Who can get a No-Contact Order (NCO)?
Anyone can request a NCO against another student, staff member, or faculty. NCOs are automatically issued between two parties when there is an ongoing Title IX investigation into a report of intimate violence, but someone can also be granted a NCO if they do not currently wish to initiate a formal investigation.
What can a NCO do?
The NCO creates a buffer between you and the other party by prohibiting intentional direct or indirect contact. It’s a tool that enables the college to dictate certain kinds of disallowed behavior and assess consequences in violation. It prohibits the person from speaking to you, calling, texting, or emailing you, gesturing to you, messaging or tagging you on social media, and/or attempting to touch you. It also prohibits conduct that can reasonably be perceived as communication–following you, making prolonged eye contact, impeding your movement, or otherwise attempting to make contact. Third-party contact (i.e., sending messages through an outside person) is also disallowed. Additionally, the NCO enables Deans to adjust schedules or modify activities to prevent against anticipated spaces of overlap, like shared classes or work studies.
Essentially, it provides the college with a mechanism to prevent a person from continuing to act in a way that endangers you by prohibiting that person from being in close proximity with you and from contacting you. Importantly, just like a restraining order through the courts, the piece of paper itself is not an enforcement tool. Someone can choose to ignore the NCO, but it allows for a more immediate response and for the college to investigate and sanction the NCO violation. If you are concerned that the other party will not abide by the NCO or may attempt to harm you, you should inform the Title IX office so that they can conduct a safety assessment, as a different kind of response may be necessary.
What can’t a NCO do?
A NCO cannot make someone disappear from campus or your life at Williams. The NCO is a supportive measure that is overseen by the Department of Education (the federal agency that administers Title IX law), and Williams is required to issue “non-punitive, non-disciplinary” NCOs unless a formal investigation has concluded that found the other party responsible for the reported behavior.
What this means is Williams is unable to issue a “one-sided” NCO, where restrictions only apply to one person. Typically, if you’re the person requesting the NCO, you will be limited in how you inhabit Williams as well. For this reason, the NCO often does not feel like a tool of exercising justice or enforcing accountability in the way that a formal investigation can when it issues sanctions on a responsible party.
The Williams campus and surrounding community are small places, and incidental encounters are more or less inevitable. Examples of these times include passing each other on a sidewalk, unintentionally both arriving at the same social event, or seeing the other person in the same dining hall. It can be very upsetting to see the other person, and we encourage people to prepare for this possibility and reach out for support if it does happen.
If you believe that the other person is not fulfilling their expectations during an unexpected encounter, or if you observe a pattern of behavior that suggests that the encounters are intentional, please report those to a Title IX administrator for further assessment.
What is expected of me in case of an inadvertent encounter?
If you arrive in a space and see that the other person is already present, you must leave. In larger spaces, you must make all efforts to avoid each other. Though it may happen that you briefly make eye contact as you discover the other person in the space, you should not then end up in the other person’s sightline (e.g., sitting at a table in Sawyer where you can still see each other).
You cannot move closer to the other person, even if you are trying to pass by them to find a space further away (e.g., walking closer to the other person so that you can access stairs to a different floor). If there is no alternate hallway or stairwell that keeps you from moving any closer to the other party, you must leave the space altogether. Essentially, you should act as repellent magnets that are incapable of closing any distance. Failure to abide by this expectation may be considered a violation of the NCO.
There are times when the context of an encounter is complicated and may not be fully known to either party, where both party reasonably believes that they are abiding by the requirements of the order. We encourage people to report all instances of perceived violations to the Title IX administrators, where an initial assessment will take place. Depending on the information determined in the assessments, the incident may be determined unintentional and not move forward for further investigation. In these instances, the Title IX team will meet with both parties to explain how the decision was made and offer support.
Who do I contact if I believe the NCO has been violated?
For immediate response, call CSS at 413-597-4444. CSS can force the other party to leave the space if they are not abiding by the NCO, and the report will be forwarded to the Title IX administrators to assess and respond to the next business day. You can also contact a Title IX administrator directly to respond to non-emergent violations by the next business day.
Reports of violations are assessed by Toya C. Camacho and Dean Sandstrom. Encounters determined to be intentional or patterns of otherwise unintentional violations are directed to a Title IX hearing panel and the full of range of sanctions is available for behavior determined to be a violation of the order. This ranges from a non-reportable advisory conversation to suspension or expulsion.
The Title IX administrators for students are:
Toya C. Camacho, Title IX Coordinator. [email protected]
Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College & Deputy Title IX Coordinator. [email protected]
What is expected of me going forward?
Notify a Title IX administrator if you have any additional anticipated areas of overlap. This can include dropping or adding a class, changing a work shift, or joining a new team or activity. Title IX administrators can work with you to plan how to avoid contact and adjust the terms of the NCO as necessary.
Additionally, notify a Title IX administrator and G.L. Wallace, Director of Accessible Education, if you have accessibility needs and require additional considerations around accommodations.