Adams School of Dentistry: Learner Mistreatment Process and Procedures

Title

Adams School of Dentistry Process and Procedures related to Learner Mistreatment

Background

The Adams School of Dentistry strives to provide an educational environment that is conducive to learning and free of all forms of mistreatment and harassment, including from fellow learners, staff, faculty, and patients. Mistreatment can take many forms, ranging from microaggressions, belittlement, and/or discrimination to blatant hostility and harassment. Mistreatment may cause a variety of emotional responses in a learner, and potentially lead to burnout and other mental health concerns. It can be difficult for learners to report mistreatment, with fear of retaliation being a top concern.  A systematic approach to management can help to provide assurance to learners. There are multiple objectives:

  1. Establish and maintain a reporting system for learners to submit concerns about the learning environment;
  2. Appoint a Lead Contact Person to lead an advisory committee to receive, analyze, and respond to reports and to coordinate with HR, EOC, the Graduate School, the Dean of Students, Academic Affairs, Student Life, and Division Chairs;
  3. Appoint a senior leader to provide coaching to those perceived to mistreat learners in cases that are not egregious;
  4. Establish clarity in management of egregious or repeated mistreatment complaints; and
  5. Develop workshops, trainings, regular assessments and other resources to assess and address the most prevalent types of mistreatment aimed at learners.
  6. Learners should have multiple ways to express concerns and to learn about the various reporting options. While learners currently report concerns directly to various individuals and through the online portal SuggestionOx, there is a gap in understanding the types of experiences that are reportable, the routes for reporting, sharing of information among those in possession of it with those who need to know, and the possible outcomes of those reports.

Reporting Infrastructure

We will establish a website for submitting reports.

  1. The site will automatically email the Lead Contact Person who must be known by students and perceived as approachable for them. Anonymous responses will be aggregated and forwarded to the Advisory Committee for discussion.  Those who provide their names and contact information will have follow-up communication that generally indicates action is being taken and the situation is being monitored.
  2. The website for reporting will have links out to other relevant reporting sites and resources - e.g., research compliance, lab safety, EOC, Title IX, Ombuds, Graduate School, etc.
  3. Information about this reporting site will be disseminated in the Weekly Wisdom school newsletter, in orientation sessions, in student town halls and Employee Forums, on the school’s intranet site, and other venues as deemed appropriate.
  4. We will train those who often receive informal reports to utilize the reporting system for the purpose of clarity.

A Lead Contact Person will receive reports by automatic email. The individual should be a full-time employee but not a faculty member, and ideally should not be a mandatory reporter.. The lead has two primary responsibilities: receiving reports and leading meetings of the advisory board to determine report disposition.  Given the trust of the students, the Director of Student Wellness is the appropriate person to launch in this role.

Responding to Mistreatment Reports

Responses to reports include some or all of the following.

  1. Receive and acknowledge reports through the online system
  2. Lead confidential meetings with the advisory board to hear topical reports (names of parties involved omitted) and come to consensus regarding adjudication.  Advisory board members include:
    1. Director of Student Wellness, convener
    2. Executive Vice Dean for Education
    3. Associate Dean for Professional Development and Faculty Affairs
    4. Assistant Dean for Relational Excellence
    5. Assistant Dean for Human Resources
    6. ad hoc attendees as appropriate for the cases
    7. Dean (for the first 6 months of implementation)
  3. Systemically approach responses:
    1. Coordinate with other reporting offices on campus (EOC, HR, Graduate School, etc.) as needed
    2. Categorize concern as minor or egregious; if minor, note whether repeated after feedback versus new complaint
      1. For more minor concerns the Assistant Dean for Relational Excellence will meet with the potential offender in a coaching session to discuss the offense and prevent future mistreatment.  Identity of this person will be revealed only to Assistant Dean for Relational Excellence.
      2. Egregious or repeated offenses will be managed by Human Resources and that likely will include notification to the division chair.
  4. Follow up with the reporting individual to confirm report is being acted upon (without specific details).
  5. Create regular, quarterly reports that aggregate the types of violations and responses. Present reports at ASOD Leadership Team meetings and as directed by the Dean.

Preventing Mistreatment

The following training, professional development, and assessments should occur on a regular schedule:

  1. Provide basic and advanced training for faculty, senior research staff, postdocs, and senior graduate students;
  2. Refer faculty-facing challenges for coaching (multiple sources - various assistant and associate deans as well as chairs might assist depending on the situation);
  3. Connect with incoming and current learners, clinic staff, teaching faculty, etc. to ensure reporting mechanisms are well-known;
  4. Advise learners about their options and resources and coach them through challenging conversations with fellow learners, faculty, staff, or mentors; mediate conversations with fellow learners, faculty, staff, or mentors if needed;
  5. Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives to strive toward an inclusive environment, especially given the fact that issues related to diversity are often associated with mistreatment;
  6. Develop tools to assess mentoring quality and improvement;
  7. Coordinate with other relevant campus units for training to prevent mistreatment and improve the learning environment;
  8. Maintain and disseminate up-to-date information about relevant training resources available (in-person and online options);
  9. Develop and deliver new trainings and workshops aimed at improving mentoring and interpersonal work relationships tailored to the research community; and
  10. Work with the ASOD Office of Institutional Effectiveness to conduct and analyze annual climate surveys and to disseminate summary results to programs and unit leaders. Track and report changes over time.

Contact Information

Policy Contacts
Topic Officer Contact Info
General Questions About Policy Executive Vice Dean for Education edward_swif@unc.edu
Lead Contact Director of Student Wellness kate_thieda@unc.edu
ADE-Related Questions Associate Dean for Advanced Dental Education ceib_phillips@unc.edu
DEI-Related Questions Assistant Dean, Inclusive Excellence and Equity Initiatives sylvia_frazier-bowers@unc.edu

Details

Article ID: 134585
Created
Mon 7/19/21 1:41 PM
Modified
Thu 7/22/21 9:27 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
08/02/2021 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Executive Vice Dean for Education
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
07/12/2021 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/12/2021 12:00 AM
Origination
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/12/2021 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Adams School of Dentistry