Policy on Dignity and Respect (Students)
Scope and Purpose of the Policy
This policy relates to all students of DMU. Every student is personally liable under the
Equality Act and is expected to treat staff and students with dignity and respect and in turn to
be treated with the same. DMU has a firm commitment to equality and diversity and will not
tolerate the discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation of one member of the DMU
community by another. DMU believes that each individual should be afforded dignity and
respect and that each individual should in turn treat others with dignity and respect.
‘We are a University of quality and distinctiveness, distinguished by our life-changing
research, dynamic international partnerships, vibrant links with business and our
commitment to excellence in learning, teaching and the student experience. We
celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our staff, students and all our partnerships’.
(DMU mission statement 2011 http://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/mission-
The purpose of this policy is to promote the development of a working environment in which
these unlawful actions are known to be unacceptable and where individuals have the
confidence to report these, should they arise, in the knowledge that their concerns will be
dealt with appropriately and fairly. The policy outlines procedures to be followed if a student
or potential student feels they are being discriminated against, harassed, bullied or
victimised during their engagement with DMU.
A separate policy on Bullying and Harassment at Work exists for staff and advice on this
may be obtained from the People and Organisational Development Directorate.
All students are reminded of the relevant clauses in the Disciplinary Code of the
Student Regulations http://www.dmu.ac.uk/documents/about-
, in particular paragraphs 5.3 and 5.4.
Violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening, abusive or offensive behaviour to
any student, employee of the university or the De Montfort Students’ Union or
any visitor to the university or any member of the local community or any
behaviour which in the reasonable opinion of the designated senior member
of staff or relevant Provost is likely to be regarded as constituting such
Abusive, threatening or offensive language (verbal or written – including
social media websites) to any student, employee of the university or the De
Montfort Students’ Union or any visitor to the university or any member of the
1.1 The Equality Act 2010 identifies nine protected characteristics. These are: age,
disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and
maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.
Unlawful discrimination - is behaviour or a policy or procedure which intentionally or
unintentionally prevents individuals or groups who have a protected characteristic,
from engaging or taking part in an activity. This may include selection for a course,
job, promotion, award and so on. For example:
A student is excluded from a course related visit or placement because they are
A student is told to leave her course because she is pregnant.
Students or staff are compulsorily segregated, for meetings or events, on the
basis of their religion, sex, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics.
Harassment is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an
intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the
complainant, or violating the complainant’s dignity. Individuals or groups may be
protected from harassment because they are from a protected group (Equality
Act 2010), or because they are associated with the protected group. For example:
Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment).
Treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either
submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to
sex, sexual orientation or gender reassignment.
Treating someone less favourably because they associate with gay, lesbian,
bisexual or transgendered people.
Treating someone less favourably because they are or are perceived to hold a
particular religion or belief.
Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or
insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that
undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.
Bullying can take the form of shouting, sarcasm, derogatory remarks concerning
academic or practical vocational performance or constant criticism and undermining.
Bullying is to be distinguished from vigorous academic debate or the actions of a
teacher or supervisor making reasonable (but perhaps unpopular) requests or
analysis of performance of their students.
Victimisation takes place where one person treats another less favourably
because they have asserted their legal rights in line with the Equality Act or
helped someone else to do so. For example:
A student alleges that they have encountered racism from a tutor, and as a result
they are ignored by other staff members.
A student who previously supported another student or member of staff in
submitting a formal complaint for sexist behaviour is then treated in a hostile
manner by staff.
Staff brand a student as a ‘troublemaker’ because they raised a lack of
opportunities for disabled students as being potentially discriminatory.
Cyber bullying occurs when the internet, social media, phones or other devices are
used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person,
known or unknown to the individual.
2. DMU's Commitment
DMU welcomes diversity and believes that every student has a right to work and
study in an environment which encourages good relationships. DMU is committed to
preventing unlawful discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation. The
university's commitment to cultural diversity is expressed in its mission and vision
DMU is a member of the Leicestershire ‘Stamp it Out’ Hate Crime Partnership led by
DMU Security take all incidents of bullying, harassment and victimisation very
seriously and will record such reports and investigate as appropriate.
The Student at Risk Committee (SAR) within SAAS sits regularly to review cases of
students deemed to be at risk to themselves or of posing a risk to others.
Every student is also personally liable under the Equality Act 2010 for their own
actions. In cases of unlawful discrimination, harassment, bullying, or victimisation the
University is required to consider students as third-party players. DMU is required to
protect its staff, students, contractors and visitors from unlawful discrimination,
harassment, bullying or victimisation. Students who are found to have committed
these offences will be referred to the university’s disciplinary policies and procedures.
DMU will ensure that any student raising a genuine concern under this policy is not
victimised as a result.
As allegations of discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation are very
serious, DMU will also treat very seriously any such allegations proven to be
malicious or untrue and these are also likely to be the subject of disciplinary action.
3. Reporting and Responding
The over-riding principles in dealing with allegations or concerns of discrimination,
harassment, bullying and victimisation are that they must be taken seriously,
considered carefully and addressed speedily and where possible, in confidence.
Any student who feels that they are the subject of discrimination, harassment,
bullying or victimisation, either by a fellow student, a member of staff or anyone else
with whom they come into contact in the course of their period of study at DMU, may
wish to make a note of incidents, dates, times and any witnesses, for future
reference. Any student who considers themselves to have been the subject of
discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation has the right to be listened to
and to be given informed advice on how the matter may be resolved. There are
usually a number of options.
In the event that a student considers that they are experiencing discrimination,
harassment, bullying or victimisation, they have a number of options open to them.
They may be able to speak directly to the individual concerned or to write to them
expressing their concerns and requesting that the behaviour stop immediately.
Alternatively, or subsequently if they achieve no success, they may wish to talk to
someone in order to obtain another perspective on the situation and to ensure that
someone else knows about it and can take action with them to ensure that it stops. It
is envisaged that the large majority of cases will be resolved by such informal
procedures, which are described in more detail below, but a final option is to make
a formal complaint.
Incidents of bullying, harassment or victimisation may be reported to:
The Security Team. The team is available 24 hours a day and can be telephone
on 0116 2577642 or email in strict confidence firstname.lastname@example.org
Programme leaders, personal tutors or faculty provosts.
The Student Appeals & Conduct Officer, email in strict confidence to
Wardens in halls of residence.
Staff in the Leisure Centre.
De Montfort Students’ Union.
Where an incident is not resolved through an informal route, students may place a
complaint through the Student Complaint Procedures (see http://www.dmu.ac.uk/dmu-students/student-and-academic-
) to the
Student Appeals and Conduct Officer.
4. Informal Processes
Confidentiality is very important in dealing with cases of alleged discrimination,
harassment, bullying or victimisation as experience shows that they will be much
more difficult to resolve informally if information about the matter becomes common
knowledge. Anyone approaching a member of staff or other individual for advice
may, however, wish to be accompanied by a friend.
If, after having been approached, the adviser wishes to obtain guidance on how to
deal with an alleged case of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation they
should seek the agreement of the person who has confided in them to that course of
action and then consult with the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer. If the
individual does not feel able to help in a particular case, they should explain the
reasons to the complainant and refer them to another adviser.
Once the facts about the incident and the context of the action or behaviour that
caused concern are established, there are a number of informal options available to
the adviser to facilitate resolution of the matter. For example, the person who has
experienced discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation could be
encouraged to talk to the alleged perpetrator on their own or with a friend, who
should be a member of DMU, accompanying them. The purpose of the conversation
would be to make the perpetrator aware of the way their behaviour has been
perceived and ask them not to repeat it. Alternatively, the adviser could facilitate a
meeting between both parties to give the complainant the opportunity to talk to the
alleged perpetrator and explain their view of the offending behaviour. Normally, the
adviser should not take action following an informal approach concerning
discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation without the agreement of the
As well as aiming to resolve matters informally, advisers should consider appropriate
action to facilitate the restoration of working relationships after the event.
The action outlined above will be appropriate in many cases and will often be
sufficient to resolve the matter. If, however, an informal approach does not achieve
satisfactory results, or the nature of the incident(s) prompts the person who feels
harassed to take a more formal approach, a formal complaint can be made in writing
to the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer or the Head of Security.
In order to ensure consistency of approach and accurate statistical data with relation
to cases of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation all cases (however
minor) should be reported to the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer by any
member of staff who has counselled a student. Information should be sent via email
and detail the names of the students involved and basic facts about the nature of the
case. All such information will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.
5. A Formal Complaint
It is envisaged that the great majority of cases of discrimination, harassment, bullying
and victimisation will be resolved by the informal procedures outlined above.
However, Formal action may be considered where informal action proves ineffective,
or where a student feels that an informal approach is not appropriate. A formal
complaint must normally be registered in writing, as soon as possible after the
incident concerned, with the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer.
A formal complaint of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation should
include the nature of the complaint, with reference to dates, times and places (where
possible) in relation to a specific incident(s). The names of any witness(es) to the
incident(s) should also be included.
6. Investigating a Formal Complaint
On receipt of a formal complaint where the alleged perpetrator is another student, the
Student Appeals and Conduct Officer will handle the matter according to DMU's
Disciplinary Code and Procedure as described in the General Regulations.
Accordingly, the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer will discuss with the
complainant whether further action should be taken under the Disciplinary Code and
whether or not the police should be informed.
Where the alleged perpetrator is a member of staff, the Student Appeals and
Conduct Officer will discuss with the complainant whether further action should be
taken and, if so, will refer the complaint to the Director of People and Organisational
Development. The Director will then inform the student of the procedure to be
Where the situation is more complex than outlined above, for example in cases of
alleged group discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation involving both staff
and students, the Student Appeals and Conduct Officer will liaise with the Director of
People and Organisational Development to decide how best to proceed.
Formal complaints about a Dean, or Pro Vice Chancellor should be referred to the
Vice Chancellor. A complaint about the Vice Chancellor should be addressed to the
Chair of Governors.
Formal Complaints about a Director should be made to the Chief Operating Officer.
Details of the arrangements for appeals are available from the Student Appeals and
Conduct Officer and the Director of People and Organisational Development.
7. Monitoring of the Policy
The Director of Student and Academic Services will keep the implementation of this
policy under review and will monitor its use through the Academic Support Office.
8. Personal Relationships at Work
8.1 DMU also has a Code of Conduct on personal relationships at work, which applies in
circumstances where personal and professional relationships overlap. The Code can
be found on the People and Organisational Development web site.
9. Use of DMU Computers and ID
Discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation may occur online and could be
considered as misuse of DMU's computing services where this takes place using a
DMU email account or from a DMU-provided piece of equipment or network. This
includes potentially discriminative or offensive material posted on public access
websites or social networking sites. Online harassment and bullying (cyber bullying)
will be dealt with under the procedures outlined above. As well as infringing the DMU
Policy on Dignity and Respect, such abuse of DMU facilities will also breach the
University’s IT Regulations and may be subject to disciplinary procedure. The IT
Regulations may be found on the DMU website.