Reporting Alleged Sexual Misconduct
Students may report instances of alleged sexual misconduct to the Dean of Students Office. The Dean's office will work with the student reporting a violation to determine the course of action with which he or she is comfortable. Students may elect simply to report the matter, to pursue College disciplinary charges, and/or to pursue charges in criminal court. At no time will a student be forced to pursue student conduct remedies-we work with the student to provide the student with counseling resources and support and to allow him or her to determine the course of action, if any.
Defining Sexual Misconduct
The Student Handbook provides a comprehensive (though not all-encompassing) list of behaviors that the College considers Sexual Misconduct. The behaviors include intentional non-consensual touching and non-consensual sexual activity. It is important to note that one who is mentally or physically helpless cannot provide effective consent. Intoxication by alcohol or drugs can produce a state of mental or physical helplessness.
The Handbook's Code of Conduct applies on College property and may apply when conduct adversely affects the College community. Since sexual misconduct is such a serious violation, the Code often will apply to such conduct even if it is alleged to have occurred off campus.
The College's Disciplinary Process
The disciplinary process begins with an interview of the student reporting the alleged violation. If necessary, the Dean's office may interview other students with direct knowledge of the events surrounding the alleged violation. After an investigation, the hearing officer will contact the student alleged to have committed the violation. The student may elect to discuss the matter with the Dean's office and attempt to resolve the matter informally.
If the case is not resolved informally, the Dean will determine if sufficient evidence exists to warrant a hearing. If the reporting party chooses to go forward with a hearing, the Dean will notify the accused student in writing of the charge and provide the student with an opportunity to inform the Vice President for Student Affairs of his or her choice of hearing (panel hearing or administrative hearing). The Dean then will work to schedule the hearing as soon as possible.
The hearing is an administrative process that is not akin to a courtroom proceeding. While hearings are formal, the College is not bound to the same processes as the courts of law. Our process is designed to balance the education of the student with the needs and interests of the College's unique educational environment.
The College has special disciplinary procedures for cases of sexual violence. The Student Handbook provides the following special procedures to protect both parties in a case of reported sexual misconduct.
- Each party has the right to receive counsel/assistance. The reporting party will be assisted by a member of the Dean of Students staff; the charged student may request either a student counsel from his or her academic program (i.e. an undergraduate may choose any enrolled undergraduate) or a trained administrative counsel;
- The reporting party and the charged party have the right not to have their unrelated past sexual histories discussed in the hearing. Each party may make an election of the type of hearing each prefers (either a panel hearing or a hearing before two administrators – in the event that the parties select different hearing types, the Vice President for Student Affairs reviews the two petitions and makes the final determination of the hearing forum);
- The reporting party may remain for the entire hearing or depart after his or her testimony has concluded;
- The parties may request a screen be set up to prevent the two parties from directly encountering each other;
- The reporting party will receive written notification of the outcome of the proceeding;
- The reporting party has a limited right to appeal.
Following the presentation of evidence, the hearing body may find the accused student responsible or not responsible for the violation(s). In order to find a student responsible of a violation, the hearing body must find clear and convincing evidence that one or more violations have occurred. If the student is found not responsible for all charges, the case is dismissed (however, the reporting party may appeal this decision). If the dismissal of charges is upheld on appeal, the records pertaining to the report will be destroyed within two weeks of the hearing.
If the student is found responsible for Sexual Misconduct, the panel will hear sanctioning evidence and issue sanctions for the violation(s). The minimum sanction for Sexual Misconduct by intentional touching or fondling is probation for one semester. The minimum sanction for other forms of Sexual Misconduct is contingent or permanent dismissal from the College (see the Sexual Misconduct, Administration of Student Life Policies section of the Student Handbook for more information).
Both the charged student and the reporting student have the right to appeal the outcome of the case on the basis of several grounds stated in the Handbook section on appeals.
NOTE: The Student Handbook is subject to change. Review the Student Handbook online for the most current text.