Student Sexual Misconduct Policy
Section 1 - STATEMENT
Southwestern University affirms the rights of its students to live, work, and learn in an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from the threat of sexual assault or any other form of sexual contact without mutual consent. Accordingly, any form of sexual misconduct will not be tolerated. The University is committed both to a campus-wide program of education and prevention, and to a timely and appropriate response to any reports of such activity.
In compliance with Title IX, whenever a University official learns of any sexual misconduct, an investigation must be pursued, even if the victim does not want to file a complaint. The goal behind Title IX’s mandate is to maximize the safety of all students on campus.
Section 2 - JURISDICTION
Southwestern University has the right to review and respond to on and off-campus violations of the University’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy by students, groups of students, or student organizations (see definitions in Section 17). The University may take disciplinary action in response to incidents that take place during official functions of the University, or those sponsored by registered student organizations, or incidents that have a substantial connection to the interests of Southwestern University regardless of the location in which they occur. When a student is convicted of any crime (on or off campus), the University reserves the right to pursue its own internal disciplinary proceedings.
An action involving a student in a legal proceeding in civil or criminal court does not affect the University’s ability to pursue its own internal judicial proceedings. The judicial proceedings operate independently from criminal and civil procedures.
Section 3 - DEFINITION OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
The University defines sexual misconduct as any non-consensual sexual contact between students, including but not limited to unwanted sexual touching and/or sexual intercourse. Sexual touching includes, but is not limited to, any touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals or the use of any of these parts for touching another. Sexual touching includes forcing one to self-touch on any of these parts. The definition of sexual misconduct includes contact by means of an object.
In University disciplinary proceedings, consent to sexual acts requires affirmative verbal response to specific sexual suggestion. Without affirmative verbal response, consent is not present. The absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” Sexual history, previous sexual involvement, or a lack of response do not create consent. Consent to a sexual act does not create consent to other sexual acts. Moreover, consent to a sexual act at any given encounter does not create consent for a future encounter. Consent may be withdrawn at any time by any party.
A person whose judgment is substantially impaired by drugs or alcohol or by other physical or mental impairment cannot give consent to sexual contact. Substantial impairment means that a person cannot make a reasonable or rational decision about an important matter, such as the decision to have sexual contact with another person. Evidence of substantial impairment often includes, but is not limited to, unconsciousness (whether continuous or periodic), extreme or sudden onset of sleepiness, slurred or incoherent speech, dizziness, incoordination, lack of steady gait, nausea, or impairment in attention or memory.
Consent cannot be given or obtained when there is any form of coercion, including but not limited to, the application or threat of physical force or threats of social disparagement to the victim, or threats to withhold benefits to which the victim may be entitled.
Coercion may include tacit coercion, as may happen when one party holds significant power over another. Such a power differential may make verbal expressions of consent by the less powerful party open to doubt, at any hearing.
A student organization (as defined in Section 17) may be held responsible for sexual misconduct when any of the following conditions exist:
1. the violation occurs on its premises with the knowledge and/or
involvement of a member of the organization, or when a reasonable and
prudent person would conclude that a member of the organization
should have had such knowledge;
2. the violation occurs in conjunction with an organization-related event,
regardless of whether the event is held on or off campus;
3. one or more members of an organization permit, encourage, aid, or
assist any of its members, alumni/alumnae, or guests in committing a
4. one or more members of a student organization, under circumstances
where such persons knew or should have known that an action
constituting a violation was occurring or about to occur, fails to prevent
that action or to intercede on the victim’s behalf;
5. one or more members of an organization fail to immediately report to
appropriate University authorities their first-hand knowledge of a
6. alcohol or other drugs made available or were knowingly allowed by the
organization during an organization-related event were a factor in a
violation, and that organization did not take reasonable precautions to
ensure the safety of the members and their guests.
Three principles are critical in understanding the University’s position in regards to sexual misconduct:
1. Consent of all parties is mandatory.
2. Consent may be withdrawn at any time by either party.
3. Alcohol and other drugs impair judgment and undermine the possibility for consent.
Section 4 - IMMEDIATE RESPONSE OPTIONS
NOTE—-CHANGE IN POLICE PROCEDURE
One should understand that if a crime has occurred, police officers in the State of Texas MUST pursue an investigation even without the victim’s consent. Therefore, reporting an assault to the police no longer remains a confidential process. If one chooses to file a report, the police encourage the student to bring a trusted friend or family member for support. One can also request to have an SU counselor or an advocate from Williamson County Crisis Center to accompany her/him through the reporting process.
- A student who believes s/he has had an unwanted sexual experience (even if s/he is unsure), may contact SU Police twenty-four-hours a day by calling 512-863-1944, or by dialing 0 from a campus phone (if the assault occurs on campus). The SU Police will help the student get to the appropriate hospital for medical treatment, if necessary. One can also call 911, if the assault happened off campus. The student does not have to press charges; however, the student should understand that, if a crime may have occurred, police officers in the State of Texas (including SU Police) are obligated to pursue an investigation without the student’s consent.
- A student may talk with an SU counselor by calling 512-863-1252 during business hours. After 5:00 p.m. or on weekends, one can call the SU Police (dial 512-863-1944) and tell them it is an emergency that they do not want to report to the police. They can then connect the student with a counselor.
- A student may contact Health Services at 512-863-1252. After 5:00 p.m. and on weekends, a student can call the SU Police (dial 512-863-1944) and tell them it is an emergency. They can then connect the student with the campus nurse practitioner or nurse.
- The University Chaplain may be reached by dialing 512-863-1056, or by calling the campus operator (dial 0 on campus).
- - If one chooses to go directly to the hospital, it is recommended that s/he have someone trusted accompany him/her for support—the Williamson County Crisis Center 1-800-460-SAFE (7233) can provide accompaniment to the hospital.
- The Southwestern University booklet, “Help for Sexual Assault/Sexual Misconduct: Where to go? Who to talk to?” may be obtained on-line at www.southwestern.edu/studentlife/misconduct.php. The booklet is also available from Counseling Services, the University Chaplain, any RA, SUPD and the Dean of Students Office.
Southwestern University seeks to complete the investigation of all reports of sexual misconduct within sixty (60) days. That time frame is meant to be guideline rather than rigid requirement. Circumstances may arise that require the extension of time frames, including extension beyond sixty (60) days. Such circumstances may include school breaks or holidays, the complexity of the allegations, the number of witnesses involved, the availability of the parties or witnesses, the effect of a concurrent criminal investigation, or other unforeseen circumstances.
Section 5 - ADJUDICATION OPTIONS
If a student has had an unwanted sexual experience, there are numerous options, including doing nothing or any of the following:
1. One can pursue charges based on Texas state laws. This would entail
making a police report followed by an investigation and possible
criminal proceedings involving the appropriate District Attorney’s office.
Except to provide any properly requested evidence to the prosecutor or
attorneys, Southwestern University is not necessarily involved.
2. One can pursue a case through a civil suit. This option generally
seeks monetary remedies and is initiated by contacting an attorney of
the student’s choosing and at the student’s expense. Agencies that can
help one find an attorney include the Austin Bar Association’s Lawyer
Referral Service – www.austinlrs.com/index.asp or (512) 472-8303 or
the Sexual Assault Legal Line at 888-296-SAFE. Except to provide any
properly requested evidence to the prosecutor or attorneys, Southwestern
University is not necessarily involved.
3. If a student chooses not to report, his/her on campus options are to
meet with Counseling Services, the Health Center or the University
4. The accuser can pursue formal University disciplinary action by informing
the Dean of Students of his/her desire to register a formal complaint. Any
member of University community can be the accuser. The University
also reserves the right to act as the accuser via Residence Life staff, Dean
of Students, or SU Police.
Once the University is notified of allegations of sexual misconduct an
investigation must be started. If the accuser desires to proceed with a
formal complaint against the accused, again a prompt investigation
by the University will follow.
Section 6 - SEXUAL MISCONDUCT HEARING BOARD
The Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board (“Hearing Board”) is the only board that can hear cases involving alleged student or student organization sexual misconduct, except during Special Periods (defined in Section 16), when the Special Periods Committee on Discipline shall act as the Hearing Board. Any other violation of University policy that occurred during the alleged sexual misconduct may also be adjudicated by the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board when it is hearing the charge of sexual misconduct. If the Hearing Board chooses to hear any such other violation, it will announce its decision to do so prior to the commencement of the hearing.
The Hearing Board shall consist of five Hearing Board Members, at least three of whom must be members of the faculty. Every attempt will be made to have gender diversity within the Hearing Board.
The Dean of Students will choose the chair of the Hearing Board. The Hearing Board shall be provided with the charge(s), the accuser’s written complaint, the written reply of the accused (if any), attachments or list of witnesses, and any other documents or materials submitted by the parties or obtained during the investigation.
The accuser and the accused will be informed of the names of the pool of potential Hearing Board members at least forty-eight hours prior to the hearing. The accuser and the accused can request dismissal, with cause, of any potential member of the Hearing Board up to twenty-four hours before the hearing. The decision to grant a dismissal shall be made in the sole discretion of the Dean of Students.
Section 7 - THE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT HEARING
The Dean of Students or his/her designee (if the Dean is the accuser) is responsible for presenting charges to the Hearing Board. At this point, the accused may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. In the absence of a plea, or in the case of a not guilty plea, the hearing continues.
In the event the accused pleads guilty, the Hearing Board will consider statements from the accused and the accuser. The Dean of Students (or designee) or Hearing Board member may ask questions at that time.
Under usual circumstances, the accuser attends the hearing as a witness. The accuser and the accused have the right to attend the full hearing, excluding the deliberation of the Hearing Board, if they so choose. If the accused has been formally notified of the hearing but fails to attend, the Hearing Board will hear the case in his/her absence.
If the accused pleads not guilty or makes no plea, the Dean of Students (or designee) will present witnesses in support of the charge(s), including any witnesses provided by the accuser. Written, signed statements may be accepted and read in lieu of an appearance by a witness. The Hearing Board members may ask questions, for clarification purposes only, during the witness’s direct testimony. Upon completion of the testimony by the accuser or a witness, the Hearing Board, the Dean of Students (or designee) can conduct more complete questioning.
Should the accused or the accuser have a question of a witness, or of each other, that question must be provided at the conclusion of the witness’s statement and must be presented to the chair, who will determine whether to ask the question of the witness, based on relevance or other factors is the chair’s discretion.
The Dean of Students (or designee) will then present witnesses on behalf of the accused. It is the choice of the accused whether or not to testify. Once again, the Hearing Board members may ask questions for clarification purposes only during the direct testimony of the witness.
Upon completion of the testimony by the accused or a witness, the Hearing Board may conduct more complete questioning. Once again, should the accused or the accuser have a question of a witness, that question must be provided at the conclusion of the witness’s statement, and must be presented to the chair who will determine whether to ask the question of the witness, based on relevance or other factors is the chair’s discretion.
The Hearing Board may, during a hearing, request additional information or witnesses and may take a recess of sufficient time to acquire the information. The Hearing Board chair may also declare a recess, if s/he believes that either the accuser or the accused is emotionally unfit to continue or that there is fatigue of any party in the proceedings.
Upon completion of the witnesses’ statements and questioning, the Hearing Board will commence deliberation of guilt or innocence in closed session. A preponderance of the evidence standard will apply, meaning that it is more likely than not that the accused student committed the conduct violation. If the accused is found guilty, or pleads guilty, both the accused and accuser may make personal statements, followed by questions from the Hearing Board. Character witnesses for the accused may then be offered. Such witnesses are limited to two, and a total time of fifteen minutes is allotted. At this time, the Dean of Students (or designee) will be expected to offer any history of former discipline problems. The Dean of Students (or designee) may also recommend appropriate sanctions. Those recommendations will be given in the presence of the accused. These are recommendations only and are not binding. This is followed by deliberation on the penalty by Hearing Board in closed session. The accused is then informed of the penalty and reminded of the right to appeal. The accuser is then notified of the outcome of the hearing and the right to appeal.
If the accused is a student organization, the organization shall be represented at the hearing by its president (or designee appointed from within the student membership of the organization).
The only persons entitled to be present at the hearing are the Dean of Students (or designee), the accuser, the accuser’s advisor, the accused, the accused’s advisor, witnesses (during their testimony only), the Hearing Board members and an officer of the SUPD and/or a Residence Life staff member, if necessary. However, if criminal charges are being pursued simultaneously, both the accused and the victim are entitled to have their lawyers present.
Section 8 - RIGHT OF A STUDENT TO HAVE AN ADVISOR
When a student appears before the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board as an accuser or accused, he or she is entitled to be accompanied by one advisor of his or her choosing. The advisor must be from campus and may be a student, a member of the faculty, or a member of the administration. The advisor may not speak for the accuser, nor the accused, nor may s/he argue the case. The advisor cannot be a lawyer, and the student may not have a lawyer present unless a criminal case is being simultaneously pursued, at which point both parties are entitled to have legal representation.
Section 9 - ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURE
If the Dean of Students (or designee) concludes in his/her discretion that implementation of the usual sexual misconduct hearing procedure would result in significant trauma for the accuser or alleged victim, the accuser will have an additional option. The accuser and his/her advisor would be connected to the process via telephone conferencing technology instead of being physically present at the site of the hearing. This option does not require the consent of the accused. All other aspects of the hearing remain the same.
Section 10 - APPEALS
Appeals may be made by both the accused and the accuser. Appeals must be submitted in writing to the Office of the Vice President for Student Life within five business days from the date of written notification of the hearing results. An appeal must concisely set forth the grounds for appeal, as well as provide any supporting material.
The grounds for appeal are as follows:
• The hearing was not conducted in a manner consistent with the
established Hearing Board procedure (see Section 7).
• Information is available that was unavailable at the time of the hearing,
and the new information is relevant to the Hearing Board’s determination.
• Sanction(s) is (are) inappropriate for the violation(s).
A decision on the appeal rendered by the Vice President for Student Life (or designee) is final and will be mailed, within ten business days of receipt of the appeal, to both the accuser and the accused.
The Vice President for Student Life (or designee) may take the following measures on appeal:
1. Uphold the original decision(s) and sanction(s).
2. Uphold the original decision(s) and alter sanction(s).
3. Refer the case back to the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board for rehearing and review. (Both accused and accuser will be informed of the outcome of any resulting rehearing or review.)
Where an appeal is based on assessed sanction(s), the Vice President for Student Life (or designee) may reduce but not increase sanctions imposed. A rehearing or review by Hearing Board may not result in more severe sanctions. The outcome of the appeal process is final.
Departures from these procedures and errors in their application shall not be grounds to withhold disciplinary action unless, in the sole judgment of the Vice President for Student Life (or designee), the departures or errors were such as to have prevented a fair and just hearing.
Section 11 - INTERIM SANCTIONS
In certain instances, it may be necessary for the University to impose interim sanctions, including suspension, pending a hearing. This action may be necessary when in the sole opinion of the Dean of Students (or designee), the continued presence of the accused student may constitute a threat or disruption to the normal academic process of the University, or where the student is considered a danger to other students or to him/herself. In such cases, a hearing will be scheduled as soon as appropriate after interim sanctions commence.
Section 12 - RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSER
The rights of the accuser are as follows:
1. To request and be assisted in making those academic and/or living
arrangement changes which the University can reasonably accommodate,
as prompted by and related to the circumstances of the case
2. To be informed in writing of time and date of the sexual misconduct
hearing and the charges against the accused
3. To have an advisor (See Section 8)
4. To supply the Dean of Students (or designee) with
a written statement and any evidence in support of the complaint
5. To appear as a witness at the hearing
6. To request alternative hearing procedures (See Section 9) in which the
accuser does not have to be physically present at the hearing site
7. To supply the Dean of Students (or designee) with
a list of witnesses in support of the accusations
8. To attend the entire hearing exclusive of closed sessions
9. To provide questions of witnesses to the hearing chair for consideration
(See Section 7)
10. To be informed of the final judgment of the Hearing Board, of any
appeal request, and of the results of an appeal
11. To appeal the decision (See Section 10).
12. To be informed of the names of the pool of potential Hearing Board
members at least forty-eight hours prior to the hearing
13. To request dismissal, with cause, of any potential member of the
Hearing Board up to twenty-four hours before the hearing
Section 13 - RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED
The rights of the accused are as follows:
1. To be informed in writing of the time and date of the sexual misconduct
hearing and of the specific charges
2. To know the name(s) of his/her accuser and witness(es)
3. To have an advisor (See Section 8)
4. To supply the Dean of Students (or designee) with
any evidence in support of his/her defense
5. To appear as a witness at the hearing
6. To attend the entire hearing exclusive of closed sessions
7. To not appear at the hearing
8. To supply the Dean of Students (or designee) with
a list of witnesses in defense of the accusation(s)
9. To provide questions of witness(es) to the hearing chair for consideration
(See Section 7)
10. To receive a written decision from the Hearing Board
11. To appeal the decision (See Section 10)
12. To be notified of any sanction(s) by the Dean of Students within
twenty-four hours of the Hearing Board’s decision, followed by a letter
outlining the sanction(s)
13. To be informed of the names of the pool of potential Hearing Board
members at least forty-eight hours prior to the hearing
14. To request dismissal, with cause, of any potential member of the
Hearing Board up to twenty-four hours before the hearing
Section 14 - TYPICAL SANCTIONS
If the accused student or student organization is found in violation of the University’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, the notification will also include notice of any sanctions which may be imposed by the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board. Such sanctions may include, but are not limited to, those listed below. More than one sanction may be imposed for any single violation. A history of inappropriate behavior by the student or student organization and the nature or severity of an incident are considered in determining appropriate sanctions. If disciplinary sanctions are not fulfilled by the sanctioned student, more serious disciplinary sanctions may be imposed by the University Committee on Discipline. If a student chooses to withdraw from Southwestern University prior to a Sexual Misconduct Hearing, a Criminal Trespass may be issued through Southwestern University Police Department.
Alcohol Ban: Alcohol may be banned from all functions and/or from specific premises, even if all students are of legal age.
Contract Probation: A warning that future violations may be handled more strictly, with additional sanctions imposed by the Dean of Students (or designee). Contract probation expires after a specified amount of time but remains in the internal SU record until graduation (or in the case the student leaves the University, for four years after the violation).
Disciplinary Probation: Disciplinary probation may include any or all of the following sanctions as determined by the disciplinary body: (a) a warning that future misconduct will bring serious consequences; (b) prohibition against keeping or operating a car at the University; (c) prohibition against holding any elective office on campus or representing the University off campus.
Students placed on disciplinary probation may not graduate, re-enroll, or confirm registration until the terms of probation are met.
Expulsion: Expulsion is the permanent dismissal of a student or an organization. Expelled students must leave campus within twenty-four hours, unless the Hearing Board directs otherwise. Expelled organizations must cease to exist within twenty-four hours, unless the Hearing Board directs otherwise.
Loss of Privileges: Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.
Mandated Counseling: Requirement that a student take part in a counseling program conducted by an off campus licensed professional as determined by the Hearing Board. This includes signing a “Request and Authorization to Exchange Information” form provided by the Dean of Students (or designee). The Hearing Board may require the student to participate in a counseling program that addresses particular issues, such as substance abuse.
Mandated Counseling Assessment: Assessment and/or session with an off campus licensed professional as determined by the Board by a specified date. This includes signing a “Request and Authorization to Exchange Information” form provided by the Dean of Students (or designee). Unless otherwise stated by the Hearing Board, the student is required to follow all recommendations made by the treating professional.
Mandated Off-Campus Assessment: An off-campus assessment by trained professionals may be required regarding alcohol, drugs and/or mental health. This includes signing a “Request and Authorization to Exchange Information” form provided by the Dean of Students (or designee).
Mandated Room Reassignment: A written notice that the behavior merits the immediate relocation of the student to another campus location.
Parental Notification: Parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s) of dependent students under 21 receive notification detailing judicial sanctions imposed upon their son/daughter in response to violations of designated policies.
Physical Restrictions: A directive that forbids a student(s) to be in specified locations on University premises.
Retaliation: The University defines retaliation as any action taken against another person to seek revenge. This includes physical contact, or more often, inappropriate comments through emails, text messages, Facebook comments, or any other form of communication by or on behalf of the offending student.
Social Probation: Prohibits a student organization from having any social activities (including parties) on or off campus for a specified period of time.
Special Program or Projects: Requirement that a student participate or assist in the planning of a program or project that is relevant to the violation. The project must be pre-approved and completion verified by the Dean of Students.
Suspension: Suspension is the forced withdrawal of a student or an organization for a specifically stated period of time. Suspended students must leave campus within twenty-four hours, unless the Hearing Board directs otherwise. Suspended organizations must cease to exist within twenty-four hours, unless the Hearing Board directs otherwise.
Section 15 - RECORDS
Accurate records of hearings and other actions by administrators shall be kept in the student’s and/or organization’s files in the Office of Student Life. These records will be made available to the Vice President for Student Life (or designee) or the University Committee on Discipline upon appeal. Records of hearings, including tapes, usually include information provided by several students. Therefore, they are not considered to be a part of any one student’s record, and are not made available to anyone outside the hearing or the campus appeal process, except under proper subpoena and in accordance with law.
Student disciplinary hearing files will be maintained for ten years following graduation. At the end of these designated time periods, disciplinary hearing files may be destroyed.
Section 16 - OTHER SEXUAL MISCONDUCT INFORMATION AND POLICY DEFINITIONS
Bystander Intervention (Adapted from Vassar Website with permission):
When a bystander notices a situation that seems out of the ordinary, they need to evaluate and determine if it is an emergency or one in which someone needs assistance. If they decide this is the case, they need to take action. Most frequently, people are less willing to take action if there are other bystanders present since everyone waits for someone else to take responsibility. In situations of physical or sexual violence, having someone else present is often more empowering as the bystander will feel more empowered. The bystander must then decide the best course of action. Whether this is to help the person leave the situation, confront a behavior, diffuse a situation, or call for other support/security.
The best way bystanders can assist in creating an empowering climate free of interpersonal violence is to diffuse the problem behaviors before they escalate.
- Educate yourself about interpersonal violence AND share this info with friends
- Confront friends who make excuses for other peoples’ abusive behavior
- Speak up against racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes or remarks
Tips for intervening in a situation potentially involving sexual assault , relationship violence, or stalking:
- Approach everyone as a friend
- Do not be antagonistic
- Avoid using violence
- Be honest and direct whenever possible
- Recruit help if necessary
- Keep yourself safe
- If things get out of hand or become too serious, contact the police
Please remember that any situation that threatens physical harm to yourself or another student should be assessed carefully. Contact SUPD at 512-863-1944 if needed to assist to diffuse the situation.
Dating Violence: Dating violence means violence by a person who has been in a romantic relationship with the victim. Whether there was such a relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.
Domestic Violence: Domestic violence includes asserted violent misdemeanor and felony offenses committed by the victim’s current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, person similarly situated under domestic or family violence law, or anyone else protected under domestic or family violence law.
Special Periods: When the Honor Code Council Hearing Board, the University Committee on Discipline, and the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board cannot be assembled to hear a case, or when, in the opinion of the Dean of Students (or designee), unusual and/or extenuating circumstances do not allow for a fair hearing, the Special Periods Committee on Discipline will hear the case and act as the Hearing Board under this policy. These periods include, but are not limited to, the first two weeks of the semester, finals week, vacations, and summer terms.
Stalking: Stalking means a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
Student: An individual is considered a Southwestern student and is expected to comply with all University policy upon submittal of his/her enrollment deposit and the inception of orientation move-in day. This student status remains until one graduates or withdraws from the University. A deposited individual may be subjected to disciplinary action before move-in day if s/he violates a University policy while on campus or in any interaction with University personnel. Individuals who are both students and employees will be treated as students for the purpose of this policy and procedure, only if their primary relationship to the situation is that of a student. Allegations against individuals who are regular employees (regardless of student status) will be handled under the appropriate personnel policies. Where appropriate, student also includes student organizations.
Student Organizations: Any group that has complied with the formal requirements for University recognition or regulation is a student organization.