Why are sexual assault reports and other potential sexual violence crimes handled by the university and not the police?
Under federal law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, against students and employees of educational institutions. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct, on the basis of sex, that is severe or pervasive and creates a hostile environment. Sexual assault and other sexual violence acts that occur one time are severe enough to constitute sexual harassment. Therefore, institutions must create policies that ensure equal access to education and remedy violations of such policies. Relationship violence and stalking, as prescribed in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, are also considered misconduct under William & Mary policy. Police investigations can be conducted by the appropriate jurisdiction concurrently with our process and are not mutually exclusive.
The university establishes standards for all members of the community that reflect the values of treating others with dignity and respect under our Code of Conduct. The university expects employees and students to conduct themselves in compliance with the Sexual Misconduct Policy at all times, not just on campus. This ensures that everyone is able to continue their education free from harassment that may or may not be criminal, but is a violation of our policy. The university will address misconduct under this policy and other policies, even criminal misconduct, because we have an obligation to ensure a safe environment and uphold the integrity of the university.
What conduct is prohibited under William & Mary’s Sexual Harassment, Gender Based Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy?
- Sexual Harassment
- Gender-Based Harassment
- Non-consensual sexual-intercourse
- Sexual Exploitation
- Relationship Violence
Definitions of the prohibited conduct can be found here.
Who is William & Mary’s Title IX Coordinator?Pamela Mason
Chief Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator
Office of Compliance & Equity
James Blair 109
Williamsburg, VA 23185
Sexual Harassment & Sexual Misconduct Reporting FAQs
How can I make a report of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator?
Reports may be submitted:
- Online through the Title IX Report Form
- Via email to [[reportconcern]]
- In-person at the Office of Compliance & Equity in James Blair, Suite 101
What happens once a report is received by the Title IX Coordinator?
The Review Team, consisting of representatives from Office of Compliance & Equity (Title IX Coordinator or designee), Dean of Students, and William & Mary Police:
- Evaluate the report to determine appropriate support and resources for the reporting party, including non-disciplinary interim measures;
- Assess the report for threats of violence to an individual or the campus community;
- Determine mandatory reporting requirements of the university to local authorities, if any;
- Recommend reasonable steps to be taken with respect to the reporting party’s wishes and within the university’s jurisdiction that will effectively stop the harassment, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.
A flow chart summarizing the investigative/determination process can be found here.
Will the university disclose the existence of a report to faculty?
Within the institution, reports of sexual misconduct are shared with employees who are on a need to know basis. Therefore, details of reports are not shared with faculty members unless they are part of the adjudication process (e.g. advisor, determination official). If academic modifications are requested by either party, then the faculty member may be generally aware that a person is involved in the process, but not the details of the alleged conduct or if the person is the reporting party or the respondent in the process.
Will the university investigate even if I do not want an investigation?
If you report misconduct and request that no investigation take place, the university will give serious consideration to that request. Only in rare circumstances will the university proceed to investigate reported misconduct against the wishes of the reporting party. Generally, the university will seek to honor the request of the reporting party not to proceed to with an investigation.
The Review Team will consider a number of factors in deciding whether the request can be honored, including the age of the reporting party, whether there is evidence of a pattern of misconduct, the severity of the misconduct, and whether there is a safety risk to the reporting party or the William & Mary community. Should the Review Team, in weighing such factors, determine an investigation is necessary, the university will explain its rationale to you and make sure that you are offered a support person throughout the process. As stated above, you will not be required to participate in the process.
What if I want a criminal investigation as well as an administrative adjudication?
You are not required to pursue one option or the other. An administrative adjudication (internal investigation) of misconduct can be conducted before, during or after a criminal investigation is requested. A criminal investigation is not required even if the report is submitted to William & Mary Police or other local police department. An internal investigation may be paused temporarily at the request of law enforcement if a criminal investigation is conducted.
Criminal Reports of sexual violence (rape, fondling, relationship violence, and stalking) made be made to William & Mary Police at 757-221-4596 or 201 Ukrop Drive.
What if the misconduct was experienced by or committed by someone who is no longer affiliated with the university (e.g .past reports)?
The university accepts reports of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct regardless of when the conduct occurred or if the person is still a part of the William & Mary community. While jurisdiction dictates if we have the ability to discipline someone for sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, ensuring an environment that is free from harassment is paramount to the university. Reports allow the Title IX Coordinator to address a larger systemic issue in a particular department, organization, residence hall or unit on campus. Reports of misconduct that occurred in the past provide an opportunity for the university to ensure that individuals who may have been aware of the harassment or misconduct at the time understand their mandatory reporting obligations and are educated on the policy and the definitions of various types of misconduct.
What if the misconduct was experienced when I was off campus and/or abroad?
Any misconduct that occurs in the context of university employment or an educational program or activity is still considered a policy violation even if it occurs off campus property. The Student Code of Conduct applies to student conduct that occurs off-campus when the conduct adversely affects the university community and the pursuit of its objectives. The Dean of Students or designee will decide whether the Sexual Misconduct Policy applies to conduct that occurs off campus and outside of educational programs or activities.
Rights and Privacy FAQsWhat safety measures and accommodations are available to an employee or student when they report a sexual harassment or sexual misconduct related incident?
Upon a report of a sexual harassment or sexual misconduct concern, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the reporting party and constituent offices on campus to put interim measures in place to ensure a safe, non-hostile environment for the reporting party. Following an investigation and a determination that a policy violation occurred, more permanent accommodations and safety measures may be implemented. Accommodations and safety measures (including interim measures) could include:
- Housing assignment alterations or restrictions to access
- Adjusting work schedules, work assignments, supervisory responsibilities, supervisor reporting responsibilities or work arrangements
- Counseling services (for students)
- Academic support
- Adjusting academic courses, assignments, exam schedules
- Altering extracurricular activities
- Security escort services
- No contact orders
- Limited access to or removal from university property
- Paid Administrative Leave
- Other appropriate actions as necessary
What are my rights during a formal investigation?
Any party involved in a formal investigation (reporting party or respondent) is entitled to:
- A prompt, fair and equitable process for adjudication of allegations
- Discretion about the investigation with other university officials
- Pertinent information about specific allegations being investigated
- Explanation as to why an allegation is not being investigated
- Be informed of relevant provisions of policies
- Be treated with respect by university officials
- Be informed of progress in the investigation on a regular basis
- Be accompanied by an advisor of choice to all meetings, interviews, and proceedings
- Not be retaliated against for filing a report or participating in an investigation
- Not have unrelated prior sexual history considered as evidence
- Have university policies and procedures followed without material deviation
- Have a policy violation determination made using the preponderance of the evidence standard
- Written notice of the outcome and sanctions (when applicable) at the same time as the other party(s)
- Appeal the outcome
If you do not want an investigation and the university is able to honor that request, your identity or the existence of the report will not be shared with the respondent. If non-disciplinary action is requested with the respondent (e.g. a conversation with the respondent regarding the definition of consent and incapacitation) there is a chance that the respondent will know the incident that was reported, but your identity will not be disclosed intentionally.
If you request an interim measure of a no-contact order with the respondent, then your identity and the existence of a complaint in general (not describing the details) will be required in order to effectively communicate to the respondent that you are the person with whom they are not to have intentional contact.
If you request an investigation, the respondent has the right to know who has accused them, what type of misconduct they are accused of, and when and where the alleged misconduct occurred.
Does personal information about a reporting party or respondent remain private?
Personal information that is not germane to the investigation (medical information, mental health information, academic status, etc.) is not disclosed or referenced as part of the investigation report. Past sexual activity with others, is not relevant and will not be considered as evidence of character or reputation during the investigation. Past sexual history between the parties may be relevant to assess the manner and nature of communications between the parties in gaining consent on prior occasions. Personal information that a party wishes to have as part of the record can be disclosed with the person’s permission (e.g. medical information about counseling session following the incident).
What if the complaint was false or malicious?
Complaints that result in a finding of not responsible are not automatically false or malicious. The finding may have resulted from a good faith report, but was inaccurate that the conduct that occurred was a policy violation, or there may have not been sufficient evidence for the determination official to find by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation occurred. Either way, good faith reports are protected from retaliation, including by the university in pursuing conduct or honor code violations against the reporting party.
If there is unequivocal evidence that a complaint or counter-complaint is fabricated, if there is intent by either party to mislead or alter evidence provided or to persuade witnesses to lie or mislead investigators, the university reserves the right to pursue disciplinary action for non-retaliatory purposes if there is clear proof of intent to fabricate, mislead, or persuade false testimony.