Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct Policy
Revised August 2012
- Downloadable version (PDF)
Statement of Institutional Philosophy
Norwich University is committed to creating and maintaining a community in which all persons who participate in University programs and activities can work together in an atmosphere free of all forms of harassment, assault, exploitation, or intimidation, including that which is sexual in nature. Every member of the University community should be aware that the University does not tolerate sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Sexual Assault is also prohibited both by State and Federal law. It is the intention of the University to take prompt and equitable action to prevent the reoccurrence of behaviors that violate this policy.
Scope of Policy
This policy applies to faculty, staff, other employees and agents, students, and organizations receiving Norwich University funding, or that use the Norwich University name or facilities.
An individual who believes that he/she has been sexually assaulted is encouraged to pursue criminal charges in addition to filing a complaint with the University. Both criminal charges and University complaints will proceed independently. University procedures and sanctions can be implemented regardless of when or if criminal charges are initiated or substantiated. The University is committed to, and required by law to, take action if it learns of alleged sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct, even if the aggrieved employee or student does not wish to file a complaint.
Although sexual assault and sexual misconduct may be forms of sexual harassment, complaints of sexual assault and sexual misconduct are handled differently, and they are, thus, covered under this separate policy.
Statement of Prohibited Conduct
Norwich University Definition of Sexual Assault
Any sexual act forced on another person without his or her consent is considered sexual assault. Sexual assault may include a sexual act carried out under coercion, with the threat of force, or by using or employing a weapon, through a position of authority, or when the victim/survivor is mentally handicapped or physically helpless including by reason of drug or alcohol consumption, sleep, or unconsciousness.
Norwich University Definition of Sexual Misconduct
Sexual Misconduct includes ANY uninvited or unwelcome sexual touching or sexual contact that is not included in Norwich University’s definition of sexual assault. This includes physical contact with a person’s genital area, other bodily orifices or with a person’s buttocks or breasts if the sexual contact or sexual touching is done without the person’s consent. Sexual misconduct may include sexual contact carried out under coercion, with the threat of force, or by using or employing a weapon, through a position of authority, or when the victim/survivor is mentally handicapped or physically helpless including by reason of drug or alcohol consumption, sleep, or unconsciousness.
Norwich University Definition of a Sexual Act
A sexual act is conduct between persons consisting of contact between the penis and the vulva, the penis and the anus, the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or any intrusion, however slight, by any part of a person’s body or any object into the genital or anal opening of another.
Norwich University Definition of Consent
Consent for sexual activity is clear indication, either through verbal or physical actions, that parties are willing and active participants in the sexual activity. Such authorization must be free of force, threat, intimidation, or coercion, and must be given actively and knowingly in a state of mind that is conscious and rational and not compromised by alcohol or drug incapacitation.
Conduct may be considered sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct even if:
- the respondent is someone known by the complainant
- the assault and/or sexual misconduct happens on a date
- either or both individuals have engaged in sexual touching and kissing prior to the assault or misconduct
- either or both individuals have engaged in consensual sexual activity in the past
- either or both individuals are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
- there was no weapon involved
- there was no evidence of a struggle or resistance
- there were no other witnesses.
Immediate Responses to Sexual Assault and/or Misconduct
The University recognizes that any decision to report a sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct to the police is the right of the victim/complainant. However, once an incident or complaint of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct is reported to the Equal Opportunity Officer (the Officer) he or she will inform the victim/complainant of the options of criminal prosecution, medical assistance, and use of this policy to file a complaint or report a sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct. The Officer will assist the victim/complainant with these contacts if requested. In addition, confidential counseling, support services, academic assistance, future security and alternative housing (for students) can be coordinated as appropriate through the Officer.
Victims/complainants of a sexual assault should go immediately to a hospital emergency room for medical attention and a sexual assault exam.
- should not bathe or douche,
- should not urinate,
- should not drink any liquids,
- if oral contact has occurred, the victim/survivor should not smoke, eat or brush teeth, and
- if clothes are changed, soiled clothes should be placed in a paper bag (plastic destroys crucial evidence).
Campus Security will assist victims/complainants with transportation arrangements or assistance or with contacting local police upon request. Medical attention is crucial to assess possible internal injuries or sexually transmitted diseases, as well as to collect medical evidence should the victim/complainant choose to pursue prosecution. The sooner a sexual assault is reported, the easier it is to collect valuable evidence. The collection of evidence by hospital personnel and its storage by the police does not mean the victim/complainant has to pursue criminal charges.
Rights of the Complainant
Individuals pursuing a complaint of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct who report their experience to University officials can anticipate that:
- All reports of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct will be treated seriously.
- Complainants will be treated with confidentiality, sensitivity, dignity and respect and in a non-judgmental manner.
- Complainants may invite a member of the University community (e.g., student, faculty, or staff member) to accompany them through all parts of the University’s complaint resolution procedures.
- Complainants will be afforded the opportunity to request immediate on-campus housing relocation (for students), transfer of classes, or other steps to prevent unnecessary or unwanted contact or proximity to a respondent when possible.
- The unrelated sexual history of the complainant is not considered relevant to the truth of the allegation; therefore, information regarding sexual history external to the relationship between the complainant and the respondent will not be considered in complaint resolution procedures.
- Complainants may make a “victim/survivor impact statement” and suggest appropriate sanctions if the respondent is found in violation of the policy.
Rights of the Respondent
An individual accused of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct that is reported to University officials can anticipate that:
- All reports of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct will be treated seriously.
- The respondent will be treated with confidentiality, sensitivity, dignity, respect, and in a non-judgmental manner.
- The respondent may invite a member of the University community (e.g., student, faculty, or staff member) to accompany him or her through all parts of University complaint resolution procedures.
- The unrelated sexual history of the respondent is not considered relevant to the truth of the allegation; therefore, information regarding sexual history external to the relationship between the complainant and the respondent will not be considered in complaint resolution procedures.
Norwich University will work to educate employees and students relative to the prevention of sexual assault and sexual misconduct and the provisions of this policy. The intent of this training is to produce an institution that is free of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
Information and Counseling
Anyone may seek advice, information, or counseling on sexual assault and sexual misconduct by contacting the Equal Opportunity Officer or an Equal Opportunity Contact Person (Contact Person). Persons who have experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct, or are uncertain as to whether what they have experienced is considered sexual assault or sexual misconduct, are encouraged to talk with the Officer or a Contact Person. Contact Persons are Norwich University faculty and staff members who are trained in identifying sexual assault and sexual misconduct and handling complaints. The most up to date listing of the Contact Persons may be found at the Norwich University website or by calling the Officer at extension 2144. Additional Contact Persons may volunteer or be recommended to the Officer.
Individuals who are called to participate in the complaint resolution process are encouraged to seek counseling and support. You can meet with a Norwich University Counselor on a confidential basis by contacting the Counseling Center at 802.485.2134.
FILING A COMPLAINT WITH THE UNIVERSITY
The first step in filing a complaint of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, or getting more information, is to speak with the Officer or a Contact Person (Contact Person). The Officer or a Contact Person is available to answer questions about sexual assault and sexual misconduct, or to help an individual decide if he or she is experiencing sexual assault or sexual misconduct, and to work to stop it if it is happening. The Officer can assist the individual in deciding which route to take with the complaint: informal resolution, or formal investigation and determination.
Third Party Complaint
A person who has not experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct but has information regarding someone else who has experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct is expected to report that information. To make a third-party complaint, the individual is encouraged to contact the Officer or a Contact Person as soon as possible. Upon receipt of such information the Officer will make preliminary inquiries, which may include contacting the alleged victim, to determine whether further action is warranted. If a concern about sexual assault or sexual misconduct is reported to the Officer or a Contact Person by someone other than the alleged victim of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, and the alleged victim is unwilling or unable to provide a written statement, the Officer will have the incident investigated if sufficient information is furnished to enable the University to conduct a meaningful and fair investigation. If the alleged victim of sexual assault or sexual misconduct provides an oral statement, the Officer or Contact Person will reduce the oral statement to writing and such statement will serve as the complaint.
Failure of the complainant, or the alleged victim of a sexual assault or sexual misconduct report, to assist the Equal Opportunity Office in the investigation process may limit the University’s ability to respond effectively to the conduct that prompted the complaint or report.
Reports by University Officials
University officials who become aware of conduct that could be a violation of the Policy on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct have an obligation to report that information to the Officer. “University officials” include campus Security Officers, those with Equal Opportunity or Human Resources administrative authority, and Student Affairs personnel with oversight responsibilities for students or employees. This reporting obligation does not override applicable laws and policies on confidentiality of communication with mental health professionals, physicians, clergy, attorneys, and the like. If a University employee fails to cooperate, or interferes with, a University investigation, that employee will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Confidentiality, Retaliation, Providing False Information
The confidentiality of the complainant, the respondent, and all other parties involved in the complaint resolution process will be observed provided it does not interfere with the institution’s ability to investigate or take corrective action. Complainants, respondents, and any witnesses are instructed not to talk about the complaint except to receive guidance and counseling from family, appropriate administrators, and other formal advisors.
Retaliation or reprisals against an individual who in good faith reports or provides information about behavior that may violate this policy will not be tolerated.
Providing False Information
Intentionally making a false report or providing false information to the Investigator or Officer will not be tolerated. A complainant whose factual allegations are truthful, but are not found by the Officer to constitute a violation of the policy, has not provided false information within the meaning of these guidelines.
An individual found in violation of the Confidentiality, Retaliation, or Providing False Information clause advances to step eleven (11) of the Formal Investigation and Determination Process. Students may also be subject to an Honor Violation Investigation for providing false information during the complaint resolution process.
In the event of determination of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, sanctions will be reasonably calculated to attempt to prevent reoccurrence and allow the victim/complainant to reach full potential in the performance of his or her assigned job or educational pursuits. Prior violations of University policy and sanctions will be taken into consideration. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
- oral or written reprimand
- writing a letter of apology to the offended party
- change of job or class assignment (removing a person from being in a position to retaliate or further affect the victim/complainant)
- advice and counseling
- mandatory attendance at an appropriate educational class (at the expense of the respondent)
- relevant community service
- prohibiting a student from holding office or participating in student activities, including sports, for a specified time
- transferring the students to different housing or banning them from University housing facilities
- suspension (with or without pay)
- termination or dismissal
In addition to the above-listed potential sanctions, a respondent, or any other party, may at any time be referred to other University disciplinary processes because of information obtained from the complaint resolution process.
Complaint Resolution Process Options
When information about an incident of sexual assault or sexual misconduct is brought to the attention of the Officer, he or she will contact the complainant to explain the policy and complaint resolution process options. The Officer may be excused from carrying out his/her duties under the policy in the event of a conflict of interest or the like. In the absence of the Officer, the Director of Human Resources will assume the role of, or appoint an Acting Officer.
The aim of informal complaint resolution is not to determine whether there was intent to engage in sexual assault or sexual misconduct but to ensure that the alleged offending behavior ceases and that the matter is resolved promptly at the appropriate level. The assumptions underlying this form of resolution are that both parties perceive a problem (although they may define the problem differently), that both share a common interest in solving that problem, and that together they can negotiate an agreement that will be satisfactory to everyone involved. The focus is on what will happen in the future between the parties, rather than on what has happened in the past. No sanctions are imposed in resolving informal complaints.
If at any point during an informal resolution of a complaint, either the complainant or the respondent communicates dissatisfaction with the process or resolution and the Officer deems it appropriate, the Officer can terminate the informal resolution and begin the formal investigation and determination process.
If agreed to by both the complainant and the respondent, mediation by an internal or external third party may be used as a form of informal resolution. It can be helpful in setting boundaries for future contact, for instance, including whether the parties may contact each other at all, specifics on who uses what lab at what time, etc. The most important outcome of mediation is that both parties agree to the resolution.
Many people think that in order to mediate, they need to sit face to face and talk. Mediated resolutions can be worked out without the parties ever meeting together, by the mediator talking with each party in turn and relaying what they are willing to agree to each other.
Mediation may also be used following the outcome of a formal investigation and determination to work out the details of future contact.
Formal Investigation and Determination
A request for a formal investigation of an allegation of sexual assault or sexual misconduct should be addressed to the Officer or to any one of the University Contact Persons.
If the complaint allegations, assuming factual support, could constitute sexual assault or sexual misconduct, the Officer may nonetheless elect not to investigate for reasons which could include, but are not limited to, that (1) the alleged sexual assault or sexual misconduct occurred more than 365 calendar days before the complaint was filed; or (2) the person against whom the complaint is made is no longer associated with Norwich University at the time the complaint is filed. This decision will be made by the Officer in the exercise of his/her sole and reasonable discretion. If the decision is made not to investigate a complaint, the complainant has the right to appeal as described in the Appeal section.
The complainant has the right to withdraw the complaint in writing at any time, although if the University believes a violation of this policy has occurred, it may be required by law to continue the investigation on its own.
Once a complaint has been filed and a formal investigation deemed appropriate, the following procedure will ordinarily be used:
- The Officer will assign or retain an investigator. If appropriate, the Officer may elect to have a complaint investigated by an external third party. If the Officer is unable to serve, or serves as the Investigator, the Director of Human Resources will assume the role of Acting Officer and will carry out the responsibilities of the complaint resolution process as outlined in the policy. The Complainant will be notified in person or in writing the identity of the Investigator.
- The Officer will attempt to meet with the respondent to inform him or her that a complaint of sexual assault or sexual misconduct has been filed and that a formal resolution is desired. Should the respondent admit to the charges as described by the complainant, the process will then continue at step eleven (11) of the complaint resolution process and the investigation will be terminated.
- The Officer will advise the respondent by letter that a formal charge of sexual assault or sexual misconduct has been brought against him or her and that he or she is not to contact the complainant regarding the complaint or to otherwise engage in any retaliatory conduct. With the letter, the Officer will send a copy of this policy to the respondent. This package will be marked “confidential” and either be discreetly hand-delivered or sent to the mailing address of the respondent. The name of the Investigator will be included in this letter. The Officer will notify appropriate faculty or administrators that the University is conducting an investigation into an allegation of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
- The complainant or the respondent must notify the Officer in writing within two (2) business days of the Investigator being identified if he or she believes that the Investigator cannot be objective and fair, and must also state at that time the reasons for that belief. The Officer will review the objection and within two (2) business days, in his/her sole discretion, determine whether a different Investigator will be assigned. If a new investigator is to be assigned to the complaint, both parties will be notified in writing.
- The respondent may, but is not required to, respond in writing after receiving notification of the complaint. Any such written responses will be addressed to the Investigator. The respondent will have an opportunity to meet directly with the Investigator and to offer whatever he or she would like in explanation.
- The investigation will be conducted as promptly as possible without compromising thoroughness. The Investigator is expected to (1) Perform the investigation and make his or her findings in an objective and fair manner, (2) Investigate the complaint thoroughly and expeditiously, and 3. Submit a written investigation report to the Officer in a timely manner. It is expected that the Investigator will complete his or her report on the case within thirty (30) days of receipt of the formal complaint. If, for any reason, the investigation is not completed within thirty days, a written explanation will be provided to both the complainant and the respondent. The Officer will update both parties every thirty (30) days in writing. The Investigator is authorized to contact any and all individuals, without limitation. The Investigator is authorized to access relevant records, including personnel, grievance and student records, except those deemed confidential or privileged by law.
- The complainant and respondent will be asked to identify all witnesses with whom they wish the Investigator to speak. The Investigator will interview those witnesses who are believed by the Investigator to have first-hand knowledge of the incident or otherwise relevant information. The Investigator is not otherwise required to interview any particular witness, even if identified by one of the parties. All witnesses, including but not limited to the parties, are strongly encouraged to cooperate with the Investigator’s request for an interview.
- The respondent and the complainant may each elect to have a neutral third party/advisor of their choice present with them at the investigatory meetings to provide moral support. (A neutral third party may be a roommate, a friend, a faculty advisor, the Chaplain, or someone not connected in any way with the complaint. A boyfriend/girlfriend, partner/spouse, parent, sibling, advocate, or attorney are not neutral and may not serve in this role). The advisor may not play any other role in the investigative process (e.g., an advisor cannot also be a witness), and cannot speak or otherwise represent their advisees during the interview. Individuals who wish to bring an advisor to an interview must notify the Officer at least 24 hours in advance of their intent to bring an advisor. A Contact Person (including the one who initially received the complaint) may act as an advisor.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will send a copy of the findings and report to the Officer. If the report is accepted (that is, not returned for further fact finding or clarification within 7 days), a copy will also be sent to the respondent and the complainant. The report will detail findings of the facts regarding the complaint and make recommendations about whether or not the University’s Policy on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct has been violated. The Investigation file will be secured in the Equal Opportunity Office. This file containing relevant documentation obtained during the investigation and complaint resolution process will not be released from the Equal Opportunity Office unless required by law. Documentation in the file regarding students is protected under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and is not any one single participant’s educational record.
- Both the respondent and the complainant will have an opportunity to respond to the report, in writing, within seven (7) days of receipt. Copies of responses should go to the Officer and to the Investigator. The Officer will consider the responses to the Investigator’s report. The Officer may, in his or her sole discretion request that the Investigator clarify the Investigator’s report or perform additional investigation upon receipt of the responses from both parties. The Officer may also call in any of the parties to confirm or clarify points covered in the Investigator’s report, or in the responses to the Investigator’s report, after the Investigator’s report has been accepted. The Officer is not bound by the investigation report; rather, the report is advisory to the Officer, and in determining whether a violation of the policy occurred, the Officer must conclude that sexual assault or sexual misconduct has been proven by a preponderance of evidence; i.e., that it was more likely than not that sexual assault or sexual misconduct occurred.
- The Officer will determine whether or not a violation of the policy has occurred and decide what sanctions shall be imposed. Substantiated prior complaints may not be used to substantiate the current complaint; however, substantiated prior complaints may be considered by the Investigator and/or the Officer to the extent relevant in assessing the credibility of the person accused, ascertaining if a pattern of conduct exists, and/or determining whether and what level of disciplinary action is appropriate. Information regarding substantiated past complaints will not be made available to the complainant and third parties other than the Investigator and persons having administrative responsibility under these procedures, except as permitted or required by law.
- The Officer will send the complainant and the respondent a letter stating whether or not it has been determined that there was a violation of the policy, and if so, what sanctions are to be imposed.
The time periods prescribed in this document for actions by the Officer or the Investigator are intended not as rigid rules, but rather as guidelines to which all are expected to adhere in good faith. The Officer may exercise reasonable discretion to extend deadlines when he or she considers that action necessary or appropriate.
The appellate authority for the Policy on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Both parties shall have the right to appeal as follows:
All appeals should be typed and should contain justification to support one or more of the following reasons for the appeal:
- The introduction of new evidence
- That the evidence was/was not sufficient to support a policy violation
- That due process was not provided
- The sanctions were not appropriate to the violation
Appeals must be submitted in writing within five (5) business days of receipt of the decision letter. An appeal will not be considered when submitted after the allotted five (5) business days have elapsed. The appellate authority will hold a hearing with the grieving party after reviewing the complaint, the investigation report, and the written appeal. The hearing will take place within ten (10) business days of receipt of the appeal. The appellate authority can either uphold the decision of the Officer or overrule that decision in whole or in part. The appellate authority will consult with all necessary parties in order to reach his/her decision. The appellate authority will communicate his/her decision to the complainant and respondent in writing within ten (10) business days of the date of the hearing with a copy to the Officer.
The CFO may make a request to the President to be excused from the role of appellate authority. In the event that the President excuses the CFO, or in the absence of the CFO, the President shall appoint an alternative appellate authority. The complainant or the respondent must notify the President in writing immediately if he or she believes that the appellate authority cannot be objective and fair, and must also state at that time the reasons for that belief. The President will review the objection and, in his/her sole discretion, determine whether a different appellate authority will be assigned.
Questions or concerns about this policy should be directed to the Equal Opportunity Officer. This policy is subject to change to comply with changes in relevant laws or University operating procedures.
This policy supersedes all previous Norwich University Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct Policies.
Norwich University Equal Opportunity Contact Persons
For information on filing a complaint of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, discrimination or harassment on the basis of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, age, genetic information, ancestry or place of birth, or veteran’s status, contact one of the following individuals:
- Paula Gills, Equal Opportunity Office, x2144, email@example.com
- Anne Buttimer, Justice Studies, x2887 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emily Meyer, Justice Studies, x2828 email@example.com
- Elizabeth Gurian, Justice Studies, x2844 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rowly Brucken, History, x2362, email@example.com
- Kristine Seipel, Commandant’s Office, x2138, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nicole DiDomenico, Civic Engagement, x2670, email@example.com
- Tracey Poirier, AVP for Leadership, x2225, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Russ Holden, Commandant’s Office, x2114, email@example.com
- Steve Looke, Retention/Campus Climate, x2241, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Martha Mathis, Dean of Students, x2640, email@example.com
- Penny Shtull, Justice Studies, x2373, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Iphy Tanguay, Residence Life, x2660, email@example.com
- Jay Wisner, Human Resources, x2075, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emergency Phone Numbers
- Norwich Security, x2525
- Norwich Counseling Services, x2134
- Police emergency: 911
- Northfield Police non-emergency: (802) 485.9181
- Central Vermont Hospital Emergency, (802) 371.4263
- Sexual Assault Crisis Team of Washington County (24 hour), (802) 479.5577
- Statewide Sexual Assault (24 hour), 1.800.489.7273
- Vermont Human Rights Commission, 1.800.416.2010 or TTY 1.877.294.9200
- US Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights, Boston, MA, 1.800.368.1019 or TDD 1.800.537.7697