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 unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, gender, disability, or prior military service 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 discrimination or harassment of a sexual nature. For information regarding sexual misconduct, see Biola’s 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 accept only those employees who believe in and seek to support Biola’s mission and theological positions. While Biola opposes discrimination, harassment and retaliation as stated in this Policy, it is exempt from certain state and federal anti-discrimination laws based on its status as a religious non-profit corporation and 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, based on that individuals’ 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 individuals’ 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 in person, through 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. 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.
Biola encourages any member of the Biola community who has a concern or has become aware of an instance of possible discrimination, harassment, or retaliation described in this Policy, which involves a student, faculty or staff member, to immediately report the situation to one of the following Responsible Officers:
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 the name of the individual alleged to have experienced the discrimination, harassment or retaliation, the name of the accused(s), and the date, time, place, and circumstances of the incident(s).
The University will accept anonymous reports of discrimination and harassment. The individual making the report is encouraged to provide as much detailed information as possible to allow the University to investigate the report and respond as appropriate. The University may be limited in its ability to investigate an anonymous report unless sufficient information is furnished to enable the University to conduct a meaningful and fair investigation.
It is strongly recommended that any individual involved in the resolution of a discrimination or ethnic harassment complaint 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 affirming 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 Senior Title IX Coordinator at (562) 903-6000, Ext. 5887 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 the University’s receipt of a Report of an alleged violation under this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator or designee (in cases involving students as the Respondent) or the Senior Director of Human Resources or designee (in cases involving employees or third parties as the Respondent) will act as the Responsible Officer to gather information and determine next steps. As soon as practical after receipt of the Report, the Responsible Officer will schedule a meeting with the Complainant to discuss the process under this Policy, support available, and applicable interim measures. During this initial meeting, the Responsible Officer will also gather enough information to determine if there is sufficient information to warrant an investigation and the extent of that investigation, and also determine if the case may be one suited for informal resolution (see below).
The Parties will be entitled to an advisor during the complaint resolution process. For restrictions and responsibilities relating to advisors, the same rules are applicable under this Policy as those stated in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Either party may decline, at any time, to provide information or participate further in the complaint resolution procedure. If, at any time during the complaint resolution procedure, a party decides not to participate, the University will proceed with the complaint resolution procedure 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 Responsible Officer. 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 Responsible Officer 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 Responsible Officer 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 Responsible Officer will notify the parties in writing of the anticipated extended time frame.
Complainants are encouraged to begin the complaint resolution procedure 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 these procedures.
When the University receives a Report or a Complaint of a violation of this Policy, the University will generally apply the complaint resolution processes and procedures 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 was 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 these procedures, the University reserves the right to modify the procedures 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 Responsible Officer or designee all agree to pursue an informal resolution, the Responsible Officer will attempt to facilitate a resolution that is agreeable to all parties. The role of the Responsible Officer 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 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 informal resolution process and to proceed with the formal process, the informal resolution process will stop and the formal adjudication process described below will proceed.
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. The Responsible Officer 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, the Responsible Officer may choose one of the following processes to adjudicate the case: (1) Administrative Determination; or (2) Adjudication Hearing (only in cases where the Respondent is a student). Most cases will be suitable for an Administrative Hearing. The Adjudication Committee Hearing will be used only in those cases where the alleged conduct is likely to result in suspension or expulsion. The decision as to which option to choose shall be at the sole discretion of the Responsible Officer after consultation with the Title IX Coordinator (if not the Responsible Officer) or Chief Diversity Officer.
Any corrective action that is needed will vary depending on circumstances and the severity of the conduct. Resolution steps could include one or more of the following for students: training, advising or coaching from Student Development, reflection paper, behavioral probation, suspension, or dismissal. For employees, resolution steps could include one or more of the following: training, advising or coaching from a professional, verbal or written warning, probation or termination. Depending on the circumstances and the impact on the Biola community, 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.
Regardless of which formal process is used, the following procedures will be used to begin the process:
(1) A Complaint shall be submitted by the Complainant. If the Complainant desires not to submit a written Complaint, the University will still review the allegations and proceed as outlined below if possible based on the information provided. The Complaint should provide as much detail as possible regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged discrimination or harassment, the names and contact information for any witnesses, and the Complainant’s request for resolution. The Complaint must then be signed and dated and submitted to the Responsible Officer.
(2) The Responsible Officer will review the Complaint to determine if it sufficiently describes the alleged discrimination or harassment. If it does not, the Complainant may be asked to clarify the Complaint. If, after review of the original Complaint or once more details are provided, the Responsible Officer does not believe there is a sufficient basis to proceed with an investigation, the Responsible Officer will notify the Complainant of that fact but continue to offer any desired support services. No further investigation will be conducted.
(3) If there is sufficient information to proceed with an investigation, the Responsible Officer will appoint a trained investigator(s) to gather all necessary information. The Responsible Officer may also act as the investigator at his or her discretion. The Responsible Officer will then notify the Respondent that a Complaint has been received and an investigation has begun and identify the assigned investigator(s). A copy of the complaint or summary of it (at the discretion of the Responsible Officer) and a copy of this Policy will be provided to the Respondent.
(4) The Responsible Officer will meet again with the Complainant to review the nature of the Complaint and identify the scope and nature of the investigation and the assigned investigator(s). The Responsible Officer will also meet with the Respondent to receive the Respondent’s response to the Complaint, request names of witnesses and supporting documents, and to review with the Respondent the scope and nature of the investigation.
(5) The assigned Investigator(s) shall thoroughly investigate the Complaint and prepare a written report. The Responsible Officer will review the Report and decide if any additional information is needed prior to a decision being made.
Once the steps outlined above are completed, and if the Administrative Determination option was selected by the Responsible Officer, the following shall occur:
(1) The investigative report (with redactions if appropriate to protect privacy rights) and any supporting documents will be provided to the parties via a secured file to the involved parties' Biola email accounts. The documents provided shall not be shared with anyone other than the approved advisor, if any.
(2) The parties shall have seven (7) calendar days to submit any further information to the Responsible Officer. Any additional documentation submitted should not exceed five (5) pages unless prior approval is given.
(3) The Responsible Officer will share the investigation report and any additional information submitted by the parties to the Chief Diversity Officer. The Responsible Officer and the Chief Diversity Officer shall meet to discuss the investigation report and all materials submitted and reach a decision as to whether there has been a violation of this Policy and if so, what sanctions, corrective action or consequences should be imposed. If the Respondent is an employee, the determination of consequences shall be made with input by the employee’s direct supervisor, or, in the case of faculty, with the Dean of the School in which the faculty member is assigned. In cases where the complaint is against the person’s direct supervisor or Dean, that supervisor’s or Dean’s direct supervisor shall be consulted.
(4) Once a decision has been reached, The Responsible Officer shall forward to the Complainant and Respondent a notice that contains the decision reached and a summary of the rationale for the decision; a description of corrective actions, if any, to resolve the discrimination or harassment that occurred and to prevent similar conduct from occurring in the future; and a description of the Complainant’s and Respondent’s right to appeal either the finding of whether there has been a violation of the Policy or the appropriateness of the corrective action(s).
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 Responsible Officer can determine that an Adjudication Hearing is the proper formal process to be used. The procedures set forth in the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy in section VIII. D. 2. shall be used to adjudicate conduct under this Policy.
The parties have an opportunity to appeal the decision as to whether there has been a violation of this Policy and/or the decision regarding sanctions. To do so, a written appeal must be submitted to the appropriate Appellate Officer 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 may, but is not required to, convene an advisory committee to assist in making a recommendation regarding the appeal. The Appellate Officer(s) shall not be bound by the committee's recommendation.
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, or violations of sanctions should be reported promptly to the Title IX Coordinator. 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 Title IX Coordinator 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 Title IX Coordinator 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 Title IX Coordinator 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 Title IX Coordinator.
Individuals are encouraged to use the complaint resolution procedure 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