Frequently asked questions about the sexual misconduct policy and procedures
Does information about a complaint remain private?
The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct must be respected, except insofar as it interferes with the college’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy is not strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. Dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure is not permitted. Violations of the privacy of the complainant or the accused individual may lead to conduct action by the college.
In all complaints of sexual misconduct, all parties will be informed of the outcome. The institution also must statistically report the occurrence on campus of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.
What are my rights as a victim/survivor?
Please click here for a document stating your rights for the investigation and handling of your case.
Will my parents be told?
Whether you are the complainant or the accused individual, the college’s primary relationship is with the student and not to the parent. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. College officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, in a life-threatening situation, or if a student has signed a consent form for disclosure to parents. Please refer to the separate Parental Notification Policy in the Student Handbook for more information about parent contact.
Will the accused individual know my identity?
Yes, if you file a report or complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused individual has the right to know the identity of the complainant/alleged victim. If there is a hearing, the college does provide options for questioning without confrontation, including Skype, using a room divider or using separate hearing rooms.
Do I have to name the perpetrator if I want to file a report?
If you want formal disciplinary action to be taken again the alleged perpetrator then we will need the name of the perpetrator . If you choose to report the incident or discuss the incident without using the name of the alleged perpetrator, the college will be limited in how it can respond. Community members should be aware that not identifying the perpetrator(s) may limit the institution’s ability to respond comprehensively.
What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?
DO NOT contact the alleged victim. It is also recommended that you read this document. You may also want to consult these resources. Keep in mind that some of these resources are responsible employees who are required to share information with the Title IX Coordinator; confidential resources are limited to clergy, health care professionals, attorneys, and mental health care providers.
Will I (as a victim) have to pay for counseling and/or medical care?
Not typically, since the college already provides counseling and health services free of charge to students. If a victim is accessing community and non-institutional services, payment for these will be subject to state/local laws, insurance requirements, etc.
What about changing residence hall rooms?
If you want to move, you may request a room change. Room changes under these circumstances are considered emergencies. It is typically college policy that in emergency room changes, the student is moved to the first available suitable room. If you want the accused individual to move, and believe that you have been the victim of sexual misconduct, you must be willing to pursue a formal or informal complaint. No contact orders can be imposed and room changes for the accused individual can usually be arranged quickly. Other accommodations available to you might include: assisting with academic assignment deadlines, taking an incomplete grade in a class, transferring class sections, and/or other academic accommodations.
What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?
If you want to pursue a criminal complaint now or in the future, physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the alleged victim’s person within 120 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. Public Safety can assist you with the collection of evidence and/or provide information about the collection of evidence. If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to the hospital emergency room (Newton Wellesley Hospital in Newton or Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Needham) before washing yourself or your clothing. You can request a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at the hospital who is usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. A victim advocate from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC; 1-800-841-8371) can also accompany you to the hospital and law enforcement or Public Safety can provide transportation. You can also request that a Peer Advocate for Sexual Respect accompany you to the hospital. If a victim goes to the hospital, local police will be called, but s/he is not obligated to talk to the police or to pursue prosecution. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to a victim, but will not obligate him/her to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the victim decide later to exercise their right to do so.
For the victim: the hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns, and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. You can take a support person with you to the hospital and that person can accompany you through the exam if you want. Do not disturb the crime scene—leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect should you choose to contact the police.
Will a victim be sanctioned when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used drugs or alcohol?
Whenever possible the college will respond educationally rather than punitively to the illegal use of drugs and/or alcohol. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the college does not want any of the circumstances (i.e. drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.
Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint?
The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused individual’s responsibility. On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the complainant’s memory and, therefore, may affect the outcome of the complaint. A person bringing a complaint of sexual misconduct must either remember the alleged incident or have sufficient circumstantial evidence, physical evidence and/or witnesses to prove his/her complaint. If the complainant does not remember the circumstances of the alleged incident, it may not be possible to impose sanctions on the accused without further corroborating information. Use of alcohol and/or drugs will never excuse a violation by an accused individual.
What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?
If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the college’s sexual misconduct policy, you should contact the institution’s Title IX Coordinator, a Student Affairs staff member, a Resident Resource, and/or a Peer Advocate for Sexual Respect to discuss the situation. Any of these individuals can help you define and clarify the event and advise you of your options. Please keep in mind that most of these individuals are required to report at least the basics of what they learn to the Title IX Coordinator. The only completely confidential resources are clergy, mental health providers, Health Services staff, and attorneys. One confidential resource that might be helpful in sorting through what happened is the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (1-800-841-8371). Peer Advocates for Sexual Respect are trained to be confidential but may have to contact a member of the college staff if they are concerned that a student might harm themselves and/or others.