CCSNH Sexual Misconduct Policy

student services

CCSNH Sexual Misconduct Policy

Updated Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH)

Student Code of Conduct Sexual Misconduct Policy

 

I.        Policy Statement

 

CCSNH and its Colleges are committed to maintaining an environment that reduces the threat of sexual misconduct, and prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct, including but not limited to, sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, relationship violence, stalking, and all forms of discrimination relating to one’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression (hereinafter referred to in this Policy as “prohibited conduct” or “sexual misconduct”).  These behaviors undermine CCSNH’s commitment to creating and maintaining a positive and productive learning environment for students, a professional setting for its employees, and a community atmosphere grounded in mutual respect, dignity, and integrity. Accordingly, acts of sexual misconduct, as defined in section IV of this Policy, will not be tolerated at CCSNH or any of its Colleges.

 

II.        Scope of Policy

This policy applies equally to all CCSNH community members, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.  CCSNH community members include students, employees, independent contractors, visitors to CCSNH property, or any person registered, accepted or enrolled in any course or program offered by any CCSNH College including those who are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing relationship with the Colleges.  CCSNH property includes all campuses of the seven community Colleges in the system: Great Bay Community College, Lakes Region Community College, Manchester Community College, Nashua Community College, NHTI – Concord’s Community College, River Valley Community College, and White Mountains Community College.

 

CCSNH and it Colleges will address reports received from any individual, whether or not affiliated with CCSNH or one of its Colleges, that a College community member has violated this policy.  CCSNH and its Colleges will provide resource options and respond promptly and equitably to all reports of prohibited conduct involving a CCSNH community member. In addressing reports, CCSNH and its Colleges are committed to maintaining fairness for all parties and balancing the needs and interests of individuals with the safety of the community.

This policy applies to on-campus conduct and may also apply to off-campus conduct where such conduct adversely affects the College community and/or the pursuit of its objectives.  This policy may also apply to behavior conducted online, including via e-mail, blogs, web page entries, social media sites, and other similar online postings.

 

III.        Definitions

 

A.     Sexual Misconduct encompasses a range of violating behaviors, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship violence, stalking, and any other conduct of a sexual nature that is nonconsensual, or has the effect of threatening, intimidating, or coercing a person at whom such conduct is directed.  All of these behaviors are prohibited conduct.

B.     “Complainant” is the term used to refer to the person bringing forward a complaint of sexual misconduct against another individual.

 

C.     “Respondent is the term used to refer to the person who has a sexual misconduct complaint brought against them.

           

            Sexual misconduct can be perpetrated by:

·         Current or former intimate partners

·         Family members

·         Persons in a position of power or trust

·         Friends/acquaintances

·         Non-strangers

·         Strangers

·         Anyone of any sex

D.    Consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity given by clear actions or words.  It is an informed decision made freely, willingly, and actively by all parties. Consent is knowing and voluntary.  Consent is active, not passive. Accordingly, silence or absence of resistance cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions may be reasonably understood to give permission regarding sexual activity.

Conduct will be considered “without consent” if no clear consent, verbal or nonverbal, is given.  It is important not to make assumptions; if confusion or ambiguity on the issue of consent arises anytime during a sexual interaction, it is essential that each participant stops and clarifies, verbally, willingness to continue. Individuals cannot give consent if they are incapacitated due to alcohol or legal or illegal drugs, or under the age of 16.

 

Individuals are not giving consent if they are:

·         saying “no” or “stop”

·         crying

·         moving away

·         pushing the other(s) away

·         completely still/unengaged

·         incapacitated by drugs or alcohol

·         asleep

·         passed out

·         physically or psychologically pressured or forced

·         intimidated

·         coerced

·         manipulated

·         mentally or physically impaired

·         beaten

·         threatened

·         confined

Furthermore, a current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity.  Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another. Past consent does not imply future consent. Coercion, force, or threat of force invalidates consent.  Being intoxicated does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent, although it impairs the ability to provide it. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time. If consent is withdrawn, all sexual activity must cease.

E.     Incapacitation means that a person lacks the capacity to give consent to sexual activity because the person is using alcohol or drugs, asleep, unconscious, mentally and/or physically helpless, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring.  Intentional Incapacitation means providing alcohol or other drugs to a person with the intent to render the person incapacitated.

 

F.     Coercion involves unreasonable and unwanted pressure to engage in sexual activity.  Engaging in sexual activity should be the result of a freely given choice. Persons should engage in sexual activity because they want to do so, and not because someone has pressured them into it.  Threatening, cajoling, and pressuring someone until they finally agree does not mean an individual given consent.

G.    Sexual Assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the other person.  Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual penetration (rape), forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.  Sexual assault can occur even when the victim knows their perpetrator, when the victim and perpetrator are married or in an intimate relationship, or when the victim and perpetrator are the same gender.

Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to the following acts:

            a. Sexual Offense is any sexual act that is committed without the consent of the victim.  A sexual offense shall include but not be limited to situations where the victim is unable to provide consent because he or she is less than 16, physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, mentally impaired or unconscious due to alcohol or drug consumption, whether or not the consumption was with the victim’s consent.

            b. Rape is nonconsensual sexual penetration perpetrated by coercion, intimidation, threat or physical force, either threatened or actual.  Rape also occurs when the victim is incapable of giving legal consent because the victim is less than 16 years of age, mentally incapacitated or incompetent, physically helpless, including drug or alcohol consumption or asleep.  

            c. Acquaintance Rape, also known as “date rape,” is defined as sexual penetration undertaken by a person known to the victim without consent.  Acquaintance/Date Rape includes sexual penetration that occurs through force, as a result of threats, physical restraint or physical violence with or without consent.

           

H.    Relationship Violence, also known as dating violence, domestic violence or intimate partner violence, is any act committed by a person in an intimate relationship against the other member of the intimate relationship to exert power and control over the other partner.  Relationship violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.  Relationship violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, education, age, religion, etc. Relationship violence can occur between current or former intimate partners who have dated, lived together, have a child together, currently reside together on or off campus, or who are otherwise connected through a past or existing relationship.

 

I.      Stalking is when one person engages in a course of conduct which is directed at a specific person and that course of conduct causes that person to be in fear of harm to themselves, their safety, their property, a member of their immediate family, or an acquaintance. Cyberstalking, also known as tech-facilitated stalking, is a form of stalking which can include, but is not limited to, phone, text, or social media platforms. Stalking may involve individuals who are known to one another or have an intimate or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals who are not known to one another.

J.     Sexual Exploitation occurs when an individual takes nonconsensual, unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another; for their own advantage or benefit; or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited; and that behavior does not otherwise constitute non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse or sexual harassment.

 

K.     Sexual Harassment is sex-based verbal or physical conduct that is severe pervasive and objectively offensive such that it unreasonably interferes with or deprives someone of educational access, benefits or opportunities.

 

Sexual harassment falls into two categories of behaviors or conditions:

 

            a. Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment includes any situation in which there is harassing conduct that is severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive such that it alters the conditions of education or employment, from both a subjective (the alleged survivor’s) and an objective (reasonable person’s) viewpoint.

            b. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment exists when there are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; and submission to or rejection of such conduct results in adverse educational or employment action.

 

L.     Retaliation is any adverse employment or educational action taken against a person because of the person’s participation in a complaint or investigation of discrimination or sexual misconduct.  Retaliation for against anyone who is involved in the making of a complaint and reporting or investigation of discrimination or sexual misconduct is prohibited.

M.    Intimidation is an implied threat that menaces or causes reasonable fear in another person.

 

IV.        Privacy and Confidentiality

CCSNH and its Colleges are committed to protecting the privacy of all involved in the response to a report of sexual misconduct in accordance with applicable law, and will take steps to limit disclosure of related information only to those individuals who have a need to know in order to assess the report and to take steps to eliminate conduct that violates this policy, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.  All proceedings are conducted in compliance with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Clery Act, Title IX, and state and federal law. No information shall be released from the proceedings except as required by law or permitted by law and CCSNH policy.

 

To ensure all members of the community understand how CCSNH protects the privacy of individuals, please be aware that privacy and confidentiality as used in this policy have distinct meanings:

 

Privacy means that information related to a report of misconduct will only be shared with a limited circle of individuals.  The use of this information is limited to those who “need to know” in order to assist in the active review, investigation, or resolution of the report, including the issuance of interim measures.  While not bound by confidentiality, these individuals will be discreet and respect the privacy of all individuals involved in the process.

           

            Confidentiality means that information shared with designated professionals cannot be revealed to any other individual without the express permission of the individual.  These designated professionals include mental health providers, ordained clergy, and trained rape crisis center advocates, all of whom have legally protected confidentiality.

 

Limits on Confidentiality

Unless a CCSNH employee is deemed a “confidential professional,” as described above, all other employees at CCSNH and its Colleges are considered responsible employees/mandatory reporters, and are required to disclose to the Title IX Coordinator any information concerning sexual misconduct of which they become aware of, including identifying information about the parties involved.  A report to a responsible employee is a report to CCSNH, which may result in CCSNH initiating an investigation of the reported incident and taking appropriate steps to address the situation, even if the individual making the report requests that no action be taken. An individual’s request regarding the confidentiality of reports of sexual misconduct will be considered in determining an appropriate response.  Such requests, however, will be evaluated in the dual contexts of CCSNH’s interest in promoting a working and learning environment free from sexual misconduct and protecting the due process rights of the accused to be informed of the allegations and their source, including the name of the person filing the complaint. Some level of disclosure may be necessary to ensure a complete and fair investigation, although CCSNH will respect requests to treat information as confidential to the extent possible.  The Title IX Coordinator at each CCSNH affiliated school will be responsible for evaluating requests for confidentiality.

 

V.        Victim Resources

Each CCSNH College will maintain a list of resources available to victims of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, or another form of sexual misconduct, including contact information for designated professionals whose communications are entitled to legally protected confidentiality.

 

Remedies and Accommodations for Survivors

To ensure the safety and well-being of a complainant pending investigation of sexual misconduct and the survivor in the aftermath of founded sexual misconduct, CCSNH and it Colleges will consider appropriate accommodations, such as moving to another residence halls (if living on campus), changing work schedules (if working on campus), altering academic schedules, withdrawing from/retaking a class without penalty, and accessing academic support (e.g., tutoring).  If the survivor chooses to file an institutional complaint prompting an investigation, interim accommodations can be put in place while an investigation is pending, including issuing no contact orders and changing the complainant’s or respondent’s living arrangements or course schedule.

 

Interim measures and accommodations may be available regardless of whether an individual chooses to report an incident to campus security or local law enforcement or pursue a complaint with the College.  The CCSNH Title IX Coordinator or College Title IX Coordinator will determine whether interim measures and accommodations are reasonable and should be implemented, and, if so, will work to ensure that these measures and accommodations are implemented as soon as possible.  To seek an interim measure or accommodation, students should contact their College Title IX Coordinator.

 

If an outside agency or court of law has put in place an order of protection, the order should be provided to the College Title IX Coordinator so that CCSNH may take appropriate measures consistent with the order.

 

VI.        Reporting Sexual Misconduct

 

After an incident of sexual misconduct, the first priority for any individual should be personal safety and well-being.  CCSNH encourages all individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct to seek assistance by contacting campus security, calling 911, contacting local law enforcement, and/or visiting a medical facility immediately after an incident of sexual misconduct.  The following information is provided to help CCSNH community members make informed choices about where to turn if they or someone else experiences sexual misconduct. CCSNH encourages survivors to talk about what happened so they can receive the care and support they may need, and so the College can take prompt action to respond to the issue.  Reporting an incident of sexual misconduct to a CCSNH College does not obligate the individual to pursue campus judicial proceedings or criminal prosecution.

 

An individual who has experienced sexual misconduct at CCSNH is not required, but is encouraged, to report the incident to campus authorities.  To file a complaint of sexual misconduct, the individual should contact the College or system Title IX Coordinator, or other designated administrator.  CCSNH encourages timely reporting of sexual misconduct, however there is no time limit for reporting, and the College will respond to a report regardless of when or where the incident occurred.  A third party or witness to sexual misconduct can also report. Students who know or suspect sexual misconduct has occurred against another student are not required to report these incidents unless they have positions/jobs on campus that make them mandatory reporters.

 

Criminal Complaint

Sexual misconduct that may be criminal in nature can be reported to local law enforcement. If an individual reports sexual misconduct at their College, the College will inform the individual about the option to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual misconduct that may also be crimes under New Hampshire law.  If requested, the College will assist the individual in making a criminal report and cooperate with law enforcement agencies to the extent permitted by law.

 

Anonymous Reporting

Any individual may make an anonymous report concerning an act of sexual misconduct, without disclosing their name, identifying the perpetrator, or requesting any action.  Depending on the extent of information available about the incident or the individuals involved, however, CCSNH’s ability to respond to an anonymous report may be limited.  To anonymously report an incident of sexual misconduct, please send a written statement to the College or system Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will receive the anonymous report and will determine any appropriate steps, including individual or community remedies as appropriate.

 

Drug and Alcohol Amnesty Policy

CCSNH encourages reporting of sexual misconduct and seeks to remove any barriers to making a report.  CCSNH recognizes that an individual who has been drinking or using drugs at the time of the incident may be hesitant to make a report because of potential consequences for their own conduct.  To encourage reporting, an individual who makes a good faith report of sexual misconduct that was directed at them or another person will not be subject to disciplinary action by for a conduct or policy violation that is related to and revealed in the sexual misconduct report or investigation, unless CCSNH determines that the violation was serious and/or placed the health or safety of others at risk.  Amnesty does not preclude or prevent action by police or other legal authorities. This amnesty provision shall also apply to student groups making a report of sexual misconduct.

 

VII.        College Procedures for Responding to Sexual Misconduct

 

When an incident is reported to any CCSNH employee, the person to whom the report is made shall communicate the report to campus security and/or the Title IX Coordinator or designee who will then inform the individual of their option to notify local law enforcement authorities.  The individual shall also be informed of the importance of preserving evidence required for proof of possible criminal activity, and of the availability of the College personnel to assist the student in notifying the authorities of the incident, upon the student’s request. The student shall also be informed of the existing on- and off-campus counseling, mental health, and other student services.

 

If the student is willing to report the incident to the campus security, she or he is informed that physical evidence can be collected at the same time as medical care is provided.  The survivor should be informed about where and how to access evidence collection kit and a medical/forensic examination by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) and the option to do so anonymously where the student is 18 years old or older.

 

Although the student is not required to notify any law enforcement authority regarding the incident, the person to whom the report is made shall contact the CCSNH and/or College Title IX Officer, who are responsible for coordinating the College’s response to the incident.

 

The student may request changes in her or his academic or campus living situation, after the student has made a report of an assault, and the College shall grant any reasonable request for such change.

 

VIII.        Disciplinary Procedures and Resolution Process for Complaints of Sexual Misconduct

 

Filing a Written Complaint

Any individual (“Complainant”) who believes that they have been subjected to sexual misconduct may file a written complaint describing the particular details of the alleged behavior.  If the complaint is not submitted in writing, the Title IX Coordinator may document the Complainant’s statements. Where the Respondent is a CCSNH employee or student, the Respondent will be notified of the complaint prior to initiation of an investigation.

 

If a student has questions about the adjudication or grievance process, they may contact the CCSNH and/or College Title IX Coordinator.

 

Institutional Investigation

When a student reports being a victim of sexual misconduct by another student, the College will conduct an investigation and determine if CCSNH policies were violated.  The sexual misconduct complaint is forwarded to the CCSNH Title IX Coordinator and the College Title IX Coordinator, who will identify an appropriate person to complete an investigation (“Investigator).  Depending on the circumstances, the College may impose interim protections and remedies (e.g. interim suspension, no contact order) during the College’s investigation of the sexual misconduct complaint.

 

At the conclusion of its investigation, the Investigator will forward findings to the CCSNH Title IX Coordinator and College Title IX Coordinator and the Judicial Body. After receiving the results of the investigation, the Judicial Body will determine whether or not the findings implicate a violation of the Student Code of Conduct or Sexual Misconduct Policy, and communicate that decision in writing.  If the Judicial Body determines that the facts as found by the investigator demonstrate that the student committed a violation of the Student Code of Conduct or the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Judicial Body will schedule a sanctions hearing as set forth in the Student Judicial Process Investigation and Resolution. It is important to note that mediation is never appropriate in sexual misconduct cases.

 

            Acceptance of Responsibility: At any point in the Investigation or Resolution process, the Respondent may accept responsibility for the conduct alleged in the complaint. In such cases, the process will immediately move to the Judicial Body for a decision regarding sanctioning.