. Disciplinary measures available to remedy violations include, but are not limited to, the following: verbal warning/reprimand; written warning/reprimand placed in employee or student files; requirement of verbal and/or written apology to Complainant; mandatory education and training on harassment; referral for psychological assessment or treatment; alternate placement, suspension, probation, termination, or expulsion; or other action the university deems appropriate under the circumstances. Additionally, supportive or emergency measures may become permanent. If a student or student group is found to be in violation of this policy, any of the sanctions set forth in the ACU Student Code of Conduct may also be involved. If a faculty member is found to have violated this policy and if the discipline is determined to include termination, this process will substitute for any other, including Special Termination in the Faculty Handbook.
    2. Determining Sanctions – In determining what disciplinary or corrective action is appropriate, the university will consider the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to: number of Complainants and Respondents involved; employment/student positions or status of the parties; relevant portions of the prior disciplinary record of the Respondent; threatened or actual harm caused by the Respondent; and frequency and/or severity of the alleged conduct.
    3. Transcripts – Texas law requires that the university include a notation on the transcript of any student ineligible to re-enroll at ACU for a reason other than an academic or financial reason, including violation of this policy. Additionally, on request by another university, ACU is required to provide to the requesting university information relating to a determination by ACU that a student enrolled at the institution violated this policy by committing sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking.  Upon a student’s request, the university may remove the notation if the student is eligible to re-enroll or the institution determines that good cause exists to remove the notations.  Such requests should be made in writing to the Title IX Coordinator.

 

APPENDIX A

Selected State of Texas Definitions

Sexual Assault: (a) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) intentionally or knowingly: (A) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent; (B) causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent; or (C) causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or (2) intentionally or knowingly: (A) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means; (B) causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor; (C) causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; (D) causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or (E) causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor. (b) A sexual assault under Subsection (a)(1) is without the consent of the other person if: (1) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by the use of physical force or violence; (2) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence against the other person, and the other person believes that the actor has the present ability to execute the threat; (3) the other person has not consented and the actor knows the other person is unconscious or physically unable to resist; (4) the actor knows that as a result of mental disease or defect the other person is at the time of the sexual assault incapable either of appraising the nature of the act or of resisting it; (5) the other person has not consented and the actor knows the other person is unaware that the sexual assault is occurring; (6) the actor has intentionally impaired the other person’s power to appraise or control the other person’s conduct by administering any substance without the other person’s knowledge; (7) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence against any person, and the other person believes that the actor has the ability to execute the threat; (8) the actor is a public servant who coerces the other person to submit or participate; (9) the actor is a mental health services provider or a health care services provider who causes the other person, who is a patient or former patient of the actor, to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the actor; (10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser; or (11) the actor is an employee of a facility where the other person is a resident, unless the employee and resident are formally or adaptablely married to each other under Chapter 2, Family Code. Tex. Penal Code § 22.011.

Assault: (a) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; (2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; or (3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative. Tex. Penal Code § 22.01.

Dating Violence: (a) “Dating violence” means an act, other than a defensive measure to protect oneself, by an actor that: (1) is committed against a victim: (A) with whom the actor has or has had a dating relationship; or (B) because of the victim’s marriage to or dating relationship with an individual with whom the actor is or has been in a dating relationship or marriage; and (2) is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the victim in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. (b) For purposes of this title, “dating relationship” means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of (1) the length of the relationship, (2) the nature of the relationship, and (3) the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. (c) A casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context does not constitute a “dating relationship” under Subsection (b). Tex. Fam. Code § 71.0021.

Family Violence: “Family violence” means: (1) an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself; (2) abuse, as that term is defined by Sections 261.001(1)(C), (E), and (G), by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or (3) dating violence, as that term is defined by Section 71.0021. Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004.

  • Household: “Household” means a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other. Tex. Fam. Code § 71.005.
  • Member of a Household: “Member of a household” includes a person who previously lived in a household. Tex. Fam. Code § 71.006.

Stalking: (a) A person commits an offense if the person, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that: (1) constitutes an offense under Section 42.07, or that the actor knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening: (A) bodily injury or death for the other person; (B) bodily injury or death for a member of the other person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship; or (C) that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property; (2) causes the other person, a member of the other person’s family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or in fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended; and (3) would cause a reasonable person to: (A) fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself; (B) fear bodily injury or death for xa member of the person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship; (C) fear that an offense will be committed against the person’s property; or (D) feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended. Tex. Penal Code § 42.072.

The conduct discussed in this policy may also constitute violations of the criminal and civil law, which may provide opportunity for redress beyond the scope of this policy. Criminal definitions under state and federal law for some of the conduct described under this policy can be found in Appendix A to this policy.  The university will respect a Complainant’s decision either to pursue law enforcement remedies or to decline to pursue that option as discussed further in Section VI.C.

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Policy 413: Attendance Control

Responsible Department: Human Resources
Responsible Administrator:
 Director of Human Resources
Effective Date: January 1994
Reviewed Date:
January 2023
Date of Scheduled Review:
January 2027

PURPOSE
To provide a method to control employee attendance to maintain efficient operations.

SCOPE
This attendance control policy applies to exempt and non-exempt employees.  For information about faculty attendance policies, please see the Faculty Handbook.

POLICY
Every employee has the responsibility to maintain a good attendance record.  Supervisors will exercise the primary management-level responsibility to control employee attendance.  Excessive employee absence or lateness are undesirable performance factors and will be managed by supervisors according to the procedures below.

DEFINITIONS

  1. Absence.  An absence is defined as any absence from work during scheduled working hours (including overtime), excluding absence for work-incurred injuries, vacation, jury duty, death in the family or leave of absence without pay.
  2. Lateness.  Lateness is defined as arriving to work, returning from break time, or returning from lunch later than normally scheduled.
  3. Leaving Early.  Leaving early is defined as leaving work, leaving for break time, or leaving for lunch earlier than normally scheduled.

PROCEDURE
Supervisors will administer the attendance standards and procedures outlined below, regardless of employee position, eligibility for sick leave benefits or length of service.

Notification

  • Advance Notice.  Supervisors will require employees to give advance notice, when possible, of lateness or absence.
  • Timing of Notice. If possible, notification calls must be made within one hour following the start of the employee’s assigned shift.
  • Employee to Maintain Contact.  Supervisors will require employees to maintain contact for any period of absence beyond one day, unless the employee has provided a doctor’s certification covering a specified period.
  • Scheduling Absences.  Employees who must be absent for personal reasons or medical appointments will be advised to schedule such appointments outside working hours, if possible.  When the need for being absent from work is known in advance, the employee will notify the supervisor immediately.  (See Policy No. 321, Unpaid Personal Time Off)
  • Performance Appraisals.  Employee attendance will be evaluated by each supervisor in connection with employee performance appraisals.  The records of employees with attendance problems will be reviewed more frequently.
  • University Action. Chronic absenteeism, lateness or other unusual infractions of attendance standards will be handled according to Policy No. 430, Corrective Action.

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Policy 414: Solicitation and Distribution

Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief of Human Resources Officer
Effective Date: January 1994
Reviewed/Updated Date: March 2021
Date of Scheduled Review: March 2025

PURPOSE
To ensure a productive work environment where employees and university operations may function without disruption.

SCOPE
This policy applies to employees and non-employees during work time and while on university premises.

POLICY
ACU strives to establish a work environment that is productive without undue disruptions to the work day. Therefore, soliciting by one employee of another, or collecting from one employee by another, is prohibited while either employee is on work time. Distributing literature and circulating petitions during work time or in work areas at any time is also prohibited. Finally, trespassing, soliciting or distributing literature by anyone outside the university is prohibited on university premises.

DEFINITIONS
“Work time” is all time on the premises other than before and after work and at meal periods.
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Policy 415: Substance Abuse

Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer
Effective Date: January 1994
Revised/Updated: July 2021
Date of Scheduled Review: July 2025

PURPOSE
The university earnestly solicits the understanding and cooperation of all employees and employee organizations in implementing the policies set forth herein.

  1. To establish and maintain a safe, healthy working environment for all employees.
  2. To insure the reputation of the university and its employee as good, responsible citizens worthy of the trust placed in them.
  3. To reduce the incidence of accidental injury to person or property.
  4. To reduce absenteeism, tardiness and indifferent job performance.
  5. To provide assistance toward rehabilitation for any employee who seeks the university’s help in overcoming addiction to, dependence upon, or a problem with alcohol or drugs.
  6. To comply with federal requirements for a drug-free environment.

SCOPE
This policy applies to all employees and applicants for employment

DEFINITIONS

  1. Alcohol or alcoholic beverages means any beverage that may be legally sold and consumed and that has an alcoholic content in excess of .5% by volume.
  2. Drug means any substance (other than alcohol) capable of altering the mood, perception, pain level, or judgment of the individual consuming it.
  3. Prescribed drug means any substance prescribed for the individual consuming it by a licensed medical practitioner.
  4. Illegal drug means any drug or controlled substance, the sale or consumption of which is illegal.

PROCEDURES (OR PROCESS)

Employee Assistance Program
An employee who feels they have developed an addiction to, dependence upon, or problem with alcohol or drugs, legal or illegal, is encouraged to seek assistance. Employees may seek help by writing in confidence or asking for a personal appointment with the Director of Human Resources. Each request for aid will be treated as confidential by the Director of Human Resources and only those persons “need to know” will be made aware of such requests.

Rehabilitation itself is the responsibility of the employee. However, any employee eligible for the university’s group medical plan seeking medical attention for alcoholism or drug addiction will be entitled to the special limited alcoholism or drug addiction benefit of the university’s group medical plan in effect at the time of rehabilitation. During enrollment in a formal treatment program, employees may use sick and vacation leave.

The employee must have been employed for at least one year; must maintain weekly contact with the Human Resources; provide certification that they are continuously enrolled in a treatment program and actively participating in that program to remain employed. Upon successful completion of treatment, the employee will return to active status without reducing pay or seniority.

Rejection of Treatment — Failure of Rehabilitation
If an employee fails to complete rehabilitation, they may be subject to termination.

Alcoholic Beverages
No alcoholic beverages will be brought into or consumed upon university premises. Drinking alcohol or being under the influence of alcoholic beverages while on duty is cause for discharge.

Prescription Drugs
No prescription drug shall be brought upon university premises by any person other than the one for whom the medication is prescribed. The prescription by a licensed medical practitioner shall be used only in the manner, combination, and quantity prescribed. Any employee whose abuse of prescription drugs results in excessive absenteeism or tardiness or is the cause of accidents or poor work will be referred to the Employee Assistance Program for rehabilitation. If the employee refuses to participate in rehabilitation, they shall be discharged.

Illegal Drugs
The use or possession of illegal drugs or controlled substances on or off duty is cause for discharge.

Employment of Persons Addicted to or Dependent Upon Alcohol or Drugs
A person presently using illegal drugs or having a history of alcohol or drug dependency will not be knowingly employed unless sufficient evidence of rehabilitation is satisfactory to the university.
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Policy 416: Dress and Personal Appearance

Responsible Department: Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Director of Human Resources
Effective Date: January 1, 1994
Reviewed/Updated: May 2016
Date of Scheduled Review: May 2020

PURPOSE
To establish guidelines for appropriate dress and appearance during normal business hours at the university.

SCOPE
This policy applies to employees at ACU.

POLICY
Employees are expected to maintain an appropriate appearance that is businesslike, neat and clean as determined by the requirements of the area in which the employee works. Appropriate appearance includes:

  • Apparel. Employees should wear appropriate and clean attire. The following is a list of some examples of inappropriate dress, but is not all inclusive:
    • Faded and/or tattered jeans, shirts without collars or shirts displaying advertising or writing.
    • Overalls, sweatshirts/pants, jogging suits, shorts or tank tops.
    • Any clothing with spaghetti straps, any clothing that reveals bare backs, midriffs or shoulders, or any revealing or provocative clothing.
  • Hair – Hair should be clean, combed and neatly trimmed or arranged. This pertains to sideburns, moustaches and beards. Shaggy, unkempt hair is not permissible.
  • Personal Hygiene – Good personal hygiene habits must be maintained.

PROCEDURE
The supervisor is responsible to evaluate the dress and appearance of employees under his or her supervision. If an employee is not dressed appropriately, the following steps should be taken by the supervisor:

  1. On the first occasion, an oral warning should be given to the employee, and the university’s dress and appearance standards should be reviewed.
  2. On the second occasion, the employee should be sent home to change clothes immediately as well as given a written warning. Pay for the day that the employee is sent home begins when the employee returns to work.
  3. Further violations may result in discharge.

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Policy 417: Use of Tobacco in the Workplace

Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer
Effective Date: January 1994
Reviewed/Updated Date: February 2021
Date of Scheduled Review: February 2025

PURPOSE
To provide a safe and healthy workplace.

SCOPE
This policy applies to employees and visitors at ACU.

POLICY
The use of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and vaporizers is strictly prohibited on campus. This policy establishes the University as a smoke free institution and includes but is not limited to tobacco and other smoking related products and devices. The use of these items is prohibited in all property owned by the University including vehicles, campus grounds, and parking lots.

DEFINITION
“Tobacco and Smoking Related Products” means all tobacco-derived or tobacco containing products including, and not limited to, cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, hookah smoked products, pipes, and oral tobacco (e.g., spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff) and nasal tobacco (e.g. snus). It also includes any product intended to mimic tobacco products or the smoking of any other substance.
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Policy 418: Telephone Use

Responsible Department: Information Technology
Responsible Administrator:
 Executive Director, Information Technology
Effective Date: 
January 1, 1994
Reviewed/Updated Date: 
October, 2015
Date of Scheduled Review:
 October, 2019

PURPOSE
To provide guidelines for using university telephones.

SCOPE
This policy applies to all employees at ACU.

POLICY
Efficient telephone service is vital to university business. Employees must adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Answer all calls promptly and courteously.
  2. Hold personal calls, both incoming and outgoing, to emergencies or essential personal business and keep them as brief as possible.
  3. No personal long distance calls will be allowed.

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Policy 419: Office Equipment

Responsible Department: Information Technology
Responsible Administrator: Executive Director, Information Technology
Effective Date: January 1, 1994
Reviewed/Updated Date: October, 2015
Date of Scheduled Review: October, 2019

PURPOSE
To provide guidelines for using university office equipment.

SCOPE
This policy applies to all employees at ACU.

POLICY
Office equipment such as computers, copiers, fax machines, and like items are to be used for university purposes only. Any malfunction of the equipment should be immediately reported to the Help Desk. Misuse of university property may lead to corrective action.

During the course of employment, many employees will be working with confidential data regarding students, employees, and/or finances of the university. Employees must protect this information by safeguarding it when in use, storing it properly when not in use, and being sure that it is password protected. It is also expected that this information will only be discussed with those who have a legitimate need to know.
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Policy 420: Responsible Use of Information and Technology

The responsible Use of Information and Technology Policy can be accessed at: Policy for the Responsible Use of Information and Technology Resources.

 

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Policy 421: Whistleblower Policy

View the Whistleblower Policy or submit an anonymous report online.
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Policy 423: Identity Theft Red Flag Rules

Responsible Department: Office of Risk Management
Responsible Administrator: Director of Institutional Compliance & Risk Management
Effective Date: May 1, 2009
Reviewed/Updated Date: February 2022
Date of Scheduled Review: February 2026

PURPOSE  

To implement and maintain an identity theft program in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) and use these guidelines to establish policies and procedures that meet the requirement of the final rules.

SCOPE  

This policy applies to all departments that manage or process data related to covered accounts as defined below. In addition, this policy applies to all departments that manage or process personal identification data that could be used to access information from another department or other party related to covered accounts, as defined below. 

DEFINITIONS  

Cardholder: means a consumer who has been issued a credit or debit card. This includes student identification cards which may be used as debit cards. This does not include student identification cards that are stored-value cards.  

Clear and conspicuous: means reasonably understandable and designed to call attention to the nature and significance of the information presented. 

Covered accounts: Accounts that are used primarily for personal, family, household or business purposes that involve or are designed to permit multiple payments or transactions; any account for which there is a reasonably foreseeable risk to members or the safety and soundness of the university. Covered accounts include, but are not limited to, any account receivable from an employee or student, student loans, and student accounts under tuition payment plans. 

Identity theft: Fraud that is committed or attempted using a person’s identifying information without authorization. 

Member: An individual for whom a covered account is maintained. 

Red flag: An event or item that signals potential theft of personal information. 

Relevant department: An ACU department assigned with responsibility for designing procedures to comply with this policy and the FACT Act Identity Theft Red Flag Rules. 

Stored value cards: prepaid cards (such as laundry cards or dining hall cards) that do not require an electronic fund transfer from the cardholder’s account held by ACU for the purpose of transferring money between accounts or in exchange for money, property, goods, services, or cash.

RESPONSIBILITY AND OVERSIGHT 

The Director of Institutional Compliance & Risk Management (ICRM) will oversee the further development, implementation, and administration; ensure staff is trained; and oversee service provider arrangements. Administration methods for the program will include: 

  • Assigning to relevant department directors the responsibility for designing procedures that comply with the requirements of the program and training staff on specific responsibility for the program. 
  • Directors of relevant departments will deliver to the Director of ICRM an annual report regarding compliance with the red flag rules. This report should address matters such as the effectiveness of the policies and procedures that address the risk of identity theft in connection with the opening of covered accounts or existing covered accounts, service provider arrangements, significant incidents of identity theft and the relevant department’s response to these incidents, and recommendations for material changes to the program. 
  • Providing guidance for the appropriate board committee to approve material changes to the program. 

REQUIREMENTS OF THE PROGRAM

  1. Service Providers – If service providers are used in connection with covered accounts, the relevant department will ensure that the activities of service providers are conducted pursuant to reasonable policies and procedures that comply with the rules.

  2. Procedures – Relevant departments must document written procedures to be implemented that will: 
    • Define potential red flags for covered accounts 
    • Communicate the definitions of red flags to relevant personnel 
    • Detect red flags in the normal course of operations 
    • Respond appropriately to red flags to prevent and mitigate identity theft in connection with the opening of certain accounts or certain existing accounts 
    • Ensure procedures are updated periodically to reflect changes in risks to students and Abilene Christian University 
    • Be reviewed periodically by the Director of ICRM
  3. Risk Assessment – For potential red flags identified, the relevant department should document a risk assessment that identifies risks in these areas—financial, operations, compliance, reputation, and litigation. The risk assessment should consider the following: 
    • Types of covered accounts offered or maintained 
    • Methods provided to open accounts 
    • Methods provided to access accounts 
    • Previous experiences with identity theft 
    • Methods used to reflect changes in identity theft
  4. Detection of Red Flags – Relevant departments must address the detection of red flags: (1) when opening new covered accounts by obtaining identifying information about and verifying the identity of a person opening a covered account and (2) when authenticating identity, monitoring transactions, and verifying the validity of data change requests related to existing covered accounts. Possible sources used for detecting red flags may include: 
    • Alerts,  notifications,  or  other  warnings  received  from  consumer  reporting agencies or service providers, such as fraud detection services • Presentation of suspicious or altered documents 
    • Presentation of suspicious, inconsistent, or altered personal identifying information such as a suspicious address change 
    • Attempts to access an account by unauthorized users 
    • Unusual use of or other suspicious activity related to a covered account 
    • Notice from students or victims, identity theft law enforcement authorities, or other persons regarding possible identity theft in connection with covered accounts
  5. Response Program – Relevant departments should initiate appropriate responses for preventing and mitigating identity theft. A response is required whenever a red flag event has been identified. These responses may include: 
    • Monitoring a covered account for evidence of identity theft 
    • Contacting the known owner of the covered account 
    • Changing any passwords, security codes, or other security devices that permit access to a covered account 
    • Reopening a covered account with a new account number 
    • Not opening a new covered account 
    • Closing an existing account 
    • Not attempting to collect on a covered account or not selling a covered account to a debt collector 
    • Notifying law enforcement 
    • Determining that no response is warranted under the particular circumstances 
    • Documenting the response and the basis for the response decision 

STUDENT IDENTIFICATION CARDS AND RELATED CHANGE OF ADDRESS REQUESTS 

This section applies to relevant departments that issue cards, such as student identification cards, which may be used as debit or credit cards. This does not include student identification cards that are stored-value cards. This policy may also apply to ACU’s service providers to the extent that they issue credit or debit cards on behalf of ACU. If a service provider of ACU does not have a stated policy that complies with FACTA, the service provider must comply with this policy. 

  1. Required response – Pursuant to its obligations under FACTA, the relevant department shall assess the validity of a request for a change of address if it receives the notification of a change of address for a cardholder’s account and, within a short period of time afterward (during at least the first 30 days after it receives such notification), the relevant department receives a request for an additional or replacement card for the same account.Under these circumstances, the relevant department shall not issue an additional or replacement card until it assesses the validity of the change of address through the following steps: 
    • The relevant department shall notify the cardholder of the request in a clear and conspicuous manner provided separately from its regular correspondence at the cardholder’s former address or by any other means of communication that ACU and the cardholder have previously agreed to use; and 
    • Provide the cardholder a reasonable means of promptly reporting incorrect address changes. 
    • Documenting the results of the address verification process.
  2. Address Verification Alternative – The relevant department may satisfy the requirements of this policy by validating an address pursuant to the method set forth above in Section VI.1 when it receives an address change notification before it receives a request for an additional or replacement card. 

UPDATES 

This policy and related procedures should be reviewed periodically and, if necessary, updated to reflect changes in risks from identity theft to students and to the safety and soundness of Abilene Christian University taking into consideration: 

  • Experiences with identity theft 
  • Changes in methods of identity theft 
  • Changes in methods to detect, prevent, and mitigate identity theft 
  • Changes in the types of accounts that Abilene Christian University offers 
  • Changes in the business arrangements of Abilene Christian University, including mergers, acquisitions, alliances, joint ventures, and service provider arrangements 

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Policy 423.1: Identity Theft Payment Card Industry Security Standards

Responsible Department: Financial Operations
Responsible Administrator: Controller 
Effective Date: June, 1, 2011 
Reviewed/Updated Date: February 2022
Date of Scheduled Review: Each anniversary of the effective date

PURPOSE

The purpose of this security policy is to help assure that Abilene Christian University is (1) being good stewards of personal information entrusted to it by its constituents, (2) protecting the privacy of its constituents, (3) complying with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, and (4) striving to avoid a security breach from unauthorized and inappropriate use of cardholders’ information. This policy works in conjunction with Policy No. 423 Identity Theft Red Flag Rules in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA). 

SCOPE

This security policy is intended for:

  • Any individual who accepts, captures, stores, transmits, or processes credit or debit  card payments received for the purchase of University products and services, for contributions, etc.
  • Any individual who supports University efforts in accepting, capturing, storing, transmitting, and/or processing credit or debit card information such as technical support staff members whose roles involve access to computer hardware and software involved in accepting, capturing, storing, transmitting, or processing credit or debit card information, and any individuals tasked with destroying credit and debit card information, etc.

DEFINITIONS

Cardholder Data: Cardholder data refers to all information from a credit card or debit card that is used in a transaction. Commonly used elements of cardholder data include the primary account number (PAN), cardholder name and expiration date displayed on the front of the card.

Sensitive Authentication Data: Sensitive authentication data is security related information used to authenticate cardholders and authorize card transactions. Sensitive authentication data elements include magnetic stripe data, personal identification number (PIN) or the encrypted PIN block, and the card validation code – the three or four digit number security code found either on the front or on the back of a card (a.k.a. CVV, CVV2).

POLICY

The following statements comprise Abilene Christian University’s payment card security policy:

  1. Compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) as published by the PCI Security Standards Council is required of all ACU employees and departments that accept, process, transmit, or store payment cardholder information.
  2. Only authorized ACU employees who are properly trained for PCI-DSS compliance may accept, capture, store, transmit, or processes cardholder data or access cardholder information, devices, or systems that store or access cardholder information:
    • Employees new to the role of handling cardholder data must be trained prior to receiving credit/debit card handling duties.
    • Employees whose payment card handling duties preceded implementation of this policy should receive training as soon as possible.
    • The content of the training program must be reviewed and approved by the Controller in Financial Operations.
    • Evidence of successful completion of the training program for each applicable employee is required on an annual basis and will be documented by the employee’s signature on a certification of training form or completion of an approved online training delivery method.
  1. Only PCI-DSS compliant equipment, systems, and methods that are approved by the Financial Operations Team may be utilized to process, transmit, and/or store cardholder information.
  2. Critical or high-risk technologies (for example, remote-access technologies,  wireless technologies, removable electronic media, laptops, tablets, personal data/digital  assistants [PDAs], and internet usage) may be used to handle or transmit cardholder data only if approval is obtained from Financial Operations that defines the following:
    • Authentication for use of the technology;
    • A list of all such devices and personnel with access;
    • A description of the acceptable uses of the technologies;
    • When applicable, automatic disconnect of remote-access technologies after a  specific period of inactivity.
    • Activation of remote-access technologies for vendors and business partners only when needed by vendors and business partners, with immediate deactivation after use.
    • Cardholder data may not be entered, processed, or transmitted by an ACU employee or contractor on a computer connected to the internet unless the computer is placed within a separate and secure LAN and only if internet access on the applicable computers is restricted to only the websites necessary to complete transactions.
  1. Third-party vendors processing or accessing cardholder data must be PCI-DSS compliant and must, prior to their engagement, provide Financial Operations with a copy of the Vendor’s Attestation or Certificate of Compliance with PCI DSS for their applicable validation types. If cardholder data is shared with service providers, the following items apply:
    • A list of such service providers must be maintained;
    • A written agreement must be obtained from such service providers indicating the service providers are responsible for the security of cardholder data the service provider possesses.
    • Financial Operations will monitor the status of service provider compliance with PCI-DSS at least on an annual basis.
  1. Each ACU employee or contractor acting on behalf of ACU who has access to cardholder information is responsible for protecting that information in accordance with PCI-DSS and University policy and procedures.
    • All media (consisting of all paper and electronic data containing cardholder data) must be physically secured at all times, and the transport of any such media containing cardholder data, if applicable, must be approved by management and tracked by a log or other method.
  1. Cardholder data must be destroyed or deleted so that it is not recoverable as soon  as it is no longer necessary for processing transactions.
    • Paper documents containing cardholder data must be destroyed by using a cross-cut shredder.
  1. Under no circumstances may unprotected primary account numbers be received or transmitted via end-user messaging technologies (for example, email, text messaging, chat, etc.).
  2. Sensitive authentication data may never be stored under any circumstances, even if encrypted, subsequent to the authorization of a transaction. If sensitive authentication data is received and deleted or destroyed, each merchant must have processes in place to ensure that the deleted or destroyed data is unrecoverable.
  3. To comply with PCI-DSS requirements, merchants transmitting cardholder data via the internet must complete quarterly internal and external vulnerability scans (external scans must be performed by an approved scanning vendor) and vulnerabilities identified during scans must be corrected in a timely manner.
  4. Financial Operations will maintain and communicate an Incident Response Plan to provide specific guidance on how to respond in the event of a suspected security breach, which could negatively affect cardholder information or the University’s compliance with PCI-DSS. Any such event must be immediately reported to the Controller in Financial Operations and the Director of Technology Support Services for an appropriate response in accordance with the Incident Response Plan.
  5. Non-ACU employees who are acting on ACU’s behalf must comply with PCI-DSS. Vendors/Merchants and service providers operating on the ACU campus that accept credit cards must execute a contract addendum assuring their compliance with PCI-DSS.
  6. Each merchant that accepts credit card payments must complete an annual Self Assessment Questionnaire (published on the PCI Security Standards Council website) to be reviewed by the responsible administrator or designee.

Failure to comply with these principles, as implemented in this Payment Card Security Policy, may result in the revocation of the ability to process credit and debit card transactions and/or could lead to disciplinary action. Because of the substantial penalties and fines that can be levied against Abilene Christian University, PCI-DSS compliance is of the utmost importance for all transactions involving payment cards.

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Policy 424: Records Management Policy

Responsible Department: Legal Services and Library
Responsible Administrator: General Counsel and Dean of Library and Information Resources
Effective Date: May 1, 2009
Reviewed/Updated Date: May 1, 2013
Date of Scheduled Review: May 1, 2017

Records Management Policy

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Policy 425: Employee Receivable Policy

Responsible Department: Financial Operations
Responsible Administrator: Collections Coordinator
Effective Date: 10/13/14
Reviewed/Updated Date:
Date of Scheduled Review: 10/13/18

PURPOSE
Abilene Christian University often extends credit to employees for charges related to parking permits, parking fines, campus store charges, and athletic passes charged to employee accounts. Account activity is viewable in the Wildcat Pay Portal accessed through myACU. This policy ensures proper review and approval over decisions to extend credit to employees.  Without proper oversight of the extension of credit, employees and the University could be placed at risk.

SCOPE
This policy applies to all faculty and staff who incur charges on their ACU account. The account is charged when employees receive parking fines, make purchases at The Campus Store, purchase athletic passes on their account, or incur other charges or fines/fees with any merchant across campus.

DEFINITIONS
ACU Account – Account each employee has with the university, regardless if the employee chooses to use it, that is linked to the employee’s banner ID and ID Card.

PROCEDURE (OR PROCESS)
For purchases on account of $250 or more, prior approval must be granted by the Billing & Receivables Manager.  The Billing & Receivables Manager will verify that the employee’s ACU account is in good standing with the University before approval is granted.

All charges on an account must be paid in full according to the University’s regular billing cycle. Account statements are generated electronically through the Wildcat Pay Portal on a monthly basis. Employees who have an account balance will receive an email notification, to their ACU email address, that their eBill is ready to view in the Wildcat Pay Portal.

All accounts are subject to late fees (interest charges) according to the University’s late fee schedule. More information can be found at www.acu.edu/payingyourbill.

COMPLIANCE
For employees who do not pay their account balance by the due date, the billing and receivables team will begin the collection process on accounts as they become past due:

  1. If still employed by ACU, payroll deductions of up to $100 per pay cycle for exempt employees and $50 per pay cycle for non-exempt employees will be made until the balance is paid in full.
  2. If employee has been terminated or terminates before balance is paid in full by step 1, the remaining balance will be deducted from the final pay check unless other satisfactory payment arrangements have been made with the University’s collection coordinator.
  3. If payment is not made, ACU will attempt to collect by sending a minimum of two (2) letters of contact requesting payment. The letters will be sent in 30-day intervals once it is determined that a payment agreement has been broken or when ACU is not able to collect the balance through payroll deductions.  For debts greater than $250, the second letter will indicate that the account will be referred to a collection agency if payment is not received within a specified period of time.

If collection efforts outlined in steps 1 through 3 have been met but failed and the debt is still delinquent, the debt will be sent to a third party collection agency. The employee is responsible for any and all collection fees, legal fees, and attorney fees incurred during this process.

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Policy 430: Performance Improvement

Responsible Department: Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Director of Human Resources
Effective Date: April 1, 1997
Reviewed/Updated Date: May 2016
Date of Scheduled Review: March 2020

PURPOSE
To set forth general supervisory guidelines for a performance improvement process aimed to document and correct undesirable employee conduct, as well as, develop or improve specific job skills or behaviors.

SCOPE
This policy applies to staff employees at ACU.

POLICY
The university seeks to establish and maintain standards of employee conduct and supervisory practices which will, in the interest of the university and its employees, support and promote effective business operations. Such supervisory practice include administering the Performance Improvement Plan when employee conduct or performance problems arise. It is also a tool to be used for the development or improvement of pre-determined job skills or behaviors. Major elements of this policy generally include:

  1. Constructive effort by the supervisor to help employees achieve fully satisfactory standards of conduct and job performance.
  2. Correcting employee shortcomings or negative behavior to the extent required.
  3. Notice to employees through communicating this policy that discharge will result from continued or gross violation of employee standards of conduct or unsatisfactory job performance.
  4. Written documentation of disciplinary warnings given and corrective measures taken.
  5. Documentation of performance improvement will become part of the employee’s personnel record.

OPTIONS FOR PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT
Depending on the facts and circumstances involved in each situation, a supervisor may choose to begin the Performance Improvement Plan at any step up to and including immediate discharge. However, in most cases, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Oral Warning. The employee’s supervisor should have a verbal discussion with the employee in private. During that meeting the supervisor should:
    1. Discuss with the employee the unacceptable behavior. Included in this discussion should be the who, what, when, where, how and why of the incident.
    2. Explain why the behavior is unacceptable; violated ACU policy or procedure; negatively impacts work flow; or created a performance issue.
    3. Suggest ways for the employee to improve their behavior to meet standards.
    4. Inform the employee that the verbal conference is the first step in the disciplinary procedure and further instances of unacceptable behavior will initiate progressively more serious disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
    5. Document the nature, content and date of the oral warning with a memo to the employee file. Original form should be mailed to the Director of Human Resources in a sealed confidential envelope. The oral warning may be repeated several times as the supervisor deems necessary. Specific time limits should be set on improving the behavior in question.
  2. Written Warning Notice. A written warning, in the form of a performance improvement plan, should occur if the behavior is not corrected following the verbal discussion(s). The performance improvement plan should contain the following:
    1. Describe the incident, noting any verbal discussion, which occurred prior to the written counseling. Give specific dates, times and a summary of what was said.
    2. Inform the employee what must be done to correct or improve the unacceptable behavior. Be specific.
    3. Discuss with the employee the training or directive necessary to achieve the desired goals.
    4. Set a specific time limit when correction or acceptable improvement should be noticed. The supervisor should have a follow-up meeting with the employee at the appointed time to discuss the program.
    5. State what disciplinary action will be taken if such behavior is not corrected or occurs again. Indicate that additional action may include termination.
    6. Have the employee sign and date the written warning indicating that the conversation did take place. If the employee refuses to sign, indicate the refusal on the employee signature line, initial and date it yourself. Original copy of the written warning should be sent to the Director of Human Resources in a sealed confidential envelope.
  3. Suspension. The nature of certain types of misconduct warrants placing an employee on suspension (in lieu of probation) and may be followed by a probationary period. A suspension is an imposed temporary absence from duty without pay. The purpose of this step is to make certain that the employee is aware of the seriousness of his or her behavior. Once again, continued errant behavior will result in further disciplinary action up to and including discharge.
  4. Discharge. For infractions deemed to be sufficiently serious, or where there is continued continued failure to respond appropriately to prior corrective action, discharge is appropriate. The area vice-president should be notified and approval of the employee’s division head and the Director of Human Resources must be obtained prior to the discharge of an employee under any circumstances.

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Policy 440: Political Campaign Activity

Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer
Effective Date: February 2008
Reviewed/Updated: March 2021
Date of Scheduled Review: March 2025

I. PURPOSE
To promote civic involvement while protecting Abilene Christian University’s status as a federal income tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

II. SCOPE
This policy applies to all ACU employees. Where applicable, this policy also applies to all students and student organizations.

III. STATEMENT OF LAW
Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as ACU, from participating or intervening in political campaigns on behalf or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Accordingly, the university may not endorse a candidate, provide or solicit financial or other forms of support for candidates or political organizations, or establish political action committees. Violations of these prohibitions could result in loss of the university’s tax-exempt status, imposition of taxes on the institution and its responsible managers, federal or state government lawsuits, audits, investigations or other penalties.

IV. POLICY
ACU’s policy on employee political campaign activity is established for the guidance of all employees, but it cannot expressly address every potentially prohibited activity under the federal law. The policy addresses all levels of political activity, up to and including filing and running for elected office, and offers a framework from which employees can safely exercise their constitutional rights to free speech and association while also respecting the prohibitions against inappropriate political involvement by non-profit organizations and their employees.

  1. Pursuit of Elected Office
    1. If employees plan to undertake public office or seek leave for that purpose, they should first consider primary obligations and responsibilities to the university and also consider potential problems the political activity could create for the university. In short, employees are free to seek elected office provided that it does not interfere with their obligations as employees of the university. In order to determine the feasibility of pursuing elected office consistent with obligations of employees to the university, employees will consult with their supervisor.
    2. Employee candidates may use their documented, official university title for identification purposes, provided that a reasonable person would not infer that it was an endorsement by the university.
  2. Individual Involvement in Campaigns – Employees, in their individual capacity, may involve themselves in support or in opposition to political candidates and campaigns pursuant to the following provisions:
    1. Individual political activity of employees must not interfere with the execution of their duties or responsibilities to ACU.
    2. Employees must not engage in political advocacy at ACU functions or through official university publications, unless they are a legally qualified candidate for public office and the activity is consistent with other provisions for candidate appearances in this policy.
    3. If employees are identified by their ACU affiliation in connection with their individual political activity (e.g. an endorsement in a political advertisement), they must ensure that:
      1. A clear and unambiguous message is also included indicating that they are acting on their own behalf and not at the direction or on behalf of ACU, so that a reasonable person would not believe the communication or activity to be an endorsement by ACU; and
      2. The affiliation is their documented, official ACU title.
  3. Use of University Facilities and Resources
    1. ACU employees may not use or provide university resources including, but not limited to university mailing lists, office space, property, telephones, technology, photocopying, or personnel to support or oppose a political candidate, campaign, party, action committee or group.
    2. ACU and its employees may not use institutional letterhead or email in support of or in opposition to a candidate, campaign, political party, or political action committee. Unsolicited interoffice communications, including but not limited to email and other digital communications, in support or against a candidate for public office are prohibited. Moreover, ACU or its employees may not place political advertising (e.g. signage) on university property, and no political candidate or non-student political group should be permitted to place political advertising on university property.
    3. Subject to university policies on permission and scheduling, recognized student organizations may use ACU facilities for partisan political purposes, so long as they pay the usual and normal charge, if any, for such use. However, prolonged partisan use of ACU facilities should be avoided.
    4. Individual students may not place political advertising (e.g. signage) on university property. However, subject to other relevant university policies, recognized student organizations may temporarily post political advertising (e.g. signage) on university property during their on-campus events.
  4. Candidate Appearances – ACU and its employees and student groups may invite candidates for political office to appear in their candidate capacity only if the candidate appearance meets and adheres to the following:
    1. The appearance consists of speeches, question-and-answer sessions, or similar communications in an academic setting;
    2. No political fundraising occurs;
    3. It is made clear that ACU takes no position with regard to the candidate; and
    4. All candidates seeking the same office must be provided an equal opportunity to appear.
  5. Academic Courses and Schedules – Academic coursework may require that students participate in political campaigns of their choice, but only if the university and the related faculty neither influence the students’ choice of candidate nor control their campaign work. Students may be excused from classes for which the assignment was given in order to fulfill these requirements. ACU may (but is not required to) rearrange class or work schedules to permit members of its community to participate in the election process, provided that it is done without reference to particular candidates or political parties.
  6. Advertising in University Publications – ACU publications may accept paid political advertising as long as it is accepted on the same basis as other nonpolitical advertising and not attributed to the university’s own views. The publication should ensure that the advertisement is identified as paid political advertising and must also make advertising space available to all candidates on an equal basis.
  7. Student Publications – Student publications may run editorials expressing the editors’ views on candidates for public office, provided that the publication’s editorial policy is free of editorial control by university administrators or faculty advisors with respect to such views. A statement on the editorial page must indicate that the views expressed are those of the student editors and not those of ACU. The university may provide financial and administrative support to such publications.
  8. Issue Advocacy – ACU and its employees may engage in permissible lobbying and public policy education activities within the constraints ordinarily applicable to such activities conducted by universities, provided that heightened, different, or targeted lobbying and public policy education activities do not coincide with campaign events.
  9. Political Contributions and Fundraising – Employees may, in their individual capacity and in accordance with all applicable state and federal laws, donate or raise non-university funds in support of candidates for public office, political campaigns, political parties or political action committees. ACU may not reimburse employees for political contributions.
  10. Political Appointments – Employees may accept political appointments to any level of government service consistent with other provisions in this policy.

V. FORMAL COMPLAINT RESOLUTION
Any complaint regarding a violation of this policy against prohibited political campaign activity must be made in writing, outlining the facts surrounding the violation and the section of the policy allegedly violated. Complaints concerning university employees should be submitted to the Human Resources Office, while complaints concerning students or student organizations should be submitted to the office of the VP for Student Life/Dean of Students.

Any investigation of all formal, written complaints involving employees will be conducted or coordinated by Human Resources. An investigation of all formal, written complaints involving students will be conducted or coordinated by the office of the VP for Student Life/Dean of Students. To the extent reasonably possible, complaints will be handled confidentially by the coordinating office, with the facts made available only to those who have a need to know for purposes of investigation or resolution. The coordinating office will make a determination as to whether there was a violation of the policy, ensure that appropriate university administrator(s) take necessary action, and inform the complainant and the respondent of the final disposition of the complaint.

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Policy 450: Substantive Change Policy

Responsible Department: Office of Institutional Effectiveness
Responsible Administrator: 
Associate Provost and SACSCOC Liaison
Effective Date: 
May 1, 2021
Reviewed/Updated Date:
Date of Scheduled Review: 
May 1, 2023

I. PURPOSE

This policy establishes procedures to assure effective and timely compliance with all applicable rules regarding substantive changes as defined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

II. SCOPE

This policy applies to all levels and across the university in regard to the Board of Trustees, university administrators, faculty, or staff wishing to make a substantive change as defined below. All initiators of substantive change are responsible for complying with this policy and for coordinating these changes with their respective senior administrator and ACU’s SACSCOC Liaison (Chris Riley). All substantive changes require ACU to notify SACSCOC, by and through ACU’s President or SACSCOC Liaison, before implementation. Many substantive changes also require SACSCOC approval, before implementation.

III. DEFINITIONS

A. Substantive Change – Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of a SACSCOC-accredited institution. Examples of potential substantive change include but are not limited to the following:

1. Institutional-Level Changes

  1. Change in Measure of Student Progress to Completion at the Institutional Level
  2. Competency-based Education by Course/Credit-based Approach at the Institutional Level – A competency-based educational program is outcome-based and assesses a student’s attainment of competencies as the sole means of determining whether the student earns a degree or a credential organized around traditional course-based units (credit or clock hours). Approval is required if 50% or more of the educational program relies on measured achievement of competencies rather than credit or clock hours.
  3. Governance Change – Significantly altering governing board bylaws, the board’s scope of authority or responsibility, the number of board members, or how board members are selected.
  4. Institutional Closure or Relocation – Relocating or closing of an off-campus site, branch or main campus;
  5. Institutional Contingency Teach-Out Plan – Precautionary measure if university is on probation by SACSCOC, state authorization revoked, or subject to certain USDE actions
  6. Merger/Consolidation/Acquisition – Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution or acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution;
  7. Mission Change – Altering significantly ACU’s educational mission; and
  8. Ownership, Means of Control or Legal Status Change

2. Program Changes

  1. Clock-Credit Hour Conversion at Program Level
  2. Competency-based Education by Direct Assessment – Progression and completion of a program is based solely on demonstrating mastery of prescribed competencies. There are no academic terms (i.e., calendars), courses, or credit hours. Student progress through a program’s competencies at their own pace within limits, if any, established by the institution. 25-49% of program requires SACSCOC notification prior to implementation and 50% or more of program requires SACSCOC approval
  3. Cooperative Academic Agreements – an agreement with another entity to deliver program content with credit being recorded on an ACU transcript as an ACU course
  4. Dual Academic Awards – a student receives instruction at two (or more) institutions in prescribed curricula leading to each institution granting academic awards at the same credential level
  5. Joint Academic Awards – a student receives instruction at two or more institutions in a prescribed curriculum leading to the institutions granting a single academic award bearing the names, seals, and officials’ signatures of each participating institution
  6. Method of Delivery Change– adding a new method of delivery (i.e., competency-based education, distance, or face-to-face) to an existing program when 50% or more the program is now available through the new method
  7. New Programs (Including Certificates)– 25% or more new content is a significant departure from the institution’s existing programs. 25-49% requires SACSCOC notification prior to implementation and 50% or more requires SACSCOC approval
  8. Program Closure (Including Certificates)– Closing a program requires a SACSCOC-approved a teach out plan. Closure is based on when students can no longer start, not the date instruction ends. Program closure includes ending a program at all locations or by all methods of delivery, but also includes ending a student’s completion option at a specific location or by a specific method of delivery.
  9. Program Designed for Prior Learning – initiating a program requiring students to possess and receive ACU credit for prior learning as a condition of admission
  10. Program Length Change (Including Certificates)– A program credit hour increase or decrease of 25% or more and students’ expected time to completion increases or decreases by more than one term or its equivalent or comparable measure
  11. Program Re-Open – A closed program may re-open within five years of the closure date by submitting notification.

3. Off-Campus Instructional Sites (OCIS)/ Additional Locations Changes

  1. Opening OCIS – a new location geographically apart from the institution’s Abilene campus where instruction at least 25% of a program’s instruction is delivered.  25%-49% requires SACSCOC notification prior to implementation and 50% or more requires SACSCOC approval. For the purpose of an off-campus instructional site, a for-credit credential for which an institution awards a degree, diploma, certificate, or other credential at any level of instruction (graduate or undergraduate).
    The percentage of the total instruction required to earn a credential measured in credit hours, clock hours, competencies, or other generally accepted measure of progress to completion.

    1. If instruction is delivered to a location by distance education (synchronously or asynchronously) and if a student is required to be at the location to receive instruction, then the location is considered an off-campus instructional site.
    2. A clinical training site at which no didactic instruction is delivered is not an off-campus instructional site.
  2. Relocating an OCIS – Moving instruction to a new location geographically separate from – i.e., noncontiguous to – the current location
  3. Changing Name or Address of OCIS– If instruction is not moving but the name or physical address only of a site will change (e.g., renaming a street, changing the ZIP code, or re-branding the site).
  4. Closing at OCIS– Closing an off-campus instructional site requires SACSCOC approval of an acceptable teach-out plan. A site is considered closed as of the date the institution stops admitting students to the site; closure is not the date of last instruction.
  5. Re-Opening OCIS– An off-campus instructional site previously approved for closure may be re-opened within five years of the closure date by submitting notification.

Based on the foregoing, the following changes do not qualify as substantive changes and do not require any reporting to or approval by SACSCOC.

  • Initiating a new certificate program using existing courses or content;
  • Initiating a new track or closing a track within an existing major; and
  • Initiating off-campus sites where student can obtain 24% or less of credits toward a program.

B. Initiator – individual seeking substantive change and responsible for contacting SASCOC Liaison regarding determinations related to substantive change requirements and any result reporting to or approval from SACSCOC.

C. Notification – a letter submitted from the President or SACSCOC Liaison to the SACSCOC President summarizing the proposed change and including specific information or attachments required by SACSCOC related to the change.

D. Prospectus – a report no longer that 25 pages (not counting attachments) that outlines various aspects of the proposed change including an abstract, determination of need, faculty qualifications, library and learning resources, student support services, physical resources and financial support, and description of institutional evaluation and assessment processes. For complete description, see Appendix A of SACSCOC’s policy statement on substantive change (p. 62-81).

 

IV. PROCEDURE

A. Coordination – ACU’s SACSCOC Liaison will serve as the coordinator of the this process and advise Initiators related to substantive change requirements and any required reporting to or approval from SACSCOC. In this regard, the SACSCOC Liaison will serve as an ad-hoc member of all academic curriculum and program committees and as a member of Provost Cabinet. Additionally, upon request, the Accreditation Liaison will be provided with agenda for and regularly review all available minutes from the following meetings in order to identify potential substantive changes: academic Deans’ Council, Senior Leadership Team, and Board of Trustees.

B. Evaluation and Determination – The Initiator should consult the SACSCOC Liaison as early as possible in the change process in order to (1) evaluate whether the change is substantive in nature (2) allow the SACSCOC Liaison to seek guidance from SACSCOC resources and staff, if necessary, and (3) if a change is substantive, provide for ample time to satisfy the timeframes for notification and/or approval. Relevant information needed for this consultation including but is not limited to a brief description of the possible change; tentative timeline for approval, including steps in the approval process; and the earliest possible date for implementation. The following provides common substantive changes and their appropriate timeline for consultation to the SACSCOC Liaison (SL) and notification to/approval from SACSCOC.

Type of Changes SACSCOC Requirement Contact Liaison
Governance Change; Institution, Program, or Location Acquisition; Merger/Consolidation; Ownership, Means of Control, or Legal Status Change; Competency-based Education by Direct Assessment (50% or More) Prospectus for Full Board approval must be submitted by either:

  • 3/15 for Board’s biannual meeting in June
  • 9/1 for Board’s biannual meeting in December
6 months prior to deadline
All Institutional Changes (Not Mentioned Above); Clock-Credit Hour Conversion; Competency-based Education by Direct Assessment (25-49%); Cooperative Academic Arrangement with Non-Title IV Entities (25-50%); Joint Academic Award with non-SACSCOC Institution(s) or Entity(ies); New Program (50-100% new content); Program Closure; Program Length Change; Off-campus Instructional Site (50% or more of program); Off-campus Instructional Site Relocation (Branch) Prospectus for Executive Council approval must be submitted by either:

  • 1/1 for implementation between 7/1 – 12/31 of the same calendar year
  • 7/1 for implementation between 1/1 – 6/30 of next year
9-12 months before desire implementation
Cooperative Academic Arrangement with Title IV Entities; Cooperative Academic Arrangement with Non-Title IV Entities (Less than 25%); Dual Academic Award; Joint Academic Award with SACSCOC Institution(s); Method of Delivery (50% or more); New Program (25-49% new content); Program Designed for Prior Learning; Program Re-open; Off-campus Instructional Site (25-49% of program); Off-campus Instructional Site Relocation (Non-Branch); Off-campus Instructional Site Name or Address Change; Off-campus Instructional Site Re-open Notification must be submitted to SACSCOC prior to implementation 2 months
prior to implementation
Close a Program, Site, Program at a Site, or Method of Delivery A teach-out plan should be submitted for SACSCOC approval as soon as possible after the decision is made to close (i.e., stop admitting students). 6 months prior to closure

 

C. Determination – If the SACSCOC Liaison needs assistance in reaching a final determination regarding whether a change is substantive or what reporting or approval process is required, he/she will consult the Provost and/or President as necessary.

D. Notification or Prospectus – If it is determined that a notification is required, the SACSOC Liaison will obtain needed information from the Initiator and develop a draft notice for review by the Initiator before submitting the final notice to SASCOC. If it is determined that a prospectus is required, the Initiator will prepare the required documents with the assistance of the SACSCOC Liaison, who will provide final drafts for the President’s review and signature prior to submission. The SACSCOC Liaison will track progress of SACSCOC’s review of any notification or prospectus. The SACSCOC Liaison will update Initiators on outcomes and maintain copies of all correspondence with SACSCOC related to substantive changes.

E. Education At least once each academic year, the Accreditation Liaison will provide written notice to the President, Provost and Provost Cabinet, department chairs and division vice presidents in relation to the substantive change policies and procedures. These recipients are responsible for ensuring that their respective areas provide notice of any potential substantive changes under this policy.

V. COMPLIANCE

Responsibility for compliance with SACSCOC substantive change policy requirements rests with the administration. If an institution fails to follow the substantive change policy and procedures of the SACSCOC, it may lose its Title IV funding or be required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse it for money received by the institution. In addition, the institution may be referred to the Commission for the imposition of a sanction or for removal from membership.

For that reason, if a substantive change is initiated without following the procedures outlined in this policy, the President or Provost may direct the immediate cancellation or cessation of that change, with due regard for the educational welfare of students.  In areas outside of academic affairs, the same sanction may be applied by the President or relevant Vice President.

VI. MISCELLANEOUS

For more information on substantive change, visit the SACSCOC’s substantive change site, which contains its policy and procedure statement on substantive change and related resources, or contact ACU’s SACSCOC Liaison, Chris Riley at x2918 or chris.riley@acu.edu.  Please do not directly contact SACSCOC.

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