Confidentiality and Privacy
In determining which resources to access, it is important to consider the related issues of confidentiality and privacy. Those terms sound similar, but they mean somewhat different things.
- Williams strongly supports students’ interest in confidentially in cases involving sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence and harassment. Even if a student does not specifically ask for confidentiality, Williams will only disclose information regarding incidents of alleged sexual violence to those individuals responsible for handling the school’s response. Students considering reporting an incident, or in the process of reporting and/or adjudication, will always be told, in advance, what information would need to be disclosed, to whom, and why.
- At the same time, there are situations in which the College must override a student’s request for confidentially in order to meet its federal legal obligations. However, these situations (described below) will be limited, and the information will only be shared with individuals who are responsible for handling the College’s response to incidents of sexual violence.
Confidential resources. Some resources, both on and off campus, are able with very limited exceptions to maintain complete confidentiality with respect to reports of sexual misconduct. They will not share with anyone – including law enforcement, College officials or anyone else – any information that identifies or might be used to identify the person reporting the sexual misconduct, except with the reporting person’s consent or where there is an imminent threat to the safety of the reporting person or others.
Confidential resources off-campus include:
- Elizabeth Freeman Center 413-499-2425
- Any local or national rape crisis center or certified rape crisis counselor
- Chaplains or clergy
- Licensed medical or mental health professionals
- Private attorneys
Confidential resources for students on-campus (students who are off-campus are also welcome to contact these resources) include:
- Health Center staff clinical staff, 413-597-2206
- Psych Services clinical staff, 413-597-2353
- Chaplains, 413-597-2483
- Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response x413-597-4977
- SASS advocates (Carolina Echenique, Donna Denelli-Hess, Jennifer Chuks, Mike Evans, and Rick Spalding), 413-597-3000
Support and Assistance: Faculty and Staff:
All of these resources are confidential and private
- The Employee Assistance Program:1-800-828-6025, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Elizabeth Freeman Center (Pittsfield) 499-2425
- National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE
- National Sexual Assault Online Hotline – https://ohl.rainn.org/online/
- For a list of resources with particular focus on the needs of LGBTQ survivors, see http://barcc.org/information/resources-online/glbt
- For resources with particular focus on the needs of male survivors, see malesurvivor.org.
Responsible employees. A “responsible employee” is any college employee who is not a confidential employee. Federal law requires that Williams address sexual violence about which “responsible employees” knew or should have known. The term “responsible employee” means a College employee who has the duty to report or authority to address sexual misconduct by a member of the College community, or who a student reasonably could believe has such duty or authority.
Responsible employees must report to the Title IX Coordinator all relevant details about the alleged sexual misconduct that the person disclosing the incident has shared. This includes:
- The person who experienced the alleged sexual misconduct
- The name of the alleged perpetrator, if known
- The identity of other persons involved in the alleged sexual misconduct
- The relevant facts, including the date, time, and location of the alleged misconduct
- Whether the person who experienced the alleged misconduct has asked that that their name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator(s) or that the College not investigate or take action against the alleged perpetrator(s).
Privacy and its limitations in some cases. Williams strongly supports the confidentiality interests of persons reporting sexual misconduct. Even if a person does not specifically ask for confidentiality, Williams will disclose information regarding incidents of alleged sexual misconduct only to those individuals directly responsible for handling the College’s response. In addition, persons considering whether to report an incident, or in the process of reporting and/or adjudication, will be told, in advance, what information would need to be disclosed, to whom, and why.
At the same time, there are situations in which the College must override a person’s request for confidentiality, or request that the College not investigate or take action against an alleged perpetrator, in order to meet its legal obligations to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for the reporting person or others. When a request for confidentiality could preclude a meaningful investigation and appropriate response to the alleged misconduct of a student, the request will be evaluated by the Title IX Committee for Student Concerns, which consists of Toya Camacho, Title IX Coordinator and Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity; Marlene Sandstrom, Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Dean of the College; Meg Bossong, the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response; and Donna Denelli-Hess, Health Educator. In the case of sexual misconduct for which a student is not the alleged perpetrator, the committee that makes these decisions is the Title IX Committee, consisting of the Title IX coordinator (Camacho) along with the three deputy coordinators (Lee Park, Interim Dean of the Faculty, Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College and Martha Tetrault, Director of Human Resources.) In all cases these committees are authorized to seek additional information from other subject matter experts in order to inform their decisions. Examples of such experts include Campus Safety and Security officers, the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, and witnesses to behaviors of concern.
The relevant Title IX Committee considers a range of factors in their evaluation of requests for confidentiality and requests that the College not pursue disciplinary action against an alleged perpetrator, including:
- Circumstances that suggest there is an increased risk of the alleged perpetrator committing additional acts of sexual misconduct or other violence
- Whether there have been other sexual misconduct complaints about the alleged perpetrator
- Whether the alleged perpetrator has a history of arrests or disciplinary complaints in other settings indicating a history of violence
- Whether the alleged perpetrator threatened further sexual misconduct or other violence against the student or others
- Whether sexual misconduct was committed by multiple perpetrators
- Whether the survivor’s report reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location and/or by a particular group
- Whether sexual violence was perpetrated with a weapon
- Whether the College possesses other means of obtaining relevant evidence (e.g., electronic evidence, via security personnel)
In cases where the balance of factors compels the College to investigate the allegation of sexual violence and pursue disciplinary action in a manner that requires the disclosure of the survivor’s identity to the alleged perpetrator, the survivor always will be told in advance and the College will work with the survivor to maximize their safety and privacy, as well as reiterating the College’s non-retaliation policy with all parties.