Statement on Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct

  1. Overview
  2. Title IX Coordinators and Title IX Committee for Student Concerns
  3. Definitions
  4. Resources and Options
  5. Investigation and Adjudication
  6. Retaliation and False Reporting

Overview

Williams College is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment that is free from sexual assault, sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct, remedying the effects of such misconduct when it occurs, and preventing its re-occurrence.  The term “sexual misconduct” includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence, all of which have more complete definitions below.  The College also prohibits and has established procedures to address sexual discrimination that does not involve sexual misconduct.  These issues are addressed in the College’s Non-Discrimination Policy and Discrimination Grievance Procedures.  Advice concerning the College’s non-discrimination policies and procedures is available from any of the Advisors for Discrimination Concerns.

This Statement describes the resources and options that are available to all members of the Williams community who have been subjected to sexual misconduct by another member of the community.  These resources include, for example, medical treatment, psychological counseling or other support, no-contact orders, and changes to academic, living or work arrangements.  The options available to persons who have experienced sexual misconduct include pursuing a complaint within the College or with local law enforcement, or both.

In determining which resources to access and which options to pursue, it is important to consider the related issues of confidentiality and privacy.  As discussed below, some resources, both on and off campus, are able with very limited exceptions to maintain complete confidentiality with respect to reports of sexual misconduct, whereas other resources are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct, including the names of the persons involved, to the College’s Title IX Coordinator.

This Statement also describes the College’s policies and procedures concerning the investigation and adjudication of reports of sexual misconduct, including the circumstances in which the College may decide to investigate and take action notwithstanding that the person who was subjected to the misconduct requests otherwise.  The processes that the College will follow in investigating and adjudicating reports of sexual misconduct can vary depending on whether the respondent is a student, faculty member, staff member or other member of the College community.

As discussed below, the College will provide measures for safety, support and accommodation regardless of whether a person decides to make a formal complaint.  These measures can include, for example, no-contact orders and changes to academic, living or work arrangements.

In addition to prohibiting all forms of sexual misconduct, the College also prohibits retaliation against any person who in good faith reports or otherwise participates in an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct.  The College also prohibits the making of a false report of sexual misconduct, as distinct from a report made in good faith but which is ultimately not substantiated.  The College’s prohibitions against retaliation and false reporting are also discussed below.

Title IX Coordinators and Title IX Committee for Student Concerns

The term “Title IX,” as used in this context, refers to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance.  Discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual harassment, one form of which can be sexual violence or other sexual misconduct.

The College’s Title IX Coordinator is Toya C. Camacho, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity (413-597-3301).  The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the College’s compliance with Title IX.  She also serves as a key resource for students who have experienced sexual misconduct or other forms of harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex.

The College also has three Deputy Title IX Coordinators, who serve as key resources for students, faculty and staff who have experienced sexual misconduct or other forms of harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex:

  • Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College (413-597-4261)
  • Lee Park, Dean of the Faculty (413-597-4351)
  • Martha Tetrault, Director of Human Resources (413-597-2058)

The Title IX Committee for Student Concerns consists of Marlene Sandstrom, the Dean of the College and Deputy Title IX Coordinator; Meg Bossong, the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response; and Donna Denelli-Hess, Health Educator.  As discussed in the section on confidentiality and privacy, this Committee addresses situations in which a person who has been subjected to sexual misconduct by a student requests that their name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator or that the College not investigate or take action against the alleged perpetrator; the Committee is responsible for deciding whether the College’s obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory learning and working environment requires the College not to follow the survivor’s requests in a particular case.  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 (Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College; Denise Buell, Dean of the Faculty; 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.

Definitions

Consent is a crucial part of both the Williams Code of Conduct and Massachusetts law.  The Williams College Code of Conduct requires affirmative consent for all sexual activity.  Consent means that at the time of the sexual contact, words or conduct clearly indicate freely given approval or agreement, without coercion, by both participants in the sexual contact.  Both parties have the obligation to communicate consent or the lack of consent.  In the absence of affirmatively expressed consent, sexual activity is a violation of the code of conduct.  In addition, a verbal “no” (no matter how indecisive) or resistance (no matter how passive) constitutes the lack of consent.  In addition, consent once given may be withdrawn at any time.  If consent is withdrawn, the other party must immediately stop whatever sexual contact is occurring.  An individual is unable to give consent if he or she is substantially physically or mentally impaired by alcohol or drugs, forced or threatened, physically incapable of resisting, asleep, or unconscious.  Consent while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is valid consent, unless the person is under the influence to the point of being substantially impaired.  As is the case with other violations of the Code of Conduct, the use of alcohol or drugs does not minimize or excuse a person’s responsibility for committing a sexual assault.

Dating or Domestic Violence means conduct by a person who is or has been in a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, which involves physical harm to the victim; attempting or threatening to physically harm the victim; making the victim fear that physical harm is going to happen; or threatening, pressuring or forcing the victim to engage in sexual activity.

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse means any sexual penetration (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any body part or object, by any person upon any other person, without effective consent.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact means any sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by any person upon any other person, without effective consent.

Preponderance of the Evidence is the standard of proof that the College uses in adjudicating cases of alleged sexual misconduct.  It means “more likely than not.” Where a person is alleged to have committed a particular act of sexual misconduct, the allegation is established by a preponderance of the evidence when the evidence is such that it is more likely true than not true that the person committed the act.

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.

Sexual Assault means any non-consensual sexual intercourse or other non-consensual sexual contact.

Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person takes nonconsensual, unjust or abusive advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited and that behavior does not otherwise constitute sexual misconduct.  Examples of sexual exploitation include prostituting another person, nonconsensual video or audiotaping of sexual activity, going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends watch you have consensual sex), engaging in peeping tommery, knowingly transmitting STD or HIV to another person, and inducing incapacitation with the intent to sexually assault another person.

Sexual Harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, instruction or participation in other College activities; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for making academic, employment or personnel decisions affecting that individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating or hostile educational or working environment.

Sexual Misconduct means any form of sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, dating or domestic violence, or stalking.

Stalking refers to a pattern of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, or to fear for the health or safety of a person they are close to, such as a friend or family member.  Stalking behaviors can include, but are not limited to:

  • non-consensual communication including in-person communication, telephone calls, voice messages, text messages, emails, social media site postings or messages, instant messages, posting of pictures or information on websites, written letters, gifts, or any other communications that are undesired or place another person in fear
  • following, pursuing, waiting, or showing up uninvited at a workplace, place of residence, classroom, or other locations frequented by the victim
  • surveillance or other types of observation, whether by physical proximity or electronic means
  • trespassing, for example in a victim’s dorm room
  • vandalism
  • non-consensual touching
  • direct physical and/or verbal threats against a victim or a victim’s loved ones
  • gathering of information about a victim from family, friends, co-workers, and/or classmates
  • manipulative or controlling behaviors such as threats to harm oneself, or threats to harm someone close to the victim
  • defamation or slander against the victim, for example by spreading rumors

Resources and Options: What to do if you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, or stalking

First, Get to a Safe Place.

If you feel that you or someone else may be in any immediate danger,

  • call 911 or
  • Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444.

Campus Safety and Security can put you in touch with a Dean on Call 24/7 year round, or with a member of Sexual Assault Survivor Services or a counselor on call 24/7 during the academic year.

Support and Assistance for Survivors:  Students

Williams offers assistance to survivors of sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, or stalking through Sexual Assault Survivor Services (SASS).  The SASS team consists of specially trained staff members.  Upon notification that an assault has occurred, a SASS member will respond immediately and be available to provide counseling and support to the survivor.  The SASS member will work with the survivor to ascertain medical needs, reporting options and ongoing counseling opportunities.  A SASS member can accompany you to medical or legal appointments, to the Dean’s office or Campus Safety, or through any other part of the process of recovery.  This team of trained professionals is available 24 hours a day and can be reached at 413-441-6783.

Counselors with special training in helping survivors of sexual violence are available at:

  • Sexual Assault Survivor Services (SASS) 413-441-6783
  • Williams College Health Center 413-597-2206
  • Williams College Psychological Counseling 413-597-2353 (or on call 24/7 through Campus Safety at 597-4444)
  • Rape and Sexual Assault Network of Williams (student staffed hotline) 413-597-4100
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center (off campus) 866-499-2425
  • Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 413-597-4977
  • Donna Denelli-Hess (Health Educator) 413-597-3013
  • 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.

Other resources that may be helpful include:

  • Peer Health (student staffed hotline) 413-597-3140
  • Chaplain’s Office 413-597-2483
  • Dean’s office 413-597-4171 (or on call 24/7, through Campus Safety at 413-597-4444)
  • Davis Center 413-597-3340

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.

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
  • 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 on-campus include:

  • Health Center clinical staff, 413-597-2206
  • Psych Services clinical staff, 413-597-2253
  • Chaplains, 413-587-2483
  • Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, 413-597-4977
  • SASS (Carolina Echenique, Donna Denelli-Hess, Jennifer Chuks, Mike Evans, and Rick Spalding), 413-597-3000

 

Confidential Off-Campus Resources:

Faculty and Staff can also contact their supervisors, Campus Safety and Security or Title IX coordinator (Camacho) and Deputy Title IX Coordinators (Sandstrom, Tetrault, and Park) for assistance.  These individuals have some confidentiality limitations, as described below.

Responsible employeesFederal 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 one of the Title IX Coordinators 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 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 C. 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, 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.

Measures for Safety, Support, and Accommodation

The College has many means of increasing safety, support and accommodation for survivors.  These are accessible and available regardless of whether a person decides to make a formal disciplinary report.  They are also available during and after investigation and adjudication of cases.

These measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Campus no-contact orders, which prevent any contact from the alleged perpetrator or others involved in the assault, including in-person, via electronic means, or through third parties.
  • Changes to college-affiliated living situations, either temporary or permanent.
  • Changes to academic situations, for example to avoid sharing a class with the alleged perpetrator.

To get more information about or to request these accommodations, contact any member of the Dean of the College’s office (students), the Title IX Coordinators, or Sexual Assault Survivor Services (students).

Medical Care and Evidence Collection in Cases of Sexual Assault

The following resources can accompany you to medical or legal appointments, talk with you about safety and reporting options, and help you connect with additional support resources:

  • Sexual Assault Survivor Services (SASS) (24/7, academic year. Students only.) 413-441-6783
  • Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response: 413-597-4977 (M-F, 9am-5pm, year-round. Students only.)
  • Off-campus: Elizabeth Freeman Center 866-401-2425 (24/7 year-round. Open to all.)

FAQ’s about medical care and evidence collection

  1. Are there time frames that I should be aware of?

The first few days after an assault can be a confusing and difficult time, and you may not want or be ready to make decisionsThis is normal and OK.

There are some time frames you should be aware of because the sooner you seek care, the greater your options will be. Within 5 days (120 hours) of an assault:

  • Emergency contraception for pregnancyand preventative treatments for sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) are more effective.
  • Evidence collectionis an option.  You do not need to report to the police to have evidence collected but, if you do have evidence collected, you may have more options in the future.
  • Toxicology testingis available within the first 4 days (96 hours) after an assault if there are signs that drugs or alcohol may have facilitated the assault.

Anytime after 5 days or 120 hours of an assault:

  • It is best to visit your own primary healthcare provider or a health clinic for care.

Q: Can I use the medical services of the College Health Center?

Treatment for many medical issues and follow-up care is available for students at the Health Center.  Students who wish to be seen at the Health Center for sexually transmitted infection (“ STI”) testing and treatment can make an appointment with the Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant.  These appointments are given priority and are available Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm.

The Health Center also makes free pregnancy testing and emergency contraception available.

The Health Center is not equipped to perform forensic examinations or test for drugs.  For those services survivors should go to the hospital (see information below).

Q: Do I have to go to the hospital?

You are not required to seek medical attention.  However, you may want immediate medical attention for medical issues that result from the assault.  Medical attention is separate from the evidence collection process, and you are entitled to medical attention whether or not you decide to have evidence collected or report to the police.

Evidence collection is also done at hospital emergency rooms.  Even if you do not want to report the crime or consider prosecution now, documenting injuries and collecting physical evidence is important in case you change your mind.  Forensic examinations, which are done at hospitals, can greatly aid in the success of a later investigation and possible prosecution.

Medical care and evidence collection are available to any survivor, regardless of their gender or the gender of the perpetrator(s).

More information about going to the hospital is available from surviverape.org, the Massachusetts Forensics for Survivors site.Q: What hospital should I go to?

Any hospital emergency room in MA can provide medical care after an assault and complete a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit (SAECK, sometimes called a “rape kit”).

Some hospitals participate in the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE Program.  At a SANE hospital, services are provided by a nurse or doctor with specialized training in the medical and forensic/legal needs of sexual assault survivors.

The closest SANE site to Williams is Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.  Williams is committed to helping survivors access all available resources, and will provide transportation for students to Cooley Dickinson Hospital.  A staff member from Sexual Assault Survivor Services (SASS) can accompany students going there.  SASS is available 24/7 during the academic year at 413-441-6783.  Outside of the academic year, students should call Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444 and ask to be connected to the Dean on call.

Depending on which hospital you go to, you will also be offered the support of a medical advocate from the local rape crisis center.  This advocate is there to explain any processes and next steps to you, talk to friends or family who may have accompanied you to the hospital, and serve as a confidential off-campus resource.

  1. What should I know before I go to the hospital?

If you want to have evidence collected, try not to bathe, shower, eat or drink, brush your teeth, or go to the bathroom.  Obviously, these are all natural and often necessary things to do, so if you have to or already have, it is still possible to collect evidence.

If you are still wearing the clothes you had on when the assault occurred, do not change themIf you already have, put your clothes in a clean paper bag, such as a shopping bag, and bring them with you to the emergency roomYour clothes will become part of the evidence kit if you have one done, so you should also bring comfortable clothes to go home in.

  1. How do I have evidence collected? What is a “rape kit”?

Click here for information on evidence collection from surviverape.org, the Massachusetts Forensics for Survivors site.

Q: How much does medical care or evidence collection cost?

There will be no charge for the evidence collection kit and care from a SANE nurse.  However, there may be charges for other kinds of medical care, like preventative medications for STIs or for treatment of injuries you might have sustained.

Many of these services are also available free-of-charge from the Health Center for students, specifically HIV and STI prophylaxis, and emergency contraception.

If you have other medical costs arising from an assault which requires hospital treatment, you can use your health insurance to cover all or a portion of these costs.  It is important to know, though, if you are concerned about confidentiality, that billing your insurance will list the services you received (an explanation of benefits) for whomever pays for your insurance (for example, a parent or a spouse).

However, it is also important to know that Williams and Massachusetts are both committed to helping survivors access any necessary care, regardless of cost, and with the maximum possible protection of confidentiality.

If you are considering going to the hospital and have concerns about cost, please contact the SASS advisors at 413-441-6783 (for students only) or the Elizabeth Freeman Center (Williams’ local rape crisis center) at 866-401-2425 to talk about your options.

Q: Does medical care or having evidence collected obligate me to report to the police?

You can receive medical care and have an evidence collection kit done without reporting to the police.  (If you are under 18, over 60, or have a disability, it’s important for you to know that the hospital is required to report your assault to the appropriate protective services agency).

If you choose not to report to the police at the time that evidence is collected, you will be given an anonymous tracking number for your kit, and it will be stored by the State Crime Lab for 6 months.  You can also have the storage time for your kit extended to prevent it from being discarded.  Click here for more information on next steps from surviverape.org, the Massachusetts Forensics for Survivors site.

If you choose to report to the police at the time that evidence is collected, you are permitting an investigation of the assault by the police department in the city or town where the assault took place.

Click here for more information on reporting to police from surviverape.org, the Massachusetts Forensic for Survivors site.

Q: I think a drug might have been used in my assault.  Is testing part of the evidence collection process?

In Massachusetts, it is against the law to give a person a drug of any kind with the intention of having sexual contact with them.  A blood and/or urine sample collected as part of the evidence collection kit is called the Toxicology Kit.

Substances can remain in the blood stream for up to 4 days (96 hours) after they were ingestedBlood and urine samples in the kit will be tested for the presence of substances such as drugs and alcohol.

There are some important things to know about toxicology testing:

Many substances leave the body more quickly than 96 hours, so a negative toxicology result does not mean that a survivor was not drugged.  It means that a particular chemical was not present at the time the sample was collected.

Toxicology testing is not specific to particular substancesResults will indicate the presence of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, alcohol, and recreational drugs.

Click here for more information on toxicology from surviverape.org, the Massachusetts Forensics for Survivors site.)

Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the Police or the College, or Both

Williams is committed to doing everything possible to prevent sexual assault and other misconduct; mitigate its effects when it occurs; prevent its re-occurrence; and prevent retaliation for reporting or otherwise participating in an investigation of such conductThe College is best able to accomplish this when it is made aware directly of such conductAccordingly all members of the Williams community are encouraged to report – and all responsible employees are required to report – any instances or claims of sexual misconduct, whether or not the person who experienced the misconduct wishes to pursue the case through the College’s disciplinary system.

The College will inform the Williamstown Police of the basic facts of reports made to the College; however, the College will not disclose the name of the survivor unless that person consents to the disclosure of their name.

There are several reasons why it is important to report.  First, as discussed above, the College has resources that you can use for support and accommodation after an incident.  Second, it is important for the College to know about an incident in order to maintain the safety of the community.  Finally, the College offers a way to discipline the perpetrator if they are a member of the College community.  The police offer a way to pursue prosecution of the perpetrator whether or not they are a member of the Williams community.

To report a sexual assault or other sexual misconduct to the College contact:

  • Campus Safety and Security at 413-597-4444 (for any member of the community)
  • Any Dean at the Dean of the College’s office, 413-597-4261 (for students)
  • Title IX Coordinator, Toya C. Camacho, 413-597- 3301 (for any member of the community)
  • Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Marlene Sandstrom , 413-597-4261 (for students)
  • Deputy Title IX Coordinator Martha Tetrault, 413-597- 2058 (for staff)
  • Deputy Title IX Coordinator Lee Park, 413-597-4351 (for faculty)

To report a sexual assault to the police contact:

  • 911
  • Williamstown Police Department at 413-458-5733

The on-campus option is not exclusive of other reporting options such as reporting to the police, and survivors may choose them concurrently or consecutively.

The wishes of the survivor are likely to predominate in the College’s consideration of whether to investigate and/or pursue disciplinary action, except in particular circumstances where the College has an overriding obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment.  See the discussion of confidentiality and privacy above.

If there is a danger to the community, the Title IX Coordinator will notify all members of the community.  All colleges are required by federal law to provide timely warnings to the college community about certain violent crimes or other threats to campus safety.  Usually this is done through an all-campus mailing that provides the general details of the incident (e.g., the time, location and type of assault and a description of the assailant, if he/she has not been identified).  The name of the survivor is never given in these all-campus alerts.  Every effort is made to inform the survivor before the mailing is distributed and to protect her or his identity.

More Information on Reporting to the Police for Potential Prosecution

It is the right of every survivor to pursue criminal prosecution and conviction of the perpetrator.  This is done, most often, by reporting the assault directly to the Williamstown Police Department (413-458-5733 or 911).  Reporting to the police does not commit you to further legal action but does make it easier for the police to investigate the crime if that is your wish.  Early reporting will increase the chances of a successful prosecution.

The Williamstown Police Department has two officers who have special training and are certified by the state to investigate sexual assaults and other sexual violence.  During your initial meeting with a police officer, you will be asked to tell what happened and what your attacker looked like or who your assailant was, if you know.  You may have a friend or other supportive person with you during this or any other interview with the police.  A SASS member will be glad to accompany students to the police station and to court.

The police are responsible for investigating and the District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecuting such crimes.  If you decide to prosecute and your case goes to trial, it will be handled by a member of the District Attorney’s Office at the State’s expense.  You will incur no costs.  In Berkshire County there is a Victim’s Advocate Program which will work closely with you throughout the process.

Massachusetts law requires that the police keep your name in confidence.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, § 24C.

There is a period of limitation for filing criminal charges.  That limitation period currently is 15 years from the time of a sexual assault, although it may be longer depending on the circumstances.  Different limitations periods apply to criminal offenses other than sexual assault.

More Information on Reporting to the College for Disciplinary Action

When you report an incident of sexual misconduct to the College, a Sexual Assault Survivor Advisor (for students) or the Title IX Coordinators will be available to respond and will listen carefully to what you have to say.  The first concern will be that you are taken care of both physically and emotionally.  Depending on your needs and wishes, this could include steps such as making sure you get medical attention, having a supportive friend notified and having access to counseling.  During this and subsequent meetings the primary role of the SASS member is to be supportive of you during this difficult time.

Once a report is made the Title IX Coordinator also is notified.  As discussed above, the Title IX Coordinator can help in providing accommodations and supports, such as changing your academic, living or work situation if needed, and arranging for a no-contact order with the person or persons involved in the misconduct.

There is no time limit for reporting sexual misconduct to the College.  The disciplinary process can take place at any time, so long as the person accused of the misconduct remains part of the Williams community.  Sexual misconduct is forbidden whether it takes place on or off campus.

Investigation and Disciplinary Action by the College

NOTE:  The following provisions concerning the investigation and adjudication of reports of sexual misconduct apply to all cases in which the person alleged to have committed the misconduct is a student.  The College has separate investigation and disciplinary procedures for cases in which the respondent is a faculty member, the respondent is a staff member, and the respondent is another member of the College community [e.g., a visitor or vendor].  For more information on those processes, click here.

Any member of the College community who experiences conduct by a student of the College that the person believes violates the College’s Sexual Misconduct policy is encouraged to report that conduct to Campus Safety and Security or the Dean of the College’s Office.  The person is also encouraged to make a report to the police for legal action.  Both of these processes can happen simultaneously.  For the purposes of this description, the person who reports an experience of sexual assault or sexual misconduct is called the “complainant”.  The student who is accused of committing sexual assault or sexual misconduct is called the “respondent”.  Both the complainant and the respondent are encouraged to participate in the process of investigation and adjudication.

The College’s procedures seek to ensure a prompt, fair and impartial investigation and resolution.  Procedures will be conducted by college officials who receive annual training on issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and sexual assault, as well as on conducting a hearing process that protects victim safety and promotes accountability.

The standard of proof used in adjudication of cases of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, will be preponderance of the evidence (the evidence is such that it is more likely than not that respondent committed sexual misconduct).  Possible sanctions if a student is found responsible for violation of the code of conduct with regards to sexual misconduct include the full range of disciplinary sanctions available at the college, including suspension from the college for one or more semesters, and expulsion.

Before the process of investigation and adjudication starts, several steps are taken:

The complainant and respondent will each be assigned to a dean.  The deans will explain to them the process, and will also serve as a resource for any questions or concerns.

A no-contact order (which also includes confidentiality requirements) between the complainant and respondent will be issued if one is not already in place.  This helps ensure the integrity and privacy of the process.

The Dean of the College will make available at any time, before, during or after the hearing process, and whether or not the complainant participates in the investigation and adjudication, additional reasonable accommodations to increase their safety and well-being on campus.  These may include changes of college-affiliated housing accommodations (or changing of the respondents’ housing, if preferred and appropriate), academic accommodations such as extensions, tutors, changes of class schedule.  Accommodations may also include changes of class modality (for example, switching to an independent study) if needed in order to ensure access to academic opportunity for the complainant in a class where the complainant and respondent are both participants.

Investigation

Both the complainant and respondent have the right to have an advisor of their choosing present with them for all parts of the process, including any meeting with campus officials, with the hearing panel, and with the investigator.  The advisor can speak to the complainant/respondent at any time during the process but cannot speak directly to the investigator or to the hearing panel.

If a person reports a sexual assault but does not wish to participate in the investigation and adjudication process, the situation will be reviewed by the appropriate Title IX Committee.  (This committee ordinarily consists of the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, the Dean of the College, a representative of the Davis Center, and a representative of Health Services).  That committee will determine whether there is sufficient information to proceed with an investigation and adjudication without the participation of the complainant, and also whether there is evidence of a risk to the larger campus community such that a timely warning to the campus should be issued.

If a respondent does not wish to participate in the investigation and adjudication process, the process will proceed without their contribution to the determination of the facts of the case.  The respondent should note that the appeal process based on appearance of new information not available to the hearing panel does not apply in cases of deliberate omission of information by the appellant, including refusal by the appellant to participate in the investigation.

The Dean of the College will assign a person trained in sexual assault investigations to determine the facts of the case as completely as possible.  This investigator will take primary statements from the complainant and respondent, ask follow up questions, reach out to and collect statements from others who have evidence/information relevant to the question of violation of the Code of Conduct, and ask follow-up questions as needed.  The complainant and respondent may each suggest questions to the investigator to be asked of others, and may also suggest others that the investigator speak with.  Final decisions about whom to talk with and what to ask will be made by the investigator.  All of those contacted by the investigator will be required to maintain the privacy of the investigation.  The investigator will also pull together any additional evidence available (for example, health care records (with permission of the student) previous disciplinary records).  The investigator may consult with the Dean of the College in decisions regarding the investigation process.  The statements of the complainant and respondent will be recorded (audio).  The investigator will produce for the hearing panel a report of his/her findings, which will include a list of those interviewed and copies of any additional material referenced.  The Dean of the College will review the report and may request that additional information be gathered.  The Dean will also ensure that the report does not contain material that is inadmissible in the decision process, such as irrelevant prior sexual history.

The investigator’s report will be shared with the complainant and respondent once it is complete.  The complainant and respondent each have 10 days following the receipt of the report to write a response to it if they wish to do so.  Responses will be included in the official materials sent forward to the hearing panel for adjudication.

Primary adjudication

The decision about whether there has been a violation of the College’s Code of Conduct regarding sexual misconduct (including sexual assault) will be made by a hearing panel of three staff members.  The panel will be drawn from a pool of staff trained in hearing cases of this kind.  If such a violation is found to have taken place, then the same panel also determines a sanction.  Two “yes” votes are necessary for a finding that there has been a violation.

For each case, the panel will be appointed by the Dean of the College.  The panel will ordinarily consist of a member of the office of the Dean of the College plus two additional staff.  The complainant and respondent will have the opportunity to state whether there are those they feel should not participate in the panel due to bias or any other reason which would prevent them from making a fair assessment of the evidence.  The final decision on any such requests for recusal will be made by the Dean of the College.

The panel will start its deliberations by reading the statements gathered by the investigator and the investigator’s report, along with the responses to the report (if any) from the complainant and respondent.  After discussion, the panel will decide whether there are additional questions that need to be asked.  If so, the investigator will go back to the parties to ask those questions.

The panel will decide whether there is a preponderance of evidence showing a violation of the College’s Code of Conduct as regards sexual misconduct.

If the panel determines that there has been a violation of the code of conduct regarding sexual misconduct, the complainant and respondent will each have the opportunity to briefly address the committee, either in person, by phone or Skype, or in writing, before the sanction is determined.  (The two parties would do this separately – neither one in the presence of the other.  It is optional to make such a statement, not required.) This opportunity is not one in which the facts of the case are discussed or questions are asked by the committee.  Rather, it is an opportunity for both parties to present directly to the committee in their own “voice” any additional information, including information about the impact of the incident in question.  This opportunity is limited to 15 minutes or the written equivalent thereof.  The students’ deans will provide them with guidelines on what is and is not permitted in this part of the process.

The committee then determines a sanction.  The decision and the sanction are communicated to both parties, simultaneously and in writing, by the Dean of the College.

The College will make every reasonable effort to complete the process described above promptly, within 60 days if circumstances permit.

Appeal

Both parties have the right to request an appeal of the decision made by the hearing panel. The right to appeal is limited to (a) significant procedural lapses or (b) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision. (Note that deliberate omission of information by the appealing party in the original investigation is not grounds for appeal.) Each party has 15 days following the receipt of the written decision to request an appeal.  Requests for appeal, with reasons, should be sent in writing within the 15 day time limit to the Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity, Leticia Haynes.

a.  If either the complainant or respondent wishes to have other people interviewed to determine whether they have substantive new information pertinent to the appeal that was not available at the time of the original decision, the following process will be followed.

(1) The complainant or respondent will write to the Dean of the College describing whom they wish to have interviewed and on what topic. (2) The Dean or her designee will ask the person whether they do, in fact, have information on that topic. (3) If they do, the investigator will ask them questions or request a written statement. The appeal process will be suspended until the completion of these steps.

b. Appeals will be granted only in cases where the procedural problems or new evidence are considered substantive enough to potentially affect the outcome of the initial hearing.  If the appeal is granted, its disposition is determined by the VP for Institutional Diversity & Equity, who may affirm the decision of the panel, may return it to the original panel or summon a new panel, and who may task those panels with reviewing the decision either in whole or in part.  A decision by the VP for Institutional Diversity & Equity to affirm the original panel’s decision shall be final.  Subject to the scope of the instructions from the VP for Institutional Diversity & Equity, the review by a panel after referral from the VP for Institutional Diversity and Equity may result in a change in the decision as to whether or not a violation of the college’s code of conduct as regards sexual misconduct occurred, or may result in an increase in sanction, a decrease in sanction, or no change in sanction.  If the decision of the reviewing panel is to affirm the original decisions as to violation and as to sanction, that decision shall be final.  If the decision of the reviewing panel is to change the original decision either as to violation or as to sanction, the reviewing panel’s decision shall be subject to appeal in accordance with the foregoing procedures.  The results of any such second appeal process shall be final, not subject to further appeal.

c. The results of any appeal will be communicated simultaneously and in writing to the complainant and the respondent by the Dean of the College.

Support

The complainant and respondent will each be assigned a dean to help them navigate the process.  Each party can bring the supporting dean with them for all parts of the process, including the investigation.  Deans assigned to support students will not be part of a hearing panel regarding those students.  Both the complainant and respondent have the right to have an advisor of their choosing present with them for all parts of the process, including any meeting with campus officials, with the hearing panel, and with the investigator.  The advisor can speak to the complainant/respondent at any time during the process but cannot speak directly to the investigator or to the hearing panel.  The complainant and respondent may bring one advisor with them – either the dean or the other advisor of their choosing – to any part of the process.  Both parties, if they are currently registered students, have full access to the support services in the Health Center and Psychological Counseling Services throughout the process.

Retaliation and False Reporting

The College strictly prohibits retaliation of any kind against any person for reporting or otherwise participating in any effort to address any report of sexual misconduct involving a member of the College community.  This prohibition applies with equal force whether the report of sexual misconduct was made to the College or authorities outside the College or both.  Any person who engages in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action through the established disciplinary procedures of the College.  Sanctions for retaliation can include the full range of those available at the college, including suspension and expulsion.

The College also will subject to discipline any person who knowingly makes a false report or otherwise provides false information in connection with a report of sexual conduct involving a member of the College community.  This prohibition against false reports or statements does not apply to reports or statements, which are made in good faith but ultimately found not to be substantiated.

Rev. January 9, 2017