November 6, 2014

November 6, 2014

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We hope your fall has been a good one.  We write to update you on some aspects of the college’s work on prevention of and response to sexual harassment and sexual assault, and in particular to share information on your reporting obligations if you become aware of such issues.

Williams College seeks to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence of all kinds, and to act to redress any such incidents that do occur.  That commitment requires that we know about incidents that happen on our campus, so that we can (1) ensure that those who experience sexual harassment or sexual violence receive immediate professional support and guidance as to their options for legal and campus processes and for counseling, no contact orders and other accommodations  (2) act to address the behavior of alleged perpetrator and the safety of the individual affected and of the campus community  (3) become aware of patterns of perpetration and intervene to stop them.

To best meet these commitments, information about sexual harassment and sexual violence must be brought together in one place.  Federal law wisely requires that we have a Title IX officer who receives, and oversees the response to, all such information.   The law also requires that we identify those college employees who are required to report information about sexual misconduct to the Title IX officer.   This reporting obligation is important to our ability to  respond as quickly as possible to support individuals who experience harassment or sexual violence and to address the safety of the community.  Because faculty have important institutional responsibilities and are seen as authority and support figures by our students, faculty must be designated as among those who have reporting responsibility. Therefore, this letter is to notify you that all faculty are required to report to the Title IX officer sexual harassment or sexual violence of which they become aware.  (This includes sexual assault, rape, stalking and dating or domestic violence, as well as sexual harassment.)

The College’s Title IX officer is Sarah Bolton. Sarah can be reached at [email protected] or at 597-4261.   She is also reachable after hours through Campus Safety and Security at 597-4444.  Denise Buell, Dean of the Faculty (413) 597–4351 and Martha Tetrault, Director of Human Resources, (413) 597-2058 are deputy Title IX officers and reports can be made to them if Sarah is not available.

We do understand that this requirement may introduce additional complexity into very sensitive conversations.  There are several additional pieces of information relevant to these conversations that are important (and we hope also helpful) for you to be aware of.

-Informing the Title IX officer of information you have about sexual harassment or sexual violence does NOT require the victim to take part in any legal or college disciplinary process.  While safety concerns for the individual or the community will sometimes require that we act to adjudicate a case against the wishes of the victim, that will never require the victim to participate personally in an investigation if they do not wish to do so.  And, in general, the victim’s wishes for confidentiality will predominate in decisions about legal or college process.  For more information about how decisions of this kind are made, see

-Information provided to the Title IX officer will be held strictly privately, and will be discussed only with the very few others in the Title IX team who need to be aware of it in order to make decisions about the safety of individuals and the community.

-As you become aware that a conversation with a student is revealing information about sexual harassment or sexual assault, it is important to tell them that you will need to share this information with the Title IX officer, but also that that will not require them to participate in any college or police investigation if they do not wish to do so.

-It is also important to let students know that there are fully confidential resources available to them both on and off campus.  Those resources (about which more detailed information is available on our website) include:

Confidential On Campus Resources for Students:

  • Sexual Assault Survivor Services (SASS) 597 -3000 (on call 24/7 during the academic year)
  • Williams College Health Center 597-2206
  • Williams College Psychological Counseling 597- 2353 (or on call 24/7 through Campus Safety at 597-4444)
  • Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 597-4977
  • Donna Denelli-Hess (Health Educator) 597-3013

Confidential Off Campus Resources (Students, Staff and Faculty):

Much more information regarding support, accommodation, reporting, and resources for students who have experienced sexual assault, dating or domestic violence or stalking is available on our websites, here and here . Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.


Sarah Bolton, Dean of the College and Professor of Physics
Denise Buell, Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Religion