On Sept. 9, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette sent out an email announcing that it has updated its non-discrimination policy.
According to Chief Human Resources Officer Paul Thomas the policy was revised to make it more comprehensive and applicable to how issues are addressed today as opposed to in the past.
Today, discrimination complaints are handled by staff whose job it is to manage those complaints,as compared to now where there are employees that have been hired by the university strictly to handle complaints and incidents of discrimination.
The policy states that discrimination in the forms of speech, visual media and physical contact are prohibited. It also prohibits giving preferential treatment based on race, gender, orientation, etc. It also does not allow for retaliation based on complaints of discrimination.
The policy is also clear about how enforcement is to be addressed.
The people who complain are encouraged to speak to one another about the issue and if need be, it will be taken further.
“If based on that conversation, there’s reason to believe that it could be a protected class issue, we would initiate a formal process where we would give notice to the parties involved,” Thomas said.
This formal process involves reminding the parties that retaliation is forbidden and that it would result in a penalty or penalties. After this, the office would attempt to discover the facts of the situation. For example, if a professor discriminates against a student, the office would ask other students in that class if they saw the discriminatory acts or were victims themselves.
The non-discrimination policy does not go against the university’s free speech policy because the former is directed at faculty and student employees and the latter is for students.
“Your rights as a student are different from your rights as an employee,” Thomas said. “Here is an example, as an employee, my job is to provide a service to the university community. I am not hired to be a political content; I’m not hired to be a comedian. I am not hired for my own personal views and thoughts.”
In terms of the discrimination policy for students, Thomas said to look in the student handbook, which states that the students will bring all complaints to a committee who will act accordingly.
The University President would appoint a committee of 5 to 7 members. The Committee would be members of the University and represent all involved in the complaint, according to the policy.