Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Policy
Policies & Procedures
Suffolk University (“University”), consisting of its Boston and Madrid campuses, seeks to foster a campus environment that supports its educational mission and is committed to providing a safe learning, living, and working environment for all members of the University community that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct and related violence. The University does not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender and this policy prohibits specific forms of behavior that violate Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) and/or all other applicable state and federal laws. The University also complies with all obligations under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (“VAWA”) and the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”).
This policy also reflects the University’s commitment to educate, counsel, and train all of the members of the University community about the nature of discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking, its impact on individuals and the University community as a whole, and the steps necessary to combat it.
The University prohibits discrimination, sexual and relationship violence of any kind, including Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, Relationship Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation against a person for the good faith reporting of any of these forms of conduct or participation in any investigation or proceeding under this policy. Sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking are antithetical to the mission of the University and the values it espouses and will be responded to diligently and accordingly. Creating a safe campus environment and a culture of respect is the shared responsibility of all members of the University community, individually and collectively.
The University strongly encourages any person who believes they have been subjected to prohibited conduct by a University student or employee to seek prompt assistance from the resources which may be viewed in Section V of this policy.
These procedures outline how the University will proceed once it is made aware that a person believes they have been subjected to prohibited conduct and provides guidelines for providing prompt assistance to the Complainant and conducting the investigation and resolution of complaints of violations of the policy in a prompt, fair, equitable, and thorough manner.
The University provides a variety of confidential and non-confidential support resources, reporting options and complaint procedures to those persons who believe they have been subjected to sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking. The University will work closely with those persons to provide referrals to on-campus or off-campus law enforcement and support resources. The University prohibits retaliation and provides appropriate interim measures including changes to academic and co-curricular activities, living, transportation, dining, and employment situations as well as no contact orders. In keeping with its obligations under Title IX, the University is committed to promptly, fairly, and equitably investigating complaints, ensuring the safety of the Complainant, and providing remedies and resources. Sanctions (Students and Student Organizations) and Discipline (Employees) for violations of this policy will be administered after an investigation by the University and a finding that an individual or student organization is responsible for violating the policy. The Director of Title IX Compliance will oversee the initial response and assessment of reports, the investigation and resolution process.
The following describes the options and procedures in place to respond to and address complaints of sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking.
This policy applies to admitted students, students who are registered or enrolled for credit or non-credit-bearing coursework, or who are on a leave of absence or suspension (“Students”); University employees, including faculty and staff (“Employees”); Student Organizations, and contractors, vendors, visitors, guests or other third parties (“Third Parties”). This policy pertains to acts of Prohibited Conduct committed by or against Students, Employees, Student Organizations and Third Parties when:
- the conduct occurs on University grounds or other property owned or controlled by the University;
- the conduct occurs in the context of a University employment or education program or activity, including, but not limited to, University sponsored study abroad, research, on-line or internship programs; or off-campus student activities, such as Alternative Spring Break and athletic events; or
- the conduct occurs outside the context of a University employment or education program or activity, but has continuing adverse effects on or creates a hostile environment for Students, Employees or Third Parties while on University grounds or other property owned or controlled by the University or
- while participating in off-campus University events or activities.
Conduct under this policy is prohibited regardless of sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression of the Complainant. Prohibited conduct includes the following specifically defined forms of behavior.
Sexual Misconduct includes the following:
Sexual assault is the act of committing unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature, whether by an intimate partner, acquaintance or by a stranger. Such contact is unwanted when it occurs without the affirmative consent of one or both individuals, when one of the individuals is incapacitated or incapable of giving affirmative consent, or the contact occurs with the use of force, coercion, or the attempt to coerce or force. Victims/survivors (complainants) and the accused (Respondent) can be of any sex/gender, sexual orientation and/or sexual identity. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to:
- Nonconsensual Physical Contact (or attempts to commit same) - any intentional sexual touching of another person's intimate body parts, with any object or body part without that person's affirmative consent.
- Nonconsensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempts to commit same) - any penetration, however slight, of the (1) vagina or anus of a person by any body part of another person or by an object without that person's affirmative consent or (2) the mouth of a person by a sex organ of another person, without that person's affirmative consent.
Sexual assault is also prohibited by Massachusetts statutory law. Prohibited sexual assault as defined above may include but is not limited to: rape, indecent assault and battery and incest.
Affirmative consent must be informed, voluntary, and active, meaning that, through the demonstration of clear words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Affirmative consent can be withdrawn at any time, and cannot be obtained by force, expressed or implied, or when physical violence, threats, intimidation and/or coercion is used. Affirmative consent to one form of sexual activity does not, by itself, constitute Affirmative consent to another form of sexual activity. Past consent to sexual activity with another person does not imply ongoing future consent with that person or consent to the same sexual activity with another person.
Silence, absence of protest, or absence of resistance does not imply affirmative consent. Relying solely on non-verbal communication before or during sexual activity can lead to misunderstanding and may result in violation of the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking. In order to avoid confusion or ambiguity, participants are encouraged to talk with one another before engaging in sexual activity. If confusion or ambiguity arises during sexual activity, participants are encouraged to stop and clarify a mutual willingness to continue the activity.
Affirmative consent cannot be gained by the taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the person initiating sexual activity knew or reasonably should have known that the other was incapacitated. Incapacitation means that a person lacks the ability to make informed, rational judgments about whether to engage in sexual activity.
A person who is incapacitated is unable to give affirmative consent because of mental or physical incapacitation or impairment, which may include sleep, unconsciousness, or lack of awareness that sexual activity is taking place. A person may be incapacitated as a result of the consumption of alcohol or other drugs, or due to a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition. When evaluating whether someone consented to sexual activity after consuming alcohol or drugs, the University will consider whether a reasonable person would have known about the impact of alcohol and other drugs on the other party’s ability to give consent.
Sexual harassment is a form of harassment based on sex or gender. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, online and/or physical conduct of a sexual nature or the creation of a hostile environment when it meets any of the following criteria:
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment or educational status or as a basis for employment or academic decisions; or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or educational performance, depriving a student or employee or other individual of the ability to participate in or derive full benefit from any educational or employment opportunity, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for education, employment, social and/or residential living.
The University recognizes that sexual harassment may occur regardless of the formal position or status of each person involved, it occurs in relationships where the behavior exploits unfairly the power inherent in the position, such as between teacher and student, supervisor and subordinate, or between a student with a position of authority over another student.
Intent is not an element of sexual harassment. It is difficult to define with precision the kinds of verbal or physical behavior that constitute sexual harassment, because it depends on circumstances such as the severity, persistence and/or pervasiveness of the conduct, the type, frequency and duration of the conduct, the relationship between the harasser and the recipient of the harassment, the degree to which the conduct affected an individual’s education or employment; and whether it is a pattern of behavior. Although it is not possible to list all types of conduct that, if unwelcome, might constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples:
- Seeking sexual favors or relationships in return for the promise of a favorable grade, letter of recommendation, promotion, salary increase or other academic opportunity;
- Offensive and persistent risqué jokes or kidding about sex or gender-specific traits; or
- Sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes, regardless of the means of communication (oral, written, electronic, etc.); or
- Sexual comments or inappropriate references to gender; or
- Sexually suggestive sounds or gestures such as sucking noises, winks, pelvic thrusts, eating food suggestively; or
- Repeated unsolicited propositions for dates and/or sexual relations; or
- Comments about or unwanted touching, patting, punching, stroking, squeezing, tickling or brushing against a person; or
- A neck/shoulder massage; or
- Rating a person’s sexuality; or
- Sexual looks and lewd gestures, such as leering or ogling with suggestive overtones; or
- Spreading rumors about a person’s sexuality or sexual orientation; or
- Name calling; or
- Inquiries or commentaries about sexual activity, experience, sexual orientation or gender expression; or
- The display of inappropriate sexually oriented material in a location where others can view them including but not limited to pornography, pictures, drawings, calendars, cartoons, or other materials.
Sexually exploitative behavior is a form of Sexual Misconduct that occurs when an individual takes sexual advantage of another for their own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited. Sexually exploitative behavior may also constitute non-consensual sexual activity. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:
- Prostitution (such as selling or exchanging money or something else of value or benefit for sexual acts); or
- Taking pictures or video or audio recording of another in a sexual act or in any other private sexual activity without the consent of all involved in the activity, or exceeding the boundaries of consent (such as allowing another person to hide in a closet and observe sexual activity, or disseminating sexual pictures without the photographed person’s consent); or
- Exposing one’s genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals in non-consensual circumstances; or
- Unauthorized posting or distribution of materials involving the sexual activity of another person, including electronic postings; sexual voyeurism (such as watching a person who is undressing, using the bathroom, or engaging in sexual acts without the consent of the person observed); or
- Engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or another sexually transmitted infection (STI) and without informing the other person of the infection; or
- Hazing or bullying relating to sex or gender; or
- Administering alcohol or drugs (such as “date rape” drugs) to another person without their knowledge or effective consent.
Relationship violence encompasses dating violence, intimate partner violence, and domestic violence. Relationship Violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Relationship Violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former intimate partner, or spouse of a 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 intimate partner or spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under Massachusetts law, or by a spouse or any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected under the domestic or family violence laws of Massachusetts.
Stalking which includes cyberstalking, means a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and makes a threat with the intent to cause a reasonable person to fear for their or others’ safety or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Retaliation means to take an adverse action against the Complainant, or any person or group of persons involved in a protected activity including the report, interim measures, investigation and/or resolution of a Sexual Misconduct complaint that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in further protected activity. Retaliation can be committed by any person or group of persons, not just a Respondent. Retaliation can include threats, intimidation, coercion, harassment, continued abuse, violence or other forms of harm to others, and in varying modes, including in person and in electronic and online communication. Retaliation includes subjecting an individual to conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with that individual’s educational experience, work or educational performance, or creates an educational experience or work environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating or hostile. Retaliation should be reported promptly to Suffolk University Police and Security, or the Director of Title IX Compliance and may result in sanctions/disciplinary action in addition to the University’s response to the underlying allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking.
The University encourages reporting of Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking (prohibited conduct) to the University and/or local law enforcement. Individuals who believe they have been subjected to the misconduct are encouraged to report the prohibited conduct as soon as possible so the University can provide reasonable protective measures, resources and interim support to provide a safe educational and work environment and to prevent additional acts of prohibited conduct.
Different employees on campus have different abilities to maintain an individual’s confidentiality. Some are required to maintain complete confidentiality, see Section VI. Most employees are considered Responsible Employees and are required to report the prohibited conduct, including the identities of the Complainant and the Respondent, to the Office of Title IX. A report to these Responsible Employees constitutes a report which obligates the University to respond with a prompt, reasonable inquiry to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe the policy has been violated, and take appropriate steps to address the situation including interim measures to protect the Complainant and/or community, and possible sanctions/discipline against the Respondent. If the Complainant does not wish to pursue a complaint and/or requests that their report remain confidential, Title IX nevertheless requires the University to respond and take reasonable action to mitigate the effects of the prohibited conduct, taking into account the Complainant’s request for confidentiality. The Complainant will be informed that the University’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the Respondent(s) may be limited. The Director of Title IX Compliance will evaluate whether the Complainant’s request for confidentiality can be honored, taking into consideration a balancing test of factors. See Section VI; subsection C. If the Director of Title IX determines that it cannot maintain a Complainant’s confidentiality, the Complainant will be informed prior to the start of any inquiry or investigation, to the extent possible, and information will be shared with individuals responsible for handling the University’s response. The Complainant will not be required to participate in any investigation or disciplinary proceeding. Even if the University cannot issue sanctions or take disciplinary action against the accused party because of maintaining the confidentiality of the Complainant, the University reserves the authority to undertake an appropriate inquiry, and implement reasonably necessary interim measures. If requested by the Complainant, the Respondent will be informed that the Complainant asked the University not to investigate or seek sanctions/discipline, but that the University made the decision to go forward.
B. Reporting to University Police and Security
The University encourages reporting of prohibited conduct to the Suffolk University Police and Security Department (SUPD). Complainants have the right to notify or decline to notify law enforcement. A member of the SUPD is on patrol on campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is available to provide assistance to members of the Suffolk Community and Third parties. A report of sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking may be made at any time, day or night, by contacting SUPD at 617-573-8111. University police and security officers are considered Responsible Employees and will report the incident to the Director of Title IX Compliance.
C. Reporting to the University’s Director of Title IX Compliance
The University has designated the Director of Title Compliance as the Title IX Coordinator. A report of sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking can be made directly to the Director of Title IX Compliance. All Responsible Employees must inform the Director of Title IX Compliance if they receive a report, and complete the Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking Report Form. The University’s Director of Title IX Compliance is:
Sheila M. Calkins, BSN, JD
Director of Title IX and Clery Act Compliance
13th floor, 73 Tremont Street
D. Reporting to a Responsible Employee
A Responsible Employee is any University employee who is not a Confidential Employee. Except with respect to disclosures at public events and certain research-based disclosures, see Section E, a Responsible Employee is required to report to the University’s Director of Title IX Compliance and complete the Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking Report Form with all information (e.g., the names of the reporting individual, the parties, any witnesses, and any other relevant information, including the date, time and specific location of the alleged incident) disclosed to them about an incident of prohibited conduct. Upon receipt of a report of prohibited conduct, and until any investigation into the report has been completed, the University will provide reasonable protective measures and interim support to provide a safe educational and work environment and to prevent additional prohibited conduct, even when there is no specific request for protective action. To the extent possible, information reported to the Director of Title IX Compliance will be shared only with a limited circle of other University employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the assessment, investigation, and resolution of the reported incident. A student may wish to tell a Responsible Employee what happened but also to maintain confidentiality (i.e., may request that the University not share their identity with the alleged perpetrator(s), that no investigation occur, and/or that no disciplinary action be taken). This “Request for Confidentiality” should be indicated on the Report Form. The University will seek to honor the individual’s Request for Confidentiality to the extent it can do so consistent with its obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory learning, living, and working environment for all members of the University community.
Due to the Responsible Employee’s obligation to notify the Director of Title IX Compliance of any reports of prohibited conduct received, when possible, the Responsible Employee should inform the Complainant of the employee’s reporting obligations before a Complainant reveals any information to a Responsible Employee. If the Complainant wants to maintain confidentiality, the Responsible Employee should direct the Complainant to confidential resources. If the Complainant wants to inform the Responsible Employee of what happened but also maintain confidentiality, the Responsible Employee should inform the Complainant that the University will consider the request, but cannot guarantee that the University will be able to honor the request. In reporting the details of the incident to the Director of Title IX Compliance, the Responsible Employee will also inform the Director of Title IX Compliance of the Complainant’s request for confidentiality.
When a Complainant requests that the University investigate a report of prohibited conduct, to the extent possible, information reported to a Responsible Employee will be shared only with those responsible for handling the University’s response to the Report. Additionally, the Responsible Employee will endeavor to report only information relevant to the current Report. A Responsible Employee should not share information with law enforcement without the Reporting party’s consent or unless the Reporter has also reported the incident to law enforcement.
E. Other Disclosures at Campus Events
Responsible Employees are not required to report to the Director of Title IX Compliance any disclosure of alleged prohibited conduct that is made by a University student or employee during or in connection with (1) public awareness events (e.g. “Take Back the Night,” candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak-outs” or other public forums in which students may disclose incidents of Sexual Misconduct), or (2) a student’s participation as a subject in a human subjects research protocol, climate surveys, classroom writing assignments or discussions. These disclosures do not provide notice to the University of Sexual Misconduct for purposes of triggering its obligation to investigate any particular incident(s); however, the University may provide information at such events, and to subjects of such research trials, and classrooms about students’ Title IX rights and about available University and community resources and support services.
F. Reporting to a University Confidential Resource
A Complainant who wishes to make a confidential report of prohibited conduct should contact one of the University’s confidential resources. All employees in the Counseling, Health and Wellness Center as well as the Interfaith Center are not required to report any information about prohibited conduct to the Director of Title IX Compliance without an individual’s permission. The University’s confidential resources are:
- Students Only
- Employees Only
- Employees Assistance Program E4 Health (username: Suffolk University; password: guest). Formerly known as Lifescope, E4 Health provides employees and their family members with free, confidential, 24/7 access to licensed, master’s level clinicians to assist in finding solutions to help balance personal and work challenges. The goal is to help employees simplify their life. Employees and their family members can access services on the web or via phone at 800-828-6025.
G. Reporting Prohibited Conduct to Off-Campus Agencies
The University encourages all individuals who believe they have been subjected to prohibited conduct to report as soon as possible to local or University police so appropriate action may be taken. Suffolk University Police and Security (SUPD) will assist any individual who requests assistance in contacting local law enforcement. Suffolk University Police and Security may be reached at 617-573-8111 for assistance or dial 911 to contact the appropriate municipal authority directly.
Individuals who believe that they have been subjected to prohibited conduct may file a formal complaint with either or all of the government agencies set forth below. The Suffolk University Policy and Procedures regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking does not prohibit an individual from filing a complaint with these agencies:
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
JFK Federal Building Room 475
Boston, MA 02203
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)
One Ashburton Place Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
5 Post Office Square, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
H. Off-Campus Counseling and Advocacy Resources
The University encourages all members of the University community to report any incident of prohibited conduct. The University recognizes, however, that not every person will choose to make a formal report to the University or with local law enforcement. For those who are not prepared to pursue a Complaint, or use the services provided by the University, students and employees may access resources located in the local community. All members of the University Community are encouraged to utilize the resources available on or off-campus that are best suited to their needs. The Boston area organizations and agencies listed below can provide crisis intervention services, counseling, and legal assistance.
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC)
800-841-8371 (24-hour hotline)
BARCC offers free, confidential services to sexual assault survivors, their friends and families. It also operates a 24-hour confidential hotline that provides survivors of sexual assault with telephone counseling and personal support. The Center also maintains a referral network of survivor support groups (call 617-492-RAPE or 617-492-7273).
Casa Myrna Vasquez
Casa Myrna offers a comprehensive range of services, available in both Spanish and English, for survivors of domestic and dating violence, to assist with the tools to recover from the trauma of abuse and begin to build sustainable self-sufficiency.
Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer (GLBTQ) Domestic Violence Project
The GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project provides free and confidential support and services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer survivors of domestic and sexual violence. It works with victims and survivors to increase safety, security, and foster empowerment through direct services, education, and advocacy.
Jane Doe Inc. (Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence)
617-248-0922 TTY/TTD: 617-263-2200
Jane Doe Inc. is an interactive service locator tool to find sexual assault and domestic violence resources in your area and a map of service providers across Massachusetts.
Fenway Health Violence Recovery Program (VRP)
VRP provides counseling, support groups, advocacy, and referral services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) victims of bias crime, domestic violence, sexual assault, and police misconduct.
Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC)
VRLC is dedicated to serving the legal needs of sexual assault victims. The VRLC provides free legal services, legal training, and technical assistance.
Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
617-338-2355 (24- hour multilingual helpline)
Department of Defense Safe Helpline
877-995-5247 (confidential sexual assault support for the military community)
I. Minors - Reporting Requirements under Title IX
In addition to having students who are minors enrolled, Suffolk hosts minors as guests. Sexual misconduct against minors, whether perpetrated by University employees, volunteers, contractors, or students, is a form of discrimination covered by Title IX. Sexual misconduct including sexual harassment, relationship violence and stalking involving a minor who is a student will be processed consistent with this Policy.
Additionally, Massachusetts law imposes a duty to report on teachers (faculty), educational administrators, mental health professionals, counselors, clergy and law enforcement to report certain crimes involving minors, and abuse, to appropriate officials. Suffolk’s protocol is that all employees shall report all suspected child abuse (physical and emotional), sexual abuse of minors, and criminal acts involving minors to the SUPD immediately and without delay. SUPD is the University’s designated agent in charge for state mandated reporting. Clery Act reporting of offenses for statistical purposes occurs whether victims are minors or adults.
Whether involving a student or non-student, the University, the Title IX Coordinator, and/or privileged and confidential personnel also may be required to report sexual misconduct involving a minor to the Mass. Department the of Children and Families.
This requirement does not apply to faculty, staff, and students working or enrolled in Suffolk University Programs and Departments in cases in which the above reporting requirements would conflict with said individuals’ professional, legal and/or statutory obligations to protect confidential information and/or privileged communications.
A. Interim Measures in All Situations
When the University receives a complaint of prohibited conduct, the University will notify the Complainant of their Title IX rights and any available resources, such as victim advocacy, a no contact order, housing, dining and on-campus employment assistance, academic support, escort services, counseling, disability services, health services, and legal assistance, and the right to report a crime to campus or local law enforcement. The University will also notify the Respondent of their options for interim measures as well.
The specific interim measures implemented and the process for implementing those measures will vary depending on the facts of each case. The University will consider a number of factors in determining what interim measures to take, including, for example, the specific need(s) expressed; the severity or pervasiveness of the alleged prohibited conduct; any continuing effects on the Complainant; whether the Complainant and Respondent share the same class(es), residence hall, dining hall, co-curricular activities, or employment situation; and whether legal measures have been taken by the Complainant (e.g., civil protection orders).
Even when a party does not specifically request that protective action be taken, the University may impose interim measures at its discretion to ensure the safety of any individual, the safety of the broader University community, or the integrity of the investigation process.
B. Determining the Investigation Approach
Upon report of prohibited conduct to the Director of Title IX Compliance, whether directly from a Complainant or from another source, such as a Responsible Employee, Title IX requires the University to take prompt, reasonable action in response to the information received. The Director of Title IX Compliance must assess and determine whether there is sufficient basis to initiate a Title IX investigation or take other steps to address the effects of the alleged prohibited conduct on the impacted party and the University community and prevent its recurrence. The Director of Title IX Compliance, or designee, will meet with the impacted party, when possible, to provide information about a Title IX investigation. Before beginning an investigation, the Director of Title IX Compliance, or designee, will contact the impacted party and request consent from the impacted party to proceed to an investigation. An investigation may still go forward even if the impacted party refuses consent, if appropriate, subject to a balancing test of the following factors:
- The seriousness of the alleged misconduct, including whether a weapon was involved;
- The impacted party’s age;
- Whether the misconduct was committed by multiple assailants;
- Whether the misconduct included threatening behavior by the harasser or assailant against the impacted party;
- Whether there exists prior misconduct complaints about the same individual, including prior arrests or history of violence at another institution; and
- Whether the misconduct involves a pattern at a given location or by a particular group.
The alleged Respondent’s rights to receive information about the allegations if the information is maintained by the school as an “education record” is under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 C.F.R. Part 99.1.
In some instances, if the Director of Title IX Compliance does not initiate an investigation, the matter may be referred to another process such as referring to a University administrator (i.e. the Dean of Students or Chief Human Resources Officer to manage a concern on behalf of the Director of Title IX Compliance and in lieu of an investigation under this policy. In some instances, such as where the concern described does not fall within the scope of prohibited conduct, an investigation may not go forward.
When a Complainant has made a report of prohibited conduct to a Responsible Employee, the Responsible Employee will try to ensure that the Complainant understands the Responsible Employee’s reporting obligations to the Director of Title IX Compliance. The Director of Title IX Compliance will coordinate the investigation and resolution of all reports of prohibited conduct, including assigning an Investigator(s) to conduct the investigation. The Investigation will include a meeting with the Complainant to inform them of Complaint filing options; determine the name(s) of the parties involved, and the date, location and nature of the prohibited conduct, notify the Complainant of the option of having an Adviser with them at any meeting or interview related to them and the process; identify forms of support or immediate interventions available to the Complainant (referrals for medical treatment and counseling support, referrals to appropriate law enforcement agencies and/or referrals to off-campus resources). The meeting may also involve a discussion of any interim measures that may be appropriate concerning the Complainant’s academic or co-curricular activities, or their living, transportation, dining and employment situation. The Complainant may decline participating in the meeting.
When the Complainant is not a University student, the Director of Title IX Compliance will determine the appropriate person at the University to work with the Complainant to gather information and provide support and any appropriate interim measures.
The Director of Title IX Compliance will ensure prompt and equitable resolutions that comply with all requirements and procedures; conduct climate checks to track and monitor prohibited conduct allegations on campus; and coordinate all training, education, and prevention efforts.
Upon report of prohibited conduct to the Director of Title IX Compliance, whether directly from a Complainant or from another source, such as a Responsible Employee, Title IX requires the University to take prompt, reasonable action in response to the information received. The Director of Title IX Compliance must assess and determine whether there is sufficient basis to initiate a Title IX investigation or take other steps to address the effects of the alleged sexual misconduct on the impacted party and the University community and prevent its recurrence. The Director of Title IX Compliance or designee will meet with the impacted party, when possible, to provide information about a Title IX investigation. Before beginning an investigation, the Director of Title IX Compliance or designee will contact the impacted party and request consent from the impacted party to proceed to an investigation.
During the initial meeting with the Respondent, the Respondent will be provided information about a Title IX investigation, available resources, and interim measures.
The Investigation will be conducted through the use of one or more internal and/or external Investigators appointed by the Director of Title IX Compliance and trained in Title IX investigations. The Investigation will include interviews of the Complainant, Respondent, and any witnesses by the Investigators. The Investigation will include the gathering of any physical, documentary, or other relevant and available evidence. As part of the investigation, the University will provide an opportunity for all parties to present written statements, identify witnesses and submit other evidence. Student-witnesses may be required to cooperate with the Investigation regardless of the parties’ selection of witnesses.
During the investigation, the investigator[s] will afford the Complainant and Respondent an opportunity to respond to information provided by other parties, including witnesses. This information will typically be shared verbally during the interview. Either party may also request an opportunity to review the written interview summaries and/or documentary information. Such request will be granted if and when deemed appropriate in the sole discretion of the investigator[s].
At the conclusion of the investigation, but before any determinations are made by the investigator[s], the investigator[s] will schedule separate meetings with the Complainant and Respondent to review the investigation report, including information gathered (including all written interview summaries and documentary evidence deemed relevant by the investigators). The Complainant and Respondent will have the opportunity to provide written corrections or clarifications, new relevant information or documentation, and/or suggest new witnesses who possess material information. The information from the Complainant and Respondent must be provided within five (5) business days of the meeting with the investigator[s]. The investigator[s] shall review the information submitted by the parties and will incorporate the information deemed relevant and appropriate. Information that conflicts significantly with information previously submitted by the interviewed party will be noted. General comments on the information and/or one party's analysis of the information will not be considered.
If the Complainant and/or Respondent identify additional relevant evidence, that evidence shall be gathered by the investigator[s] to the extent reasonably possible. Depending on the nature of the new evidence, it may be shared with the Complainant and/or the Respondent for comment.
The investigators will send the written report to the Director of Title IX Compliance for review.
The Director of Title IX Compliance will review the report to ensure the following:
a. The investigation was thorough, reliable, and impartial;
b. The conclusions were based on the evidence collected;
c. The conclusions were based on the preponderance of the evidence; and
d. The policy was applied appropriately.
If the Director of Title IX Compliance determines that any further steps are necessary to meet any of these requirements, the Director of Title IX will so inform the investigator[s]. The investigator[s] will take the necessary steps per the directions and return the report to the Director of Title IX for review. Upon approval by the Director of Title IX, a separate meeting will be scheduled with the Complainant and the Respondent to deliver the finding. These meetings will be arranged as contemporaneously as possible. At the meetings, the Director of Title IX will make the report, exhibits and any other relevant documents collected available to both parties for their review (necessary redactions may be made in the discretion of the Director of Title IX); and explain the next steps in the process (appeal and/or sanction processes if applicable). In addition, the Director will determine whether additional remedies are necessary for the Complainant and/or community to address the incident.
The standard used in determining the responsibility of the Respondent(s) is the “preponderance of the evidence,” standard, which is whether the evidence gathered and information provided during the investigation supports a finding that it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking.
A Complainant who files a report of Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking, or a Third Party who reports or is a witness to the misconduct will not be subject to sanctions/disciplinary action by the University for their improper use of alcohol or drugs provided that they are acting in good faith as a Complainant, Reporter or witness to the events. Students, whether as parties to the proceedings or as witnesses, are expected to provide truthful testimony.
Both the Complainant and Respondent are entitled to bring an adviser of their choosing to guide and accompany them to any meeting or interview in connection with an Investigation. The Adviser may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other supporter a party chooses. The role of the Adviser during any meeting or interview is non-participatory. In keeping with the University’s obligation to promptly resolve complaints, the University reserves the right to proceed with any meeting or interview regardless of the availability of the selected Adviser.
If a Student Respondent withdraws from the University while an investigation, review or appeal is pending, the following entry shall be made on the student's transcript: "Withdrew while disciplinary proceedings pending." A student who withdraws while such investigation or proceeding is pending shall not be eligible to be readmitted to the University until the Investigation or proceeding has been completed and the Director of Title IX Compliance has determined that the Respondent is eligible for readmission.
If the Respondent is found responsible for violating the policy, the University will impose sanctions/discipline. Sanctions/discipline will be designed to eliminate a hostile environment, prevent further misconduct, promote safety, and deter involved students/employees from similar future behavior. Certain behavior may be so harmful to the University community that it may require serious sanctions, such as removal from University housing, removal from specific courses or activities, or suspension from the University, or dismissal or termination of employment from the institution, see Appendix B (Student and Student Organization Sanctions) and Appendix C (Employee Discipline). More than one of the sanctions listed in Appendix B may be imposed for any single violation. Other sanctions/discipline may be imposed instead of or in addition to those specified in Appendix B and C. The list is provided by way of example only, and it is not intended to be exhaustive. In addition to the sanctions/discipline set forth in Appendix B for students, a responsible finding for violating the policy may result in forfeiture of all University scholarships, financial aid, or monies paid.
In determining Sanction(s)/Discipline, all relevant information, including, but not limited to, the Respondent’s present demeanor, past disciplinary record, the nature of the misconduct, and the severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from the misconduct will be considered. Sanction(s)/Discipline do not become effective until the appeals process is completed; however, any interim sanctions/measures imposed remain in effect during the appeal period.
The University may, in its discretion and in accordance with applicable student privacy laws, report sanctions to institutions or agencies to which the Respondent is applying or transferring. This includes, but is not limited to professional licensure agencies (including bar authorities), employers, and other educational institutions.
Both the Respondent and the Complainant may submit a request to appeal a finding no later than five (5) business days after notification of the finding by the Director of Title IX Compliance. Notification of the finding is deemed to have occurred according to the date on which the written finding is mailed, an e-mail is sent, a telephone conversation takes place, or a written message is delivered advising the parties of this information. A request to appeal by either party shall be submitted in writing to the Director of Title IX Compliance. A request for appeal will be considered only for (1) a failure to follow the process or procedures outlined in the policy that significantly impacted the outcome; or (2) if new information, not available at the time of the investigation or review process, is now available and the new information could substantially impact the original finding. The appealing party must include a written statement of why the additional information should be considered and why it was not presented originally, including the specific process and/or procedure(s) that were allegedly not followed. The request to appeal will be shared with the other party. Disagreement with the sanction(s)/discipline is not grounds for an appeal.
The Dean of Students of the College of Arts & Sciences and Sawyer Business School or the Law School Dean of Students, or their designee shall act as the appeal officer.
After reviewing the written appeal(s), written statement(s), and associated report, the appeal officer will take one of the following actions:
- Reject the appeal as untimely or improper based on the grounds articulated above.
- Uphold the original decision and/or sanction.
- Grant the appeal and:
- Remand the matter with specific instructions to the Director of Title IX for further consideration, or, in the rare circumstances in which it would be impractical, improper, or infeasible to remand the matter, grant a new investigation.
- If remanded for further investigation, any resulting sanction which has been imposed may be stayed if requested. The original investigator(s) will handle the further investigation, where appropriate.
- In rare circumstances, revise the finding from a "not responsible" to a "responsible" finding, or from a "responsible" to a "not responsible" finding.
- If the finding of the investigation is revised from a "not responsible" to a "responsible" finding, the appeal officer will either determine the final sanction(s) or remand the case to the Director of Title IX to determine the sanction(s).
Ordinarily, the request to appeal will be reviewed and decided within two weeks and the Complainant and the Respondent will simultaneously be notified in writing (mail, email, or written message delivered) of the outcome of the request to appeal. The decision issued on the request to appeal is final. All interim sanction(s)/discipline will be in effect while the request to appeal is under consideration.
Appendix A: Definitions Relevant to the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking
Affirmative Consent: Consent which must be informed, voluntary, and active, meaning that, through the demonstration of clear words or actions, a person has indicated permission to engage in mutually agreed –upon sexual activity. Whoever initiates sex has the responsibility to ask for and receive permission. Participants are encouraged to talk to one another before engaging in sexual activity to avoid a misunderstanding. (See Section IV, Affirmative Consent of the Policy for a more thorough discussion).
Complaint: A request that the University take action to investigate and resolve an allegation that a student has violated the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking.
Complainant: A person who has made a report of prohibited conduct to a Responsible Employee, University Title IX Coordinator, or University Police and Security, and submitted a Complaint to the University Title IX Coordinator requesting that the University take action to investigate and resolve an allegation that a student has violated the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking.
Investigator: The Investigator is responsible for conducting a prompt Title IX Investigation of a Complaint of Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking. The Investigator may be a University employee, or may be retained from an outside organization by the University. All Investigators will be trained in investigations pursuant to Title IX requirements.
Investigation (Title IX): A prompt and effective inquiry to determine whether or not a violation of the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking has occurred. An Investigation includes but is not limited to interview(s) with the Complainant, Respondent and relevant witnesses. The Investigation will include the gathering of physical, documentary, or other relevant and available evidence, including law enforcement reports.
Respondent: A student against whom a Title IX Report or Complaint of Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking has been made.
Responsible Employee: All employees of the University, including faculty, staff, resident assistants and teaching assistants have been identified as Responsible Employees and are required to report all information regarding possible or alleged misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or designated officials. All employees in Counseling, Health and Wellness and the Interfaith Center are not Responsible Employees.
Standard of Proof: In resolving complaints pursuant to the [Title IX] Policy, the University will use a “preponderance of the evidence,” standard, which is whether the evidence gathered and information provided during the investigation supports a finding that it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking.
Title IX: Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. On June 23, 1972, the President signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. Â§1681 et seq., into law. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices.
Title IX Coordinator: The administrator identified by the University to monitor compliance; ensure and coordinate education and training; coordinate the investigation, response, and resolution of all reports under the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking; and ensure appropriate actions to eliminate, prevent its recurrence, address its effect on persons and the Community as a whole. The University has identified the Director of Title IX Compliance in this role:
Sheila M. Calkins, BSN, JD
Director of Title IX and Clery Act Compliance
13th floor, 73 Tremont Street
When a student has been found responsible for a violation of the University’s Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking, any of the following sanctions may be imposed by the University. The below list is not intended to be exhaustive and the University reserves the right to impose one or more sanctions for a single violation or impose other sanctions instead of or in addition to those specified below. In addition, a responsible finding may result in forfeiture of all University scholarships, financial aid, or monies paid.
Warning: A notice, either verbal or written, that the student is violating or has violated University regulations, must cease the conduct immediately, and that continuation or repetition of wrongful conduct may be cause for more severe disciplinary action.
Private Reprimand: A notice, either verbal and/or written, directly to the student that the student has violated University regulations.
Parental Notification: The University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians regarding any serious health or safety risk, and when students under the age of 21 have been found responsible for violating the University’s alcohol or other drug policies.
Loss of Privileges: Denial of specified University and/or Residence Life & Housing or other privileges for a designated period of time, which may include, but is not limited to, denial of access to any campus facility, activity, event, class, or program. This includes, but is not limited to, orders prohibiting the student from having contact with a member of the University Community. This also includes, but is not limited to, loss of privileges in the residence halls including but not limited to: guest privileges, early arrival/late stay status, vacation period housing, or removal from a floor, room, or building. Should residence hall space not be immediately available, relocation may take place at an arranged time.
Confiscation of Property: Confiscation of items that the University determines are inappropriate for the University setting.
Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage, or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service or monetary or material replacement.
Educational Program or Project: Required attendance at the student’s expense at an educational workshop or completion of an educational project that will benefit the University community, responsible student, or others.
Referral: A student may be referred to Counseling, Health and Wellness, Student Affairs/Dean of Students (Law) Center for Learning & Academic Success or another appropriate office or local agency for consultation or assessment.
Unenrollment from a Course and/or Academic Program: A student may be unenrolled from a course and/or an academic program. In such cases, tuition and fees for the course will not be refunded to the student.
Order of No Contact: An order that restricts communication/contact between two or more parties.
Disciplinary Probation: A period of time during which a student’s behavior is subject to examination.
Strict Disciplinary Probation: A period of time during which a student’s behavior is subject to close examination. In addition, the student may be excluded from participation in some or all social and/or extracurricular activities, including, but not limited to, representing the University, participating in intercollegiate athletics, holding elected or appointed office in the Student Government Association/Student Bar Association or other student organization, or studying abroad.
Residence Relocation: Required reassignment to another residence area.
Deferred Loss of Housing: Warning that if the student is found responsible for violating the University’s Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking, the student may be immediately removed from the residence halls for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply for housing.
Loss of Future Housing: The student is prohibited from participating in the returning student housing lottery or from participating in the returning student waitlist until the date specified or indefinitely if no date is specified.
Residence Hall Suspension: Separation of the student from the residence halls for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply for housing. The student may not participate in the housing lottery for the following year or be on the housing waitlist while on Residence Hall Suspension. Reapplication for housing does not guarantee the student will receive on-campus housing. Conditions for returning to the residence halls may be specified.
Residence Hall Dismissal: Permanent separation of the student from the residence halls.
Deferred University Suspension: A warning that if the student is found responsible for violating the University’s Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking during a specific period of time, the student may be immediately suspended from the University for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply. Conditions for return may be specified.
University Suspension: Suspension of the student from the University for a specific period of time, after which the student may apply to return. Conditions for return may be specified. University Suspension is noted on the student’s transcript.
Deferred University Dismissal: Warning that if the student is found responsible for violating the University’s Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking, the student may be immediately dismissed from the University.
Dismissal: Permanent separation of the student from the University. University Dismissal is noted on the student’s transcript.
Revocation of Admission or Degree: Admission to the University or a degree awarded from the University may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or violation of the University’s Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to graduation.
Withholding of a Degree: The University may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the disciplinary process, including any investigation, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.
Student Organization Recognition in Jeopardy: A warning that if the student organization is found responsible for violating the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking during a specified period of time, the student organization’s recognition may be immediately revoked.
Loss of Recognition: During a specific period of time, a recognized student organization may not associate itself with the University by using the University name, facilities, or other rights and privileges of recognized student organizations, after which the organization may reapply for recognition. There is no guarantee re-recognition will be granted. If re-recognition is granted, conditions for re-recognition may be specified.
Where an employee of the University violates the Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking discipline up to and including termination may be imposed.