Below is a list of frequently asked questions concerning gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct. Understand that this list is intended to be used as a resource for students and other members of the University community, but is not all encompassing. For specific questions and concerns regarding gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct, individuals are instructed to contact the University's Title IX Coordinator, Leonora P. Campbell at 203-396-8386 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 University's obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy it 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 action taken by the University.
In all complaints of sexual misconduct, all parties will be informed of the outcome. In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief public announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, without using the name or identifiable information of the alleged victim. Certain University administrators are informed of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy. The institution also must statistically report the occurrence of major violent crimes on campus, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.
- Will my parents be told?
Sacred Heart reserves the right to communicate with a parent or guardian of the accused student on any student conduct action taken by the University, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Will the accused person know my identity?
Yes, if you choose to have the University move through formal hearing procedures against the accused. 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 University does provide options for participation without confrontation, including Skype, using a room divider or using separate hearing rooms.
- Do I have to name the perpetrator?
Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint, however victims should be aware that not identifying the perpetrator 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. You may immediately want to contact someone in the campus community who can act as your advisor. You may also contact the deputy Title IX coordinator, who can explain the University's procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints. You may also want to talk to a confidential counselor at the counseling center or seek other community assistance.
- Will I have to pay for counseling or medical care?
Counseling services and most student health services are free of charge for students. If an individual is accessing community and non-institutional services, payment for these will be subject to state/local laws, insurance requirements, etc.
- What about legal advice?
Victims of criminal sexual assault need not retain a private attorney to pursue prosecution because representation will be handled by the State's Attorney's [prosecutor's] office. You may want to retain an attorney if you are the accused individual or are considering filing a criminal or civil action. The accused individual may retain counsel at their own expense if they determine that they need legal advice about criminal or civil action. Attorneys are not permitted in the University's student conduct proceedings.
- 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 institutional 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 University complaint. No contact orders can be imposed and room changes for the accused individual can usually be arranged quickly.
- What other accommodations are available to me?
Other accommodations available to you might include:
- Assistance from University support staff in completing a room relocation;
- Assistance with or rescheduling an academic assignment (paper, exams, etc.);
- Taking an incomplete in a class;
- Assistance with transferring class sections;
- Temporary withdrawal;
- Assistance with alternative course completion options;
- Other accommodations for safety as necessary.
For more information on accommodations and resources, contact Leonora P. Campbell, Title IX Coordinator, at 203-396-8386.
- What should I do about preserving evidence of sexual assault?
Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. 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. If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to the Hospital Emergency Room, before washing yourself or your clothing. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (a specially trained nurse) at the hospital is usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (call the Emergency Room if you first want to speak to the nurse; ER will refer you). A victim advocate from the community can also accompany you to the hospital and law enforcement or Public Safety can provide transportation. 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 or her to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the victim decide later to exercise it.
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 they 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.
- Will a complainant be sanctioned when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used drugs or alcohol?
No. The severity of the infraction will determine the nature of the University's response, but whenever possible the University 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 University does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., 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 conduct complaint?
The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused individuals 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 other drugs will never excuse a violation by an accused individual.
- Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?
Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.
- 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 institution's sexual misconduct policy, you should contact the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator.
- What else is considered misconduct under this policy?
Examples of other forms of misconduct covered by the University's Title IX Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy include:
- Threatening or causing physical harm, extreme verbal abuse, or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person;
- Discrimination, defined as actions that deprive other members of the community of educational or employment access, benefits or opportunities on the basis of gender;
- Intimidation, defined as implied threats or acts that cause an unreasonable fear of harm in another;
- Hazing, defined as acts likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within the University community, when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining or any other group-affiliation activity;
- Harassment, defined as repeated and/or severe aggressive behavior likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control or diminish another person, physically or mentally (that is not speech or conduct otherwise protected by the First Amendment).
- Violence between those in an intimate relationship to each other;
- Stalking, defined as repetitive and/or menacing pursuit, following, harassment and/or interference with the peace and/or safety of a member of the community; or the safety of any of the immediate family of members of the community.