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Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence

I. OFFICE OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

The Office of Equal Opportunit y and Affirmative Action is responsible for monitoring the college’s compliance with federal and state nondiscrimination laws, assisting with all aspects of reported violations of the College’s Sexual Misconduct, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking policies, investigating complaints, and managing the informal and formal grievance process. The College encourages those who have witnessed or experienced any form of discrimination or harassment, including sexual misconduct and gender-based violence, to report the incident promptly, to seek all available assistance, and to pursue informal or formal resolution processes.[1]

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, all colleges and universities must have a designated Title IX coordinator who is responsible for ensuring institutional compliance with state and federal nondiscrimination and harassment laws. Under Title IX, colleges and universities must also clearly articulate who are “responsible employees” in response to a notice of gender-based discrimination (i.e., sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct) involving students and supervisees. The Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action is Vassar’s designated Title IX Coordinator.

As discussed below, individuals who wish to report a concern, seek guidance or assistance, or file a formal grievance may do so by contacting the Director of Equal Opportunity/Title IX Coordinator for matters involving students, administrators or staff members and the Facult y Director of Affirmative Action for matters involving faculty. Individuals may also report a concern to a dean or director, an academic department chair or program director, an athletic coach or trainer, human resources, or a senior officer, who are mandated to consult immediately with the EO/AA Office to determine the best course of action for addressing concerns.

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

Brittney L. Denley
Associate Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
bdenley@vassar.edu

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.

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. A procedural error that substantially affected the outcome of the hearing (e.g., substantiated bias, material deviations from established procedures). Deviations from designated procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice resulted.

      2. To consider new evidence, unavailable at the time of the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanc- tion. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included; and alter the outcome of the hearing.

      3. The sanction(s) imposed are disproportionate to the severit y of the viola- tion and substantially outside the parameters set by the college.

    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.