Cushing Academy is committed to respecting and protecting the personal dignity of all its students and community members. Cushing Academy does not tolerate hazing or actions which constitute harassment because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, ancestry, sexual orientation or other status protected by law, or which create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. The Academy as a whole shares responsibility for ensuring an environment that respects the individual differences and personal dignity of all members of the Academy community. Any student who feels he or she is being harassed or hazed should tell the person to stop (if he/she is comfortable doing so) and speak promptly with a faculty member, a Dean, or the Student Life Office.
General Harassment: Actions and behavior that create a hostile environment for an individual or group are prohibited and include but are not limited to the following:
- Playing abusive pranks.
- Subjecting someone to personal indignity.
- Stereotypical remarks, humor, jokes, epithets, posters, cartoons or graffiti.
- Threatening an individual; creating a fearful and unsafe environment.
- Initiation rituals (see Hazing).
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or any verbal, physical or suggestive misconduct of a sexual nature. This type of behavior may be between students or between a student and any adult member of the Academy community. This type of harassment may include but is not limited to the following:
- Unwelcome, offensive and unnecessary touching.
- Spreading false rumors or accusations of a sexual nature.
- Pressuring someone for sexual activity.
- Making suggestive or explicit sexual comments about a person’s anatomy, behavior or clothing.
- Engaging in unwanted and sexually suggestive letters, messages (including those sent via e-mail, computer systems or the Internet) or phone calls.
- Displaying sexually offensive materials or wearing offensive articles of clothing.
- Inappropriate personal questions.
- Any coerced sexual relations.
Hazing: Cushing Academy does not tolerate hazing. “Hazing” means any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization which endangers the physical or mental health of any student. As stated in Massachusetts State Law prohibiting this activity, hazing shall include “whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, beverages, drugs or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any person, or which subjects the person to extreme mental stress.” A copy of the law prohibiting such action can be reviewed in the Student Life Office.
Cushing Academy does not tolerate bullying. Under Massachusetts law, bullying is defined as the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that does any of the following:
- Causes physical or emotional harm to the targeted student or damage to the targeted student’s property.
- Places the targeted student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property.
- Creates a hostile environment at school for the targeted student.
- Infringes on the rights of the targeted student at school.
- Materially and substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of the school.
“Cyber-bullying” is not tolerated at Cushing Academy. “Cyber-bullying” is defined as bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Cyber-bullying shall also include (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying. Cyber-bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying.
Bullying shall be prohibited: (i) on Academy grounds, property immediately adjacent to Academy grounds, at an Academy-sponsored or Academy-related activity, function or program whether on or off Academy grounds, on an Academy bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by a school district or school, or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by Cushing and (ii) at a location, activity, function or program that is not Academy-related, or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by Cushing, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes on the rights of the victim at school or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Massachusetts State Law
The Academy has legal obligations which must be clear to all students and parents. Massachusetts State Law stipulates that any person who engages in sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 years of age is subject to prosecution under state law. Often referred to as Statutory Rape, sexual activity with a person under 16 can never be considered consensual—that is, it is always considered rape.
Procedures for Addressing Harassment and Bullying
The following procedure will be followed if a community member thinks he/she is being or has been harassed:
1. The person that is being or has been harassed or bullied should, if he or she is comfortable doing so, let the offending person or persons know that he/she wants the behavior to stop immediately.
- Silence encourages recurrent behavior; students are encouraged to say NO firmly; do not apologize. It is acknowledged that some students may find this difficult. If they are unable to do this, they should focus their response on #2.
2. Tell someone: other students, a proctor, the Academy counselor, an advisor, a teacher, someone in the Student Life Office, or the Head of School. Singular minor incidents of harassment or bullying may be resolved through informal means. Major incidents of harassment will be resolved through the Student Life Office and/or the Head of School's Office, or through the Disciplinary Committee.
It is important that the Academy supports and protects any individual who raises a complaint.
RESPONSES TO BULLYING AND HARASSMENT REPORTS
The Student Life Office or the Headmaster will likely take the following steps in response to a complaint of harassment or bullying, while at the same time tailoring these responses to the uniqueness of each case.
- Conduct a full investigation, including speaking with all parties involved.
- Contact parents of all students involved, including victims, witnesses, and perpetrators, to explain policies, reporting, and responses.
- Decide on disciplinary responses, if warranted, and document all steps of investigation.
- Contact the appropriate government agency if a potential crime has been committed or if a student has been subject to abuse or neglect.
- Notify key faculty members to offer support for any persons who are the target of bullying or harassment, or for anyone involved in an incident of bullying or harassment in any way.
Cushing Academy views discipline as a system of guiding students toward growth. While the Student Life Office generally operates as the point of referral for inquiries into disciplinary matters, both individual faculty members and grade deans are vested with authority to impose consequences and penalties. Most offenses will be handled at the level of teacher, dorm head, and/or grade dean. Others may require the intervention of the Student Life Office. In all disciplinary matters, the Headmaster shall have the ultimate decision-making authority.
In any disciplinary process the possible responses, described more fully herein, may include but are not limited to:
- Loss of privileges
- Removal from leadership positions in Student Faculty Senate or Proctors
- Prohibition from participation in extracurricular pursuits or Academy-sponsored trips or activities
- Penalty Crew
- In-school suspension
- Out-of-school suspension
- Warning and/or Probation