Faculty Support and Safety Guidance for Targeted Harassment


This policy 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. While the policy most likely applies to faculty members, it would also apply to staff and even sometimes students. The policy 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 Elon 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. Targeting 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 controversial ideas sometimes generates.

This guide is “content neutral,” meaning that it is designed to offer support for faculty members and other members of the Elon community across a wide spectrum of views and areas.

This guide focuses on threats or harassment to faculty members from outside the university. Concerns about targeted harassment from inside the university should be brought to the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources for investigation. For information about policies and procedures governing harassment committed by Elon employees and or students, see the following statement and policies.

• Academic Freedom Statement
• Elon University’s Commitment to the Values of Freedom of Expression and Inclusivity
• Grievance and Appeal Processes
• Statement of Professional Standards and the Academic Council Authority to Address Charges of Unprofessional Conduct
• Elon Honor System

Roles, Actions & Resources

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 deans in responding to external attacks of Elon faculty members. Knowing about relevant resources and guidance in advance of a crisis will help our campus respond more effectively when a situation arises.

The following information offers action steps for individuals at various levels in the university.

Individual Faculty Member

• To ensure your safety, begin by identifying your primary concerns and seek out assistance. The following suggestions may be of use in your personal safety planning.
• Report your concerns to the Provost. Meet with the Provost to discuss and clarify actions and resources that are available to address the situation. With the assistance of the Provost, develop a general plan of action to address your harassment. You do not need to manage this experience on your own. The Provost (or their designee) will inform relevant university officials of your plan and their role in its implementation.
• Consult directly or work with your department chair and Provost (or their designee) to contact Elon Campus Safety and Police. Campus Safety and Police are dedicated to the early identification, assessment, and management of incidents and behaviors that threaten the safety and well-being of the university community. The Elon Campus Safety and Police are trained to assess these kinds of situations and assist with coordinated responses, as needed.
• Consult the Elon Campus Safety and Police regarding on-campus safety. The Elon Campus Safety and Police will consult with community police departments regarding off- campus safety.
• If you believe the attackers know where you live, and you are concerned about safety in your home, create a safety plan for home and work. Elon Campus Safety and Police can assist you in assessing risk and planning accordingly.
• If you are experiencing gender-based harassment and/or harassment that is sexual in nature, see the report process below to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and resources.
• Do not delete any messages, but you may want to disengage from reading all emails in your inbox, listening to all voice messages, etc. Preserved messages may be of use in identifying the harassers and pressing any relevant charges. See Elon Campus Safety and Police and Elon Information Technology for guidance.
• 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.
• Protect your cyber-identity (e.g., cell phone, network access, social media). Elon Campus Safety and Police and Elon Information Technology can be of assistance.
• Know that you are not alone as an academic who has experienced this type of harassment. Connect with others who have gone through similar situations to decrease your isolation and learn from their experience. For more information, contact the Office of the Provost.
• Inform the chair and Provost (or their designee) of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

Department Chair

• Contact the faculty member as soon as you become aware of the situation. Meet with them to offer support in the initial days of the attack.
• Before all else, work with the faculty member to ensure that their on-campus and off- campus safety and security concerns are addressed. Be aware that the identity of the faculty member may influence their individualized needs (e.g., parental status, faculty rank, ethnic/racial identity). With the faculty member’s consent, reach out to appropriate campus resources to address whatever issues the faculty member identifies.
• Stay in communication with the dean’s and provost’s offices to ensure a coordinated response.
• Facilitate the physical movement of assigned classrooms and/or work space if feasible, and if the affected faculty member requests it.
• Facilitate the removal of the faculty member’s direct contact information from department or college webpages and the Elon directory, in collaboration with human resources and if the affected faculty member requests it.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

Dean, Associate Dean for Faculty, Senior HR Leader

• 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.
• Engage collegiate HR leadership in the coordination of the university-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.
• 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.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.


• Receive concerns of targeted harassment from the faculty member.
• Meet with the faculty member to discuss and clarify actions and resources that are available to address the situation.
• Assist the faculty member in developing a general personal plan of action to address the harassment.
• Once this general plan has been developed, notify the faculty member’s department chair, dean, provost, senior HR leadership, and other relevant university officials of the harassment and of their role in implementing the plan of actions.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

Office of the Provost

• Establish open communication with the affected faculty member’s dean.
• 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.
• Provide tools and training for faculty administrators to use when developing immediate- and longer-term response plans.
• In consultation with the Office of the President and Office of University Communications, issue a statement (as appropriate) asserting the importance of academic freedom 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.
• Provide resources and support to the individual faculty member and department when the attack includes personalized attacks on the faculty member’s identity and/or diversity- related scholarship or teaching.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

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 Elon faculty.

University Human Resources

• Provide support and assistance to the individual faculty members, departmental and senior administration.

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