Sexual Misconduct / Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Procedures

OVERVIEW 

The Roger Williams University community is committed to preserving the dignity and safety of its members. The University will not tolerate sexual assault, sexual misconduct, gender-based misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, or relationship violence (collectively, sexual misconduct) in any form within our community. We will work collaboratively to create and ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all.

All forms of sexual misconduct are discriminatory in nature and are prohibited by Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 as well as prohibited by the Roger Williams University Student Code of Conduct (the Code).

While the information below is very detailed, the expectations for RWU community members can be clearly summarized here:

In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity. Consent is sexual permission. Consent can be given by word or action, but nonverbal consent is not as clear as explicitly stating what you do and do not want. Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically considered consent to any other form of sexual activity. Individuals who consent to sexual activity must be able to fully understand what they are doing. Under this policy, “No” always means “No” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes”. For example, when alcohol or other drugs are used, a person will be considered unable to give effective consent if the person cannot appreciate the who, what, when, where, why, or how of a sexual interaction. Consent cannot be given by an individual who is incapacitated or asleep. In addition, silence – without clear actions demonstrating permission – cannot be assumed to indicate consent. Lastly, coercing someone into sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into sex. Coercion happens when someone is pressured unreasonably for sexual activity. The information in this section may be modified at the University’s discretion. 

WHAT RWU CONDUCT CODES APPLY TO SEXUAL MISCONDUCT/GENDER-BASED MISCONDUCT 

Sexual misconduct (Conduct Code 2) is considered to be one of the most serious violations of the Roger Williams Student University Code of Conduct. Students found responsible for a violation of sexual assault through the Sexual Misconduct Review Process will receive a sanction of suspension for no less than one semester up to dismissal from the University. Other violations of Conduct Code 2 can result in a sanction range up to dismissal as well. All RWU students are responsible for being familiar with and abiding by the standards of conduct in this section.

Conduct Code #2:  Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct

Members of the Roger Williams University community, guests and visitors have the right to be free from sexual/gender-based misconduct and discrimination. The University will not tolerate misconduct regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of individuals engaging in sexual activity. The University will remedy all unwelcome conduct of a sexual/gender-based nature and will impose serious sanctions on anyone who violates this policy. Conduct that violates this value includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Sexual assault (including non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact);
  2. Sexual harassment;
  3. Sexual exploitation;
  4. Dating violence or domestic violence;
  5. Stalking; and
  6. Illegal possession or distribution of pornography.

The policy applies to all students, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. A student charged with sexual misconduct can be held accountable under the University’s Code and could face possible criminal charges with law enforcement agencies. These above actions are separate and not dependent upon one another.

Additionally, during the Sexual Misconduct Review Process, the person making the report will be referred to as the "reporting student” or “reporting party”, and the student responding to the report will be referred to as the "responding student” or “responding party”.

The University encourages victims and bystanders to report incidents of sexual misconduct without fear of being accused of lower-level policy violations themselves, such as underage alcohol or drug intoxication. To encourage reporting, the University will review amnesty options for all reporters.

DEFINITIONS 

1. Effective Consent:
RWU strongly encourages students who choose to engage in sexual behavior to verbally communicate their intentions and consent as clearly as possible. Effective consent is informed, knowing and voluntary. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable willingness regarding engaging in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

Consent may never be given by minors, mentally disabled persons, and those who are incapacitated as a result of alcohol or drug consumption or those who are unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless. Incapacitation means being in a state where a person cannot understand the nature and/or extent of the situation. Slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, smell of alcohol, shaky equilibrium, unsteady gait, vomiting, outrageous or unusual behavior, unconsciousness (short or long periods), elevated blood alcohol level, sleeping, blackout and loss of memory are some indicators of alcohol-related incapacitation. A person’s state of incapacity is a subjective determination. Indications of consent are irrelevant if the initiator knows or should have reasonably known of the incapacity of another person. Intentional use of alcohol or other drugs does not excuse perpetration of a violation of the Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct policy.

Consent as a result of coercion, intimidation, threat of force or force is not effective consent. Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. When someone makes it clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive. A person who knows or should have reasonably known that another person is incapacitated may not engage in sexual activity with that person.

In the absence of mutually understandable words or actions, it is the responsibility of the initiator, or the person who wants to engage in the specific sexual activity, to make sure that they have consent from their partner. Consent to some form of sexual activity doesn’t automatically mean consent to other forms of sexual activity. It is the responsibility of the initiator to re-confirm consent during each step of sexual activity. Consent is mutually understandable when a reasonable person would consider the words and/or actions of the parties to have expressed a mutually understandable agreement between them to do the same thing, in the same way, at the same time, with one another. Silence, previous sexual relationships, and/or a current relationship with the initiator (or anyone else) may not, in themselves, imply consent. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as withdrawal is communicated between the engaging parties.

2. Non-consensual sexual intercourse:
Non-consensual sexual intercourse is a form of sexual assault which includes any sexual intercourse, however slight, with any object or body part by a person against another person that is without consent and/or by force. Examples of non-consensual sexual intercourse include, but are not limited to: vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger; oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact).

3. Non-consensual sexual contact:
Non-consensual sexual contact is a form of sexual assault which includes any intentional touching, however slight, whether clothed or unclothed, with any object or body part by a person against another person that is without consent and/or by force. Examples of non-consensual sexual contact include, but are not limited to: intentional contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals; intentional touching of another with breast, buttocks, groin or genitals; making another person touch someone or themselves in a sexual manner; and/or any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner.

4. Sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination involving quid pro quo or hostile environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment is an intentional, intolerable exploitation of a position of power and authority such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demands for sexually-based favors, or other gender-based verbal or physical conduct where submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used by a person(s) in a position of power or authority, as a basis for employment, academic or institutional environment decisions affecting such individual. Hostile environment harassment arises where one or more members of the University community engage in gender-based conduct that unreasonably creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working and/or living/study environment that has the effect of altering one’s work or educational experience and the conditions of employment or living/study at the University. Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to: subtle or persistent pressure for sexual activity or favors; unnecessary touching or brushing up against a person; unwelcome communication (verbal, written, electronic, etc.) of a sexual nature; and/or failure to accept the end of a consensual relationship with repeated and persistent requests and behavior.

5. Sexual exploitation:
Sexual exploitation includes but it not limited to: invasion of sexual privacy and voyeurism (in-person or through audio or video recording); recording any person engaged in sexual or intimate activity in a private space without that person’s full knowledge and consent; distributing sexual or intimate information, images or recordings about another person without that person’s full knowledge and consent; and/or exposing of a person’s body or genitals.

6. Relationship Violence (Domestic Violence/Dating Violence):
Relationship violence is behavior in an intimate relationship that is used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. This behavior can be verbal, emotional and/or physical.

7. Stalking/Intimidation:
Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fearful, intimidated, threatened, or cause emotional distress. Intimidation is defined as implied threats or acts that cause an unreasonable fear or harm in another. It also includes when the knowledge of prior violent behavior is used to threaten or menace another.

8. Retaliation:
Retaliation is any adverse action taken against a person because of the person’s participation in a complaint or investigation of discrimination or sexual misconduct. The University will take seriously any allegation of retaliation.

FEDERAL LAW – TITLE IX – SEXUAL MISCONDUCT AS SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION 

The US Department of Education and the Office for Civil Rights have issued specific requirements for educational institutions regarding sexual misconduct. The sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence and sexual misconduct, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by federal law under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and therefore is a civil rights violation. In compliance with Title IX requirements, the University has named Dr. Jen Stanley as its Title IX Coordinator; her role is to oversee University compliance with Title IX regulations.  The Title IX Coordinator and/or other Deputy Title IX Coordinators will meet with students as needed to:

  1. Serve as a resource for students wishing to report any acts of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, i.e. violations of Title IX.
  2. Provide oversight for all Title IX complaints, and identify patterns of behaviors and campus climate issues.
  3. Coordinate and develop programming and informational initiatives enabling students to fully understand sexual misconduct and sexual harassment as forms of sexual discrimination and further educate students re: University procedures and policies that address those issues.

All reports of sexual harassment and discrimination, including sexual assault/misconduct, made to any University responsible employee must be reported to the University’s Title IX Coordinator or their designee. Any person who believes that they have been subject to sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, or sexual misconduct may contact the University Title IX Coordinator or her designee as well as any of the on and off campus resources listed in the following section.

The office of the Title IX Coordinator is located on the 2nd floor of the Center for Student Development building. Her phone number is (401) 254-3123 and her email is jstanley@rwu.edu.

HOW SEXUAL ASSAULT AND SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ARE LEGALLY DEFINED IN RHODE ISLAND 

Sexual assault is a felony crime in Rhode Island and punishable for a period not less than ten years up to lifetime imprisonment. State law defines sexual assault in three degrees:

First Degree Sexual Assault, also called rape, has two major components:

  1. Any forced, coerced penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth by any part of another’s body or an object; and,
  2. Legally, lack of consent does not necessarily require physical resistance or verbal refusal. For instance, someone who is incapacitated, asleep or intoxicated is, by definition of the law, unable to give consent.
    R.I.G.L. §11-37-2

*In Rhode Island, it is a crime to fail to report to the police a first degree sexual assault or an attempted first degree sexual assault which you have witnessed. R.I.G.L. §11-37-3.1; §11-37-3.3

Second Degree Sexual Assault is non-consenting sexual contact with another person. This includes any forced or coerced contact with a person’s genital area, inner thigh, buttocks, or the breast of a female. This includes contact occurring by element of surprise. R.I.G.L. §11-37-4

Third Degree Sexual Assault is consensual sexual penetration by a person 18 years of age or older of a person over 14 years of age, but under the age of consent (16 years old). R.I.G.L. §11-37-6

Domestic Violence includes any of the following crimes when committed by a family member, a person who presently resides with or has resided with the victim in the past 3 years, a person who has a child in common with the victim, or a person who has been in a substantive dating relationship within the past year with the victim: (1) simple assault, (2) felony assault, (3) vandalism, (4) disorderly conduct, (5) trespass, (6) kidnapping, (7) child-snatching, (8) sexual assault, (9) homicide, (10) violations of a protective order, (11) stalking, (12) refusal to relinquish or to damage or to obstruct a telephone, (13) burglary and unlawful entry, (14) arson, (15) cyberstalking and cyber harassment, (16) domestic assault by strangulation, and (17) electric tracking of motor vehicles.  R.I.G.L. §12-29-2.

*Please note: Students in the same residence hall/off-campus apartment may be considered under this definition.

Stalking is (1) engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person with the intent to seriously alarm, annoy, or bother the person and which serves no legitimate purpose, or (2) willfully, maliciously and repeatedly following another person with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. R.I.G.L. §11-59-1; §11-59-2

OPTIONS FOR ASSISTANCE FOLLOWING AN INCIDENT OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT 

Students are encouraged to speak to University staff and administration (such as the Title IX Coordinator, Residence Life staff, Student Life staff, Public Safety, Student Conduct staff, etc.) as well as local police to get support and make formal reports of incidents. RWU Residence Life, Public Safety and Counseling are available 24/7 for support and reporting.  The following lists options available for assistance and reporting:

1. Get to a safe place immediately.

2. Receive medical attention as soon as possible.
Prompt medical treatment is highly recommended in sexual misconduct cases. Medical personnel have been trained to perform exams in a manner which respects the emotional well-being of the victim as well as treating injuries and addressing concerns regarding sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. In addition, a hospital examination ensures that valuable corroborative evidence is not lost. We urge those who identify as women (over the age of 18) to access Women & Infants Hospital, male identified individuals to utilize Rhode Island Hospital, and victims under the age of 18 to utilize Hasbro Children’s Hospital.  Transgender individuals who do not identify on the binary as indicated above, are encouraged to utilize Women & Infants Hospital.  The best medical evidence can be collected up to 96 hours after the assault. This kit may be used on both males and females. If the victim does not have medical insurance, hospital will provide the examination and collection at a reduced cost. The RI Department of Health will accept evidence in kits whether or not the victim has decided to file a police complaint. Victims who are unsure about making a report at the time of the incident may decide to come forward in the future, and the evidence will be necessary at that time.

Medical attention is important because of:
A. The possibilities of physical injury or trauma
B. The need to collect evidence should the victim decide to press charges
C. The possibilities of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases

If you decide to receive medical attention, you should:
A. Not disturb your appearance
B. Not wash, bathe, douche, or change clothes
C. Take the clothes you were in when the incident occurred, if you have changed. The clothes may be held as evidence
D. Tell the emergency room staff that there has been a sexual assault, so that you will be attended to immediately

LOCAL MEDICAL RESOURCES (see descriptions above for recommended hospitals):

  • Women & Infants Hospital: (401) 274-1100 (24/7)
  • Rhode Island Hospital: (401) 444-4000 (24/7)
  • Roger Williams Hospital: (401) 456-2121 (24/7)
  • RWU Health Services: (401) 254-3156

3. Seek Counseling and Emotional Services.
Sexual misconduct victims experience profound emotional trauma. Although victims react in different ways, common responses include: initial feelings of shock and disbelief; fears about personal safety; preoccupations with recurrent, intrusive thoughts about the assault; sleep disturbances; anxiety; impaired concentration; mood swings; depression; and feelings of anger, shame and self-blame. Regardless of whether you report the assault, you should always seek counseling and support to help with the emotional trauma associated with sexual misconduct.

LOCAL COUNSELING RESOURCES:

Students may access the Counseling Center staff after hours by contacting:
Public Safety (401) 254-3333, the on-call C.O.R.E., or an R.A.

In addition, Day One operates a 24-hour hotline. Advocates are trained to provide a variety of services (e.g., meeting you at the hospital, helping you file charges with the local police office, appearing in court, etc.).

4. Report the misconduct to one of the following on or off-campus law enforcement offices.
Many sexual misconduct cases go unreported because the victim fears retaliation or possible humiliation if word gets around. Victims tend to feel guilty, as though they did something to bring it upon themselves, and often keep the misconduct to themselves or share some of the incident with a close friend. Students who have been assaulted or discriminated against in any way have been victimized. Their offenders are at fault, and the behavior is not acceptable. In order to stop this type of activity, we encourage victims to help start the healing process by reporting what has happened to them. Recognizing the different needs of the victims, there are a range of ways to report the offender’s behavior. Students who report sexual misconduct will be offered support from a variety of services, including the Sexual Misconduct Advisor Support Program (SMASP) via the RWU Title IX Coordinator.

A student may pursue any or all of these options:

CONFIDENTIALITY, PRIVACY AND REPORTING POLICY 

Any person reporting a violation of this policy has the right to confidential support and advice on and off campus. The following list includes confidential resources on and off campus. If any person involved in the report of sexual misconduct desires confidential support on campus, they should speak with professional staff listed below.

RWU CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCES

OFF-CAMPUS RESOURCES


OTHER REPORTING

Under Title IX, students have a right to expect that RWU will take reports of sexual misconduct seriously. Apart from any legal obligation, however, RWU encourages victims of sexual misconduct to talk to someone about what happened so that they can get the support that they need and so that RWU can respond appropriately.

When receiving reports of sexual misconduct, different RWU employees have different abilities to maintain confidentiality. Some employees, such as professional staff in RWU Counseling and Health Services or RWU’s Chaplain, are required to maintain confidentiality, while other employees called “responsible employees,” such as the Residence Life, Student Life staff, Athletics staff (including coaches) and faculty members must report all details of the incident to the Title IX Coordinator.  

Reports of sexual misconduct to responsible employees will be promptly addressed and resolved through administrative procedures, as outlined through this section of the Student Handbook. To the extent possible, information reported to a responsible employee will be shared only with others handling RWU’s response to the report. Yet, if the student reporting the incident seeks investigation or if RWU determines that an investigation is necessary to protect the community as a whole, then information will be shared with certain administrators, the alleged offender and possibly others, such as witnesses.

If a student has reported an incident to a responsible employee, but wishes to maintain confidentiality or requests that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted or disciplinary action taken, then RWU will weigh this request against its obligation to provide a safe environment for all students. A student should be aware that if RWU decides to honor a request for confidentiality, then RWU’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the alleged offender will be limited.  Also, when deemed necessary to protect the interests of the community, RWU may not be able to honor a student’s request for confidentiality made to a responsible employee.

RWU also has a duty to report data about various forms of sexual misconduct in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). No personally identifiable information is disclosed, but statistical information is disclosed as part of the University’s annual security report. The information to be shared includes the date, location type (residence hall, public property, off-campus, etc.) and specific crime category. In addition, under the Clery Act, RWU administrators must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that continue to pose a substantial threat to bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The University will make every effort to ensure the victim’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information to inform community members.

Whether the incident occurred on or off campus, students are encouraged to report sexual misconduct to the local police. RWU Public Safety can assist students who wish to make a report to the police or students can make reports to the police independently. Deciding not to report to the police will not impact the University’s process, as both are independent of each other.

Please see the University’s sexual misconduct website for further detailed information regarding responsible employees, campus security authorities as well as third-party and anonymous reporting. 

DEFINITIONS AND JURISDICTION 

The Sexual Misconduct Review Process applies to undergraduate, graduate, law (when applicable), and continuing/professional studies students of Roger Williams University.

The term “student” includes all persons taking courses at Roger Williams University and its affiliated schools, either full-time or part-time, pursuing undergraduate, graduate, law, or continuing/professional studies and while pursuing credit away from the campus (e.g., study abroad, internships), or during a leave of absence. Students who are not currently enrolled in classes, but who have a continuing relationship with the University or who have been notified of their acceptance for admission are considered “students”, as are persons who are living in University residence halls, although not enrolled in the University. Students are held to these expectations from the time of admission which includes before classes begin, during the periods of breaks, the time between semesters, through the awarding of a degree.  In situations where the conduct is not discovered until after a degree is awarded, the student leaves (including medical leaves), withdraws, is otherwise suspended or dismissed, the University reserves the right to investigate the report through the Sexual Misconduct Review Process. Students are not permitted to withdraw, request or take a formal leave of absence, including a medical leave, from the University while a disciplinary matter related to sexual misconduct is pending.

The Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct policy applies to behavior that occurs on any University premise, at University-sponsored activities on or off campus, and to off-campus conduct that adversely affects the University. All students are responsible for knowing and abiding by this policy, and the University has the authority to proceed with the Sexual Misconduct Review Process at any time after a student has been accepted to the University, even after a student leaves, withdraws, is otherwise suspended or dismissed and/or graduates. The University reserves the right to investigate and resolve any report or incident in which a student is alleged to violate any of the principles or policies published by the University or local, state, or federal laws or regulations, regardless of the location where the incident occurs. Students are also expected to follow the policies and procedures of institutions that they may visit, including during international travel.

The Sexual Misconduct Review Process maintains the authority, in collaboration with the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, to address other alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct that are related to the same incident under review, though may not be directly related to gender-based conduct.

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATION AND ADJUDICATION 

Notice of a formal report can be made in writing or orally to an appropriate staff member (Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinators, Residence Life staff, Student Conduct staff, Public Safety, other Student Life staff, etc.) though the University encourages written reports to be submitted. The report should clearly describe the alleged incident and when and where it occurred. Additionally, the initiator of a formal report should submit any supporting materials in writing as quickly as possible. The Title IX Coordinator or designee is identified to formally investigate and address the University’s compliance efforts regarding reports of sexual misconduct. Completion of the investigation and adjudication typically may be completed within 60 days of receipt of the complaint, often sooner. Some circumstances may require that an investigation continue beyond the 60 day period. These circumstances may include the complexity and scope of the allegations and the investigation, the number and availability of witnesses, the effect of a criminal complaint, or any intervening college breaks or holidays. 

All reports will be taken seriously. Every reasonable effort will be made to preserve the privacy of all parties to the extent that the investigation allows. Only relevant information will be disclosed to those people with a need for information regarding the investigation (need to know basis). Interim remedial actions may be enacted by the University to stop the alleged harassment or discrimination and/or to protect the safety and well-being of the involved parties and the University community. Interim remedial actions include but are not limited to: no contact orders/directives, academic and housing changes/accommodations, and emergency housing and campus restrictions/suspensions. The Title IX Coordinator will oversee the designated trained investigators and determine the course of action, which may include formal Student Code of Conduct charges.  It may also be determined through the investigation process that there is not enough information available to proceed to Conduct Code charges.  Remedial actions may still be enacted even if a report does not proceed to a University Hearing.

The investigative process may include but is not limited to interviews with, as determined in the investigator’s sole discretion, the reporting student, the responding student, any relevant witnesses, other appropriate individuals, and review of any documents or materials deemed potentially relevant. Both the responding and reporting students have the right to meet separately with the investigator(s) and to present any information relevant to the report and to provide names of witnesses and/or information helpful. No student has the right to confront the responding student, reporting student or witnesses or to be present during the investigation and adjudication (Hearing) at the same time as any other student or witness. When the investigation is completed, a written investigative report and corresponding materials will be prepared. The information will be available for review and response by the responding and reporting students upon request and by a University Hearing body for decision making regarding responsibility and sanctioning.

When a sexual misconduct complaint results in a University Hearing, the following process and procedures will be in place. 


NOTICE

At a time near the completion of the investigation when the Title IX Office deems appropriate, reporting and responding parties will receive in writing notification of, as applicable, the charges, relevant information regarding the Hearing procedures, also referred to as “proceeding”, and each student’s procedural rights.


STUDENT RESPONSE

In cases involving sexual misconduct, both the reporting and responding parties are afforded the opportunity to review the investigatory report upon request prior to the University Hearing and provide a response statement. After reviewing the investigative report, a student may also submit a list of eight (8) additional questions, not to exceed a total of 500 words, for further exploration by the investigator(s).  The investigator(s) will determine the relevance of any additional questions submitted by both reporting and responding parties and reserve the right to continue the investigation based on these questions as necessary. Any further statements or information received by the investigator(s) and any supplement to the investigatory report prior to the University Hearing will be available for review by both the reporting and responding parties, as well as the Hearing body.


RIGHTS OF REPORTING AND RESPONDING STUDENTS IN SEXUAL MISCONDUCT REVIEW PROCESS

The right to:

  • Written notification of charges and details of the alleged incident.
  • An investigation and resolution that is prompt, fair and impartial from the initial investigation to the final result.
  • A hearing conducted by neutral University officials who receive annual training.
  • A hearing process that protects the safety of the parties and promotes accountability.
  • Present relevant materials and witnesses with personal, relevant knowledge of the incident as outlined above.
  • The opportunity to participate in and be heard at the Hearing.  Reporting and responding parties do not have the right to confront the other party at any time during the Hearing.  Accommodations will be provided to ensure that reporting and responding parties will not be present in the same room at the same time during the Hearing. Whether or not a student exercises the right to participate, the Hearing will be held, and the student will be bound by the decision rendered.
  • Be accompanied to the Hearing and any related meeting by an advisor of their choice.
  • Be informed in writing of the outcome, also referred to as “result”, of the hearing
  • Request an appeal as outlined (under Appeal). 


HEARING

In cases involving sexual misconduct, the Hearing, also referred to as “proceeding”, will consist of a panel of no more than three and no fewer than two individuals, selected from a pool of trained staff and faculty members.  Reporting and responding parties may bring one advisor of their choice, as outlined in the “Advisors/Attorneys” section of this policy.  Only information directly related to the incident is admissible during the hearing. During the Hearing, the hearing body will, in the order it deems appropriate:

  1. Outline the process.
  2. Review the investigation packet provided by the investigators (in advance of the Hearing) which includes incident report and/or allegations, witness statements, and any supplemental information.
  3. (Separately) ask any relevant clarifying questions as deemed necessary of the investigator(s), reporting student, and responding student related to the investigative packet provided.
  4. Hear any impact statements relating to the incident.
  5. Either defer the decision or render a decision of "responsible" or "not responsible." The Hearing body uses a preponderance of evidence standard, understood as "more likely than not" (i.e., 51%) to evaluate alleged violations of the Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct Policy.
  6. Issue one or more appropriate sanctions if the responding student is found responsible.  Students found responsible for sexual assault through the Sexual Misconduct Review process will be sanctioned by a range of suspension for no less than one semester up to dismissal from the University. Other violations of Conduct Code 2 may result in a sanction up to dismissal as well.  

Both the reporting and responding parties will receive a final written decision from the University Hearing panel, which will set forth the outcome and the sanction(s) imposed, if applicable. The written decision will include information regarding the appeal process and the deadline for filing an appeal.


ADDITIONAL SEXUAL MISCONDUCT REVIEW PROCESS PROCEDURES

  • Reporting parties can expect to have any report made in good faith taken seriously by the University when reported and to have those incidents reviewed, investigated and properly resolved through the Sexual Misconduct Review Process.
  • All rights and notices afforded to responding parties also apply to reporting parties and will be equitable throughout the process.
  • During a proceeding, introduction of information regarding the irrelevant prior sexual history, such as the reporting party’s sexual conduct with anyone other than the responding student, is prohibited.
  • All proceedings and related events are closed to the public and are private.
  • Reporting and responding parties will receive the Hearing agenda no less than three (3) days prior to the scheduled Hearing.
  • Reporting and responding parties may request to know the members of the hearing body ahead of time and to address any potential conflict of interest in regard to hearing body members to the Title IX Office no later than two (2) business days prior to the Hearing, which will be resolved in the University’s sole discretion. Any hearing body member who was involved in the initial investigation and who is expected to be a witness or has a special interest is expected to disqualify themselves.
  • Records are considered education records and are maintained through the conduct records and confidentiality policy.
  • Recordings of hearings, of any type or by any method, are not permitted.
  • Upon determining that a student has violated the Code of Conduct, the hearing body may review the responding student’s student conduct history.
  • RWU reserves the right to communicate with a parent or guardian of the responding student on any student conduct action taken by the University, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The University reserves to right to communicate with other parties in accordance with FERPA.
  • The responding student and reporting student will simultaneously be notified in writing of a Hearing outcome and options to appeal if applicable.


RETALIATION

It is a violation of this policy to retaliate against any person who in good faith reports or participates in any investigation of alleged sexual misconduct.


FALSE REPORTING

It is a violation of this policy to knowingly make a false report or complaint of alleged sexual misconduct.


SANCTIONS

Students found responsible for a violation of sexual assault will receive a sanction of suspension for no less than one semester and up to dismissal from the University. Other violations of Conduct Code 2 (Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct) can result in a sanction range up to dismissal as well. During the time of a suspension related to sexual misconduct, the student’s official transcript will bear a notation that reads: “Disciplinary Suspension from RWU”. Dismissal becomes part of the student’s official transcript and will be noted as: “Disciplinary dismissal from RWU”. A full range of potential sanctions are defined here: www.rwu.edu/student-handbook/conduct-review-process#sanctions. All RWU students are responsible for being familiar with and abiding by the Student Code of Conduct. Suspensions and expulsions from the University and/or housing will result in a loss of tuition, fees, room and board. In addition, students are withdrawn from their classes by the University.

APPEALS 

In cases involving sexual misconduct, either party may submit a request for appeal within five (5) business days of formal notification of the hearing outcome to the Vice President of Student Life (VPSL) or their designee, as outlined in the hearing outcome letter. The request for appeal must state clearly the basis as related to one of the following three criteria:

1. Relevant, new information (unknown or unavailable during the investigation) has come to light since the Hearing decision was made that could have materially impacted the outcome.

2. Procedural error occurred during Hearing process which has materially affected the outcome.

3. The sanction(s) imposed are substantially disproportionate to severity of policy violation.

Should a student appeal a decision, the sanction(s) imposed shall remain in effect through the appeal process, unless otherwise stipulated by the Hearing body.

The appeal will be reviewed upon receipt. Generally, the VPSL or designee will contact the student regarding the status of the appeal within seven (7) business days.

The appeal will either be granted based on the applicable criteria outlined above, or denied. If the appeal is denied, the appealing student will receive a final written decision from the VPSL or designee, which will set forth the outcome of the appeal. If an appeal is granted, both reporting and responding students will be notified.  The decision of the VPSL or designee will be final. A student is entitled to one (1) appeal.

If the appeal is granted, only the specific grounds for appeal will be reviewed by a hearing body with members not involved in the original hearing.  Appeals of sexual misconduct cases are not intended to be a full rehearing of the complaint.

ADVISORS / ATTORNEYS 

In matters involving alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, students are entitled to have an advisor of their choice during any phase of the process. Students who are witnesses to the incident or are also involved in the same student matter cannot serve as advisors.  An attorney or non-University affiliated advocate could serve in this capacity.  Students must notify the Title IX Office of their selected advisor. If a reporting or responding student would like the assistance of an advisor from the Sexual Misconduct Advisor Support Program, the Title IX Coordinator will identify a trained staff or faculty member from the pool of advisors to assist the student. 

Advisors may attend any meeting, including the Hearing, with the student, but cannot actively participate in the proceedings any manner.  Advisors may not examine witnesses, object to testimony or procedure or present arguments, and their role shall be limited to quietly and unobtrusively advising the student in lowered voices or by written note. Any conduct of an advisor in violation of these conditions in the opinion of the Hearing body may result in the immediate removal of that advisor, and the continuation of the hearing without the presence of that advisor. In matters where the responding student and/or reporting student is entitled to and elects to be accompanied and counseled by an attorney, any other party to the case, including the University, shall also be entitled to be counseled by an attorney who shall likewise be restricted to advising in lowered voices or by written note.

When possible, the University will make reasonable adjustments in order to accommodate an advisor’s schedule.  However, the University is not obligated to reschedule meetings and/or a hearing to accommodate the advisor.  A student may select a new advisor in the event of a scheduling conflict.  Students are responsible for presenting their own information, and the University’s communications during the process will be with the student, not with the advisor, in all written and oral communications during the Sexual Misconduct Review Process.

ACCOMMODATIONS 

The University is mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide equal access to facilities, educational and co-curricular programs, campus activities and employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. Any student who needs support through Student Accessibility Services should contact (401) 254-3841.

WHERE TO GET HELP IF YOU ARE ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT 

Being accused of sexual misconduct can be a frightening, confusing and isolating experience. You may want to seek emotional and other assistance to cope with the feelings and the conduct procedures associated with the charges.

Resources for you on campus include:

If a responding student would like the assistance of an advisor from the Sexual Misconduct Advisor Support Program, the Title IX Coordinator will identify a trained staff or faculty member from the pool of advisors to assist the student.

BYSTANDER INTERVENTION, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT PREVENTION AND EDUCATION 

RWU believes that prevention of sexual assault and all sexual misconduct starts with education of our community. As such, we have a comprehensive Bystander Intervention Program developed to train our students on how to intervene when they see uncivil acts or violations of the sexual misconduct policy. RWU student leaders are trained to intervene, step up, say something, and/or do something when they witness actions that may lead to sexual misconduct or sexual misconduct itself.

RWU uses the Green Dot bystander intervention program which empowers students address power-based personal violence before it occurs. RWU also requires all incoming undergraduate students to take the HAVEN on-line sexual assault/misconduct prevention program prior to starting their first semester. RWU makes this course available to all students and encourages participation. HAVEN educates students about important issues such as: consent, the role alcohol plays, understanding University policies, how to access campus and local resources, and how to intervene or get help if you see something. Many offices in the Division of Student Life also do on-going prevention work, such as the Silent Witness Initiative, V-day programs and productions, Equalogy interactive educational theater, the Escalation/One Love program, various awareness marches and vigils, the RWU Annual Crime Prevention Fair, and self-defense workshops. These programs are just a handful of the many campus wide initiatives offered to raise awareness and empower students to be safe and engaged community members.
 

Public Awareness Events
Public awareness events such as "Take Back the Night," the Clothesline Project, candlelight vigils, "survivor speak-outs," and other forums in which students disclose incidents of sexual violence are not considered notice to the University of sexual misconduct for purposes of triggering its obligation to investigate any particular incident.   If a student wishes to officially report an incident of sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination, we encourage that through the procedures outlined within this policy.
 

ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY & ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY & PROCEDURES 

POLICY STATEMENT

Sexual Harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination which violates federal and state law as well as Roger Williams University and Roger Williams University School of Law (hereinafter “university”) policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender. It is forbidden by the university and it is inexcusable regardless of circumstances. Transgressions and supervisory condonation of such transgressions will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. This policy applies to students, faculty, staff, and university officers equally as described below. Further, its mandate shall, to the extent contractually feasible, be applied fully to contractually affiliated entities at the university.


PROSCRIBED CONDUCT

There are currently two (2) distinctly recognizable and forbidden forms of sexual harassment, both of which constitute terminable conduct.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment: This harassment is an intentional, intolerable exploitation of a position of power and authority such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests, or demands for sexually based favors or other gender based verbal or physical conduct where submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used, by the person(s) in a position of power or authority, as a basis for employment, academic, or institutional environment decisions affecting such individual.

Hostile Environment Harassment: This harassment arises where one or more members of the university community engage in gender based conduct that unreasonably creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working and/or study environment that has the effect of altering one’s work or academic performance and the conditions of employment or study at the university. It may arise independent of the supervisor/subordinate or teacher/student relationship (e.g., co-worker to co- worker) and the conduct need not be overtly sexual in nature but merely gender differentiating. As a general guiding principal established herein, no gender based actions that are not specifically and officially endorsed by the university (e.g.; separate rest room facilities) are authorized or condoned. Currently, as established under controlling case law interpretation of both state and federal laws, hostile environment sexual harassment consists of conduct that:

(1) would not have occurred but for the victim’s gender and (2) is sufficiently severe or pervasive as (3) adjudged by the reasonable person (of the same gender as the victim under Rhode Island law) to (4) adversely affect a victim’s work or other conditions of employment or academic performance or study environment. The university will continue to provide education and training as to illegal and intolerable conduct rising to the level of sexual harassment


ENFORCEMENT

The university will fully investigate all charges of sexual harassment filed pursuant to this policy and render a deliberative finding, taking immediate corrective action in cases where the record so warrants. Individuals found to have engaged in such misconduct shall be accordingly disciplined. This misconduct is grave on its face and terminable. Supervisory personnel who witness what they believe is harassing conduct of subordinates or colleagues or are in receipt of formal or informal allegations of such conduct are obligated to report same to the university through the procedures detailed below.

All employees or students who witness or have tangible evidence of potentially harassing conduct are responsible to cooperate fully and honestly with the university in its investigation of such alleged conduct. Failure to do so impedes the university’s search for facts necessary to appropriate determination and is, in itself, disciplinable. Employees and students who fully, honestly and forthrightly cooperate with the university in its investigation and the enforcement of this policy shall be deemed to be operating within the scope of employment and/or as agents of the university and for such cooperation shall be covered by the university’s indemnification policy.
 

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

As a necessary, proactive measure of policy integrity and enforcement, the university will provide mandatory education and training for members of the university community to ensure understanding and appreciation of the Policy, the laws as amended and re-interpreted from time-to-time, (which serve as a basis for this policy and its proscriptive measures) and the Procedures. This education and training will be coordinated through the university’s Department of Human Resources and provided by or through formally designated members of the university community with knowledge of the laws and this policy’s parameters. Information regarding provision of university education and training on sexual harassment may be obtained from the Department of Human Resources. Information and guidance as to this policy and its procedures as well as to respond to specific questions relative to the law of sexual harassment may be obtained from the Office of General Counsel.


CONFIDENTIALITY

While all reasonable efforts will be made to respect the confidentiality of all parties to, witnesses of, and any other employee or student with evidence of, sexual harassment charge(s), the university is obligated to fully address all charges of such conduct and cannot guarantee total confidentiality where it will impede the search for truth and the necessary findings of fact as it relates to the law and university policy. A thorough investigation, including discussing witnesses’ accounts and confronting the accused will often transpire. A charge of sexual harassment is most serious, cannot and will not be taken lightly and cannot and will not be “off the record”.


RETALIATION

Retaliatory action under any and all circumstances taken against an individual who files a complaint of sexual harassment honestly and in good faith, or who is cooperating with the university’s investigation into such allegation, is prohibited and terminable.


MALICIOUS ALLEGATIONS/ACTIONS

False charges of sexual harassment made knowingly or with wanton reckless disregard for the truth and veracity thereof, shall be considered malicious charges and are not within the scope of anyone’s employment. The university reserves the right to impose sanctions against the accuser up to and including termination. Repeated filing of frivolous charges will be considered reckless disregard for the truth and veracity of said charges. Neither failure to substantiate a sexual harassment charge nor a university finding that sexual harassment did not occur, of itself, constitutes malicious charge(s).


ELECTION OF REMEDIES

Neither this Policy nor its correlative Procedures preclude the accuser from filing charges with any external agency or otherwise seeking redress pursuant to law. At such election, at any stage of the process, the procedure will be handled directly by the university’s Office of General Counsel, but shall otherwise continue to operate through to resolution as set out under “PROCEDURES” below.


PROCEDURES

The university’s sexual harassment policy must be adhered to by all members of the university community. Any student or employee who honestly feels subjected to or has witnessed sexual harassment, as outlined in the policy and elaborated upon in educational sessions provided by the university, should immediately report the conduct to the university designated intake agents(s) as follows:

Students report the conduct to the Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Jen Stanley, 254-3123, office in Center for Student Development (2nd Floor), email: jstanley@rwu.edu.

Employees report the conduct to Mr. Thomas McDonough, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, 254-3797, office in the North Campus Office Building, email: tmcdonough@rwu.edu.

Alternatively, at either the election of the reporting/charging party or the referral of either of the two offices listed above, the Office of the General Counsel, 254-5379, shall serve as intake agent.

Should the allegations involve personnel in either of the offices set out in 1. and 2. above, or personnel in the Office of the President, the matter shall be reported directly to the Office of General Counsel. If the allegations involve personnel in the Office of General Counsel, the matter shall be reported to the Office of the President.

Immediately upon receiving notification of conduct alleged to be gender based harassment, the Office identified above, as the initial intake agent of the university except under Provision 4., shall notify the Office of General Counsel (if it is not already serving as the intake agent) and commence investigation of the alleged conduct, maintaining confidences to the extent practicable. The investigation and all subsequent steps in the procedure will be conducted in accordance with direction from the Office of General Counsel.

Should Provision 4., above, be invoked concerning an allegation of gender-based misconduct in the Office of General Counsel, investigation will be conducted by or at the direction of the Office of the President, using the procedure outlined below, while adjusting the process as necessary to avoid conflict of interest within the Office of General Counsel.

The President, Senior Vice President(s), or Vice President(s) supervising the division of the accuser and the accused shall, to the extent not compromising the integrity of this policy and procedure, be apprised of the matter following initial intake and shall be kept apprised of and involved, as appropriate, in the investigation and findings.
 

STEP 1 – INTERVENTION

This process is prerequisite to formal hearing and the recording of the university’s official, investigated findings of whether or not sexual harassment has occurred and/or whether a malicious claim has been filed. It provides no specific sanctions but addresses each matter individually, as confidentially as practicable, and seeks formal resolution by written agreement of all parties to the conduct alleged by the accused, to be gender based, harassing, unwelcome, and intolerable.

The intervention process shall include the following:

1. Interview, by an intake agent, of the accuser and creation of a separate formal record to be maintained in the intake office with final copy, following failed or successful resolution of the intervention, to the Office of General Counsel.

The intervention may include the following:

Interview, by an intake agent, of the accused, setting forth the allegations and making record of the response, complete with specific information as to rebuttal witnesses and other information offered that is conducive to resolution. Discussion with both accuser and accused of formal resolution to which each would agree in writing before involving testimony and evidentiary practices that may erode the confidentiality of the complaint and the parties. If both parties are amenable to formal resolution at the intervention step as proposed by the university through its intake agents(s), a formal agreement will be prepared by the Office of General Counsel after consultation and debriefing with the intake agent, provided to accuser and accused for signing and then implemented according to its terms.


TIME LIMITS

From receipt of accusation to intervention resolution, a period of thirty (30) calendar days is the time limit for Step 1 intervention upon all parties to the allegation. The time limit may be extended by formal agreement of the accuser and the university. Where the accused has been properly joined at the intervention step, extension of time limits need also evidence the accused’s agreement. Absent resolution or mutual agreement to extend the time limit, the allegation will be forwarded to Step 2 of the procedure.
 

STEP 2 – FACT FINDING

Unless the accuser expressly wishes to withdraw the allegations, Step 2 shall be convened and shall proceed, either (1) thirty (30) days failing formal resolution at Step 1 following initial intake interview and explanation of the procedure or (2) immediately, if the accuser does not wish to proceed at Step 1, but wishes to commence a formal investigation.

The record established at Step 1 shall be forwarded to the designee (Factfinder) of the President.

If the matter involves the Office of the President, the Factfinder will be the Office of General Counsel.

From inception of Step 2 through formal finding by the Factfinder, not more than sixty (60) calendar days shall elapse absent special circumstances and in no event shall more than ninety (90) days elapse, except by consent of the parties.

The Factfinder shall review the record established at Step 1 and investigate the allegation(s) further as warranted.  This investigation, as illustrative of the search for credible facts, would include: a. Re-examination of the accuser and/or accused as warranted. b. Discussion with and testimony by witnesses c. Gathering of credible non-testimonial evidence corroborating or rebutting the allegation(s), response and testimonial evidence.

While good faith effort at maintaining circumspect publication and disclosure of allegations, corroboration, rebuttal and the personnel involved will be the order of this Policy and Procedure, confidentiality cannot be promised to the extent it impedes credible resolution of the allegations.

At the conclusion of the fact finding process, the designee shall determine either:
There is no cause for a finding of sexual harassment.
OR
There is cause, based on the facts found, to find sexual harassment.
AND/OR
There has been a malicious filing of a sexual harassment complaint.

The Factfinder’s determination, with the basis therefore, shall be set out in writing and forwarded in confidence to the President of the university (or in the case of a determination involving the Office of the President, to the Office of General Counsel) with official, sealed copy to the accuser, the accused, the university’s Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, Office of General Counsel, and the Senior Vice President or Vice President(s) of the accused and the accuser. If the allegation involves a student as accuser, accused or both, an official, sealed copy will also be forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator and the Vice President for Student Life.
 

STEP 3 – SANCTIONS

Should there be a finding of sexual harassment or malicious filing of such charge(s) following Step 2 herein, the matter will be formally referred to the Office of General Counsel (if not already residing therein) who, following consultation with the appropriate university officers, will provide counsel and professional services as to appropriate sanction(s) and the implementation thereof. Sanctions may include, by way of illustration but not limitation, termination or expulsion, suspension, probation, reprimand, warning, directed counseling and/or mandatory education and training.
 

STEP 4 – GRIEVANCE

Appeal of a finding accompanied by disciplinary sanctions (as set out in Step 3 above), shall be referred to the university’s standing policies for handling employee grievances and/or student appeals of disciplinary sanctions.


WITHDRAWAL OF ALLEGATION

If the accuser determines to withdraw the allegation(s) of sexual harassment at any time during any step in the procedure, the withdrawal must be in writing and specify voluntary retraction of the complaint. This action will not preclude further investigation, findings, or sanctions as imposed by the University.


EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION ENFORCEMENT AGENCY

Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, 180 Westminster Street, 3rd Floor, Providence, RI 02903 (401- 222-2661).

Revised (Administrative Updates Only) and Approved by President’s Cabinet March 22, 2017

For a full list of Roger Williams University's policies go to the Policies & Guidelines page.