Biola University is committed to the biblical truth that all persons are created in the image of God and should, therefore, be treated with dignity and respect. Biola seeks to emphasize the importance of being an authentically diverse community in pursuit of growth, awareness, and appreciation of our own diversity as well as that which exists in the broader world. As such, Biola does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, gender, age, disability, marital status, or military or veteran status in administration of its educational policies, admissions, financial aid, employment, educational programs, or activities.*
This Policy applies to conduct by all University community members, including students, faculty, administrators, staff, trustees, and third parties such as volunteers, vendors, independent contractors, and visitors, whether on campus or off campus, when engaged in activities sponsored by Biola or otherwise related to Biola or its business. Such activities include, but are not limited to classes, seminars, meetings, and study abroad programs. In addition, visitors, volunteers, vendors, consultants, third parties, or any person who provides services to Biola are expected to comply with the provisions of this Policy. This Policy does not apply to sex discrimination or harassment that constitutes sexual misconduct as Biola’s policy relating to sexual misconduct is found in its Sexual Misconduct Policy.
This Policy contains the Complaint Resolution Processes for all Biola community members, although the process is different depending on who is involved in the conduct and the severity of the conduct/potential consequences. Additionally, sanctions or consequences of a finding of a violation of this Policy by a non-student may be governed by another University Policy depending on the role of the person who violated the Policy.
*Note: As a religious institution, Biola exercises its right to make and implement policies and employ only those persons who believe in and seek to support Biola’s mission and theological positions, including but not limited to its Statement of Biblical Principles. Students should be aware that conduct that violates Biola’s Sexuality & Relationships Policy shall be handled as part of the Student Care process. While Biola opposes discrimination, harassment and retaliation as stated in this Policy, it is exempt from certain state and federal anti-discrimination laws due to its status as a religious non-profit corporation and its constitutional right to act in accordance with its religious beliefs. Nothing herein is intended, nor should it be construed to constitute a waiver of those exemptions or legal defenses, or of Biola’s right to make and enforce policies in furtherance of its religious beliefs.
The following terms, as used in this Policy, are defined as follows:
Complainant: The Complainant, as referred to in this Policy, is an individual or group of individuals who is alleged to have been subject to discrimination or harassment or other conduct that violates this Policy, whether or not the individual makes a report or seeks disciplinary action.
Respondent: The Respondent, as referred to in this Policy, is an individual or group of individuals against whom an allegation of discrimination or harassment or other conduct that violates this Policy is made.
Report: A report is an account of conduct that allegedly violates this Policy made to the University by the Complainant, a third party, or an anonymous source.
Complaint: A Complaint is an alleged Policy violation that begins a complaint resolution procedure as set forth in the Complaint Resolution Process section below.
Preponderance of the Evidence: The preponderance of the evidence standard is the standard used by University-appointed adjudicators to determine the outcome of a Complaint. The preponderance of the evidence standard is met if it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated this Policy.
The following conduct is prohibited under this Policy and will be handled in accordance with the procedures in this Policy.
“Discrimination” prohibited by this Policy occurs when an individual is treated less favorably with respect to Biola’s educational programs, activities, admissions, financial aid, on-campus housing or employment, because of that individual’s membership in a class protected by applicable law.
“Harassment” prohibited by this Policy is conduct that is so severe and/or pervasive, and objectively offensive, that its effect, regardless of intent, impairs a person’s ability to participate in the University’s educational programs, activities, living environment or employment. “Objectively offensive” means that it must be offensive not only to the person receiving the conduct but also to a “reasonable person” in the recipient’s circumstances. The harassment must be directed to or based on that individual’s membership in a class protected by applicable law. Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to:
“Retaliation” includes any form of intimidation, threats, coercion, reprisal, or harassment. Retaliatory actions may include, but are not limited to: acts or comments that are intended to discourage a person from engaging in activity protected under this Policy or that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in activity protected under this Policy; violation of a No Contact Order; acts or comments intended to embarrass an individual; seeking to influence the participation or statements of parties or witnesses or taking adverse action against them; adverse changes in employment status or opportunities; adverse academic action; and adverse changes to academic, educational and extra-curricular opportunities. Retaliation may be present against a person even when the person’s allegations of prohibited conduct are not substantiated.
Bad Faith Complaint of Discrimination or Harassment: Knowingly reporting a false allegation of any violation of this Policy, including one made as a counter-complaint, is prohibited. The fact that there has been a University determination that there was no violation of this Policy does not, by itself, mean that the complaint was made in bad faith.
Note: Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation may be in person, through postings on social media, email, text, or other forms of communication, and it may be committed by parties to the complaint resolution procedure, their friends or representatives, or any other person.
Reports can be made by telephone, email, or in person to any of the individuals listed above. To enable the University to respond appropriately, reports to the University should include as much information as possible, including (1) the name of the individual alleged to have experienced the discrimination, harassment or retaliation, (2) the name of the person(s) who allegedly engaged in discrimination, harassment or retaliation, and (3) the date, time, place, and circumstances of the incident(s).
It is strongly recommended that any individual involved in the resolution of a discrimination or harassment incident as described in this Policy seek personal support through relationships with trusted family members, pastors or friends. Additional support is available through the Biola Counseling Center (562) 903-4800 or Student Development (562) 903-4874. The University may take reasonable steps to provide appropriate accommodations during or following the investigation process to create a safe and productive environment.
A no-contact directive is a University-issued directive that prohibits one or both parties from communication or contact with another. In appropriate circumstances, the University may issue an institutional no-contact directive on its own initiative or at the request of the complainant or the respondent. To request a no-contact directive from the University, individuals should contact the Anti-Discrimination Officer at (562) 944-0351, Ext. 5807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the University receives a report that an institutional no-contact directive has been violated, the University may initiate disciplinary proceedings against the person who allegedly violated the no-contact directive and will impose sanctions if the person is found responsible for violating the directive.
Upon receiving a Complaint or a report of potential/alleged Discrimination or Harassment under this Policy, the Anti-Discrimination Officer (“ADO”) will be notified (if the report went to a different Responsible Officer) and will then meet with the Complainant. During the initial meeting with the Complainant, the ADO will discuss the availability of supportive measures and explain that they are available regardless of whether a formal Complaint is filed. The Complainant shall also be informed of: the right to have a support person or advisor (“Advisor”) present during this meeting and will be told the role such a person may play in the process; the process to file a formal Complaint; and the option to pursue the Informal Resolution Process (if both the Complainant and Respondent agree) or the Formal Adjudication Process, as well as a description of what each entails.
If, after this initial meeting, the ADO determines that there could not have been a violation of this Policy, even assuming the facts as presented by the Complainant are true, the ADO will inform the Complainant of this fact and the matter will be closed unless the Complainant wishes to file an appeal (see below).
After meeting with the Complainant, and assuming further investigation is needed, the ADO will meet with the Respondent to: review the allegations; discuss supportive measures available to the Respondent; inform the Respondent of the right to have an Advisor present during this meeting and the role such a person may play in the process; and explain the option to pursue the Informal Resolution Process (if both the Complainant and Respondent agree) or the Formal Adjudication Process, as well as a description of what each entails.
The parties will be entitled to an Advisor during the complaint resolution process. The role and restrictions relating to Advisors are:
Either party may decline, at any time, to provide information or participate further in the Complaint Resolution process. If, at any time during the process, a party decides not to participate, the University will proceed with the process and make a determination based upon the information available. A Respondent’s silence in response to a Complainant’s allegation will not necessarily be viewed as an admission of the allegation, but may leave the Complainant’s allegations undisputed. Similarly, a Complainant’s silence in response to a Respondent’s denials or defenses will not necessarily be viewed as an admission of the denials or defenses, but may leave the Respondent’s denials or defenses undisputed. Even if a party decides not to participate or chooses to stop participating during a particular phase of the process, the party will still be given the option to participate during later phases of the process.
Reports and Complaints of alleged Discrimination and Harassment should be made only in good faith. Complaints that are not made in good faith may be a form of retaliation under this Policy and/or may violate other University policies. All parties and witnesses have an obligation to be truthful in the Complaint Resolution process.
If a Complainant or Respondent has any concern that any individual acting for the University under this Policy has a conflict of interest or bias, such concern should be reported in writing to the ADO. When evaluating the possibility of a conflict of interest or bias, the parties should also consider whether there may be a conflict of interest or bias in connection with the witnesses they may need to support their allegations or defenses. Any concern regarding a conflict of interest or bias must be submitted within two (2) calendar days after receiving notice of the person’s involvement in the Complaint Resolution process. The ADO or designee(s) will review the concern(s) and take appropriate steps to ensure that no conflicts of interest exist on the part of anyone investigating or resolving a complaint under this Policy.
The University is committed to full access and inclusion of students with disabilities in its processes and services, including investigations, hearings and other student conduct processes. Students with documented disabilities involved in an investigative or hearing process should notify the ADO if he/she needs assistance during the process.
The University is committed to the prompt and equitable resolution of allegations of Discrimination and Harassment, and generally seeks to conclude its process under this Policy within 60 calendar days and its appeal process within 20 days. Circumstances may arise that require the extension of time frames based on: the complexity of the allegations; the number of witnesses involved; the availability of the parties involved; witnesses being absent from campus; the effect of a concurrent criminal investigation; unsuccessful attempts at informal resolution; any intervening school break or vacation; or other unforeseen circumstances. When these circumstances warrant additional time, the ADO will notify the parties in writing of the anticipated extended time frame.
Complainants are encouraged to begin the Complaint Resolution process as soon as possible following an alleged incident of discrimination or harassment. There is no deadline for reporting prohibited conduct to the University under this Policy. The University’s ability to respond, however, may diminish over time, as evidence may erode, memories may fade, and the Respondent may no longer be affiliated with the University. If a Complaint is brought forward more than four (4) calendar years after an alleged incident or if the Complainant and Respondent are no longer students or employees of the University community, the University, in its discretion, may decline to process the Complaint under this Policy.
When the University receives a Report or a Complaint of a violation of this Policy, the University will generally apply the Complaint Resolution process from the Policy that is in effect at the time that the Report or Complaint is made and generally will apply the definitions from the policy that were in effect at the time the alleged conduct occurred.
The procedures set forth in this Policy reflect the University’s desire to respond to Complaints in good faith and in a manner that promotes fairness to all parties. The University recognizes that each case is unique and that circumstances may arise which require that it reserve some flexibility in responding to the particular circumstances of the matter. Where it is not possible or practical to follow the process outlined in this Policy, the University reserves the right to modify the process or to take other administrative action as appropriate under the circumstances.
Informal resolution is a voluntary process for timely and corrective action through the imposition of individual and/or community-focused remedies designed to maintain the Complainant's access to the educational, extracurricular, and employment activities at the University and to eliminate a potential hostile environment. The option to pursue informal resolution will be presented to the parties only after the University has sufficient information about the nature and scope of the conduct at issue.
If the Complainant, the Respondent, and the ADO all agree to pursue an informal resolution, the ADO will attempt to facilitate a resolution that is agreeable to all parties. The role of the ADO is not to be an advocate for either party, but rather, to aid in the resolution of issues in a non-adversarial manner. Under the Informal Resolution process, the University will only conduct such fact-finding as is useful to resolve the conflict and as is necessary to protect the interests of the parties, the University, and the University community.
The University will not compel a Complainant or Respondent to engage in mediation, to directly confront the other party, or to participate in any particular form of informal resolution. If at any point during the Informal Resolution process, the Complainant, the Respondent, or the University wishes to cease the process and to proceed with the formal process, the Informal Resolution process will stop and the Formal Adjudication process described below will begin. The student may be encouraged to return to an informal resolution at any time during the Formal Adjudication process.
Any informal resolution must adequately address the concerns of the Complainant, the rights of the Respondent, and the overall intent of the University to stop, remedy, and prevent Policy violations. The University will take appropriate actions as necessary and use its best efforts to remedy any harm that occurred and to prevent any further incidents of Discrimination or Harassment.
There is no right to appeal a resolution agreement once all Parties agree in writing to the resolution. Once there is an agreement in writing, the Formal Adjudication process is unavailable to resolve the allegations raised in the initial report or Complaint. The ADO will maintain records of all reports and conduct referred for informal resolution.
When the Informal Resolution process is not deemed to be appropriate or the parties do not agree to the process, a formal process will be used to adjudicate the matter. Upon review of the Complaint that initiates the formal process, the ADO may choose one of the following processes to adjudicate the matter: (1) Administrative Determination; or (2) Adjudication Hearing (only in cases where the Respondent is a student and when the alleged conduct, if proved, is likely to result in suspension or expulsion). The decision as to which option to choose shall be at the sole discretion of the ADO.
Regardless of which formal process is used, the following procedures will be used to begin the process:
Once the steps outlined above are completed, and if the Administrative Determination option was selected by the ADO, the following shall occur:
In those cases where a student is a Respondent and the conduct is so severe that, if a Policy violation is found, the sanctions could result in suspension or expulsion, the ADO can determine that an Adjudication Hearing is the proper formal process to be used. The following is the process that will be followed for the adjudication hearing:
The matter will be heard by a committee typically composed of three trained faculty and/or staff members (“Adjudication Committee”). The Dean of Community Life or designee will chair the committee (“Chairperson”) but is not a voting member unless there is a tie vote.
Prior to the adjudication hearing, the parties will receive a written notice stating the hearing date and will include a description of the behavior that allegedly violates this Policy, the investigative materials, and any other information the ADO deems necessary to provide to the involved parties. The notice and related materials will be sent via a secured file to the involved students' Biola email accounts.
The notice shall also identify the Adjudication Committee members. If the involved parties believe that any of the Adjudication Committee members is biased or cannot be impartial, objection to a committee member must be made to the ADO within 48 hours of receipt of the notice identifying the committee members.
The date set for the adjudication hearing shall be at least ten calendar days after the date of the written notice to the involved parties unless both parties and the Adjudication Committee agree to a shorter time.
Other than as outlined below, hearings need not adhere to formal rules of procedure or technical rules of evidence followed by courts of law. Hearings will be conducted according to the following guidelines:
Any corrective action that is needed will vary depending on circumstances and the severity of the conduct. Resolution steps could include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following for students: training, advising or coaching from Student Development, reflection paper, behavioral probation, mandatory corrective action, revocation of privileges, suspension, or dismissal. For employees, resolution steps could include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following: training, advising or coaching from Human Resources or other appropriate professional, verbal or written warning, probation, reassignment, suspension with or without pay, or termination. Depending on the circumstances and the impact on the Biola community, and considering the privacy issues that may be involved, resolution steps could include a campus-wide email, public announcement/statement, or developmental/educational programming.
Sanctions may also be imposed on an individual who knowingly provided false information or initiated in bad faith a claim of discrimination or harassment.
The parties have an opportunity to appeal the decision as to whether there has been a violation of this Policy and, if the Complainant and Respondent are both students, the decision to impose certain sanctions. To do so, a written appeal must be submitted to the ADO who will refer the appeal to the Appellate Officer(s) as follows:
The length of appeal must not exceed 7 pages (double-spaced, 12-pt. font) unless prior approval is sought from and obtained by the Appellate Officer(s). The appeal must be submitted within seven (7) calendar days of the date of the notice of decision to the Complainant and Respondent. The written appeal must be based on one or more of the five grounds specified below. General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the decision or an appeal for mercy is not an appropriate basis for an appeal. The written appeal must specify on which of the following grounds the appeal is based:
The non-appealing party will be notified within two (2) business days after the time for filing an appeal has lapsed of the fact that the other party has filed an appeal. The non-appealing party may request to review the written appeal and may submit a written response within five (5) business days after being notified. The length of the response must not exceed seven (7) pages (double-spaced, 12-pt. font) unless prior approval is sought from and obtained by the Appellate Officer(s).
Generally, the appellate process does not require a hearing, nor does it require the Appellate Officer to make personal contact with the parties. The Appellate Officer(s) may, however, request that one or both of the parties meet with him/her/them, and may consult with others (e.g., an investigator(s), the adjudicators, an employee’s supervisor, a student development employees, etc.) if he/she/they deem such a meeting or consultation is needed to determine the issues raised in the appeal.
Within twenty (20) business days from the date of receipt of the written appeal, the Appellate Officer(s) will notify the parties of the decision. The Appellate Officer(s) may affirm, reverse, or modify the sanction. The Appellate Officer(s) may also return the case to the decision makers for further consideration. The Appellate Officers’ decision shall be final and effective immediately unless otherwise specified. The notification to the parties will be by e-mail to the parties’ Biola accounts.
Other than University dismissal or permanent withholding of a degree, disciplinary sanctions will not be made part of the student's permanent academic record, but will become part of the student's disciplinary record. Cases involving the imposition of sanctions other than University expulsion or dismissal or withholding of a degree will be expunged from the student's disciplinary record seven years after graduation.
Any complaint relating to retaliation in violation of this Policy, violations of interim measures imposed during the resolution process, or violations of sanctions should be reported promptly to the ADO. The University will take appropriate action against any individual who retaliates against another person in violation of this Policy or who violates interim measures or sanctions.
When the University receives a complaint of retaliation or of violations of interim measures or sanctions, the ADO may exercise discretion to determine an appropriate responsive process based on the facts and circumstances. Options for resolution include but are not limited to: informal discussions and resolution facilitated by the ADO or designee, or assignment of a designated individual to investigate the complaint and determine an appropriate response. This process will be separate and distinct from the complaint resolution procedures outlined above for addressing Discrimination or Harassment Complaints. For a complaint of retaliation or of violations of interim measures or sanctions, the ADO or designee will document the complaint received, the process used, and the outcome. In instances where the outcome of the process results in a suspension longer than one year, expulsion, or termination of employment, the impacted individual may appeal the decision in accordance with the appeal rights as set forth in this Policy. The University will notify the parties of the outcome of the complaint. Any party with concerns about the process or outcome should consult with the ADO.
Individuals are encouraged to use the complaint resolution process in this Policy to resolve a Complaint of Discrimination or Harassment. However, nothing in this Policy is intended to interfere with the right of any individual to pursue other avenues of recourse which may include, but are not limited to, filing a complaint (at the beginning, during, or after use of the complaint resolution procedure) with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) or with the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
San Francisco Office
50 United Nations Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 486-5555
Fax: (415) 486-5570
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Los Angeles District Office
Roybal Federal Building
255 East Temple St., 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Telephone: (800) 669-4000
Fax: (213) 894-1118
In addition, for complaints regarding the University, including complaints related to institutional policies or procedures, an individual may contact the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education for review of a complaint:
Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 400
Sacramento, CA 95833
Telephone: (916) 431-6959
Fax: (916) 263-1897