It is the policy of Northwestern University that all members of the University community, including faculty, staff and students, are expected to deal with each other with respect and consideration. When a community member’s conduct varies from this standard, it is the responsibility of the manager, chair or dean who supervises the person engaging in the conduct to address it.
This page provides guidance on handling issues of civility in the workplace; the level of danger in the behavior determines the action that the supervisor should take. To review the complete policy, please see Civility, Mutual Respect, and Violence on Campus.
Disagreement is common in professional relationships, particularly in an academic environment that encourages discussion and debate of ideas. In many instances, disagreement is voiced in a respectful manner, and in such instances, no action by the supervisor is necessary. In other instances, disagreement that begins as a respectful exchange of ideas can escalate into behavior that is disrespectful. Name-calling, raised voices and petty meanness are examples of this.
Any individual who believes he or she has been treated in a manner that is inconsistent with this policy should contact his or her supervisor. It is then the responsibility of the supervisor, whether a manager, chair or dean, to work with the individuals involved in addressing the situation, so that all members of the community can work together in a professional way.
The manager, chair or dean is obligated to contact someone with administrative authority if the conduct escalates to the point where a member of the community reasonably believes that physical harm might occur. Examples could include behavior lacking rational control, such as angry outbursts; intimidating comments or verbal abuse.
Sometimes, a threat to safety may not be apparent in the first encounter but may be noticeable after repetition or increased severity. Repeated behavior that initially appears merely obnoxious may show a pattern in which danger to safety is perceived if the behavior continues.
When administrative authority is needed, an individual may contact:
The administrative authority will:
When faced with a threat of violence or violence, the individuals involved should immediately call for police assistance.
After police assistance has been sought, the individuals should notify the appropriate supervising or administrative authority. The administrative authority will:
Northwestern University policy prohibits weapons on campus. Toys or other items that look like weapons can provoke fear or reactions as if they were real, and such items should be avoided. Stage props and parade weapons are permitted but should be used in those settings where their use will not be misunderstood.
A person who encounters a threatening situation may find the following suggestions helpful in coping with it:
If you feel at risk or threatened by someone:
Some of us are surprised to learn how others view our behavior. Here are some suggestions.
If you think you may have offended or harassed someone: