Student Sexual Misconduct Policy

Title: Policy on Student Sexual Harassment and Misconduct, Dating and Domestic Violence, and Stalking
Effective Date: August, 2011
Revision Date: May, 2015
Responsible Office: Dean of Students/Compliance & Policy

I. Scope
II. Purpose
III. Explanation and Definitions
IV. Consent and Incapacitation
V. Reporting Matters
VI. Examples of Sexual Misconduct
VII. Enforcement
VIII. Approval and Ammendment
IX. Related Documents, Policies, and Procedures

I. Scope

This policy applies to the College of William & Mary, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (the university). It applies to all students as well as student organizations. 

This policy applies to prohibited conduct that takes place on or off campus. This policy is not intended, and may not be applied, to abridge free speech or other civil rights of any individual or group.

II. Purpose

Our community of trust requires that its members treat one another with respect, dignity, and fairness. This policy is designed to ensure a safe environment for the members of the William & Mary community.

This policy helps William & Mary comply with Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972,[1] which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities, the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, the Higher Education Act of 1965, and the Clery Act, each as amended.[2]   It also helps implement William & Mary’s Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Policy, by defining in detail sexual violence and certain other types of sexual harassment.

III. Explanation and Definitions

The university is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from sex-based violence and in which the freedom to make individual choices regarding sexual behavior is respected by all. Sexual misconduct by anyone is unacceptable and will be addressed in a prompt, equitable fashion in accordance with this policy and the applicable procedure.

Sexual misconduct is a form of sexual harassment, which is prohibited under the university’s Policy on Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation.  Sexual misconduct, as defined by this policy, includes a broad range of behavior such as inappropriate physical touching, sexual exploitation, stalking, sexual intercourse without consent, and other forms of sexual violence.

Sexual contact requires effective consent (as defined in Section IV).

Sexual misconduct also may be a crime.

For additional guidance regarding the types of misconduct prohibited by this policy, please review the examples provided in Section VI. 

Sexual Misconduct, for the purposes of this policy, is a category of behavior that includes actual or attempted:

  1. Non-consensual sexual contact;
  2. Non-consensual sexual intercourse;
  3. Sexual exploitation;
  4. Domestic violence;
  5. Dating violence; and
  6. Stalking.

Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or non-strangers, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Sexual misconduct can be committed by any person, and any person may be a victim of sexual misconduct, regardless of gender, identification, or orientation.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is either of the following without effective consent (see Section IV for the definition of consent):

  1. Deliberately touching a person’s intimate parts (including genitalia, groin, breast or buttocks, or clothing covering any of those areas); or
  2. Using force or threat of force to cause a person to touch that person’s own or another person’s intimate parts.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is anal or vaginal penetration, no matter how slight, by a penis, tongue, finger, or object, without effective consent, or oral penetration by a penis, without effective consent.

Sexual Exploitation is taking sexual advantage of another person without effective consent and includes causing the incapacitation of another person for a sexual purpose; causing the prostitution of another person; electronically recording, photographing, or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds or images of another person; allowing third parties to observe sexual acts; engaging in voyeurism; distributing intimate or sexual information about another person; exposing one’s genitals; inducing another to expose their genitals; and/or knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, to another person.

Domestic Violence is a violent crime (either a felony or misdemeanor) committed by:

  1. A current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim;
  2. A person with whom the victim shares a child in common;
  3. A person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner;
  4. A parent, child, step-parent or step-child, sibling (full or half), grandparent or grandchild of the victim;
  5. The victim’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, if he or she resides in the same home with the victim; or
  6. Any other person who cohabits or, within the previous 12 months, cohabitated with the victim.[i],[ii]

Dating Violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, other than Domestic Violence.[iii]

The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.[iv]

Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.[v]

Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:

  1. Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or
  2. Suffer substantial emotional distress. Such distress does not have to be severe enough to require medical or other professional treatment or counseling in order to be substantial emotional distress.[vi]

Stalking requires two or more acts, including but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates, to or about, a person, or interferes with a person’s property.[vii]

IV. Consent and Incapacitation

Members of the university community choosing to engage in any form of sexual activity – from touching or kissing to intercourse – must obtain consent from their partner(s) prior to engaging in such activity.

Consent for sexual activity can only be obtained in situations where all people involved have equal power and full awareness in deciding what sexual activity will and will not happen during an encounter. Getting consent is an active process that involves clearly communicating intentions and desires. Consent for sexual activity is based on the mutual understanding and respect of all people involved for the desires and wishes of their partner(s). Consent must be informed, with all people involved having the information relevant to the sexual activity in question. Consent:

  1. Is mutually understandable when a reasonable person would consider the words or actions of the parties to have manifested an understandable agreement between them to do the same thing, in the same way, at the same time and with one another[viii];
  2. Is not merely the absence of a verbally stated “no”;
  3. Is never final or irrevocable;
  4. Is time-limited and situation-specific; even if someone obtained consent from a partner(s) in the past, this does not mean that consent is automatically granted again;
  5. Can only be given by someone who is free from verbal or physical coercion, intimidation, threat, or force;[3] and
  6. Is not valid if the party from whom consent is sought is incapacitated, as defined below. If a person knew, or, using a reasonable person standard, should have known that the other party was incapacitated, the first person will be responsible for failing to obtain consent.

The use of drugs or alcohol is not an excuse for failing to obtain consent for sexual activity.

Incapacitation is the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments. One who is incapacitated cannot provide effective consent. States of incapacitation include sleep, unconsciousness, intermittent consciousness, and blackouts.  Where alcohol or drugs are involved, incapacitation is a point on a continuum of intoxication.  Intoxication determined by considering how the alcohol consumed impacts a person’s decision-making capacity and awareness of the details of a sexual interaction (who, what, where, when, and how).[ix] 

V. Reporting Matters

This Section covers:
  • Support for Reporting Parties and Interim Measures
  • How and Where to File a Report or Complaint
  • What Happens When You Tell Someone About Sexual Misconduct – Obligations of Faculty and Staff to Report Sexual Misconduct
  • Confidential Resources – How and Where to Receive Resources and Support Without Making a Report
  • Confidentiality and  Anonymity and Requests Not to Take Action or Pursue Conduct Charges
  • Amnesty from Student Discipline for the Reporting Party
  • How and Where to File a Report or Complaint 

Support for Reporting Parties and Interim Measures. We encourage members of the campus community who experience or witness any form of sexual misconduct discussed in this policy to explore reporting options, including reporting to law enforcement.  Reporting misconduct allows the university to assist the reporting party.  Interim measures the university may take to help the reporting party include:

  • Orders barring further contact (no-contact orders)
  • Providing the reporting party with an escort to ensure that he or she may move safely between classes and activities
  • Providing counseling or medical services, including free services from the university Counseling Center or Student Health Center 
  • Making academic accommodations
  • Relocation or rescheduling of classes
  • Changing residence locations (reporting parties will not be moved without their consent)
  • Restrictions limiting the respondent’s presence on campus or to certain areas of campus
  • Interim suspension from residence, from the campus, and/or from any activities of the university.

How and Where to File a Report or Complaint

You may always file a report with the Title IX Coordinator: 

Kiersten L. Boyce, J.D., CCEP
Chief Compliance Officer
108 James Blair Hall
College of William & Mary
Williamsburg, VA 23185
757-221-3146
[[klboyc]]

Students and other individuals may also chose from one or more of these options.

Online reporting

William & Mary's online reporting portal, offered by the Dean of Students, provides options for anyone to report a Title IX concern relating to a student.  Online reporting for matters not relating to or involving students is not currently available.  Reports also may be emailed to [[reportconcern]].

In-person reporting 

Reports relating to students:
Dean of Students
Campus Center, Room 109
757-221-2510

Any type of Title IX report:  
Title IX Office (Compliance & Policy)
James Blair Hall Suite 110
757-221-3146

Paper reporting - providing a written report by mail or email 

Reports relating to students:
Dean of Students
Campus Center, Room 109
College of William & Mary 
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187

Any type of Title IX report:  
Title IX Office (Compliance & Policy)
James Blair Hall Suite 110
College of William & Mary 
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187

Anonymous reporting options

Anonymous reports as well as partial disclosure reports of incidents involving students may be made online through the Dean of Students "Report a Concern" portal.

Anonymous reports may be filed physically using the secure dropbox located outside of the Title IX Office on the first floor of James Blair Hall. 

Reporting for criminal prosecution -- reporting to the police

Sexual assault and some other forms of sexual misconduct are crimes, and may be reported to law enforcement for investigation.  

William & Mary staff members can help students file a criminal complaint, if desired.  

Students and staff may report to the police and also report internally.  You do not need to choose one or the other.  

Other options 

The Haven provides information and support to student survivors of sexual assault and others who have questions or want to learn more.  The Haven can coordinate support services and accommodations to help students who have experience the trauma of sexual assault.  These services and accommodations are available regardless of whether a student files a formal report.

What Happens When You Tell Someone About Sexual Misconduct – Obligations of Faculty and Staff to Report Sexual Misconduct

With a few exceptions, W&M faculty and staff are considered “responsible employees,” which means if they become aware of sexual harassment (including assault) of a student, they need to tell the Title IX Coordinator about the incident.  This reporting obligation is explained in the Policy on Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation.  If the victim of the harassment wants to remain anonymous or does not want any action to be taken relating to the matter, the university will carefully consider this as described below. 

Certain faculty and staff are also required to report sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, or stalking occurring (or alleged or suspected to have occurred) on campus or other W&M property to the W&M Police.  This type of report is required by the Clery Act and explained in the Crime Reporting Policy.  These types of reports do not need to include names of people involved. 

Confidential Resources – How and Where to Receive Resources and Support Without Making a Report

Students who are not sure whether they want to make a complaint or report are encouraged to seek help from the Haven (Care Support Services). Haven staff can provide non-judgmental support and information to help the person decide what is best while the person recovers.

Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (Interim)
Lesley Henderson
(757) 221-2509
[[ljhenderson]]

The Haven (Care Support Services)
(757) 221-2449
[[thehaven]]

Other confidential resources for students on campus are:

William & Mary Counseling Center
(757) 221-3620

Student Health Center
(757) 221-4386

Graduate Ombuds (for graduate students)
Dr. Peter Vishton
(757) 221-3879
[[pmvish]]

Confidentiality and Anonymity and Requests Not to Take Action or Pursue Conduct Charges

The university makes every effort to protect the privacy and confidentiality of students who report or are named in a report of sexual misconduct. Information reported will be shared only on a need-to-know basis. The university also takes steps to protect members of its community against further misconduct, including retaliation.  Confidentiality and retaliation protections exist in part to help encourage students who experience misconduct to come forward and to permit an investigation to proceed.  For students who remain concerned about their identities being known or who do not want investigation to occur, however, there are options:

  • A student may report sexual misconduct without disclosing the name of the victim (see provisions on reporting, described above).
  • A student may report sexual misconduct with names, but may request that the name of the victim of the misconduct remain confidential and not be shared, which would be required in an investigation.
  • A student may also request that the university not take action in response to a sexual misconduct incident of which it becomes aware.[4]

Typically, the university will not begin an internal administrative investigation or make a referral to law enforcement without the consent or involvement of the reporting party, but the university must consider its obligation to other students and the campus community. The Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator will decide whether an investigation or referral is required after evaluatingthe risk of the alleged offender harming other members of the campus community and the likelihood of the university being able to proceed forward without the active participation of the reporting party (if applicable), by considering:

  • The nature of the alleged misconduct, including whether it involved a weapon or use of physical force;
  • The existence of evidence of predatory behavior;
  • Any prior credible reports of misconduct by the alleged perpetrator; and
  • The existence of evidence other than the reporting party’s testimony, such as physical evidence, recordings, documentary evidence, written statements provided by the reporting party.

Amnesty from Student Discipline for the Reporting Party and Witnesses

Assisting students who are reporting sexual misconduct is the university’s primary interest. In order to facilitate reporting, the Dean of Students does not charge students who report sexual misconduct and any material witnesses with Code of Conduct violations for behavior that would otherwise be considered violations (for example consuming alcohol underage or consuming illegal drugs).

VI. Examples of Sexual Misconduct[x]

A.  Joel is a junior at the College.  Beth is a sophomore.  Joel comes to Beth’s room with some mutual friends to watch a movie.  Joel and Beth, who have never met before, are attracted to each other.  After the movie, everyone leaves, and Joel and Beth are alone.  They hit it off and are soon becoming more intimate.  They start to make out.  Joel verbally expresses his desire to have sex with Beth.  Beth, who has suffered from trauma since being sexually abused by a baby-sitter when she was five, is shocked at how quickly things are progressing and says nothing.  As Joel takes her by the wrist over to the bed, lays her down, undresses her, and begins to have intercourse with her, Beth has a severe flashback to her childhood trauma.  She wants to tell Joel to stop, but cannot.  Beth is stiff and unresponsive during the intercourse.  Is this a policy violation? This is a policy violation.  Joel would be held responsible in this scenario for Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse.  It is the duty of the sexual initiator, Joel, to make sure that he has mutually understandable consent to engage in sex.  Though consent need not be verbal, it is the clearest form of consent.  Here, Joel had no verbal or non-verbal mutually-understandable indication from Beth that she consented to sexual intercourse.  Of course, wherever possible, students should attempt to be as clear as possible as to whether or not sexual contact is desired, but students must be aware that for psychological reasons, or because of alcohol or drug use, one’s partner may not be in a position to provide as clear an indication as the policy requires.  As the policy makes clear, consent must be actively, not passively, given.

B.  Sasha is dancing with Rob, a co-worker she knows from her office, at a crowded party. After dancing for a while, Rob kisses Sasha, and she kisses him back. A short time later, Rob moves his hands to Sasha’s buttocks. She tells him to stop, saying she doesn’t want to be touched in that way and that he should have more respect for her. He laughs, tells her she takes herself too seriously, and again begins to grope her. This is a policy violation. Rob touched Sasha in a sexual way without her consent, and continued to do so after she told him to stop. Even though Sasha appears to have consented to kissing, this consent does not extend to other sexual contact. This behavior is a form of non-consensual sexual contact.

C.  Kristen and Myra have been intimate for a few weeks. One night, Myra calls Kristen and asks her to come over. When she arrives, Myra kisses Kristen passionately and leads her into the bedroom. They each express their excitement and desire to “hook up,” and are soon making out heavily in Myra’s bed. After a while, Kristen tries to engage in oral sex with Myra. Myra tells Kristen that she really likes her, but that she doesn’t feel ready for that. Kristen tells Myra she’s just being shy, and ignores her when she repeats that she doesn’t feel ready. Finally, Kristen threatens to reveal on the Internet that Myra is a lesbian. Because Myra has not yet come out to her friends and family, she becomes frightened and relents. Kristen proceeds with oral sex. This is a policy violation. Because of Kristen’s manipulative and threatening arguments, Myra was afraid and unable to freely give her consent. Consent must be given freely and without undue pressure or threat.  Kristen threatened Myra and therefore did not receive effective consent from Myra.

D.  Liz and Kwan have been together for six months. She often tells her friends stories of Kwan’s sexual prowess, and decided to prove it to them. One night, she and Kwan engage in consensual sexual intercourse. Without Kwan’s knowledge, Liz sets up her digital camera to videotape them having sex. The next evening, she uploads the video to an online video-sharing site and discusses it with her friends online. This is a policy violation. Kwan’s consent to engage in sexual intercourse with Liz did NOT mean Liz had obtained his consent to videotape it. This is a form of sexual exploitation.

E.  Andrew and Felix have been flirting with each other all night at a party. Andrew notices Felix slurring his speech when he goes to the bathroom and wonders if Felix went there to vomit. When Felix returns, the two begin flirting more heavily, and as the conversation continues, the two become more physically affectionate. Andrew soon suggests they go back to his room, and Felix agrees. As they walk, Andrew notices that Felix looks unstable and offers his arm for support and balance. When they get back to his room, Andrew leads Felix to the bed and they begin to become intimate. Felix becomes increasingly passive and appears disoriented. Andrew soon begins to have sexual intercourse with him. The next morning, Felix thinks they had sex but cannot piece together the events leading up to it. This is a policy violation. Felix was clearly under the influence of alcohol and thus unable to freely consent to engage in sexual activity with Andrew. Although Andrew may not have known how much alcohol Felix had consumed, he saw indicators from which a reasonable person would conclude that Felix was intoxicated, and therefore unable to give consent. Andrew in no way obtained consent from Felix for sexual intercourse.

F.  Denise is an undergraduate teaching assistant in Paul’s economics class. She notes that he has not been performing well on take-home assignments and exams. Both of them have come to tailgate, each with their own group of friends. Denise has consumed one can of beer, while Paul is rather intoxicated. Denise sees Paul and approaches him. She flirts with him, telling him that she can help him improve his grades if he will hook-up with her. As Paul turns to walk away, Denise grabs his buttocks and squeezes them. This is a policy violation. Denise, in a position of power over Paul as his teaching assistant, attempted to arrange a quid pro quo sexual relationship. Additionally, she did not seek consent from Paul to touch him, even if a reasonable person could conclude that Paul was not too intoxicated in order to provide consent. Denise has sexually harassed Paul.

G.  Jeff and Michael are neighbors in their dorm. Michael soon realizes that Jeff is undergoing the transition from identifying as male to female and prefers to be called Becca. Becca begins wearing women’s clothing and starts applying makeup on a regular basis. This is alien to Michael’s experience and makes him uncomfortable. Michael begins muttering slurs whenever they pass each other in the dorm. Additionally, Michael starts telling his friends on other floors about the “freak living next door,” and tells them to take a look for themselves. They do, a few individually, a few as groups that murmur and snicker to each other when they see Becca. Becca begins to dread leaving or returning to her room and starts to isolate herself to avoid Michael and his associates. It gets to the point that Michael invites people to his room specifically for the purpose of showing them Becca when she passes by so they can have a laugh at her expense. This is a policy violation. Not only have Michael and his associates created a hostile environment for Becca based on her identification, they also have stalked her.

VII. Enforcement

Any student who violates this policy is subject to discipline, up to and including permanent dismissal. Disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the Student Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Procedure

VIII. Approval and Amendment

This document was amended effective February 6, 2015 to: (1) separate the policy from the procedure; (2) incorporate new definitions of certain types of sexual misconduct to comply with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013; and (3) make other revisions and improvements to the definitions of consent and the examples of sexual misconduct.

The Title IX Coordinator is authorized to make minor, technical amendments to this policy, such as to update contact information.

The Title IX Coordinator amended this policy effective May, 2015, to update names and contact information.  

The language of this document was adapted with permission from the University of Virginia’s Policy and Procedures for Sexual Misconduct Complaints (pdf).

IX. Related Documents, Policies, and Procedures

The Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Policy contains more helpful information concerning sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination.

The Procedure on Student Sexual Harassment and Misconduct defines the process for addressing complaints and reports of violations of this policy. 

The Policy on Campus Violence and Threat Management (pdf) describes the university’s process for assessing threats to the campus community.


[1]  20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.
[2]  Including the amendments made by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
[3]  For a definition of “threat”, see the university Policy on Campus Violence and Threat Management.
[4]  For example, if a student tells a faculty member that she has been assaulted and the faculty then reports this as required to the Title IX Coordinator, but the student did not want any investigation.

[i]  34 C.F.R. § 668.46(a)(2014) (Pending; final consensus language).
[ii]  Va. Dep’t of Criminal Justice Servs., An Informational Guide for Domestic Violence Victims in Virginia, DCJS.Virginia.Gov, available at https://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/victims/documents/domviobr.pdf (last visited June 2, 2014).
[iii]  34 C.F.R. § 668.46(a)(2014) (Pending; final consensus language).
[iv]  Id.
[v]  Id.
[vi]  Id.
[vii]  Id.
[viii]  Sokolow, Brett A., NCHERM The Sexual Conduct Judicial Training Manual. 2001, p.55.
[ix]  Sokolow, Brett A., Lewis, W. Scott, Shuster, Saundra K., NCHERM Institute on Responding to Campus Sexual Misconduct. 2010, p. 49. Adapted for purposes of this policy.
[x]  Examples 1-6 are adapted with permission from Duke University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy.