April 20, 2019

To the Williams Community, 

Every spring I write to the community with an annual summary of our work to prevent and respond to sexual and intimate violence. Williams is deeply committed to the goal of fostering and sustaining a safe community for all of our members. When members of our community are harmed, we seek to provide the resources they need in order to achieve accountability, healing, and support. 

I want to start by thanking the many students, staff, faculty, and alumni who work to improve our prevention and response efforts every day. Addressing the problem of sexual and intimate violence demands the involvement of everyone who cares about Williams and our community. Thank you for all that you do to contribute to that effort. 

Current initiatives 

One focus of attention this year has been a revision of the materials we use to guide students through the process of obtaining a no contact order (NCO) as well as the materials that describe the disciplinary process for sexual misconduct cases. In the context of a roundtable discussion about no-contact orders, students highlighted ways in which the instructions around NCOs could be clarified and tightened 

in order to improve their utility as a tool for safety and protecting educational opportunity while also holding students more accountable for violations when they occur. 

With this feedback in mind, we developed a NCO FAQ sheet and checklist (click here) that provides students with much more detailed guidelines and expectations and aids in our implementation and enforcement. The operation of NCOs can be difficult on a small residential campus. We are continuing to work on ways to improve the utility and effectiveness of NCOs, so that they can more fully deliver on their intention of providing harmed students with increased safety and security. 


In August 2018, we welcomed Hannah Lipstein to the full-time role of Violence Prevention Coordinator. In just the few short months she’s been at Williams, Hannah has worked closely with College Council to implement their new bystander training bylaw for registered student organizations, which in one year increased the number of students on campus who had received bystander training by 10%. Hannah has also expanded programming about intimate violence in LGBTQ communities and collaborated with students to produce a new series of materials on healthy relationships and consent. Hannah and Meg Bossong ’05 make up the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, and the office has continued to expand offerings of workshops, programs, and a winter study class, along with longstanding programming as part of the First-Year Experience, and 

student leadership training. 

Formal reporting and disciplinary process 

Making a formal report and engaging the college disciplinary process is one option available to those who experience harm. I summarize students’ use of this process below. Even when students choose not to pursue a disciplinary process in response to intimate violence or harassment, there are a number of other systems and resources in place to provide support. 

Support, safety, and services 

Talking with someone who can listen and make connections to useful resources is an essential part of healing and accountability. In addition, Williams can provide or connect to assistance for a wide array of specific concerns, including finding a different room to live in, feeling safe around campus, navigating relationships after experiencing violence, and managing assignments or class attendance. Nobody should feel that they must contend with any of these challenges on their own; the Title IX Coordinator (Toya Camacho, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Diversity & Equity), as well as staff in the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and the deans’ office are here to help with these and any other resources or measures you need. 

In the majority of instances, students can have conversations about what happened, what options are available, and what steps they are considering with any trusted college staff member without beginning a formal conduct or complaint process. This includes the Title IX Coordinator and deputies, deans, staff from the OIDE, Davis Center, Office of Student Life, and Campus Safety officers, coaches, or professors. 

Confidential resources include SASS Survivor Services. SASS is staffed around the clock by staff with specific training on responding to intimate violence (Carolina Echenique ’15—Admissions, Donna Denelli-Hess—Health Center, Mike Evans—Zilkha Center, and Rabbi Seth Wax—Chaplains’ Office) who can provide support, help you access resources, or offer information about on- and off-campus options. Other confidential resources on and off campus include Integrative Wellbeing and Health Services; the college chaplains; and the Elizabeth Freeman Center, which is the local rape crisis center and domestic violence organization and also has a 24/7 hotline. 

2017-18 Student Conduct Cases 

In the 2017-2018 school year, the college received a total of 25 formal reports of misconduct: 

  • 15 reports of sexual misconduct; 
  • 4 reports of relationship abuse; 
  • 3 reports of stalking; 
  • 3 reports of verbal sexual harassment 

Of these 25 cases, 20 involved situations in which the person alleged to have caused harm was a current member of the college community and was therefore eligible for college accountability processes. The other 5 involved individuals who were not current members of the Williams community. In those instances, the college connected students with accountability options through other institutions or in the courts. 

Among the students in the 20 cases involving Williams community members, five chose to take part in the college investigation and adjudication process. Their cases were adjudicated between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. This includes four sexual misconduct complaints and one case involving relationship abuse. 

Of the 4 sexual misconduct cases that were investigated and adjudicated, 3 resulted in a finding of responsibility, and one resulted in a finding of not responsible. The case of relationship abuse resulted in a finding of responsibility. 

Of the 3 students found responsible for sexual misconduct, one was expelled from the college, one was suspended for one semester, and one was suspended for 5 semesters. The student found responsible for relationship abuse was required to participate in an educational program. 

Category of Conduct Cases Pursued in Discipline Process/ 

Total Eligible Cases Received Findings of Responsibility 

Sexual Assault 4/12 3 

Relationship abuse 1/4 1 

Stalking 0/1 n/a 

Sexual Harassment 0/3 n/a 

Occasionally an adjudication process continues past the cutoff date for reporting on the academic year within which the case was reported. In such instances, we include the case in reporting data for the year during which adjudication was completed. 

I also want to point out that individuals who have not yet chosen to pursue an investigation and adjudication process still have that option available to them as long as the person they might be lodging a complaint against is still a current student, staff member, or faculty member. The college does not have the authority to hold individuals accountable once they are no longer members of the community (for example, after they graduate, transfer, or terminate their employment at Williams). In those situations, individuals still have the option of 

lodging a complaint with law enforcement until the applicable statute of limitations is reached. 

In closing, I want to again thank everyone working to improve our prevention and response efforts. 


Marlene Sandstrom 

Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology 

All of Williams’ policies and information about resources for support of students, staff, and faculty can be found at http://titleix.williams.edu/