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Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence

I. OFFICE OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Vassar College is committed to fostering a diverse community of outstanding faculty, staff, and students, as well as ensuring equal educational opportunity, employment, and access to services, programs, and activities, without regard to an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction.

Employees, students, applicants or other members of the College community (including but not limited to vendors, visitors, and guests) may not be subjected to harassment that is prohibited by law, or treated adversely or retaliated against based upon a protected characteristic. The College’s policy is in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination and harassment. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as Amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, and the New York State Human Rights Law. These laws prohibit discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. 

Inquiries regarding the application of Title IX and other laws, regulations and policies prohibiting discrimination may be directed to Dr. Rachel Pereira, Esq., Title IX Coordinator, Legal Affairs Advisor and Director of Equal Opporunity, Office of EOAA, South Main 182/ Box 645 Poughkeepsie, NY 12604/ rapereira@vassar.edu; PH 845 437 7924. 

Inquiries may also be directed to the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, 32 Old Slip 26th Floor, New York, NY 10005-2500; PH 646-428-3800; OCR.NewYork@ed.gov.

Office of Equal Opportunit y and Affirmative Action
Vassar College, Box 645
124 Raymond Avenue
Poughkeepsie, New York 12604-0645
Phone: (845) 437-7924
Fax: (845) 437-5715
Email: eoaa@vassar.edu
Website: http://eoaa.vassar.edu

Rachel Pereira
Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action/Title IX Coordinator
rachel.pereira@vassar.edu

Colleen Cohen
Faculty Director of Affirmative Action and Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies
cocohen@vassar.edu

Onya Brown
Assistant Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and Title IX Investigator

All students, faculty, administrators, and staff are subject to this Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence Policy.

REPORTING A CRIME

To report a sexual assault to local police, you can reach the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department at 845-485-3666. Campus staff can assist you in contacting the police or you can contact them directly to file a police report or obtain a protective order. To report a sexual assault on any New York college campus to the State Police, you can reach the dedicated 24-hour hotline at 1-844-845-7269. In an emergency, call 911.

EXTERNAL REPORTING OPTIONS

Individuals with complaints of this nature also have the right to seek recourse from outside of the college by filing a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights or the State Division of Human Rights.

U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, Headquarters
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Customer Service Hotline #: (800) 421-3481
Facsimile: (202) 453-6012
TTY#: (800) 877-8339
Email: OCR@ed.gov
Website

Office for Civil Rights, New York Office
U. S. Department of Education
32 Old Slip, 26th Floor
New York, NY 10005-2500
Telephone: (646) 428-3800
Facsimile: (646) 428-3843
Email: OCR.NewYork@ed.gov

New York State Division of Human Rights
Phone: (888) 392-3644
Website

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
New York District Office
33 Whitehall Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
Fax: 212-336-3790
TTY: 1-800-669-6820
ASL Video Phone: 844-234-5122
Website

II. SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY

A. Policy Statement

Members of the Vassar College communit y, guests, and visitors have the right to be free from sexual violence. Vassar College is committed to fostering a communit y that promotes the prompt reporting of sexual misconduct and timely and fair resolution of sexual misconduct complaints. The expectations of our communit y regarding sexual misconduct can be summarized as follows: In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing, and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activit y. Vassar’s policy is to prohibit sexual misconduct. This policy has been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for those individuals whose rights have been violated. This policy is intended to define community expectations and to establish a mechanism for determining when those expectations have been violated.

Sexual misconduct offenses include, but are not limited to, sexual harassment (see Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment), non-consensual sexual contact or attempts to commit same, nonconsensual sexual intercourse or attempts to commit same, and sexual exploitation. Use of alcohol or other drugs will never function as a defense to a violation of this policy. The College will consider the concerns and rights of both the reporting individual and the accused.

Grievance Policy for Addressing Formal Complaints of Sexual Harassment Under the Title IX Regulations

  1. Introduction 

What is the purpose of the Title IX Grievance Policy?

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 prohibits any person in the United States from being discriminated against on the basis of sex in seeking access to any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The U.S. Department of Education, which enforces Title IX, has long defined the meaning of Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination broadly to include various forms of sexual harassment and sexual violence that interfere with a student’s ability to equally access our educational programs and opportunities.

On May 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Final Rule under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 that:

  • Defines the meaning of “sexual harassment” (including forms of sex-based violence)

  • Addresses how this institution must respond to reports of misconduct falling within that definition of sexual harassment, and

  • Mandates a grievance process that this institution must follow to comply with the law in these specific covered cases before issuing a disciplinary sanction against a person accused of sexual harassment.

See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026 (May 19, 2020). The full text of the Final Rule and its extensive Preamble are available here: http://bit.ly/TitleIXReg

Based on the Final Rule, Vassar College will implement the following Title IX Grievance Policy, effective August 14, 2020.

How does the Title IX Grievance Policy impact other campus disciplinary policies?

Vassar College remains committed to addressing any violations of its policies, even those not meeting the narrow standards defined under the Title IX Final Rule. 

In recent years, “Title IX” cases have become a short-hand for any campus disciplinary process involving sex-based discrimination, including those arising from sexual harassment and sexual assault. But under the Final Rule, Vassar College must narrow both the geographic scope of its authority to act under Title IX and the types of “sexual harassment” that it must subject to its Title IX investigation and adjudication process. Only incidents falling within the Final Rule’s definition of sexual harassment will be investigated and, if appropriate, brought to a live hearing through the Title IX Grievance Policy defined below.

Specifically, our campus has College Regulations that define certain behavior as a violation of campus policy, including Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, and related sex-based offenses.

To the extent that alleged misconduct falls outside the Title IX Grievance Policy, or misconduct falling outside the Title IX Grievance Policy is discovered in the course of investigating covered Title IX misconduct, the institution retains authority to investigate and adjudicate the allegations under the policies and procedures defined within the College Regulations through a separate grievance proceeding. https://deanofthecollege.vassar.edu/documents/college-regulations/

The elements established in the Title IX Grievance Policy under the Final Rule have no effect and are not transferable to any other policy of the College for any violation of the Code of Conduct, employment policies, or any civil rights violation except as narrowly defined in this Policy. This Policy does not set a precedent for other policies or processes of the College and may not be cited for or against any right or aspect of any other policy or process. 

How does the Title IX Grievance Policy impact the handling of complaints?

Our existing Title IX office and reporting structure remains in place. What has changed is the way our Title IX office will handle different types of reports arising from sexual misconduct, as detailed in full throughout Section 2.

  1. The Title IX Grievance Policy

General Rules of Application

Effective Date

The Title IX Grievance Policy will become effective on August 14, 2020, and will only apply to sexual harassment alleged to have occurred on or after August 14, 2020. Incidents of sexual harassment alleged to have occurred before August 14, 2020, will be investigated and adjudicated according to the process in place at the time the incident allegedly occurred.1

Revocation by Operation of Law

Should any portion of the Title IX Final Rule, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026 (May 19, 2020), be stayed or held invalid by a court of law, or should the Title IX Final Rule be withdrawn or modified to not require the elements of this policy, this policy, or the invalidated elements of this policy, will be deemed revoked as of the publication date of the opinion or order and for all reports after that date, as well as any elements of the process that occur after that date if a case is not complete by that date of opinion or order publication. Should the Title IX Grievance Policy be revoked in this manner, any conduct covered under the Title IX Grievance Policy shall be investigated and adjudicated under the pre-existing Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Non-Discrimination in Application

The requirements and protections of this policy apply equally regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or other protected classes covered by federal or state law. All requirements and protections are equitably provided to individuals regardless of such status or status as a Complainant, Respondent, or Witness. Individuals who wish to file a complaint about the institution’s policy or process may contact the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights using contact information available at https://ocrcas.ed.gov/contact-ocr

Definitions

Covered Sexual Harassment

For the purposes of this Title IX Grievance Policy, “covered sexual harassment” includes any conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: 

  1. An employee conditioning educational benefits on participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (i.e., quid pro quo); 

  2. Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the educational institution’s education program or activity; 

  3. Sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act as rape, fondling, incest, statutory rape), which includes any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent; 

    1. Rape is the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

    2. Fondling is the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental incapacity.

    3. Incest is sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

    4. Statutory Rape is sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent. The age of consent in New York is 17, but this varies by state.

  4. Dating violence (as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amendments to the Clery Act), which includes any violence committed by a person: (A) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and (B) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i) The length of the relationship; (ii) The type of relationship; (iii) The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

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

    2. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.

  5. Domestic violence (as defined in the VAWA amendments to the Clery Act), which includes any felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under New York State domestic or family violence laws or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of New York.

    1. Please note that in order for an alleged Domestic Violence incident to be investigated under the policy, the relationship between the Complainant and Respondent must be more than just two people living together as roommates. The people cohabitating must be current or former spouses or have a relationship or status as described above.

  1. Stalking (as defined in the VAWA amendments to the Clery Act), meaning engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to-- (A) fear for their safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress.

    1. For the purposes of this definition:

      1. Course of conduct means 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.

    2. Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.

    3. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. 

    4. Stalking as defined above may not always be “on the basis of sex” (for example when an individual stalks an athlete due to celebrity worship rather than sex), but when stalking is “on the basis of sex” (for example, when the stalker desires to date the victim) stalking constitutes “sexual harassment” for purposes of this policy.  Stalking that does not constitute sexual harassment because it is not “on the basis of sex” may be addressed under other applicable College policies.

Note that conduct that does not meet one or more of these criteria may still be prohibited under the Vassar College Regulations. 

For the purposes of this Title IX Grievance Policy, “Affirmative Consent” is:

a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

  1. Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act. Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.
  2. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity.
  3. Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm. When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.
  4. In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age; New York State defines 17 years as of legal age.

(See Vassar College Regulations: https://deanofthecollege.vassar.edu/documents/college-regulations/VassarCollegeRegulations.pdf)

Education Program or Activity

For the purposes of this Title IX Grievance Policy, Vassar’s “education program or activity” includes:

  • Any on-campus premises

  • Any off-campus premises that Vassar has substantial control over. This includes buildings or property owned or controlled by a recognized student organization.

  • Activity occurring within computer and internet networks, digital platforms, and computer hardware or software owned or operated by, or used in the operations of Vassar’s programs and activities over which the Vassar College has substantial control.

Formal Complaint

For the purposes of this Title IX Grievance Policy, “formal complaint” means a document – including an electronic submission - filed by a complainant with a signature or other indication that the complainant is the person filing the formal complaint, or signed by the Title IX Coordinator, alleging sexual harassment against a respondent about conduct within Vassar’s education program or activity and requesting initiation of the procedures consistent with the Title IX Grievance Policy to investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. 

Complainant  

For the purposes of this Title IX Grievance Policy, Complainant means any individual who has reported being or is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute covered sexual harassment as defined under this policy.

Relevant evidence and questions

“Relevant” evidence and questions refer to any questions and evidence that tends to make an allegation of sexual harassment more or less likely to be true.

“Relevant” evidence and questions do not include the following types of evidence and questions, which are deemed “irrelevant” at all stages of the Title IX Grievance Process:

  • Evidence and questions about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior unless:

    • They are offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged by the complainant, or

    • They concern specific incidents of the complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent and are offered to prove consent. 34 C.F.R. § 106.45(6)(i).

  • Evidence and questions that constitute, or seek disclosure of, information protected under a legally-recognized privilege. For example, legally-recognized privileges include attorney-client privilege.

  • Any party’s medical, psychological, and similar records unless the party has given voluntary, written consent. 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30294 (May 19, 2020).

Respondent

For the purposes of this Title IX Grievance policy, Respondent means any individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute covered sexual harassment as defined under this policy.

Privacy vs. Confidentiality 

Consistent with the Vassar College Regulations, references made to confidentiality refer to the ability of identified confidential resources to not report crimes and violations to law enforcement or college officials without permission, except for extreme circumstances, such as a health and/or safety emergency or child abuse. References made to privacy mean Vassar’s offices and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality but will maintain privacy to the greatest extent possible, and information disclosed will be relayed only as necessary to investigate and/or seek a resolution and to notify the Title IX Coordinator or designee, who is responsible for tracking patterns and spotting systemic issues. Vassar will limit the disclosure as much as practicable, even if the Title IX Coordinator determines that the request for confidentiality cannot be honored.

Disability Accommodations

This Policy does not alter any institutional obligations under federal disability laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Parties may request reasonable accommodations for disclosed disabilities to the Title IX Coordinator at any point before or during the Title IX Grievance Process that do not fundamentally alter the Process. The Title IX Coordinator will not affirmatively provide disability accommodations that have not been specifically requested by the Parties, even where the Parties may be receiving accommodations in other institutional programs and activities. 

Making a Report Regarding Covered Sexual Harassment to the Institution

Any person may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment (whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment), in person, by mail, by telephone, or by electronic mail, using the contact information listed for the Title IX Coordinator, or by any other means that results in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report. 

Contact Information for the Title IX Coordinator:

Name: ______Rachel Pereira_

Title: ______Title IX Coordinator_________

Office Address: 124 Raymond Avenue, Box 645 Poughkeepsie, NY 12604 

South Main 182__________________________

Email Address: __rapereira@vassar.edu_________________________

Telephone Number: __845-437-7924_____________________________

Such a report may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by using the telephone number or electronic mail address, or by mail to the office address listed for the Title IX Coordinator.

Confidential and Private Reporting

The following Officials will provide privacy, but not confidentiality, upon receiving a report of conduct prohibited under this policy:

  • Title IX Coordinator or designee

  • Student Fellows & House Student Advisors (HSAs) 

  • Director of Health Promotion & Education

  • Director of Case Management

  • Support, Advocacy, & Violence Prevention (SAVP) Director and Program Coordinator; (845) 437-7863 

  • Support, Advocacy, & Violence Prevention (SAVP)Advocates, (845) 437-7333 and ask for an SAVP Advocate

The following Officials may provide confidentiality:

  • On-Campus Confidential Resources for Students:

    1. Counseling Service, (845) 437-5700 

    2. Health Services, (845) 437-5800 

  • Off-Campus Confidential Resources:

    1. Poughkeepsie Center for Victim Safety & Support 24/7

      1. Rape Crisis/Crime Victims Hotline:(845) 452-7272 

      2. Domestic Violence Hotline: (845) 485-5550

    2. New York State Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Hotline, 24/7, 1-800-942-6906 

Any employee not otherwise designed is a mandatory reporter.

  • “Official with Authority” (“OWA”):

    1. President

    2. Board of Trustee Members

    3. Campus Safety & Security 

    4. All Faculty 

    5. Director of Equal Opportunity/Title IX Coordinator and Faculty Director of Affirmative Action

    6. Senior Officers/Deans/ Administrators/Directors with supervisory responsibilities 

    7. Academic Deans/Dept Chair/Program Directors

    8. Coaches/Athletic Trainers/Athletic Directors

Non-Investigatory Measures Available Under the Title IX Grievance Policy

Supportive Measures

Complainants (as defined above), who report allegations that could constitute covered sexual harassment under this policy, have the right to receive supportive measures from Vassar regardless of whether they desire to file a complaint, which may include no contact orders, counseling, modifications of work schedules, etc.. as appropriate. Supportive measures are non-disciplinary and non-punitive.

Supportive Measures may include, but are not limited to include:

  • counseling

  • extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments

  • modifications of work or class schedules

  • campus transport services

  • restrictions on contact between the parties (no contact orders)

  • changes in work or housing locations

  • leaves of absence

  • increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus

See 85 Fed. Reg. 30401.

Emergency Removal 

Vassar retains the authority to remove a respondent from Vassar’s program or activity on an emergency basis, where Vassar (1) undertakes an individualized safety and risk analysis and (2) determines that an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations of covered sexual harassment justifies a removal.

Administrative Leave

Vassar retains the authority to place a non-student employee respondent on administrative leave during the Title IX Grievance Process, consistent with Vassar Faculty Handbook, and applicable Employee Handbooks.  

The Title IX Grievance Process

Filing a Formal Complaint

The timeframe for the Title IX Grievance Process begins with the filing of a Formal Complaint. The Grievance Process will be concluded within a reasonably prompt manner, and no longer than ninety (90) business days after the filing of the Formal Complaint, provided that the Process may be extended for a good reason, including but not limited to the absence of a party, a party’s advisor, or a witness; concurrent law enforcement activity; reasonable requests of either party, or the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities. The procedure for applying for extensions is described below.

To file a Formal Complaint, a complainant must provide the Title IX Coordinator a written, signed complaint describing the facts alleged. Complainants are only able to file a Formal Complaint under this Policy if they are currently participating in, or attempting to participate in, the education programs or activities of Vassar, including as an employee. For complainants who do not meet this criteria, the College will utilize existing policy in Vassar College Regulations.  https://deanofthecollege.vassar.edu/documents/college-regulations/VassarCollegeRegulations.pdf

If a complainant does not wish to make a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator may determine a Formal Complaint is necessary. Vassar will inform the complainant of this decision in writing, and the complainant need not participate in the process further but will receive all notices issued under this Policy and Process.

Nothing in the Title IX Grievance Policy Vassar College Regulations prevents a complainant from seeking the assistance of state or local law enforcement alongside the appropriate on-campus process.

Multi-Party Situations

The institution may consolidate Formal Complaints alleging covered sexual harassment against more than one respondent, or by more than one complainant against one or more respondents, or by one party against the other party, where the allegations of covered sexual harassment arise out of the same facts or circumstances. 

Determining Jurisdiction

The Title IX Coordinator will determine if the instant Title IX Grievance Process should apply to a Formal Complaint. The Process will apply when all of the following elements are met, in the reasonable determination of the Title IX Coordinator:

  1. The conduct is alleged to have occurred on or after August 14, 2020;

  2. The conduct is alleged to have occurred in the United States;

  3. The conduct is alleged to have occurred in Vassar’s education program or activity; and

  4. The alleged conduct, if true, would constitute covered sexual harassment as defined in this policy.

If all of the elements are met, Vassar will investigate the allegations according to the Grievance Process. 

Allegations Potentially Falling Under Two Policies:

If the alleged conduct, if true, includes conduct that would constitute covered sexual harassment and conduct that would not constitute covered sexual harassment, the Title IX Grievance Process will be applied in the investigation and adjudication of all of the allegations. 

Mandatory Dismissal

If any one of these elements are not met, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the parties that the Formal Complaint is being dismissed for the purposes of the Title IX Grievance Policy. Each party may appeal this dismissal using the procedure outlined in “Appeals,” below.  

Discretionary Dismissal

The Title IX Coordinator may dismiss a Formal Complaint brought under the Title IX Grievance Policy, or any specific allegations raised within that Formal Complaint, at any time during the investigation or hearing, if:

  • A complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that they would like to withdraw the Formal Complaint or any allegations raised in the Formal Complaint;

  • The respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by Vassar; or,

  • If specific circumstances prevent Vassar from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination regarding the Formal Complaint or allegations within the Formal Complaint.

Any party may appeal a dismissal determination using the process set forth in “Appeals,” below.

Notice of Dismissal

Upon reaching a decision that the Formal Complaint will be dismissed, the institution will promptly send written notice of the dismissal of the Formal Complaint or any specific allegation within the Formal Complaint, and the reason for the dismissal, simultaneously to the parties through their institutional email accounts. It is the responsibility of parties to maintain and regularly check their email accounts.

Notice of Removal

Upon dismissal for the purposes of Title IX, Vassar retains discretion to utilize Vassar College Regulations, or other employment handbooks to determine if a violation of the Code of Conduct has occurred. If so, Vassar will promptly send written notice of the dismissal of the Formal Complaint under the Title IX Grievance Process and removal of the allegations to the conduct process.

Notice of Allegations

The Title IX Coordinator will draft and provide the Notice of Allegations to any party to the allegations of sexual harassment. Such notice will occur as soon as practicable, after the institution receives a Formal Complaint of the allegations, if there are no extenuating circumstances.

The parties will be notified by their institutional email accounts if they are a student or employee, and by other reasonable means if they are neither.

The institution will provide sufficient time for the parties to review the Notice of Allegations and prepare a response before any initial interview.

The Title IX Coordinator may determine that the Formal Complaint must be dismissed on the mandatory grounds identified above, and will issue a Notice of Dismissal. If such a determination is made, any party to the allegations of sexual harassment identified in the Formal Complaint will receive the Notice of Dismissal in conjunction with, or in separate correspondence after, the Notice of Allegations.

Contents of Notice

The Notice of Allegations will include the following:

  • Notice of the Vassar’s Title IX Grievance Process and a hyperlink to a copy of the process.

  • Notice of the allegations potentially constituting covered sexual harassment, and sufficient details known at the time the Notice is issued, such as the identities of the parties involved in the incident, if known, including the complainant; the conduct allegedly constituting covered sexual harassment; and the date and location of the alleged incident, if known.

  • A statement that the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process.

  • A statement that the parties may have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, as required under 34 C.F.R. § 106.45(b)(5)(iv);

  • A statement that before the conclusion of the investigation, the parties may inspect and review evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the Formal Complaint, including the evidence upon which the institution does not intend to rely in reaching a determination regarding responsibility, and evidence that both tends to prove or disprove the allegations, whether obtained from a party or other source, as required under 34 C.F.R. § 106.45(b)(5)(vi);

Ongoing Notice 

If, in the course of an investigation, the institution decides to investigate allegations about the complainant or respondent that are not included in the Notice of Allegations and are otherwise covered "sexual harassment” falling within the Title IX Grievance Policy, the institution will notify the parties whose identities are known of the additional allegations by their institutional email accounts or other reasonable means.

The parties will be provided sufficient time to review the additional allegations to prepare a response before any initial interview regarding those additional charges.

Advisor of Choice and Participation of Advisor of Choice

Vassar will provide the parties equal access to advisors and support persons; any restrictions on advisor participation will be applied equally.

Vassar has a long-standing practice of requiring students to participate in the process directly and not through an advocate or representative. Students participating as Complainant or Respondent in this process may be accompanied by an Advisor of Choice to any meeting or hearing to which they are required or are eligible to attend. The Advisor of Choice is not an advocate. Except where explicitly stated by this Policy, as consistent with the Final Rule, Advisors of Choice shall not participate directly in the process as per standard policy and practice of Vassar. 

Vassar will not intentionally schedule meetings or hearings on dates where the Advisors of Choice for all parties are not available, provided that the Advisors act reasonably in providing available dates and work collegially to find dates and times that meet all schedules. 

Vassar’s obligations to investigate and adjudicate in a prompt timeframe under Title IX and other college policies apply to matters governed under this Policy, and Vassar cannot agree to extensive delays solely to accommodate the schedule of an Advisor of Choice. The determination of what is reasonable shall be made by the Title IX Coordinator or designee.  Vassar will not be obligated to delay a meeting or hearing under this process more than five (5) business days due to the unavailability of an Advisor of Choice, and may offer the party the opportunity to obtain a different Advisor of Choice or utilize one provided by Vassar.

Notice of Meetings and Interviews

Vassar will provide, to a party whose participation is invited or expected, written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of all hearings, investigative interviews, or other meetings with a party, with sufficient time for the party to prepare to participate.

Delays

Each party may request a one-time delay in the Grievance Process of up to five (5) business days for good cause (granted or denied in the sole judgment of the Title IX Coordinator, Director of Student Conduct, or designee) provided that the requestor provides reasonable notice and the delay does not overly inconvenience other parties.

For example, a request to take a five-day pause made an hour before a hearing for which multiple parties and their advisors have traveled to and prepared for shall generally not be granted, while a request for a five-day pause in the middle of investigation interviews to allow a party to obtain certain documentary evidence shall generally be granted. 

The Title IX Coordinator shall have sole judgment to grant further pauses in the Process. 

Investigation 

General Rules of Investigations

An investigator designated by the Title IX Coordinator will perform an investigation under a reasonably prompt timeframe of the conduct alleged to constitute covered sexual harassment after issuing the Notice of Allegations. 

Vassar and not the parties, has the burden of proof and the burden of gathering evidence, i.e., the responsibility of showing a violation of this Policy has occurred. This burden does not rest with either party, and either party may decide not to share their account of what occurred or may decide not to participate in an investigation or hearing. This does not shift the burden of proof away from Vassar and does not indicate responsibility. 

Vassar cannot access, consider, or disclose medical records without a waiver from the party (or parent, if applicable) to whom the records belong or of whom the records include information.Vassar will provide an equal opportunity for the parties to present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence, (i.e. evidence that tends to prove and disprove the allegations) as described below.

Inspection and Review of Evidence

Prior to the completion of the investigation, the parties will have an equal opportunity to inspect and review the evidence obtained through the investigation. The purpose of the inspection and review process is to allow each party the equal opportunity to meaningfully respond to the evidence prior to conclusion of the investigation.

Evidence that will be available for inspection and review by the parties will be any evidence that is directly related to the allegations raised in the Formal Complaint. It will include any:

  1. Evidence that is relevant, even if that evidence does not end up being relied upon by the institution in making a determination regarding responsibility;

  2. inculpatory or exculpatory evidence (i.e. evidence that tends to prove or disprove the allegations) that is directly related to the allegations, whether obtained from a party or other source.

The institution will share the evidence made available for each party and each party’s advisor, if any, to inspect and review through hard copy. The Institution is not under an obligation to use any specific process or technology to provide the evidence and shall have the sole discretion in terms of determining format and any restrictions or limitations on access.

The parties will have ten (10) business days to inspect and review the evidence and submit a written response by email to the investigator. The investigator will consider the parties’ written responses before completing the Investigative Report. Parties may request a reasonable extension as their designated extension request.

The institution will provide the parties five (5) business days after the initial inspection and review of evidence, and before the investigator completes their Investigative Report, to provide additional evidence in response to their inspection and review of the evidence, and then provide the parties five (5) business days to inspect, review, and respond to the party’s additional evidence through a written response to the investigator. Those written responses may be disclosed to the parties. See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30307 (May 19, 2020).

Any evidence subject to inspection and review will be available at any hearing, including for purposes of cross-examination.

The parties and their advisors must sign an agreement not to disseminate any of the evidence subject to inspection and review or use such evidence for any purpose unrelated to the Title IX grievance process. See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30435 (May 19, 2020).

Inclusion of Evidence Not Directly Related to the Allegations:

Evidence obtained in the investigation that is determined in the reasoned judgment of the investigator not to be directly related to the allegations in the Formal Complaint will be included in the appendices to the investigative report.

Investigative Report

The Title IX Coordinator and an investigator designated by the Title IX Coordinator will create an Investigative Report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence, and provide that Report to the parties at least ten (10) business days prior the hearing in hard copy for each party’s review and written response.

The Investigative Report is not intended to catalog all evidence obtained by the investigator, but only to provide a fair summary of that evidence.

Only relevant evidence (including both inculpatory and exculpatory – i.e. tending to prove and disprove the allegations - relevant evidence) will be referenced in the Investigative Report. 

The investigator may redact irrelevant information from the Investigative Report when that information is contained in documents or evidence that is/are otherwise relevant. See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30304 (May 19, 2020).

Hearing

General Rules of Hearings

Vassar will not issue a disciplinary sanction arising from an allegation of covered sexual harassment without holding a live hearing, unless otherwise resolved through an informal resolution process.

The live hearing may be conducted with all parties physically present in the same geographic location, or, at Vassar’s discretion, any or all parties, witnesses, and other participants may appear at the live hearing virtually through Google Hangout and Zoom. This technology will enable participants simultaneously to see and hear each other. At its discretion, Vassar may delay or adjourn a hearing based on technological errors not within a party’s control. 

All proceedings will be recorded through audio recording. That recording or transcript will be made available to the parties for inspection and review. 

OPTIONAL: Prior to obtaining access to any evidence, the parties and their advisors must sign an agreement not to disseminate any of the testimony heard or evidence obtained in the hearing or use such testimony or evidence for any purpose unrelated to the Title IX Grievance Process. Once signed, this Agreement may not be withdrawn See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30435 (May 19, 2020).

Continuances or Granting Extensions

Vassar may determine that multiple sessions or a continuance (i.e. a pause on the continuation of the hearing until a later date or time) is needed to complete a hearing. If so, Vassar will notify all participants and endeavor to accommodate all participants’ schedules and complete the hearing as promptly as practicable.

Newly-discovered Evidence

As a general rule, no new evidence or witnesses may be submitted during the live hearing.

If a party identifies new evidence or witnesses that were not reasonably available prior to the live hearing and could affect the outcome of the matter, the party may request that such evidence or witnesses be considered at the live hearing.

The Adjudicator will consider this request and make a determination regarding (1) whether such evidence or witness testimony was actually unavailable by reasonable effort prior to the hearing, and (2) whether such evidence or witness testimony could affect the outcome of the matter. The party offering the newly-discovered evidence or witness has the burden of establishing these questions by the preponderance of the evidence.

If the Adjudicator answers in the affirmative to both questions, then the parties will be granted a reasonable pause in the hearing to review the evidence or prepare for questioning of the witness.

Participants in the live hearing

Live hearings are not public, and the only individuals permitted to participate in the hearing are as follows:

Complainant and Respondent (The Parties)

  • The parties cannot waive the right to a live hearing.

  • The institution may still proceed with the live hearing in the absence of a party, and may reach a determination of responsibility in their absence, including through any evidence gathered that does not constitute a “statement” by that party. 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30361 (May 19, 2020).

    • For example, A verbal or written statement constituting part or all of the sexual harassment itself is not a “prior statement” that must be excluded if the maker of the statement does not submit to cross-examination about that statement. In other words, a prior statement would not include a document, audio recording, audiovisual reading, and digital media, including but not limited to text messages, emails, and social media postings, that constitute the conduct alleged to have been the act of sexual harassment under the formal complaint. See, OCR Blog (May 22, 2020), available at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/blog/20200522.html

  • Vassar will not threaten, coerce, intimidate or discriminate against the party in an attempt to secure the party’s participation. See 34 C.F.R. § 106.71; see also 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30216 (May 19, 2020).

  • If a party does not submit to cross-examination, the decision-maker cannot rely on any prior statements made by that party in reaching a determination regarding responsibility, but may reach a determination regarding responsibility based on evidence that does not constitute a “statement” by that party.

  • The decision-maker cannot draw an inference about the determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party’s absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer cross examination or other questions. See 34 C.F.R. §106.45(b)(6)(i).

  • The parties shall be subject to the institution’s Rules of Decorum.

The Decision-maker

  • The hearing body will consist of a single adjudicator.

  • No member of the hearing body will also have served as the Title IX Coordinator, Title IX investigator, or advisor to any party in the case, nor may any member of the hearing body serve on the appeals body in the case.

  • No member of the hearing body will have a conflict of interest or bias in favor of or against complainants or respondents generally, or in favor or against the parties to the particular case.

  • The hearing body will be trained on topics including how to serve impartially, issues of relevance, including how to apply the rape shield protections provided for complainants, and any technology to be used at the hearing. 

  • The parties will have an opportunity to raise any objections regarding a decision-maker’s actual or perceived conflicts of interest or bias at the commencement of the live hearing. 

Advisor of choice

  • The parties have the right to select an advisor of their choice, who may be, but does not have to be, an attorney. 

  • The advisor of choice may accompany the parties to any meeting or hearing they are permitted to attend, but may not speak for the party, except for the purpose of cross-examination.

  • In addition to selecting an advisor to conduct cross-examination, the parties may select an advisor who may accompany the parties to any meeting or hearing they are permitted to attend, but may not speak for the party.

  • The parties are not permitted to conduct cross-examination; it must be conducted by the advisor. As a result, if a party does not select an advisor, the institution will select an advisor to serve in this role for the limited purpose of conducting the cross-examination at no fee or charge to the party.

  • The advisor is not prohibited from having a conflict of interest or bias in favor of or against complainants or respondents generally, or in favor or against the parties to the particular case.

  • The advisor is not prohibited from being a witness in the matter.

  • If a party does not attend the live hearing, the party’s advisor may appear and conduct cross-examination on their behalf. 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30340 (May 19, 2020).

  • If neither a party nor their advisor appear at the hearing,  Vassar will provide an advisor to appear on behalf of the non-appearing party. See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30339-40 (May 19, 2020).

  • Advisors shall be subject to the institution’s Rules of Decorum, and may be removed upon violation of those Rules.

Witnesses

  • Witnesses cannot be compelled to participate in the live hearing, and have the right not to participate in the hearing free from retaliation. See, 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30360 (May 19, 2020).

  • If a witness does not submit to cross-examination, as described below, the decision-maker cannot rely on any statements made by that witness in reaching a determination regarding responsibility, including any statement relayed by the absent witness to a witness or party who testifies at the live hearing. 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, 30347 (May 19, 2020). 

  • Witnesses shall be subject to the institution’s Rules of Decorum.

Hearing Procedures

For all live hearings conducted under this Title IX Grievance Process, the procedure will be as follows:

  • The adjudicator will open and establish rules and expectations for the hearing;

  • The Parties will each be given the opportunity to provide opening statements; 

  • The adjudicator will ask questions of the Parties and Witnesses; 

  • Parties will be given the opportunity for live cross-examination after the adjudicator conducts its initial round of questioning; During the Parties’ cross-examination, adjudicator will have the authority to pause cross-examination at any time for the purposes of asking the adjudicator’s own follow up questions; and any time necessary in order to enforce the established rules of decorum.

  • Should a Party or the Party’s Advisor choose not to cross-examine a Party or Witness, the Party shall affirmatively waive cross-examination through a written or oral statement to the adjudicator. A Party’s waiver of cross-examination does not eliminate the ability of the adjudicator to use statements made by the Party.

Live Cross-Examination Procedure

Each party’s advisor will conduct live cross-examination of the other party or parties and witnesses. During this live-cross examination the advisor will ask the other party or parties and witnesses relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility directly, orally, and in real time.

Before any cross-examination question is answered, the adjudicator will determine if the question is relevant.  Cross-examination questions that are duplicative of those already asked, including by the adjudicator may be deemed irrelevant if they have been asked and answered.

Review of Recording

The recording of the hearing will be available for review by the parties within (ten) 10 business days, unless there are any extenuating circumstances. The recording of the hearing will not be provided to parties or advisors of choice.

Determination Regarding Responsibility

Standard of Proof

Vassar uses the preponderance of the evidence standard for investigations and determinations regarding responsibility of formal complaints covered under this Policy. This means that the investigation and hearing determines whether it is more likely than not that a violation of the Policy occurred.

General Considerations for Evaluating Testimony and Evidence

While the opportunity for cross-examination is required in all Title IX hearings, determinations regarding responsibility may be based in part, or entirely, on documentary, audiovisual, and digital evidence, as warranted in the reasoned judgment of the Decision-maker.

Decision-makers shall not draw inferences regarding a party or witness’ credibility based on the party’s or witness’ status as a complainant, respondent, or witness, nor shall it base its judgments in stereotypes about how a party or witness would or should act under the circumstances.

Generally, credibility judgments should rest on the demeanor of the party or witness, the plausibility of their testimony, the consistency of their testimony, and its reliability in light of corroborating or conflicting testimony or evidence.

Still, credibility judgments should not rest on whether a party or witness’ testimony is non-linear or incomplete, or if the party or witness is displaying stress or anxiety. 

Decision makers will afford the highest weight relative to other testimony to first-hand testimony by parties and witnesses regarding their own memory of specific facts that occurred. Both inculpatory and exculpatory (i.e. tending to prove and disprove the allegations) evidence will be weighed in equal fashion.

Except where specifically barred by the Title IX Final Rule, a witness’ testimony regarding third-party knowledge of the facts at issue will be allowed, but will generally be accorded lower weight than testimony regarding direct knowledge of specific facts that occurred.

The Final Rule requires that Vassar allow parties to call “expert witnesses” for direct and cross examination. While the expert witness will be allowed to testify and be cross examined as required by the Final Rule, the decision-maker will be instructed to afford lower weight to non-factual testimony of the expert relative to fact witnesses, and any expert testimony that is not directed to the specific facts that occurred in the case will be afforded lower weight relative to fact witnesses, regardless of whether the expert witness testimony is the subject of cross examination and regardless of whether all parties present experts as witnesses.

The Final Rule requires that Vassar allow parties to call character witnesses to testify. While the character witnesses will be allowed to testify and be cross examined as required by the Final Rule, the decision-maker will be instructed to afford very low weight to any non-factual character testimony of any witness.

The Final Rule requires that Vassar admit and allow testimony regarding polygraph tests (“lie detector tests”) and other procedures that are outside of standard use in academic and non-academic conduct processes. While the processes and testimony about them will be allowed to testify and be crossed as required by the Final Rule, the decision-maker will be instructed to afford lower weight to such processes relative to the testimony of fact witnesses.

Where a party or witness’ conduct or statements demonstrate that the party or witness is engaging in retaliatory conduct, including but not limited to witness tampering and intimidation, the adjudicator may draw an adverse inference as to that party or witness’ credibility.

Components of the Determination Regarding Responsibility

The written Determination Regarding Responsibility will be issued simultaneously to all parties through their institution email account, or other reasonable means as necessary. The Determination will include:

  1. Identification of the allegations potentially constituting covered sexual harassment;

  2. A description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held;

  3. Findings of fact supporting the determination;

  4. Conclusions regarding which section of the College Regulations, or relevant employee handbook, if any, the respondent has or has not violated.

  5. For each allegation:

    1. A statement of, and rationale for, a determination regarding responsibility;

    2. A statement of, and rationale for, any disciplinary sanctions the recipient imposes on the respondent; and 

    3. A statement of, and rationale for, whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity will be provided by the recipient to the complainant; and

  6. The recipient’s procedures and the permitted reasons for the complainant and respondent to appeal (described below in “Appeal”). 

Timeline of Determination Regarding Responsibility

If there are no extenuating circumstances, the determination regarding responsibility will be issued by Vassar within ten (10) business days of the completion of the hearing. 

Finality

The determination regarding responsibility becomes final either on the date that the institution provides the parties with the written determination of the result of the appeal, if an appeal is filed consistent with the procedures and timeline outlined in “Appeals” below, or if an appeal is not filed, the date on which the opportunity to appeal expires. 

Appeals

Each party may appeal (1) the dismissal of a formal complaint or any included allegations and/or (2) a determination regarding responsibility. To appeal, a party must submit their written appeal within five (5) business days of being notified of the decision, indicating the grounds for the appeal.

The limited grounds for appeal available are as follows:

  • Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter (i.e., a failure to follow the institution’s own procedures);

  • New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter;

  • The Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker had a conflict of interest or bias for or against an individual party, or for or against complainants or respondents in general, that affected the outcome of the matter.

  • The sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation or outside the parameters set by the College. The appeal body will return the complaint to the Chair/senior officer of the Grievance Hearing Panel, who may then increase, decrease, or otherwise modify the sanctions.

The submission of appeal stays any sanctions for the pendency of an appeal. Supportive measures and remote learning opportunities remain available during the pendency of the appeal.

If a party appeals, the institution will as soon as practicable notify the other party in writing of the appeal, however the time for appeal shall be offered equitably to all parties and shall not be extended for any party solely because the other party filed an appeal.

Appeals may be no longer than 20 pages (including attachments). Appeals should be submitted in electronic form using ARIAL or TIMES NEW ROMAN, 12 point font, and single-spaced. Appeals should use footnotes, not endnotes. Appeals that do not meet these standards may be returned to the party for correction, but the time for appeal will not be extended unless there is evidence that technical malfunction caused the appeal document not to meet these standards.

Appeals will be decided by the appropriate Appeal body, who will be free of conflict of interest and bias, and will not serve as investigator, Title IX Coordinator, or hearing decision maker in the same matter. If the respondent in the original complaint is a faculty member, the elected faculty Appeal Committee hears all appeals, except for appeals of a remedy or sanctions determined by the Appeal Committee itself, which are heard by the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees. If the respondent in the original complaint is a student, the College Regulations Appeal Panel, chaired by the Dean of the College, hears all appeals. If the respondent in the original complaint is a non-faculty employee, the Vice President of Human Resources hears all appeals unless the initial grievance panel was chaired by the Vice President of Human Resources. In this case, the president appoints another senior officer to hear the appeal. 

Outcome of appeal will be provided in writing simultaneously to both parties, and include rationale for the decision.

Retaliation 

Vassar will keep the identity of any individual who has made a report or complaint of sex discrimination confidential, including the identity of any individual who has made a report or filed a Formal Complaint of sexual harassment under this Title IX Grievance Policy, any Complainant, any individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of sex discrimination, any Respondent, and any witness, except as permitted by the FERPA statute, 20 U.S.C. 1232g, or FERPA regulations, 34 CFR part 99, or as required by law, or to carry out the purposes of 34 CFR part 106, including the conduct of any investigation, hearing, or judicial proceeding under this Title IX Grievance Policy. 

No person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 or its implementing regulations.

No person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under this Title IX Grievance Policy. 

Any intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or its implementing regulations constitutes retaliation. This includes any charges filed against an individual for code of conduct violations that do not involve sex discrimination or sexual harassment, but that arise from the same facts or circumstances as a report or complaint of sex discrimination or a report or Formal Complaint of sexual harassment. 

Complaints alleging retaliation may be filed according to Vassar’s retaliation policy. 


1 According to the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Blog Post of August 5, 2020, “the Rule does not apply to schools’ responses to sexual harassment that allegedly occurred prior to August 14, 2020.  The Department will only enforce the Rule as to sexual harassment that allegedly occurred on or after August 14, 2020.  With respect to sexual harassment that allegedly occurred prior to August 14, 2020, OCR will judge the school’s Title IX compliance against the Title IX statute and the Title IX regulations in place at the time that the alleged sexual harassment occurred.  In other words, the Rule governs how schools must respond to sexual harassment that allegedly occurs on or after August 14, 2020.”

B. Definitions

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon a person, that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual contact includes intentional contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts; any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner, though not involving contact with/of/by breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth or other orifice.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is any sexual intercourse, however slight, with any object, by a person upon a person, that is without consent and/or by force. Intercourse includes vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person takes or attempts to take non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for her/his own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  1. Invasion of sexual privacy;
  2. Prostituting another person;
  3. Non-consensual taking of pictures, video recording, and/or audio recording of a sexual activity;
  4. Non-consensual distribution of pictures, video recording, audio recording, or live-streaming of a sexual activity;
  5. Allowing third parties to observe sexual activities without consent;
  6. Engaging in voyeurism;
  7. Knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV to another person;
  8. Exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances;
  9. Inducing another to expose their genitals; or
  10. Sexually-based stalking and/or bullying.

III.INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE POLICY

A. Policy Statement

Vassar’s policy is to prohibit Intimate Partner Violence. Intimate Partner Violence is any instance of violence or abuse that occurs between those who are in or have been in an intimate relationship with each other. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional/ verbal, psychological and/or economical. This includes (but not limited to) any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.

B. Definitions

  1. Intimate Partner: To be considered intimate, a relationship must include (or have included) some romantic, sexual, and/or domestic element. Common intimate partner relationships are:

    • Married Partners—individuals who are legally married;

    • Domestic Partners—individuals who live together AND who are romantically interested in one another (not simply roommates, regardless of state law); can be married or unmarried; can include a sexual component, but does not have to; 

    • Dating Partners—individuals who are romantically interested in one another; can be a couple (dating each other exclusively) or dating casually (concurrently dating other people); can include a sexual component, but does not have to; 

    • Sexual Partners—individuals who have engaged in at least one sexual act with one another. 

  2. Emotional/Verbal Abuse is persistent abuse that undermines an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, and/or damaging one’s relationship with their friends and/or family.

  3. Psychological Abuse is abuse that would cause fear in a reasonable person. This includes but it not limited to intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; threatening to disclose partners’ orientation, destruction of pets and property; and isolating from family, friends, or school and/or work. 

  4. Economic Abuse is intending to make or attempting to make an individual financially dependent on their partner. This includes but is not limited to maintaining control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding attendance at school, employment or other activities.

  5. Physical Abuse is physical harm by partner. This includes but is not limited to hit- ting, slapping, shoving, kicking, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair-pulling, spitting, physical restraint and/or restricting breathing. Physical abuse may also include denying a partner medical care or coercing use of alcohol and/or other drugs, touching in ways that make a person uncomfortable, and persistent treatment of the victim and other people as objects via actions and remarks. 

  6. Sexual Abuse involves violating an individual’s autonomy over their body. Sexual abuse may include, but is not limited to, coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior, forcing the partner to dress in a sexually explicit way, forcing to watch or simulate pornography, nonconsensual intercourse or contact, or accusing the victim of sexual activity with others. 

III. Stalking Policy

A. Policy Statement

Vassar’s policy is to prohibit stalking. Stalking occurs when a person engages in repetitive behavior directed toward another person and knows or should reasonably know that such conduct is likely to alarm, harass, or cause reasonable fear of harm or injury in that person, or in a third part y. The feared harm of injury may be to the person’s physical, emotional, or mental health, personal safet y, propert y, education, or employ- ment. Stalking may include, but is not limited to, unwanted visual or physical proximit y to a person, repeatedly conveying oral or written threats, extorting money or valuables, implicitly threatening physical conduct, or any combination of these behaviors directed at or toward a person. All incidents of stalking will be taken seriously. When the stalker is anonymous, the college will investigate as thoroughly as possible using all available resources. The following are some examples of stalking t ype behavior:

  1. Unwelcome communication, including, but not limited to: face-to-face, telephone, voice message, electronic mail, written letter, and/or contact; unwelcome gifts or flowers, etc.

  2. Threatening or obscene gestures

  3. Surveillance

  4. Trespassing

  5. Vandalism

  6. “Peeping-tommery”

  7. Voyeurism

  8. Unwelcome touching or physical contact

  9. Gaining unauthorized access to personal, medical, financial, and/or other identifying information, including, but not limited to: access by computer network, mail, telephone, or written communication

Cyber-stalking is an extension of the physical form of stalking where electronic media such as the internet, pagers, cell phones, or other similar devices are used to pursue, harass or to make unwanted contact with another person in an unsolicited fashion and will not be tolerated. Some examples of cyber-stalking include but are not limited to: unwanted/unsolicited emails or instant messages, disturbing messages on online bulletin boards, unsolicited communications about a person, their family, friends, or co-workers, or sending/posting disturbing messages with another username.

IV. ADDITIONAL APPLICABLE DEFINITIONS

Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all partici pants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

  1. Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act. Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.

  2. Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity.

  3. Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm. When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.

  4. In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age; New York State defines 17 years as of legal age.

Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being invol- untarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the inf luence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.

Force is the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.

  1. There is no requirement that a person resist a sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent.

  2. The use of force is not “worse” than the subjective experience of violation of someone who has experienced sexual contact or intercourse without consent.

  3. The use of physical force constitutes a stand-alone, non-sexual misconduct offense as well, and it is the college’s expectation that those who use physical force (assault, restricting movement or activity, battery, etc.) would face not just the sexual misconduct charge, but also charges under the College Regulations for the additional assaultive behavior.

Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity.

  1. Coercing someone into sexual activity is comparable to physically forcing someone into a sexual activity.

  2. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to obtain consent from another.

  3. When someone makes clear that they do not want to engage in sex or a sexual activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.

V. COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

Every member of the Vassar communit y has the right to request that student conduct charges be filed against an individual pursuant to the procedures outlined in this policy.

The College will seek consent from reporting individuals prior to conducting an investi- gation. Declining to consent to an investigation shall be honored unless the College deter- mines in good faith that failure to investigate does not adequately mitigate a potential risk of harm to the reporting individual or other members of the community. Honoring such a request may limit the institution’s abilit y to meaningfully investigate and pursue con- duct action against an accused individual. Factors used to determine whether to honor such a request include, but are not limited to:

  1. Whether the accused has a history of violent behavior or is a repeat offender;

  2. Whether the incident represents escalation in unlawful conduct on behalf of the accused from previously noted behavior;

  3. The increased risk that the accused will commit additional acts of violence;

  4. Whether the accused used a weapon or force;

  5. Whether the reporting individual is a minor; and

  6. Whether the institution possesses other means to obtain evidence such as securit y footage, and whether available information reveals a pattern of perpe- tration at a given location or by a particular group.

    A. Reporting an Incident

    Those wishing to file a formal complaint alleging violations of this policy should contact the Director of EOAA/Title IX Coordinator, at 845-437-7924 or titleix@vassar.edu.

    An online reporting form is available on the eoaa.vassar.edu website. You may report an incident anonymously to the College, by filling out the Anonymous Reporting Form on the savp.vassar.edu website. Whether or not a report is made to the College, individuals have the right to file a report with local police at 845-485-3666 and/or state police at 1-844-845-7269, or 9-1-1 in an emergency.

    Advance written notice will be provided to the accused/respondent describing the date, time, location and factual allegations concerning the violation, a reference to the conduct provisions alleged to have been violated, and possible sanctions. Both parties will receive advance written notice of any meeting they are required or eligible to attend, the specific rules or laws alleged to have been violated and in what manner, and the sanction that could be imposed if found responsible.

    Both parties will be provided an opportunity to offer evidence during the investigation related to the allegations.

    Parties have the right to exclude their own prior sexual history with persons other than with the other part y as well as their own mental health diagnosis and/or treatment from the investigation and adjudication process. Past findings of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault may be admissible within this process.

    B. Confidentiality and Privacy

    Vassar College will endeavor to maintain confidentiality in all informal and formal proceedings, except as otherwise specified in these statements of procedure. Even College offices and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality will maintain your privacy to the greatest extent possible. The information you provide to a non-confidential resource will be relayed only as necessary for the Title IX Coordinator to investigate and/or seek a resolution.

    C. Interim Accommodations

    Interim accommodations are available to both parties while an investigation is occurring. Forms of interim accommodations can vary from a campus no-contact order, reassigning an individual to a different course schedule or class, adjusting work schedules, hous- ing assignments, limiting access on campus, and/or interim suspension from campus. Interim action that maximizes the abilit y for all parties involved to continue their educa- tion/work on campus, while minimizing adverse effects will be sought. Many forms of interim accommodations can be utilized even if you do not want to seek disciplinary action against a person.

    Both parties will be afforded a prompt review, reasonable under the circumstances, of the need for and the terms of any interim measure and accommodation that directly affects them, and will be allowed to submit evidence in support of their request.

    For more information, contact the Title IX Coordinator.

    1. No-Contact Orders

    A campus no-contact order is a directive issued by a campus authorit y that prevents contact between persons or from one person to another. Such an order may be issued through the formal reporting process (i.e. Student Conduct) or under the direction of a Title IX Coordinator. This may apply to communications in-person, online, and other forms of contact, both on- and off-campus. It is important to note that this is different than a civil order, which is issued by a court. A campus no-contact order may be issued as a sanction or outcome, and may also be issued on an interim basis while an incident is under investigation or adjudication.

    Both the accused/respondent and the reporting individual shall, upon request, be afforded a prompt review, reasonable under the circumstances, of the need for and terms of a no-contact order, including potential modification, and shall be allowed to submit evidence in support of their request.

    Continued intentional contact with the reporting individual where there is a no-contact order in place is a violation of College policy and subject to additional conduct charges. If the parties observe each other in a public place, it is the responsibilit y of the person subject to the no-contact order, not the protected individual, to leave the area without contacting the protected individual. The College will work with both parties to arrange for a schedule for access to certain locations in order to assist students in compliance with the terms of the no-contact order.

    D. Students’ Bill of Rights

    All students have the right to:

    1. Make a report to local law enforcement and/or state police;

    2. Have disclosures of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault treated seriously;

    3. Make a decision about whether or not to disclose a crime or violation and par- ticipate in the student conduct process and/or criminal justice process free from pressure by the institution;

    4. Participate in a process that is fair, impartial, and provides adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard;

    5. Be treated with dignit y and to receive from the institution courteous, fair, and respectful health care and counseling services, where available;

    6. Be free from any suggestion that the reporting individual is at fault when these crimes and violations are committed, or should have acted in a different manner to avoid such crimes or violations;

    7. Describe the incident to as few institution representatives as practicable and not be required to unnecessarily repeat a description of the incident;

    8. Be protected from retaliation by the institution, any student, the accused and/ or the respondent, and/or their friends, family and acquaintances within the jurisdiction of the institution;

    9. Access to at least one level of appeal of a determination;

    10. Be accompanied by an advisor of choice who may assist and advise a reporting

      individual, accused, or respondent throughout the student conduct process including during all meetings and hearings related to such process; and

    11. Exercise civil rights and practice of religion without interference by the investiga-tive, criminal justice, or judicial or conduct process of the institution.

    E. Alcohol and/or Drug Use Amnesty

    The safety and health of students is the overriding concern of the college.

    In order to encourage those who may be in danger from alcohol poisoning or alcohol/drug-related injury to get proper assistance, no student in need of medical treatment for her or his alcohol or other drug-related overdose, or assisting another student in obtaining such medical treatment, will be found responsible for the violation of using alcohol or drugs or of providing alcohol or drugs to the student they have assisted in obtaining treatment. Students may, however, be found responsible for violations outside of drug/alcohol use and/or distribution of drugs/alcohol if they are identified.

    The college also recognizes that students who have been drinking and/ or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) in situations involving domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. Vassar strongly encourages students to report domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to institution officials. A reporting individual acting in good faith or a bystander acting in good faith that discloses any incident of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault to college officials or law enforcement will not be subject to Vassar’s code of conduct for violations of alcohol and/or drug use policies occurring at or near the time of the commission of the domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault.

    F. Support Resources

    1. Advisor/Support Person

    The complainant and the respondent each may have a support person/advisor of their choosing present with them during any investigatory meeting and resolution processes to provide advisement/moral support. The support person/advisor cannot be a part y to the grievance or serve as a potential witness. Otherwise, there is no restriction regarding who may serve as a support person. A support person will limit their role in meetings/ hearings to that of a support person to the complainant or the respondent. That is, a support person will have no speaking role at meetings/hearings. Witnesses and others involved in an investigation are not entitled to have a support person.

    2. Private Resources

    A student may seek assistance from campus “private resources” without starting a formal process. These resources focus primarily on advocacy and support for students impacted by gender-based discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual misconduct.

    The following individuals are designated as “private resources.”

    1. Student Fellows & House Student Advisors

    2. Support, Advocacy, & Violence Prevention (SAVP) Director and Program Coordinator; (845) 437-7863

    3. Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Advocates, (845) 437-7333 and ask for SART

    Neither the College nor the law requires private resources to divulge personally iden- tifiable information except in certain circumstances as described below. Some of these resources may need to share incident reports with their supervisors, but they will not share any personally identifiable information about the student’s report unless the stu- dent gives permission, except in the rare event that the incident reveals an imminent need to protect the student or other members of the community. If any personally identifiable information must be shared, the student will be informed, and it will only be shared as necessary with as few people as possible and making every effort to protect the student’s privacy.

    3. Confidential Resources

    Students who desire that details of an incident be kept confidential should speak with mental health counselors, medical providers, or members of the clergy. These persons are not required to disclose information unless there is a concern for imminent health and safet y of the student or others. Students may also seek confidential support from off-campus resources, such as a rape crisis center counselor.

    On-Campus Resources for Students

    Counseling Service, (845) 437-5700

    Health Services, (845) 437-5800

    Off-Campus Resources

    Poughkeepsie Center for Victim Safety & Support 24/7, (845) 452-7272

    New York State Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Hotline, 24/7, 1-800-942-6906

    3. Legal Counsel

    It is the reporting individual’s and the respondent’s decision whether to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney at their own expense if they need legal advice. Although anyone has the right to seek legal advice, and legal counsel may act as a support per- son, neither the complainant nor the respondent may be represented by legal counsel at investigatory

    G. Record Retention

    The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action is responsible for maintaining records relating to discrimination and harassment reports, investigations, and resolu- tions. Records will also be maintained in accordance with college records policies, gen- erally for at least seven years after the date the complaint is resolved. Records may be maintained longer at the discretion of the EO/AA officer in cases where the parties have a continuing affiliation with the college. All records pertaining to pending litigation or a request for records will be maintained in accordance with instructions from legal coun- sel. For information about record retention and the reporting of disciplinary records for students, refer to Part K, Section O of the College Regulations.

    H. False and Malicious Complaints

    False and malicious accusations of sexual or other harassment, as opposed to complaints which, even if erroneous, are made in good faith, may be the subject of appropriate disciplinary action.

    I. Retaliation

    As noted the in the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment, retaliation is a form of unlawful discrimination, which includes intentional action taken by an individual or allied third part y as reprisal for engaging in a “protected activit y,” that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance; or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment; and/or participation in a College activit y. Harassment needs only to rise above the threshold of petty slights or trivial inconveniences. Protected activities for which protections apply, include but are not limited to:

    • Reporting, making a complaint, participating in an investigation or grievance proceeding or for assisting in any such proceeding.

    • Communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimina- tion, including harassment

    • Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination

    • Resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others

    • Requesting accommodation of a disabilit y or for a religious practice

    • Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.

    Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, intimidation, coercion, harassment, making threats, and any other adverse educational or employment action. Retaliation should be reported promptly to the EO/AA Office for investigation, which may result in disciplinary action independent of any sanction or interim measures imposed in response to any underlying allegations of discrimination and/or harassment.

    J. Interim Suspension

    While Conduct Charges Pending When the College determines that a person (e.g. accused/respondent) poses a continuing threat to the health and safet y of the com- munity, the College may place the person on an interim suspension pending the out- come of the judicial/conduct process. Both the accused/respondent and the reporting individual shall be granted a prompt review, reasonable under the circumstances, of the need for and terms of an interim suspension, including potential modifications, and will be allowed to submit evidence in support of the request.

    K. Reporting to Law Enforcement

    Students have the right to make a report to local law enforcement and/or the state police. The College’s investigation and adjudication process is separate from and will run concurrently with a criminal justice investigation and proceeding. In some cases, temporary delays in the College process, usually not to exceed 10 days, may be necessary while law enforcement gathers evidence.

    The College will assist students in notifying law enforcement authorities if the student would like assistance.

    Students do not have to notify law enforcement; students have the right to decline to notify such authorities. A student’s decision to decline to notify law enforcement will not impact the student’s ability to report the conduct to the College or impact the College’s obligations under this policy.

VI. REPORTING DUTIES

Different people on campus have different reporting responsibilities and different abilities to maintain confidentiality, depending on their roles at the College and College policy. At Vassar, some individuals and campus resources can offer confidentialit y while others have specific obligations to respond when they receive a report of a crime or a campus policy violation. Even offices and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality will maintain your privacy to the greatest extent possible. The information you provide to a non-confidential resource will be relayed only as necessary for the Title IX Coordinator to investigate and/or seek resolution.

If a student is unsure of someone’s duties and ability to maintain privacy, the student should ask them before disclosing any details of the incident.

A. Responsible Employees

Reporting an incident of sexual or gender-based misconduct to the Title IX coordinator or a “responsible employee” is official notice to the institution. Students have the right and can expect to have reports taken seriously by the institution, and to have those inci- dents investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. All “respon- sible employees” must report the incident to the Director of Equal Opportunit y/Title IX Coordinator, who will determine the most appropriate course of action to ensure a prompt and equitable response. Formal reporting means that only people who need to know will be told, and information will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.

All non-student employees, except those listed as Private Resources or Confidential Resources below, are designated as “responsible employees” when they receive reports or complaints of alleged gender-based discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual misconduct involving students or supervisees. In addi- tion, all non-student members of the campus community in unpaid official capacities (e.g., partners of faculty house fellows) or non-student volunteers (e.g., athletic team volunteer assistants) have the same reporting responsibilities as responsible employees.

B. Private Resources

A student may seek assistance from campus “private resources” without starting a formal process. These resources focus primarily on advocacy and support for students impacted by gender-based discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual misconduct.

The following individuals are designated as “private resources:”

  • Student Fellows & House Student Advisors

  • Support, Advocacy, & Violence Prevention (SAVP) Director and Program Coordinator; (845) 437-7863

  • Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Advocates, (845) 437-7333 and ask for SART

Neither the college nor the law requires private resources to divulge personally identifi- able information except in certain circumstances as described below. Some of these resources may need to share incident reports with their supervisors, but they will not share any personally identifiable information about the student’s report unless the stu- dent gives permission, except in the rare event that the incident reveals an imminent need to protect the student or other members of the community. If any personally identifiable information must be shared, the student will be informed, and it will only be shared as necessary with as few people as possible and making every effort to protect the student’s privacy.

C. Confidential Resources

Students who desire that details of an incident be kept confidential should speak with mental health counselors, medical providers, or members of the clergy. These persons are not required to disclose information unless there is a concern for imminent health and safet y of the student or others. Students may also seek confidential support from off-campus resources, such as a rape crisis center counselor.

On-Campus Resources for Students
Counseling Service, (845) 437-5700

Off-Campus Resources
Poughkeepsie Center for Victim Safety & Support 24/7, (845) 452-7272
New York State Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Hotline, 24/7, 1-800-942-6906

D. Reporting Obligations under the Clery Act

Certain campus officials (called Campus Securit y Authorities, or CSAs) also have a duty to report sexual assault and other crimes for federal statistical reporting purposes; and to determine if there is a continuing threat to the safet y of the campus community, which would require an alert. These reports may also need to be included in securit y depart- ment logs. All personally identifiable information is kept confidential. General incident location (on or off-campus, in the surrounding area, but no addresses are given) must be included for publication in the annual Campus Securit y Report. This report helps to provide the community with a clear picture of the extent and nature of campus crime, to ensure greater community safet y.

CSAs include employees who have significant responsibilit y for students, student groups and campus activities. College counselors, medical providers, and pastoral providers are not considered CSAs.

All Clery reports of sexual assault and other crimes should be reported to Safety and Security, (845) 437-7333, https://security.vassar.edu/docs/Vassar-Clery-Incident- Report-Form.pdf.

Anonymous reports can also be filed with the Support, Advocacy, & Violence Prevention (SAVP) or with a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) advocate.

E. Special Duties Involving Child Abuse or Mistreatment of a Minor

Individuals should report suspected child abuse and neglect, including sexual assault, to law enforcement and/or to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (sometimes referred to as the State Central Register or SCR) by call- ing one of the numbers listed below. It is not the responsibilit y of any employee, student or volunteer to investigate child abuse. This is the role of child protective services and law enforcement authorities. Vassar College must act quickly regarding all accusations of sexual or physical abuse. The source of abuse does not need to be known in order to file a report. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, do the following:

  • If a child is in immediate danger, call the police (911) immediately.

  • College employees and students should notify local law enforcement immediately when these situations are suspected.

    • Town of Poughkeepsie Police: (845) 485-3670.

  • Members of the college community may also contact the Vassar College Safety and Securit y Department at (845) 437-7333, but not before they contact local law enforcement.

  • If there is concern about abuse of a child by a parent or custodian call the Child Abuse Hotline:

    • Responsible employees should call (800) 635-1522.

    • All others should call (800) 342-3720

    F. Hearing

    The College will proceed to the adjudication phase if, after an investigation, there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable cause and the matter is not resolved adminis- tratively. The adjudication phase consists of a hearing before a trained external neutral adjudicator and College liaison. The adjudicator will hear allegations of violations of College regulations involving sexual misconduct, stalking, dating/domestic violence and other similar incidents of gender-based harassment or violence defined in this Policy and will have received specialized training with respect to these issues. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for this hearing process. At the conclusion of either the administrative resolution or hearing, written notice will be provided to both parties with the findings and sanction(s), if applicable, as well as a rationale for both.

    The standard of proof used throughout this process will be a preponderance of the evidence standard, which means that the adjudicator will assess whether, based on the evidence and information available, it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct in whole or in part occurred.

    The accused/respondent will be presumed “not responsible” for the alleged conduct until, and if, a finding of “responsible” is made pursuant to the terms of this policy.

    Hearing Procedures:

    1. The reporting individual and respondent may review the College’s investiga- tion file in hardcopy at the College at least two days prior to the hearing. Separate copies of the file will not be emailed or sent to either part y. The

      hearing body and both parties will have access to the investigative file for review during the hearing.

    2. The reporting individual and respondent may make a statement, present evi- dence and witnesses, and/or submit relevant information at the hearing. The College may also present witnesses and/or information. All witnesses must be identified to the Title IX Coordinator at least two business days before the date of the hearing. Both parties will be notified of the names of all witnesses that will be present at the hearing.

    3. Neither part y is required to make a statement in the physical presence of

      the other part y. Each part y will have the option of presenting evidence and attending all or part of the hearing by live video or audio conference call so

      that a part y does not have to be in the same physical space as the other part y during the hearing.

    4. The reporting individual and respondent may ask questions of each other, witnesses or other individuals during the hearing by submitting questions to the hearing body. All reasonable questions will be asked by the hearing body on behalf of the reporting individual and respondent. The hearing body may also ask questions of the parties.

    5. The reporting individual and respondent may be accompanied by an advi- sor/support person of their choice during the hearing. The advisor/sup- port person may assist the reporting individual or respondent, but may not participate in the hearing. Advisors/support persons must be identified to the Title IX Coordinator at least two business days before the date of the hearing.

    6. When necessary or appropriate, witnesses, parties, and/or advisors/support persons may participate by video or conference call if they are not able to be present on campus.

    7. The hearing body will provide a written finding on the charges to the Dean of the College or his designee and may recommend sanctions. The parties may submit an impact statement to the hearing body after it has made a determination as to responsibilit y so that the hearing body may consider such written statements before it recommends a sanction, if any, to the Dean. It may be necessary to provide the hearing body an extension of time to submit its report depending on the circumstances of a case, such as if the parties submit an impact statement. In all cases the hearing body will submit its report to the Dean of the College or his designee as soon as possible. The Dean of the College or his designee will make a final judgment on the find- ings and assign an appropriate sanction, if any, after reviewing the findings and consulting with the hearing body.

    8. The reporting individual and respondent will receive a notice of the hearing outcome and the imposed sanction(s) generally within 3 business days after the date of the hearing.

    9. The reporting individual and respondent may appeal the findings of the hear- ing body and/or final determination and sanction(s) within 5 business days in accordance with the standards and procedures for appeal in the Student

      Handbook.

    10. Retaliation, intimidation, or reprisal of any kind following a hearing, or during or after any phase of the Title IX investigative process, will not be tolerated. Both parties are encouraged to report such incidents promptly to the Title IX Coordinator.

    G. Appeal

    Any party (complainant or respondent) may request an appeal of the findings and/or sanctions only under the grounds described below.

    General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the hearing is not grounds for appeal. When a violation of college regulations is established and a penalty determined, sanctions will take effect immediately, even pending an appeal.

    1. Procedures: The following procedures will be used for reviewing requests for appeals:

      1. The decision of the Title IX hearing or administrative resolution may be appealed by petitioning the College Regulations Appeals Committee chaired by the Dean of the College, or their designee. Requests for the review of an appeal are at the discretion of the Dean of the College and are not summarily accepted upon request. Requests must be made in writ- ing and either electronically sent or hand delivered to the Office of the Dean of the College (Main Building- Room 215) within five (5) business days from the date of receiving the outcome letter.

      2. A request may be made to the Dean of the College for special consider- ation in exigent circumstances, but the presumptive stance of the college is that the sanctions will stand. In cases where the appeal results in rein- statement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the individual to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities may be irretrievable in the short term.

      3. The chair will review the request for appeal to determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and is timely. The chair will then share the appeal with the other part y (e.g., if the accused individual appeals, the appeal is shared with the victim, who may also wish to file a response), and to the investigator who presented the case who will then draft a response memorandum (also shared with all parties)

      4. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision is final. If the appeal has stand- ing, the documentation is forwarded to the College Regulations Appeals Committee for consideration. The part y requesting appeal must show error as the original finding and sanctions are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately.

      5. The chair’s decision to deny appeal requests is final.

      6. Requests for appeal granted by the chair will be heard before an Appeal Panel.

    2. Principles: The following principles will govern the hearing of all appeals:

      1. All parties will be informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision in a timely manner.

      2. Every opportunity to return the appeal to the original hearing body for reconsideration (remand) shall be pursued.

      3. Appeals are not intended to be a rehearing of the complaint (de novo). In most cases, appeals will be confined to a review of written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal.

      4. Appeal decisions shall be deferential to the original hearing body, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is compelling justification to do so.

    3. Grounds for Appeal: The only grounds for appeal are as follows:

      1. Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter (i.e., a failure to follow the institution’s own procedures);

      2. New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter;

      3. The Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker had a conflict of interest or bias for or against an individual party, or for or against complainants or respondents in general, that affected the outcome of the matter.

      4. The sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation or outside the parameters set by the College. The appeal body will return the complaint to the Chair/senior officer of the Grievance Hearing Panel, who may then increase, decrease, or otherwise modify the sanctions.

    4. Possible Outcomes: The College Regulations Appeals Committee will make one of the following decisions:

      1. If the College Regulations Appeals Committee determines that new evi- dence should be considered, it will return the complaint to the original hearing body to reconsider in light of the new evidence only. The recon- sideration of the hearing body is not appealable.

      2. If the College Regulations Appeals Committee determines that material procedural (or substantive) error occurred, it may return the complaint to the original hearing body with instructions to reconvene to cure the error. In rare cases, where the procedural (or substantive) error cannot be cured by the original hearing body (as in cases of bias), the College Regulations Appeals Committee may order a new hearing on the complaint with a new body of hearing panel members. The results of a reconvened hearing can- not be appealed. The results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on the three applicable grounds for appeal.

      3. If the College Regulations Appeals Committee determines that the sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severit y of the violation and substantially outside the parameters set by the college, the College Regulations Appeals Committee will return the complaint to the

        sanctioning body (i.e. College Regulations Panel, Dean of the College or his designee), who may then increase, decrease, or otherwise modify the sanctions, in consultation with the associate dean of the college.

      4. This decision is final.

    5. Decision on Appeal: The chair of the College Regulations Appeals Committee will render a written decision ordinarily within seven College business days from the hearing of the appeal, and will notify all relevant parties. The decision will include a finding of fact, the decision, and sanc- tion as well as the rationale for the decision and sanction. The decision of the College Regulations Appeals Committee is final and binding upon all involved

    H. Sanctions

    The College reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in order to protect stu- dents’ rights and personal safet y. Such measures include, but are not limited to, modifi- cation of living arrangements, no contact orders, and interim suspension from campus pending a hearing. When a charge of sexual misconduct is formally processed, and a respondent is found to have violated this policy, appropriate sanctions will be used to reasonably ensure that such actions are never repeated. Not all forms of sexual miscon- duct and gender-based violence will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and the College reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion, depending on the severit y of the offense. The College also reserves the right to broaden or lessen any range of recommended sanctions in the case of serious mitigat- ing circumstances or severe violations of College Regulations. Neither the initial hearing body nor any appeals body will deviate from the range of recommended sanctions unless compelling justification exists to do so.

    When a charge of misconduct covered by this policy is formally processed, and a respon- dent is found to have violated this policy, serious sanctions will be imposed. The College reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from verbal warning to expul- sion, depending on the severit y of the offense. The College also reserves the right to broaden or lessen any range of recommended sanctions when appropriate in light of mitigating circumstances or the nature of the behavior. The College will not deviate from the range of recommended sanctions unless compelling justification exists to do so.

    1. Any person found responsible for violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy for non-consensual sexual contact (where no intercourse has occurred) may

      receive a sanction ranging from probation to expulsion/termination, depend- ing on the severit y of the incident, and taking into account any concurrent or previous College regulations violations.

    2. Any person found responsible for violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy for non-consensual or forced sexual intercourse will likely face a recommended sanction of suspension or expulsion/termination, and taking into account any concurrent or previous College regulations violations.

    3. Any student found responsible for violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy for sexual exploitation or sexual harassment will likely receive a recommended

    sanction ranging from warning to expulsion/termination, depending on the severit y of the incident, and taking into account any concurrent or previous College regulations violations

    Transcript Notations

    When a student is suspended or expelled because of a responsible finding for a violent offense [1], Vassar will make a notation on the student’s transcript that they were “sus- pended after a finding of responsibilit y for a code of conduct violation” or “expelled after a finding of responsibilit y for a code of conduct violation.” Individuals who with- draw from the college while such conduct charges are pending will have “withdrew with conduct charges pending” on their transcript until the case is resolved. If a finding of responsibilit y is vacated for any reason, any such transcript notation shall be removed. Students may submit a written request to the Dean of Studies Office that the suspen- sion notation be removed from the transcript. Notation for suspensions is not eligible for removal until one year after the suspension has been completed. In considering a student’s request, the College will look at whether there has been any further conduct violations in the year following conclusion of the suspension. The college will keep a confidential, internal record of the suspension. Notation for expulsions shall not be removed.



    [1] rticle 129-B of the New York Education Law requires transcript notations for “violent crimes” which include murder, sexual offenses (forcible and non-forcible), robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, manslaughter, and arson, as defined by the Jeanne Clery Act.