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Faculty Support and Resources Guide

Introduction

Download a printable version of this guide

This guide is designed to assist the campus community in responding to situations in which faculty members are targeted by individuals or groups outside of the university based on the content of the faculty member’s scholarship, teaching, clinical care, and/or service. It addresses potential concerns in such situations and informs the campus about resources available to assist individual faculty members, department chairs, and other administrators.

The foundation for this guide is Boise State University’s unwavering support for academic freedom and freedom of expression. The faculty’s right to academic freedom in teaching and research is protected as essential to the university’s educational mission, even with regard to controversial issues or ideas that may provoke disagreement in the public. Likewise, as citizens, faculty members enjoy strong protection for freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is not only mandated by our Constitution and state law but is also necessary for the robust intellectual exchange on which the university’s teaching and research missions depend. Thus, the targeting of scholars for their ideas or views not only harms those individuals, but also strikes at the university’s academic core. Through this guide and other means, the university seeks to protect faculty against the intimidation or violence that the expression of unpopular ideas sometimes generates.

This guide is “content neutral,” meaning that it is designed to offer support for faculty members across a wide spectrum of views and areas of research. For example, it may be useful for faculty who come under attack for their conclusions related to social issues from a variety of perspectives, as well as for faculty whose scientific methods are deemed controversial.

This guide focuses on threats or harassment to faculty members from outside the university. For information about policies and procedures governing harassment committed by Boise State employees, students, and/or patients, please see Boise State’s Non-discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy (Policy 1060), Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking policy (Policy 1065), Workplace Violence policy (Policy 12040), Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment policy (Policy 12050), and other University policies.

Permission for the reproduction and revision of Faculty Support Safety Guidance was granted by the University of Iowa.

Roles, Actions, and Resources — Overview

In matters of safety and security, individual faculty members are encouraged to make use of campus resources to assist them in responding to an immediate situation, as well as to address any concerns that arise in the longer term. Numerous campus resources are also available to support department chairs and college administrators in responding to external attacks of Boise State faculty members. Knowing about relevant resources and guidance in advance of a crisis will help our campus respond more effectively when a situation arises.

In an emergency, call 911. In non-emergency situations, please call the Department of Public Safety at (208) 426-6911 or email publicsafety@boisestate.edu.

The following offers suggestions for individuals at various levels in the university, including:

  • Individual Faculty Member
  • Department Chair/Program Director/Unit Head
  • College/Departmental Communication Staff
  • Dean/Associate Dean
  • Executive Team

Roles, Actions, and Resources — List

Roles

Individual Faculty Member

  • Ensure your safety. Identify your primary concerns and seek out assistance.
  • Report the situation to Boise State Campus Assessment Resource and Education (CARE). The CARE Team is dedicated to the early identification, assessment, and intervention of behaviors that threaten the safety and well-being of the university community. Team members are trained to assess these situations and assist with coordinated responses, as needed. For example, the CARE Team (which includes the Department of Public Safety) can coordinate with the Boise State Department of Public Safety, provide tips about classroom safety, and mobilize resources to de-escalate a situation, etc.
  • Review the following suggestions that may be of use in your personal safety planning:

Notify your department chair and Institutional Compliance of the harassment. See the Faculty Support Checklist, below for ways the department might be able to support you. You do not need to manage this experience on your own.

Consult the Boise State Department of Public Safety (DPS) regarding on-campus safety, and the Boise Police Department (or local law enforcement in your area) regarding off-campus safety.

If you believe a harasser knows where you live and you are concerned about safety in your home, create a safety plan for home and work. DPS can assist you in assessing risk and planning accordingly.

If you are experiencing gender-based harassment and/or harassment that is sexual in nature, consult the Title IX Coordinator or the Gender Equity Center to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and resources.

  • Do not delete messages before preserving a copy, but you may want to disengage from reading all emails in your inbox, listening to all voice messages, etc. Preserved messages may be useful in identifying the harasser(s) and pressing any relevant charges. The CARE Team or the Department of Public Safety may be able to assist in rerouting future emails.
  • Create a log to document and archive all threatening emails, tweets, social media posts, and phone messages. Consider asking a friend to monitor social and other media on your behalf and to keep you apprised of any developments or threats. Capture screen shots of any threatening posts in case they are deleted.
  • Be cautious about responding to threatening emails, tweets, blog comments, etc. Although responding may seem like the right thing to do, it may only provide harassers with additional material and serve to prolong social media harassment. If you choose not to respond, you may also want to encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same. Visit the Managing Social Media Harassment web page.
  • Remember that communications you send and receive using your University account or on the University’s system may be subject to a public records request under Idaho’s Public Records laws.
  • Protect your cyber-identity (e.g., cell phone, network access, and social media). For more information about how to protect your cyber-identity, please request a current copy of the “Protect Your Information” guide by emailing publicsafety@boisestate.edu. The Department of Public Safety, as well as Communications and Marketing, are available for consultation in this area.
  • Consult with the CARE Team assigned lead for assistance in responding to the situation. For example, you may want to consider preparing a concise message to articulate your position in your own words and distribute to colleagues as a form of reputation management. Communications and Marketing staff, in consultation with the CARE Team, can also be of assistance in deciding whether/how to respond to media requests that may arise.
  • Reach out to friends and develop a support system. The Boise State Employee Assistance Program offers free and confidential, short-term counseling services to Boise State faculty and staff and their families.
  • Know that you are not alone as an academic who has experienced this type of harassment. Several scholars have written about the coordinated and systemic patterns of attack against scholars and faculty members. Connect with others who have gone through similar situations to decrease your isolation and learn from their experience.
  • Consult with your department chair if you feel this attack has or will affect your progress toward tenure, promotion, or reappointment.

Department Chair/Program Director/Unit Head

  • Contact the faculty member as soon as you become aware of the situation. Meet with them to offer support in the initial days after the attack and review the Faculty Support Checklist to ensure the faculty member is aware of campus resources.
  • Report the situation to Boise State Campus Assessment Resource and Education (CARE). CARE Team members are trained to assess these situations and assist with coordinated responses, as needed.
  • Before all else, work with the faculty member to ensure that their on-campus and off-campus safety and security concerns are addressed in consultation with DPS and the CARE Team. Be aware that the identity of the faculty member may influence their individualized needs (e.g., parental status, faculty rank, minoritized identity). With the faculty member’s consent, reach out to appropriate campus resources to address whatever issues the faculty member identifies.
  • The Boise State CARE Team will assign a CARE Team member as the lead, most likely a representative from the Department of Public Safety. It is important to work with this team so they are able to assess risk and determine the best course of action. Below are some possible actions that may be advised under the guidance of the CARE Team. Such actions will be advised by the CARE Team and/or DPS on a case-specific basis (to ensure de-escalation of a situation, rather than escalation):

Inform the department administrative staff on a need-to- know basis. It is possible that multiple offices may be targeted on social media, email or phone. Ensure that department staff members whose responsibilities may include answering harassing phone calls are supported and informed about strategies for being on the front line (e.g., a script or template response, instructions for preserving phone messages to aid future investigations).

Stay in communication with your dean’s office to ensure a coordinated response. Share details of the situation on a need-to-know basis and be mindful that communications may be subject to disclosure pursuant to a public records request.

Consider the well-being of the rest of the department faculty, staff, and students (e.g., co-authors, graduate assistants, front-line staff). Consult with the threatened faculty member about what and how to share information with the department. If possible, bring people together to discuss the situation, the department’s actions, and available support resources.

Facilitate the physical movement of assigned classrooms and/or workspace if feasible, and if the affected faculty member requests it.

At the affected faculty member’s request, facilitate the removal of the faculty member’s direct contact information from department or college webpages and the Boise State directory, in collaboration with human resource services.

  • If the harassment is gender-based harassment and/or sexual in nature, promptly consult the Title IX Coordinator to ensure that the faculty member is fully aware of their rights and resources.
  • If the harassment is based on another protected class (e.g., race, age), consult with Institutional Compliance to counsel the faculty member about their rights and to explore additional support options for the faculty member and others in the department who share their identity (e.g., students, colleagues, staff).
  • After addressing the faculty member’s safety and security concerns, keep in mind the potential impact of this event on their academic career. For example, if their scholarship was attacked, discuss any concerns the faculty member has about how/whether it will affect their future research trajectory. Connecting the faculty member with other scholars who have experienced similar attacks may be useful to contextualize the events within their broader career goals and experiences.
  • Discuss issues of academic freedom in regular forums (e.g., faculty meetings, student seminars), including attention to ways that external forces may attempt to silence scholars through social media attacks and the resources available to respond when/if attacks occur.
  • If you become the target of harassment, consult with the Dean/Associate Dean’s office and refer to the strategies recommended for faculty members (above) to ensure your own safety.

Dean/Associate Dean

  • Proactively develop a leadership message that defends academic freedom, the importance of faculty safety, and the development of learning environments in which difficult issues are discussed and dissected to use as a template should these types of crises emerge. Work with the Office of Communications and Marketing to develop a message that emphasizes university values, draws upon best practice examples from other campuses, and addresses potential concerns of multiple constituents (e.g., faculty, alumni, legislators, donors, students).
  • Engage college leadership and/or the ombudsperson in the coordination of the college-wide response, including support for staff who may be experiencing stress due to being on the front line of answering harassing phone calls and/or may be concerned about their own safety.
  • Consider inviting the CARE Team to present about their role and resources before a crisis occurs.
  • Publicize protocols for dealing with internal threats and harassment (e.g., from students or staff). Provide training opportunities and resources for college faculty and staff. For more information, see Boise State’s Non-discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy (Policy 1060), Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking policy (Policy 1065), Workplace Violence policy (Policy 12040), Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment policy (Policy 12050), and other University policies.
  • If a crisis emerges, consult with the targeted faculty member to share how you would like to publicly handle the crisis and discuss any concerns they might have. Involve the faculty member’s department chair in crisis management conversations to ensure that efforts are coordinated.
  • Support the department chair in working with the targeted faculty member by offering assistance and resources. See the Faculty Support Checklist to ensure that the targeted faculty member’s immediate and longer-term needs are cared for.
  • Inform the dean’s office staff on a need-to-know basis. It is likely that social media and phone harassment will be directed at multiple offices. Informing all relevant individuals in the dean’s office will strengthen the college’s ability to engage in a coordinated response. Ensure that dean’s office staff members whose responsibilities may include answering harassing phone calls are supported and informed about strategies for being on the front line (e.g., a script or template response, instructions for preserving phone messages to aid future investigations)
  • Be aware that other faculty and staff, as well as students, who share the research area under attack may also experience significant emotional distress because of the incident.
  • Depending on the nature of the attacks, be aware that students, staff, and faculty who share the identity may also be personally experiencing significant emotional distress because of this incident.
  • Consult with the Gender Equity Center, University Counseling Services and/or the Boise State Employee Assistance Program to arrange for support services for students and staff in the college.

Communication Coordinators – Department, College, and Office of Communications and Marketing

  • Inform the dean if you become aware that a faculty member’s name has shown up in a harassing social media post (e.g., via a Google alert notification). Keep the dean informed of ongoing mentions throughout the crisis management process.
  • Provide support for the faculty member being targeted, including tips on working with the media, managing one’s professional and personal reputation, by requesting a current copy of the “Protect Your Information” guide by emailing publicsafety@boisestate.edu.
  • Work with the dean’s office and other campus spokespeople to coordinate information sharing on a need-to-know basis and to coordinate a consistent message (e.g., phone scripts for front-line staff answering aggressive callers).
  • Consult with college faculty, staff, and administrators about the potential impact of speaking with the media about faculty harassment and offer media training and guidance. Also, remind them about public records requests under Idaho’s Public Records laws and its impact on email communication.
  • Provide assistance to colleges in crafting a leadership message that defends academic freedom, emphasizes university values, and addresses potential concerns of multiple constituents (e.g., faculty, alumni, legislators, donors, students).

Executive Team

Office of Provost
  • Establish open communication with the affected faculty member’s dean and request updates, as needed, on the situation.
  • Reach out to the targeted faculty member, reiterating the university’s commitment to academic freedom (as appropriate), and encouraging the faculty member to consult with their department chair for support and assistance.
  • In consultation with the Office of the President and Office of Communications and Marketing, issue a statement (as appropriate) asserting the importance of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and committing to the safety of the faculty. The statement should emphasize the institution’s mission and values rather than comment on the faculty member’s scholarship.
Office of the President
  • Maintain consistent communication with the Office of the Provost and work together, as appropriate, to issue a statement asserting the importance of free speech, academic freedom, and the safety of Boise State faculty.
Office of the General Counsel
  • Provide legal counsel, representation, interpretation, and analysis on a broad array of substantive issues related to carrying out your official duties as an employee or representative of the university.
  • Provide/coordinate effective legal services on issues facing all sectors of Boise State University
  • Assist in developing policies, practices, and procedures that reduce legal risk.
Office of Institutional Compliance and Ethics
  • Provide resources and support to the individual faculty member and department when there are personalized attacks on the faculty member’s identity and/or diversity-related scholarship or teaching.
  • Provide student support, especially for students whose identities and/or interests are similar to the targeted faculty member.
  • Establish consistent communication with the Office of the Provost and consult on issuing a statement of support, as appropriate.
Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management – Office of the Dean of Students
  • Provide interpretation of the Student Code of Conduct and process conduct violations. Can provide consultation to faculty on how to respond to and address student behavioral issues and harassment. Faculty can also find helpful tools in the Faculty Guide for Addressing Student Behavior.
Human Resource Services
  • Provide support and assistance to the individual faculty members, departmental and college administration, and the broader unit via the Boise State CARE Team and Boise State Employee Assistance Program.

Faculty Support Checklist

Visit Faculty Support Checklist for Department Chairs, Program Directors, Unit Heads for more information:

Faculty Support Checklist

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