Inclusion & Belonging Restoration Protocol

("Restoration Protocol")

Effective Date: August 23, 2022
Last Approved: August 23, 2022

Simmons University ("University") seeks to provide a welcoming and inclusive campus where all members of our community – students, faculty and staff – feel safe, respected, and valued. Bias, microaggressions, and prejudice have no place at our University; and our commitments to ensuring an inclusive, welcoming campus require us to establish a process by which aggrieved members of the University can report potential incidents of bias, microaggressions, and prejudice.

The Restoration Protocol establishes a procedure for reporting a potential incident of bias, microaggressions, or prejudice, establishes a restorative process that may be utilized to facilitate healing and growth, and offers a pathway for engaging members of our community in conversations about our shared responsibilities for mutual respect, inclusivity, and the elimination of unwelcome bias, microaggressions, and prejudice in our daily interactions.

Under this Restoration Protocol, the University's Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion & Equity (the "OCIE") will (1) support those who have been affected by bias, microaggressions, or prejudice, and (2) identify learning opportunities for University faculty, staff and students, in small groups, in a particular College or unit, or at the University generally.

This Restoration Protocol draws upon:

For purposes of the Restoration Protocol, the terms bias, microaggression, and prejudice are defined as follows:

  • "Bias" is the belief that an individual or group of individuals, thing, or idea is better than another on the basis of the actual or perceived race, color, natural or protective hairstyle, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or parental status, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, socio- economic status, ancestry, disability, veterans' status, genetic predisposition, or membership in any other legally protected class, of the individual, group, thing, or idea.
  • "Microaggression" is a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.
  • "Prejudice" is a feeling of like or dislike for an individual or group of individuals on the basis of the individual's or group's actual or perceived race, color, natural or protective hairstyle, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or parental status, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, socio- economic status, ancestry, disability, veterans' status, genetic predisposition, or membership in any other legally protected class.

Examples of conduct that could potentially qualify as an incident of bias or prejudice or a microaggression include, but are not limited to:

  • Name-calling that is biased or prejudicial in nature.
  • Use of epithets, slurs, or degrading or demeaning language against an individual or group that are biased or prejudicial in nature.
  • Vandalism or acts of graffiti that include biased or prejudicial language or symbols, or are biased or prejudicial in nature.
  • Use of recognized symbols that are biased or prejudicial in nature.
  • Distribution or posting of letters or leaflets that include biased or prejudicial language or symbols, or are biased or prejudicial in nature.

Any potential incident of bias, microaggression, or prejudice can serve as a basis for a report. An incident of bias, microaggression, or prejudice is defined as intentional or unintentional conduct or result that discriminates against, stereotypes, intimidates, degrades, threatens, or harms any individual or group of individuals because of or based upon the individual's or group's actual or perceived race, color, natural or protective hairstyle, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or parental status, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, socio- economic status, ancestry, disability, veterans' status, genetic predisposition, or membership in any other legally protected class.

Any University student or employee may report a concern of a potential incident of bias, microaggression, or prejudice against any other University student or employee. For purposes of the Restoration Protocol, the term:

  • "Employee" includes University administrators and staff at all levels, both full-time and part-time, as well as all University faculty, regardless of rank or teaching modality (on-campus or online). It includes all faculty, whether they are tenured, tenure-track, contract, or adjunct.
  • "Student" includes any individual enrolled in a University program that leads to the award of academic credit. This includes undergraduate and graduate students in programs that are on- or off-campus, as well as students in any University online program.

Note regarding Student Organizations: When a recognized student organization at the University has a concern regarding potential bias, microaggression, or prejudice, an officer of the group may utilize this Restoration Protocol on behalf of the student organization.

A report of potential incident of bias, microaggression, or prejudice can be made through EthicsPoint, an online portal the University makes available for this and other types of reports. EthicsPoint is an external third-party reporting mechanism that offers reporting through a direct telephone call or an online form.

In the Ethicspoint portal, you will find a form that asks you a number of questions geared to learning the facts and circumstances about the incident you want to report. The more information you enter into the portal, the more likely that the incident can be reviewed fully and properly. The form asks for your name and contact information and we encourage you to provide that information so we can be in touch with you about your concerns

Generally, yes. The EthicsPoint portal does not require you to provide your name, and the University will respect your desire for anonymity as legally permitted and appropriate. Please note, however, it may be clear from the facts of the matter who the reporter is, in which case, the report will not be handled as being anonymously made. Moreover, in certain instances, those who are accused by members of the community may have certain process rights too, and a careful and appropriate review of reports made via EthicsPoint may require those reporting concerns to make their identity known if they want the University to address their concerns.

Please be aware that most reports cannot be fully and fairly addressed if you decide to remain anonymous. Without your identity or sufficient facts to conduct a proper review, it may be very hard for the University to review and address allegations.

Please keep in mind that EthicsPoint is NOT a 911 or Emergency Service. Do not use EthicsPoint to report emergencies or events presenting an immediate danger or threat to your life or property. If you require emergency assistance, please contact the University's Department of Public Safety at 617-521-1111 or dial 911 for local police. If you have experienced sexually harassment and are in need of support, we encourage you to contact the University's Title IX Coordinator.

The General Counsel's Office monitors the EthicsPoint portal where reports are submitted. When notified of a new report, the General Counsel (or designee) will write to the person filing the report via the EthicsPoint portal to confirm that the report has been received and to notify the reporter to whom the EthicsPoint complaint is being initially forwarded to for review and response.

The Ethicspoint portal is set up to facilitate communication between the General Counsel's Office and the person filing the report, as needed or desired, even when the person has filed an anonymous report.

Generally, the General Counsel's Office will refer reports as follows:

Review and Handling

The General Counsel's Office will generally refer a report to the College Dean, Vice President, manager, or unit head of the relevant department. Reports may also be shared with other senior administrators. For example, a report against a faculty member will generally be sent to the faculty member's Dean and/or to the Provost's Office. A report against a staff member will generally be sent to the Vice President or Dean to whom the staff member reports and often to a member of Human Resources. The decision to forward a report to a particular University administrator for review and handling remains in the discretion of the General Counsel or their designee.

Reports by students against other students, or reports involving student organizations or groups, will generally be referred to the Vice President of Student Affairs (or their designee) for review.

Reparative Process

In addition to referring the report for review and handling as set forth above, the General Counsel's Office will generally refer the report to OCIE, which will initiate the Reparative Process, which is described below.

For reports made against any student or employee, the University may engage in a disciplinary process or other measures relating to the report, as applicable, at any time, including while the Reparative Process is pending or underway, or after it has completed. That the Reparative Process is pending, underway, or completed will not impact or delay the University's ability to discipline the student or employee, as applicable, including, but not limited to, suspending or terminating an employee.

  • From time to time, the General Counsel's Office may retain a report for review and investigation by the General Counsel's Office (or designee), such as when the report of potential incident of bias, microaggression, or prejudice alleges or appears to allege unlawful discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation in violation of the University's Notice on Non-Discrimination and Grievance Procedures.
  • Reports of potential incidents of bias, microaggression, or prejudice that fall or potentially fall under the University's Sexual Harassment Policy will be referred to the University's Title IX Coordinator (or designee) for review and determination about appropriate handling.
  • Reports which include allegations of unlawful acts outside of the Title IX context may be retained by the General Counsel's Office for review and handling, as may reports which involve allegations of serious misconduct addressed by and in the Employee Handbook.
  • From time to time, the University may determine that the Reparative Process is not appropriate for a particular report. In such instances, the Reparative Process will not be initiated or move forward with regard to that report. The University reserves the right to remove a matter from the Reparative Process at any time.

Members of the Board of Trustees may be notified of the substance of each EthicsPoint report and how it was or is being addressed.

Yes. You will receive a response to your report through EthicsPoint. Additionally, if you provide your name with your report, the person tasked with reviewing and addressing your report will likely contact you for more information. You are encouraged and welcome to share with that person the information you have relating to the circumstances described in your report.

Reparative Process

As part of the Restoration Protocol, the University offers a voluntary process through which an eligible individual reporting a potential incident of bias, microaggressions, or prejudice and the responding individual may meet, with the assistance of a liaison, to discuss the conduct and its impact and to engage in an opportunity for growth. The Reparative Process is grounded in the concept of restorative justice and is designed to prevent the recurrence of potential incidents of bias, microaggressions, or prejudice, remedy their effects in a manner that meets the needs of the reporting individual, and attempt to repair harm that has been caused. The Reparative Process further allows a responding individual the opportunity to accept responsibility for any biased or prejudicial behavior or microaggressions they engaged in and/or potential harm they caused.

The Reparative Process will generally commence when the Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion, and Equity (the "OCIE") receives from the General Counsel's Office a report made by a student, employee, or recognized student organization of a potential incident of bias, microaggression, or prejudice. The Reparative Process is not a confidential process.

The steps of the Reparative Process are as follows.

Upon receipt of a report from the General Counsel's Office, OCIE will assign a University administrator, faculty member, or staff member to lead the Reparative Process ("Liaison"). If the Report includes allegations against an employee, the employee's manager or Dean, as well as a representative from HR, will also be notified that the Reparative Process has commenced.

The purpose of the meeting is for the reporting individual to provide more information about the basis of the report and to give the participants an opportunity to ask questions. The reporting individual is not required to meet with the liaison and may choose not to do so. If the reporting individual chooses to not meet with the liaison, the Reparative Process will be deemed concluded. If the reporting individual meets with the liaison, so long as it is appropriate for the Reparative Process to potentially progress following the meeting, the reporting individual will have the opportunity at the end of the meeting to choose either:

  • To have the Reparative Process conclude at the conclusion of the meeting; or
  • To have the Liaison attempt to facilitate a meeting between the reporting individual and the responding individual ("Conciliation Meeting"). The purpose of the Conciliation Meeting would be for the reporting individual to identify for the responding individual what conduct by the responding individual negatively impacted the reporting individual and share with the responding individual how they feel. During the Conciliation Meeting, the reporting individual or Liaison may choose to share with the responding individual educational materials, as appropriate (as determined by the Liaison). The Conciliation Meeting is intended to be a conversation- a back and forth of sharing and listening by the reporting individual and responding individual, with input and assistance from the Liaison, as needed and appropriate.

Should the reporting individual choose to move the Reparative Process forward, and it is appropriate for the Reparative Process to move forward, the Liaison will contact the responding individual to explain the Reparative Process and determine whether to offer the responding individual the opportunity to participate in the Conciliation Meeting. Should the liaison offer the responding individual an opportunity to participate in the Conciliation Meeting, the responding individual is under no obligation to participate in the meeting. 

  • If the responding individual agrees to participate in the Conciliation Meeting: The Liaison will facilitate the Conciliation Meeting. The Reparative Process will be deemed concluded at the end of the meeting, which the Liaison will confirm for both the reporting and responding individuals by way of a closing communication subsequent to the Conciliation Meeting. The Reparative Process will be complete for this matter1.
  • If the responding individual declines to participate in a Conciliation Meeting: The Liaison will send a communication to both the reporting and responding individuals confirming the Reparative Process has concluded. The communication may include, as appropriate (as determined by the Liaison):
    • Information the reporting individual wishes to share with the responding individual regarding the conduct that harmed the reporting individual and the reporting individual's feelings relating to the impact of that conduct;
    • Educational and informational materials relating to the conduct in question and its potential and actual impact, including information about upcoming University events; and/or
    • Any other information the Liaison or the University deems appropriate.

This communication concludes the Reparative Process for this matter2.


1The responding individual may still be subject to discipline or other measures, as set forth in the Restoration Protocol.

2The responding individual may still be subject to discipline or other measures, as set forth in the Restoration Protocol.

Retaliation

Retaliation for participating or not participating in the Reparative Process is prohibited.

Termination of the Reparative Process

The University reserves the right to remove a matter from the Reparative Process and/or terminate the Reparative Process at any time. In instances where discipline of a responding individual (student or employee) results in a dismissal from the University or termination of University employment of the responding individual prior to the conclusion of the Reparative Process, the Reparative Process will terminate as of the last day of the responding student or employee's enrollment and/or employment with the University.

Where can I go to learn more about bias, microaggressions, and prejudice and their impact?

Individuals who would like to learn more about bias, microaggressions, or prejudice and their impact are encouraged to contact OCIE or visit OCIE's resource page.

Accessibility Considerations

Individuals who require assistance in order to access or engage in the Restoration Protocol or the Reparative Process should speak with the Liaison to ensure appropriate implementation of their University-approved accessibility accommodation(s).


Office Responsible for this Policy: Organizational Culture, Equity, and Inclusion Office
Related Policies: Notice on Non-Discrimination and Grievance Procedures; Sexual Harassment Policy for Students, Faculty, Staff, and Visitors