Student Sexual Misconduct

This page presents all sections of Williams’ student Code of Conduct that pertain to sexual misconduct. For full information about sexual misconduct, including support and accommodation, reporting, investigation and adjudication, and confidentiality and privacy, see titleix.williams.edu/for-students/


  • 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

  • Williams is committed to doing everything possible to prevent discrimination, harassment, and violence; to mitigating their effects when they occur; and to preventing their re-occurrence and retaliation for reporting.  The College is best able to accomplish this when it is made aware directly of such conduct. All members of the Williams community are encouraged to report any instances or claims of sexual harassment, including sexual assault and sexual exploitation, whether or not you want to pursue the case through the college’s disciplinary system at the time you make the report.  The college will seek to investigate and adjudicate all reports of sexual assault made to them.  They will also inform the Williamstown Police of the basic facts of reports made to them.  The wishes of the person who has been sexually assaulted are likely to predominate in any decisions regarding investigation, complaint, or determined outcome except under particular circumstances where there is clear danger to one or more members of the community.

    Names of those who report having experienced assault will not be released to the police without their permission. (For more information see “Confidentiality and Privacy” section below.)

    Williams College encourages the reporting of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault.  Under this policy, if an individual reports or seeks care for an incident of sexual misconduct during which they consumed alcohol or drugs, they will not be subject to disciplinary action regarding the alcohol or drug use.

    This policy is applicable to any student reporting an incident of sexual misconduct, whether they themselves experienced the incident or whether they observed misconduct against another person.

    There are several reasons why it is important to report.  First, 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 597-4444 (for any member of the community)
    • Any Dean at the Dean of the College’s office 597 – 4261 (for students)
    • Title IX Coordinator, Toya Camacho, 597-3301
    • DeputyTitle IX Coordinator, Marlene Sandstrom, 597- 4261 (for students)
    • Deputy Title IX Coordinator Martha Tetrault, 597- 2058 (for staff)
    • Deputy Title IX Coordinator Denise Buell, 597 – 4351 (for faculty)

    To report a sexual assault to the police dial:

    • 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 both mechanisms may be employed concurrently or consecutively.

  • Any person who experiences conduct 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’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 person 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 evidence used in adjudication of cases of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, relationships abuse and stalking, will be preponderance of evidence.   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:

    Both complainant and respondent will be assigned to a dean. If the complainant is not a student they will also be connected to the relevant Title IX Officer.  The dean 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 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, sexual exploitation, stalking, or relationship abuse by a student but does not wish to participate in the investigation and adjudication process, the situation will be reviewed by the Title IX Committee for student concerns. (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 Title IX and sexual misconduct 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, etc.) 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 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 have full access to the support services in the Health Center and Psychological Counseling Services throughout the process, so long as they are enrolled students.

    Retaliation
    Retaliation of any kind against the person reporting assault or against any person participating in the investigation is strictly prohibited. Any retaliation will be treated as a new and additional violation of the code of conduct.

    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.

  • In cases where the final disposition of a disciplinary case is expulsion, the Dean of the College retains student discipline records indefinitely. If the final disposition is a sanction other than expulsion, the Dean of the College retains student discipline records for seven years from the date of the notice of final disposition. All non-disciplinary files in the Dean's Office will be retained for seven years from the date of the most recent update to the student record.