How might ‘bullying’ differ from harassment?
Iowa State University is committed to its Principles of Community and helping our community members thrive in a supportive academic environment. While the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) urges students to reflect on how all their decisions and actions impact others, OSC’s Student Code of Conduct cannot prohibit all forms of interpersonal conflict. Behaviors referred to as ‘bullying’ may be reported to the Office of Student Conduct. Consistent with applicable federal and state law, ISU prohibits harassment, discrimination and other unlawful conduct.
While some behaviors reported may not constitute a violation of the Code of Conduct, there are University offices and resources available to assist community members with interpersonal conflicts. Interpersonal conflict may occur in all settings, including between college students. Conflict is often a result of disagreement or antagonism between two or more people. Conflict resolution strategies can be employed to reach an understanding or find common ground when both parties have a genuine interested in resolving the conflict.
While it is unfortunate when individuals treat each other unkindly, there is generally no university policy that mandates that individuals care about or be kind to others.
Additionally, the university cannot normally regulate speech posted on unaffiliated sites, including personal or group Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, or Snap Chat postings. Public universities are not permitted to censor speech in violation of the First Amendment. However, the First Amendment does not protect threats of serious harm and expression directed or likely directed to provoke imminent unlawful actions; harassment, including but not limited to expression which is so severe, pervasive, and subjectively and objectively offensive that the expression unreasonably interferes with an individual’s access to educational opportunities or benefits provided by a public institution of higher education. If alleged behavior is believed to constitute a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, it can be reported for review. More information about harassment and free speech can be found at the Know the Code: Harassment & Free Speech page, or the University Free Speech website.
While there may not be student disciplinary implications in the conflict, the university can support students navigating these uncomfortable and often difficult interactions.
Section 5 of the Student Code of Conduct lists specific types of prohibited conduct, including defining harassment and discriminatory harassment (section 5.13). Students experiencing harassment are strongly encouraged to make a report to police (ISU PD or Ames PD), as there are actions these departments can take, including threat assessment, safety planning with students, and criminal investigations. Students can also report to the Office of Student Conduct for review of whether the behavior is a student disciplinary violation.
Discriminatory harassment (i.e., harassment based on or motived by protected status) is governed by Iowa State’s comprehensive Discrimination and Harassment Policy. Students experiencing this type of harassment are strongly encouraged to make a report to the police, and to contact the Office of Equal Opportunity. Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, is governed by ISU’s comprehensive Title IX Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking Policy. Students experiencing this type of harassment are strongly encouraged to make a report to the police, and to contact the Office of Equal Opportunity.
For any questions regarding this information, please contact Sara Kellogg, Director of Student Conduct at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-294-1020.