Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the College’s sexual misconduct policy and procedures.
Does information about a report remain private?
The privacy of all parties to a report of sexual misconduct must be respected, unless it interferes with the College’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy cannot be strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. The College will not disseminate information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the resolution process without the consent of both parties. Witnesses are also required to maintain the privacy of information shared with them during interviews and/or hearings. Violations of the privacy of the reporting party or the responding party may lead to conduct action by the College, though both parties are allowed to share their perspectives and experiences. All parties, including witnesses, involved in an allegation are strongly encouraged to maintain the privacy of information and/or written materials.
In all resolutions of sexual misconduct, all parties will be informed of the outcome. In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief public announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, without using the name or identifiable information of the alleged complainant. Certain College Officials are informed of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy (e.g., the President of the College, Dean of Students, Director of Campus Safety). The institution also must statistically report the occurrence on campus of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an “Annual Security Report” of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personal information.
Will my parents be told?
No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the reporting party or the responding party, the College’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. See Parental Notification for more details about when College officials will contact parents.
Do I have to name the responding party?
You can report the incident without the identity of the responding party, but doing so may limit the institution’s ability to respond comprehensively. In order to take corrective actions and investigate, the responding party must be identified.
Will the responding party know my identity?
Yes, if the College determines there is reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred and investigates the matter. The responding party has the right to know the identity of the reporting party. If there is a hearing, the College does provide options for questioning without confrontation, including closed-circuit testimony, Skype, using a room divider or using separate hearing rooms.
What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?
DO NOT contact the reporting party. You may immediately want to contact someone who can act as your Advisor. You may also contact the Student Affairs Office, and an administrator can explain the College’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct reports. You may also want to talk to a confidential counselor at the Wellness Center or seek other community assistance. See below regarding legal representation.
What about legal advice?
Complainants do not have to retain a private attorney to pursue criminal prosecution because representation will be handled by the District Attorney’s office. You may want to retain an attorney if you are considering filing a civil action or are the respondent. The respondent may retain counsel at their own expense if they determine that legal advice is needed regarding criminal prosecution and/or the campus conduct proceeding. Both the responding party and the reporting party may also use an attorney as their advisor [or advocate] during the campus’ resolution process. Attorneys are subject to the same restrictions as other advisors in the process.
How is a report of sexual misconduct decided?
The College investigates allegations of sex/gender based harassment, discrimination or misconduct to determine whether there is evidence to indicate a policy violation is “more likely than not.” This standard, called the preponderance of the evidence, is met when, considering all the evidence a violation is found more than 50% likely to have occurred.
What services are available to me if I report sexual misconduct?
When sexual misconduct is reported, College Officials will work with you to provide supportive options, which may include:
- Assistance from College support staff in completing a room relocation;
- Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund;
- Assistance with or rescheduling an academic assignment (paper, exams, etc.) or otherwise implementing academic assistance;
- Taking an incomplete in a class;
- Assistance with transferring class sections;
- Temporary withdrawal;
- Assistance with alternative course completion options;
- Escorts to and from campus locations;
- On or off-campus counseling assistance;
- Other accommodations for safety as necessary.
What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?
Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault should be collected within 120 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, you should go to the Hospital Emergency Room, before washing yourself or your clothing. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (a specially trained nurse) at the hospital is usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (call the Emergency Room if you first want to speak to the nurse; ER will refer you). An advocate from the College can also accompany you to Hospital, and a member of the CRT can provide transportation. If an individual goes to the hospital and reports that they have been sexually assaulted, local police will be called, but the individual is not obligated to talk to the police or to pursue prosecution. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to a Complainant, but they will not be obligated to pursue any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the Complainant decide later to do so.
Hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want. Do not disturb the crime scene—leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.
Will a Complainant be sanctioned when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if they have illegally used drugs or alcohol?
No. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern, and the College does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct. The College provides amnesty from any consequences for minor policy violations that occur during or come to light as the result of a Complainant’s report of sexual misconduct.
Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct conduct resolution?
The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the Respondent’s responsibility. On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the Complainant’s memory and, therefore, may affect the resolution of the reported misconduct. A Complainant must either remember the alleged incident or have sufficient circumstantial evidence, physical evidence and/or witnesses to prove that policy was violated. If the Complainant does not remember the circumstances of the alleged incident, it may not be possible to impose sanctions on the Respondent without further corroborating information. Use of alcohol and/or other drugs will never excuse a violation by a Respondent.
Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?
Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present matter.
What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?
If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the institution’s sexual misconduct policy, you should contact Campus Safety, your Resident Advisor, or a Peer Advocate. You may also call the Crisis Response Team number at 610-409-3344. If you need medical attention, go directly to the hospital or call Campus Safety for transport.