Policy on the Educational Environment and Conduct Towards Students

The following statement of teacher, learner and institutional responsibilities forms the foundation of an environment which is most conducive to learning. Ultimately, all student-teacher relationships must be held to the highest professional standards; relationships should be free of abuse, discrimination, mistreatment or harassment; this includes all Howard University College of Medicine (COM) affiliated sites. Students subjected to abuse, discrimination, mistreatment or harassment have a right to seek timely and effective remediation with the full support of the COM and/ or Howard University (HU). This policy does not supersede Howard University Policies on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and the Student Code of Conduct, but is meant to address instances not covered in those policies.

Responsibilities of Teachers and Learners
The teacher-learner relationship requires that both parties recognize rights and responsibilities. Behaving in a way that embodies the ideal teacher-learner relationship fosters mutual respect, minimizes the likelihood of learner mistreatment, and optimizes the educational experience.

1. Responsibilities of Teachers

Fair and Impartial Treatment : Teachers must treat learners fairly, respectfully, and without bias, irrespective of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or educational background, disability, religion, or national origin.

Professionalism : Teachers must model an appropriate level of professionalism by

  • being prepared, on time and appropriately dressed and groomed for all activities
  • treating patients in an ethical, compassionate and culturally sensitive manner and adhering to standards of patient and student confidentiality, acknowledging the primacy of patient welfare above other responsibilities
  • providing learners timely, constructive, and accurate feedback, and opportunity for remediation.
  • welcoming and encouraging student participation by treating other teacher-colleagues and staff in a reasonable and respectful manner
  • encouraging interest and inquiry by asking and responding to insightful questions, where the end point is an increase in knowledge of the learner

Scholarship and Pedagogy : Teachers must provide learners with current material and information, and appropriate educational activities, using innovative and effective teaching methods which encourage life-long learning habits

Rules Governing : A teacher (here, faculty member) should review and act in accordance with the HU Faculty Handbook and COM Bylaws.

2. Responsibilities of Learners

Fair and Impartial Treatment : Learners must treat teachers fairly, respectfully, and without bias, irrespective of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or educational background, disability, religion or national origin

Professionalism and General Conduct : Learners must maintain an appropriate level of professionalism according to the policies of the COM, by

  • being prepared, on time and appropriately dressed and groomed for all activities
  • responding maturely and appropriately to timely, constructive, and accurate feedback, and incorporating feedback during time allotted for remediation
  • treating staff and other student-colleagues in a reasonable and respectful manner
  • treating patients in an ethical, compassionate and culturally sensitive manner, adhering to standards of patient confidentiality and acknowledging that patient welfare is of primary importance

Education : Learners should be devoted, active, life-long learners, dedicated to the undergraduate medical program and all subsequent training/ learning

Rules Governing : A medical student should review and act in accordance with the Howard University policies and procedures, including the HU Student C ode of Conduct, found at http://www.howard.edu/policy/academic/codeofconduct.htm, and the University and College of Medicine Policies Affecting Students, found in the HUCM Policies Manual (also distributed to each student in hard copy).

Institutional Responsibilities
It is the expectation that Howard University and the College of Medicine will support and encourage, through its faculty and staff, and to the extent of institutional resources, student mental, physical and emotional health and well-being, including but not limited to the provision of

  • an educational experience of quality
  • academic, personal, career and financial counseling
  • health and disability insurance for mental and physical health promotion, maintenance and care, and illness prevention
  • sufficient areas/ opportunities for recreation and relaxation
  • safe and secure facilities

Additionally, the COM and University are expected to adhere to published policies.

In keeping with the requirement for a safe, secure environment which is free of abuse, the following procedures should be followed with respect to alleged student mistreatment.

What constitutes abuse or mistreatment?

Verbal abuse may include shouting, hostility, belittlement, intimidation, humiliation or profanity directed at the student. Physical abuse or threats of physical abuse may include hitting, slapping, kicking or intentionally or negligently placing a student at risk of physical harm, or threatening to do so.

Other forms of mistreatment covered by this policy may include such things as requiring a student to perform personal services such as shopping or babysitting or requiring a student to perform menial tasks, which may not cause a student to feel humiliated, but clearly fall outside of any reasonable student-teacher relationship.

Forms of mistreatment not covered by this policy are briefly noted here for clarity:

Discrimination is defined by University policy. Discrimination may include those behaviors, actions, interactions, and policies that adversely affect one’s work because of disparate treatment, disparate impact, or the creation of a hostile, intimidating or offensive work or learning environment. Common forms of discrimination include those based on gender, age, religion, ethnicity, race, disability, and sexual orientation. Complaints involving discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status or age must be filed with the Equal Opportunity (EO) Designee, pursuant to the Policy and Procedure on Equal Opportunity in Employment and Education Programs and Activities. COM EO Designees are Drs. Sheik Hassan, Dawn Cannon, Walter Bland and Mr. Sterling Lloyd, Jr.

Sexual Harassment is also defined by University policy, and includes, but is not limited to:

  • unsolicited, unwelcome flirtations, advances, and/or propositions of a sexual nature;
  • insults, jokes, or anecdotes that belittle or demean an individual or a group’s sexuality or gender;
  • unwelcome sexually-oriented gestures, verbal expressions, or comments of a sexual nature about an individual’s body, clothing, or sexual experience;
  • inappropriate displays of sexually suggestive objects or pictures;
  • unnecessary and inappropriate touching, such as patting, pinching, hugging, or brushing against an individual’s body;
  • sexual assault (includes all incidents of "criminal sexual conduct" as defined by the District of Columbia Code or the applicable law where the sexual assault takes place) and/ or
  • suggestions that submission to or rejection of sexual advances will affect decisions regarding such matters as an individual’s employment, work assignments, or status, salary, academic standing, grades, receipt of financial aid, or letters of recommendation.

Note: Consensual relationships (including dating) between students and faculty are prohibited, whether or not such a relationship may violate the law. Therefore, violations of this prohibition by a faculty member and a student will lead to disciplinary action against that faculty member.

Complaints involving sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination must be filed with the Title IX Designee pursuant to the HU Procedures for Resolving Sexual Harassment And Gender-Based Complaints In Educational Programs or Activities, see HU EEO and Sexual Harassment Policy. Title IX designees for the COM are Drs. Sheik Hassan, Dawn Cannon, Walter Bland and Mr. Sterling Lloyd, Jr.

Procedures
Any student who feels that he or she may have been subjected to abuse, discrimination, harassment, or mistreatment of any kind by residents, faculty, staff, or other student(s) has the right to seek remedy through any one of multiple options. This process shall be free of retaliation. The involved student has both informal and formal options available. Whenever possible, the student is encouraged but not required to seek remedy at the most informal level which will adequately and appropriately address the student

Informal Procedures
Informal Complaint, Direct Resolution – students may meet with the individual involved in the complaint and come to a mutually agreed upon resolution of the problem. The student is permitted, but not required, to bring to the meeting with him or her, any one of the Assistant or Associate Deans* of the College of Medicine to assist in resolution at this level. Unless required by law or University policy, there will not be a written record made concerning a matter that is resolveddirectly between the complainant and the alleged offender.

Formal Procedures
These include the following options:

Formal Complaint, Facilitated Resolution - Students must meet with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions (ADSAA), within 45 calendar days of the alleged incident, to discuss a complaint and to develop a plan for resolution of the problem. The associate dean may assist in any intervention deemed necessary for resolution of the problem. If disciplinary action is anticipated, the associate dean will contact the appropriate supervisor of the alleged offender who will develop a plan of action. The supervisor of the alleged offender will maintain a written record.

Formal Complaint, Investigator Resolution -If the complainant desires a formal complaint/investigation of an allegation against faculty or staff, the complainant must file a formal, written complaint with the ADSAA within 45 calendar days of the alleged incident. If the complaint involves any one of the Assistant or Associate Deans, or there is a conflict for the ADSAA, the complaint must be directed to the Dean of the College of Medicine. If there is a conflict for the Dean of the College of Medicine, the complaint must be directed to the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences (SVPHS).

The Associate Dean, Dean, or SVPHS (“the investigator”) will have 45 calendar days to complete his or her investigation, which must include a written record of interviews and correspondence pertaining to that investigation. The case should then be presented to the Office of the General Counsel, which will provide an opinion as to the resolution of the case. The final decision regarding the resolution of the case will rest with the Dean of the COM, or the SVPHS, as appropriate. The timeline from completion of investigation, to communication of a final decision to the student will not exceed 45 calendar days. Resolution may include, but is not limited to:

  • Requirement of education/ remediation against the alleged abuser
  • More severe disciplinary sanctions against the alleged abuser
  • Disciplinary action against the student if the complaint is found to be spurious or maliciously intended

Resources (all individuals are within the Howard University College of Medicine unless otherwise noted):

Dean, Mark S. Johnson, M.D., MPH., 202.806.6270

Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, Sheik N. Hassan, M.D., F.A.C.P., 202.806.6280 shassan@howard.edu

Associate Dean, Administration and Planning, Sterling M. Lloyd, Jr., 202.806.6270 slloyd@howard.edu

Associate Dean, Clinical Affairs, Thomas E. Gaiter, M.D., 202.865.6696 tgaiter@huhosp.org

Associate Dean, Student Affairs and Admissions, Dawn L. Cannon, M.D., 202.806.6394 dcannon@howard.edu

Assistant Dean, Medical Education, Walter P. Bland, M.D., 202.806.6282 wbland@howard.edu