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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What types of discrimination are prohibited?

Examples of prohibited discrimination may include, but are not limited to:

  • Denying raises, benefits, promotions, leadership opportunities or performance evaluations on the basis of a person's gender, gender identity or gender expression, pregnancy, race, color, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, veteran status, height, weight or marital status.
  • Preventing any person from using college facilities or services because of that person's gender, gender identity or gender expression, pregnancy, race, color, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, veteran status, height, weight or marital status.
  • Making determinations regarding a person's salary based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, race, color, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, veteran status, height, weight or marital status.
  • Denying a person access to an educational program based on that person's gender, gender identity or gender expression, pregnancy, race, color, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, veteran status, height, weight or marital status.
  • Instigating or allowing an environment that is unwelcoming or hostile based on a person's gender, gender identity or gender expression, pregnancy, race, color, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, veteran status, height, weight or marital status.
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What is a college program or activity?

The college prohibits discrimination and harassment in all its programs and activities. College programs and activities may include, but are not limited to, employment, admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment and services, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, recreation, and athletics.

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What is the function of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action?

EOAA works to clarify diversity issues, and to balance, negotiate, and dissipate myths surrounding all aspects of diversity, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. 

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What does “Equal Opportunity” mean?

Equal Opportunity is a term used to describe policies that prohibit specific forms of discrimination. It is the policy of Vassar College to provide equal employment, educational and social opportunities for all persons, without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, veteran status, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation or genetic information.

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What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative Action is a term used to describe special efforts to recruit and employ groups (minorities and women) who may have been discriminated against in the past. Affirmative Action is designed to correct underutilization of qualified women and minorities; it is not designed to prefer them to the exclusion of other groups.

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Are minorities and women the only individuals that qualify for Affirmative Action?

No.  Affirmative Action should not be confused with “reverse discrimination.”  Discrimination based on protected factors, such as race and sex, is illegal.  Affirmative Action strategies are used to recruit and select qualified individuals from an underutilized applicant pool.  For instance, Affirmative Action may be used to hire a qualified white male, if an employer finds that white males are underutilized in his or her department. Indeed, any form of discrimination is an abuse of Affirmative Action and conflicts with the intent of the program.

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What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions (amending the Higher Education Act of 1965). This act is codified as Title 20, United States Code, Chapter 38, Sections 1681-1686. The act was also amended by the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 (“Title IX”).

The law states that “No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” The amendment in 1987 expanded the definition of program or activity to include all the operations of an educational institution, governmental entity or private employer that receives federal funds.

Title IX forbids sex discrimination in all university student services and academic programs including, but not limited to, admissions, financial aid, academic advising, housing, athletics, recreational services, college residential life programs, health services, counseling and psychological services, registrar’s office, classroom assignments, grading and discipline. Title IX also forbids discrimination because of sex in employment and recruitment consideration or selection, whether full time or part time, under any education program or activity operated by an institution receiving or benefiting from federal financial assistance (“recipient”).

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