Reporting Alleged Sexual Misconduct
Students may report instances of alleged sexual misconduct to the Dean of Students Office (anyone may file a report--the report need not originate with the student who is alleged to have been assaulted). There is no time limit as to when a report must be filed, but we encourage reporting as soon as possible, as investigations may prove more difficult if significant time has passed. Students alleging a violation may choose to meet first with Donna Haygood-Jackson, the College's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator--meeting with Dean Haygood-Jackson to explore options does not automatically result in an investigation into possible charges. Students also have the option to to pursue College disciplinary charges and/or to pursue charges in criminal court.
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 impaired cannot provide effective consent. Intoxication by alcohol or drugs can produce a state of mental or physical impairment.
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 investigation of the alleged report of violation. The Office of Student Conduct will gather information and interview 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 case administrator and resolve the matter administratively, or the student or case administrator may elect to proceed to a hearing. The panel hearing the matter will consist of two administrators designated by the Vice President for Student Affairs, and one student from the Student Conduct Council, typically one of the two co-Chairs. Each hearing panel member receives special training from the Office of Student Conduct.
If the matter proceeds to a hearing, the Dean will notify the respondent and reporting party in writing of the charge and the date, time, and location of the hearing.
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 advice/assistance. The respondent may request either a student advisor from his or her academic program (i.e. an undergraduate may choose any enrolled undergraduate) or a trained administrative advisor; each party has the right to have a Silent Supporter present throughout the hearing;
- Both the reporting party and the respondent have the right not to have their unrelated past sexual histories discussed in the hearing;
- The reporting party may remain for the entire hearing or depart after his or her testimony has concluded;
- Either party may request a screen be set up to prevent the two parties from directly encountering each other;
- Both parties have the option to request that questions be asked through the Chair of the hearing, rather than having questions directly asked by the other party;
- 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 information, the hearing panel may find the respondent responsible or not responsible for the violation(s). In order to find a student responsible of a violation, the hearing body must find a preponderance of evidence exists to support the conclusion 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 sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact, and sexual exploitation range from probation to permanent dismissal from the College. The minimum sanction for non-consensual sexual intercourse range from suspension to permanent dismissal. (see Appendix 1 of the Student Handbook for more information.
Both the charged student and respondent student have the right to appeal the outcome of the case on the basis of several grounds stated in Appendix 1 of the Student Handbook.
NOTE: The Student Handbook is subject to change. Review the Student Handbook online for the most current text.