Sexual Misconduct and Assault Policy
REVISED AND APPROVED BY PRESIDENT ROTH, JANUARY 2009
- A. Policy Statement
Wesleyan University prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct refers to a broad spectrum of behavior encompassing sexual harassment and all forms of non-consensual sexual activity. For the purposes of this policy, the University prohibits the following specific forms of sexual misconduct: sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and retaliation. The policy for sexual harassment, which defines and addresses incidents of harassment, can be found in its entirety in the student handbook. The remaining forms of sexual misconduct, all of which may also constitute sexual harassment, are defined below.
- B. Definitions
Sexual Assault: Having or attempting to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another individual without consent. This includes sexual intercourse or sexual contact achieved by the use or threat of force or coercion, where an individual does not consent to the sexual act, or where an individual is incapacitated. Sexual assault includes the following acts:
Related to Non-consensual Sexual Intercourse: Having or attempting to have sexual intercourse with another individual without consent. Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part or object, or oral copulation by mouth-to-genital contact.
Related to Non-consensual Sexual Contact: Having or attempting to have sexual contact with another individual without consent. Sexual contact includes kissing, touching the intimate parts of another, causing the other to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, mouth, or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner.
Sexual Exploitation: An act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose. The act or acts of sexual exploitation are prohibited even though the behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples include, but are not limited to: observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; non-consensual streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; prostituting another individual; knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without his or her knowledge; and inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.
Stalking: A course of conduct involving more than one instance of unwanted attention, harassment, physical or verbal contact, or any other course of conduct directed at an individual that could be reasonably regarded as likely to alarm or place that individual in fear of harm or injury, including physical, emotional, or psychological harm. This includes cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which electronic media such as the Internet, social networks, blogs, cellphones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact are used to pursue, harass, or make unwelcome contact with another person. Stalking and cyber-stalking may involve individuals who are known to one another or have an intimate or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals not known to one another.
Retaliation: Acts or attempts to retaliate or seek retribution against the complainant, respondent, or any individual or group of individuals involved in the investigation and/or resolution of an allegation of sexual misconduct. Retaliation can be committed by any individual or group of individuals, not just a respondent or complainant. Retaliation may include continued abuse or violence, other forms of harassment, and slander and libel.
- C. Consent and Related Concepts: Incapacitation, Alcohol, Coercion and Intimate Partner Violence
To better understand the policy, Consent, Coercion, Alcohol and Other Drugs and Intimate Partner Violence are described below.
Consent: Consent to engage in sexual activity must be informed, knowing, and voluntary. Consent to engage in sexual activity must exist from beginning to end of each instance of sexual activity. Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact. Each participant in a sexual encounter must consent to each act of sexual activity.
Consent consists of an outward demonstration indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual activity. Consent is demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or actions that clearly indicate a willingness to engage in sexual activity. Relying on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response alone. In the absence of an outward demonstration, consent does not exist.
The responsibility of obtaining consent rests with the individual who wishes to engage in sexual activity. Prior to engaging in sexual activity, each participant should ask himself or herself the question,” has the other person consented?” If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” then consent has not been demonstrated and does not exist. An individual who initiates sexual activity should be able to explain the basis for his/her belief that consent existed.
Consent may be withdrawn by either party at any time. Withdrawal of consent must also be outwardly demonstrated by words or actions that clearly indicate a desire to end sexual activity. Once withdrawal of consent has been expressed, sexual activity must cease.
Consent is not effective if it results from the use of physical force, threat of physical force, intimidation, coercion, incapacitation or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his or own free will to choose whether or not to have sexual contact.
A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity.
Coercion: Coercion is the use or attempted use of pressure and/or oppressive behavior, including express or implied
threats, intimidation, or physical force, which places a person in fear of immediate harm or physical injury or causes a person to engage in unwelcome sexual activity. This is something very different from the words of persuasion an individual might use to induce another to voluntarily consent to sexual activity. A person’s words or conduct cannot amount to coercion unless they wrongfully impair the other’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Coercion also includes administering or pressuring another to consume a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance with the intent to impair that person’s ability to consent prior to engaging in sexual activity.
Incapacitation: An individual who is incapacitated cannot consent to sexual activity. Incapacitation is defined as the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because an individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, unconscious, or unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. Warning signs that a person may be approaching incapacitation may include slurred speech, vomiting, unsteady gait, odor of alcohol, combativeness, or emotional volatility.
Alcohol or Other Drugs: The University considers sexual contact while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs to be risky behavior. Alcohol and drugs impair a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of the consequences, and ability to make informed judgments. From the perspective of the complainant, the use of alcohol or drugs can limit a person’s ability to freely and clearly give consent. From the perspective of a respondent, the use of alcohol or drugs can create an atmosphere of confusion over whether or not consent has been freely and clearly sought or given. It is especially important, therefore, that anyone engaging in sexual activity be aware of the other person’s level of intoxication. If there is any doubt as to the level or extent of the other individual’s intoxication or impairment, the prudent course of action is to forgo or cease any sexual contact or activity.
The perspective of a reasonable person will be the basis for determining whether a respondent should have been aware of the extent and amount of the ingestion of alcohol or drugs by the complainant or of the extent to which the use of alcohol or drugs impacted a complainant’s ability to give consent. For example, an individual who is in a blackout may appear to act normally and be giving consent, but may not actually have conscious awareness, the ability to consent or later recall of the events in question. The extent to which a person in this state affirmatively gives words or actions indicating a willingness to engage in sexual activity and the other person is unaware – or reasonably could not have known—of the person’s level of alcohol consumption and/or level of impairment must be evaluated in determining whether consent has been given.
Being intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol is never an excuse for sexual harassment, misconduct or violence and does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.
Intimate Partner Violence: Also referred to as dating violence, domestic violence and relationship violence. Intimate partner violence includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is, or has been involved in, a sexual or dating relationship with that person. It may involve one act or an ongoing pattern of behavior. Intimate partner violence can encompass a broad range of behavior, including, but not limited to threats, assault, property damage, violence or threat of violence to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Intimate partner violence affects individuals of all genders, gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientation and does not discriminate by racial, social, or economic background.
The University will not tolerate intimate partner violence of any form. For the purposes of this policy, the University does not define intimate partner violence as a distinct form of misconduct. Rather, the University recognizes that sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, harm to others, harassing conduct and retaliation may all be forms of intimate partner violence when committed by a person who is or has been involved in a sexual, dating or other social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant.
- D. Prevention
Prevention of sexual misconduct and assault requires a commitment from all members of the community in order to create a campus in which each person makes decisions for themselves free from coercion and intimidation.
- E. What to Do in the Event of an Assault
The following information is intended as a resource for students and offers suggested courses of action to be taken by a survivor, supportive friend, an accused perpetrator, or a witness. Some suggestions may not apply, depending upon the specifics of the incident.
1. IMMEDIATELY AFTER AN INCIDENT OF ASSAULT: SEEK MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT
To best address the physical and emotional needs in the aftermath of an incident of assault, it is important to seek medical attention and counseling support as soon as possible. You are strongly advised to seek immediate medical attention at the Middlesex Hospital emergency room whether or not you know the person who assaulted you. While you may feel uncomfortable doing so, the purpose of seeking medical attention is to identify and treat physical injury, provide emergency contraception and/or medication to prevent possible transmission of sexually-transmitted infections, and to gather and preserve evidence.
A. EVIDENCE PRESERVATION: It is important that medical professionals are able to collect any trace physical evidence from your clothes and body. In order to preserve evidence, avoid showering, bathing, changing your clothes, or brushing your teeth. If clothing has been removed, store it in a paper bag and bring it to the hospital. You should take a change of clothes with you to the hospital in case the clothing worn at the time of the assault contains evidence which can be used to identify the assailant. The collection of physical evidence does not commit you to pressing charges against the alleged perpetrator, but it will assist investigators later if you choose to report the assault to the Middletown police. Call the Office of Public Safety if you need transportation to the hospital. Advocates from Conn SACS are available to meet survivors at the hospital and be with them throughout the exam.
B. MEDICAL EXAM. In order to collect physical evidence, a clinician may perform a medical exam, including a sexual assault evidence collection kit (“rape kit”) to collect markers of the assailant’s identity. This exam should be performed as soon as possible, but generally no later than 72 hours after the assault. There is no charge to the survivor for the administration of the evidence collection kit.
Additionally, an exam may include, at your discretion, treatment of other injuries, an interview about the assault, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and a pregnancy test.
C. MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT: Seek counseling after the assault. Confidential counseling is available to students through the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services and off-campus, through the Women and Families Center 24 hours a day.
D. ADDITIONAL SUPPORT: During the academic year, medical care, testing, and prescription medications are made available at the Davison Health Center without cost to students. Follow-up care is available at the Community Health Center when the Davison Health Center is closed during breaks.
2. DECIDE WHETHER TO REPORT AN INCIDENT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HOW TO REPORT IT
You are encouraged to report an incident of sexual misconduct or assault so that the University can investigate and take action. We encourage all survivors of crimes to report to the appropriate authorities. There are two main reporting options open to students: reporting to the University and reporting to the Middletown police. Because the University’s policy, definitions and burden of proof may differ from Connecticut criminal law, you may choose to make a report to the University for possible judicial action, pursue criminal action, choose one but not the other, or choose both. Neither law enforcement’s determination whether or not to prosecute a respondent, nor the outcome of any criminal prosecution, are determinative of whether sexual harassment or misconduct under this policy has occurred. Proceedings under this policy may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off-campus.
Regardless of which choice you pursue, the University is committed to maintaining the privacy of all individuals involved in a report of sexual harassment or misconduct. At all times, the privacy of the parties will be respected and safeguarded in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review of the allegation. Information related to a report of harassment or misconduct will be shared only with those University employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the investigation and/or resolution of the complaint. Students wishing to obtain confidential assistance through on-campus or off-campus resources without making a report to the University may do so by speaking with professionals who are obligated by law to maintain confidentiality. These professionals are identified in the Confidential Resources section of this policy.
The following provides some general information about reporting incidents.
A. REPORTING SEXUAL ASSAULT TO THE MIDDLETOWN POLICE
Contact the Middletown Police Department at 860-344-3200. The investigating officer will explain the investigatory and legal processes that follow a report. Reporting an incident of sexual assault to the police begins a legal process that may or may not result in an arrest.
The University encourages complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual harassment or misconduct that may also be crimes under Connecticut law. The University will assist a complainant in making a criminal report and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies if a complainant decides to pursue the criminal process to the extent permitted by law.
B. REPORTING VIOLATIONS TO THE UNIVERSITY
If the accused is a member of the Wesleyan community, students may report an incident to the University by any of the following methods:
Contact the Office of Public Safety at 860-685-3333 or 911 (24 hours) or the Office of the Dean of Students at 860-685-2775 (during business hours). Or you may prefer to report the incident to a faculty or staff member (including Residential Life student staff ) with whom you feel comfortable. Faculty and staff members must then report the incident to the Title IX coordinator, who will assist you in identifying your options, providing resources and support and addressing any immediate safety concerns for you or the broader campus community. By reporting the incident to the University, you ensure that prompt and equitable action is taken in response to the incident. This action may include providing accommodations and protective remedies for the complainant, initiating an investigation of the conduct, and if appropriate, seeking judicial charges against the alleged perpetrator.
Reports involving gender discrimination or harassment may also be submitted directly to Marina Melendez, the University’s interim Title IX coordinator and chief diversity officer, by calling 860-685-4771.
Although there is no limit on when you may file a report with the University, you are encouraged to file a report as soon as possible after the incident in question. The University will not be able to pursue judicial action against an individual who is no longer affiliated with the University. Under those circumstances, the University will still conduct a Title IX review of the conduct and provide appropriate support and accommodations to the complainant.
Victims of sexual assault or misconduct, or witnesses to such conduct who report the incident, who may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the assault will not be charged through the student judicial process for any alcohol or drug violation based on personal ingestion of alcohol or other drugs.
Upon receipt of a report, the Title IX coordinator, working in conjunction with the Office of Public Safety and the Office of the Dean of Students will conduct an initial Title IX review. In every report of sexual harassment or misconduct, the University will make an immediate assessment of any risk of harm to individuals or to the campus community and will take steps necessary to address those risks. These steps will include interim measures to provide for the safety of the individual and the campus community.
The initial review will proceed to the point where a reasonable assessment of the safety of the individual and of the campus community can be made. Thereafter, the investigation may continue depending on a variety of factors, such as the complainant’s wish to pursue disciplinary action, the risk posed to any individual or the campus community by not proceeding, and the nature of the allegation. The University’s responsibility to review and respond to all allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct exists regardless of whether a complainant identifies the respondent or seeks judicial action and exists independently of the criminal justice process.
Where the University has received a report of sexual harassment or misconduct, but the complainant requests that his/ her identity remain confidential or that the University not pursue an investigation, the University must balance this request in the context of its responsibility to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all university community members. The University will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation, but its ability to investigate may be limited by the request for confidentiality. Under these circumstances, the University will weigh the request for confidentiality against the following factors: the seriousness of the alleged harassment, any potential threats to community safety, the respective ages and positions of the complainant and the respondent, whether there have been other harassment complaints against the respondent, and the respondent’s right to receive information under applicable law.
At all times, the University will seek to respect the request of the complainant, and where it cannot do so, the University will consult with the complainant and keep him/her informed about the chosen course of action.
If a determination is made to pursue an investigation and judicial action, the investigation will be conducted by Public Safety and the report will be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students for adjudication. If a student is found to have violated the Sexual Misconduct and Assault Policy, a range of sanctions can be imposed up to and including suspension or dismissal from the University. To initiate this process, you may file a report with any staff member or office listed under “On Campus Support Resources” below, but it is best to make the report directly to the Office of the Dean of Students, to Public Safety or to the Title IX coordinator. It is up to the complainant whether or not to also make a formal report to Middletown Police.
Upon receipt of a report, an investigation will be commenced within 30 days and the hearing process will typically be concluded within 90 days. The time frames listed here are guides and may be extended because of extraordinary circumstances. Each case is unique and the process for handling the incident will be impacted by factors such as the complexity of the investigation, the scope of the allegation, the parties’ schedules and availability, and the academic calendar. In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the University will notify all parties of the need for additional time and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner.
All violations of the Sexual Misconduct and Assault Policy will be adjudicated by an administrative panel comprised of four employees of the University. The panel will be comprised of two male and two female staff or faculty drawn from the advisors to the board or hearing officers who have been trained on cases of sexual assault. The procedures for the hearing outlined in the Administrative Panel description and the Code of Non-Academic Conduct will be followed. Upon receipt of a complaint involving an alleged act of sexual violence, the dean of students may take certain actions that would minimize contact between the complainant and respondent on campus and in the judicial process as outlined in the code, and will inform all parties of the University’s intolerance of any form of retaliation.
For information about Wesleyan judicial processes, refer to the Code of Non-Academic Conduct in the Student Handbook: wesleyan.edu/studentaffairs/studenthandbook/standardsregulations/code-of-non-academic.html. You may also contact the Office of the Dean of Students to find general information about how this process works.
The University encourages all Wesleyan community members to report an incident of sexual harassment and misconduct. The University recognizes, however, that not every individual will choose to make a formal report to the University or local law enforcement. For those individuals who are not prepared to make a report, there are several confidential resources available for students who wish to talk to someone about an incident of sexual harassment or misconduct in a confidential manner without making a report to the University. The University’s confidential medical, mental health, and clerical professionals hold a statutorily protected confidentiality that prohibits the release of an individual’s information without that individual’s express consent (except under limited circumstances that pose an imminent danger to the individual or to others). If you would like to speak with someone confidentially on campus prior to formally reporting the sexual assault, please contact the Davison Health Center or the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services or the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (see below). If you would like to speak with someone confidentially in the community, please contact the Women and Families Center (see below).
CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES
UNIVERSITY CONTACTS AND RESOURCES (ON CAMPUS)
Office of Public Safety 860-685-3333 (available 24 hours a day)
Davison Health Center 860-685-2470 (after hours on-call staff available)
Office of Religious and Spiritual Life 860-685-2278
Office of Counseling and Psychological Services 860-685-2910 (after hours on-call staff available)
UNIVERSITY CONTACTS AND RESOURCES (OFF CAMPUS)
Women and Families Center/ 888-999-5545 (English)
Sexual Assault Crisis Services 888-568-8332 (Spanish)
Middletown Hospital 860-344-6686
Middletown Police 860-344-3200
SEEK ONGOING SUPPORT
Individuals experience the aftermath of sexual assault and sexual misconduct differently and may take varying lengths of time to come to terms with their experience. You are encouraged to seek ongoing medical and psychological care as needed in order to help you cope with the incident. Support and counseling, both informal and professional, are key elements of care beginning as early as possible and continuing as long as needed. Friends and family are often a valuable source of support following an assault, but you may need additional support from the staff at the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, (CAPS), the sexual assault crisis advocates at the Women and Families Center, or other sources of counseling. Services at CAPS and the Women and Families Center are free and confidential.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
You have the right to know and understand the charges against you, whether filed through the University or the legal system. Information about university proceedings can be found in the Code of Non-Academic Conduct, and the Office of the Dean of Students can further explain the process to you. You should be aware that any form of retaliation or intimidation towards someone who has filed a report will be considered a violation of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct. If criminal charges outside the University have been filed against you, you should seek legal advice to find out how a criminal investigation works. You also are encouraged to seek psychological support from staff at the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services. Whether you feel you have committed a sexual offense or feel you were wrongly accused, it is important that you talk with a neutral, trained listener about the incident.
AS A WITNESS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT/ OR CONFIDANT
If you think you may have witnessed an incident of sexual assault, you are encouraged to immediately report the incident to Public Safety or the Office of the Dean of Students. To preserve confidentiality and the integrity of any investigation, do not discuss the incident with others to the extent possible. If you feel in any way traumatized by what you witnessed, you are encouraged to contact the therapists at the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, the clinicians at the Davison Health Center, or the Women and Families Center.
If you have been told, as a friend, about an incident of sexual assault or misconduct, you may be uncertain about what you should do with the information, or be unsure how you can help. If this is a crisis situation, review the instructions for survivors of sexual assault and help the person get the assistance they need. Whether the incident just happened or occurred in the past, it is important that you let the person express their feelings. Let the person know the limits of the support you can provide. Encourage the person to speak with a therapist or other trained professional for additional assistance. It also is important to seek support for yourself, particularly if you are having difficulty coping with the situation. Residential Life student staff members, Peer Health Advocates, and some other student staff positions must report any incidents of sexual assault to their supervisors.
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES
Educational programs and workshops to promote awareness about sexual assault issues are coordinated by several different offices, as well as various student organizations. These programs include presentations to new students at Orientation; workshops in the residence halls facilitated by peer educators and outside speakers; and campus-wide activities such as lighting and safety tours, speakers, films, and other projects. A few of these resources include:
WESWELL, THE OFFICE OF HEALTH EDUCATION 860-685-2466
Davison Health Center wesleyan.edu/weswell
OFFICE OF THE DEAN OF STUDENTS 860-685-2775
First Floor, North College wesleyan.edu/studentaffairs
OFFICE OF RESIDENTIAL LIFE 860-685-3550
Lower Level, North College wesleyan.edu/reslife
OFFICE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION 860-685-4771
3rd Floor, North College wesleyan.edu/affirm
OFFICE OF PUBLIC SAFETY 860-685-2345
208 High Street wesleyan.edu/publicsafety
OFFICE OF THE
VICE PRESIDENT FOR STUDENT AFFRS 860-685-2600
2nd Floor, North College wesleyan.edu/studentaffairs
WOMEN AND FAMILIES CENTER 888-999-5545 (English)
Sexual Assault Crisis Center 888-568-8332 (Spanish)
The staff of the Women and Families Center provides support, workshops, presentations, and professional training for survivors, their friends and families. Program topics include, but are not limited to, sexual date/acquaintance rape, harassment, healthy relationships, stalking, and date rape drugs.