Since sexual misconduct in any form is antithetical to Gordon values, the College is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment free of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. This policy is intended to make all members of the campus community aware of the various reporting and confidential disclosure options available so that they can make informed choices about where to turn should they become a victim of, or become aware of sex discrimination. Reports may be made by students for events occurring off-campus as well as on campus.
Responsibility to Report
All College employees (except Confidential Resources), including faculty, staff, coaches, resident directors and administrators, have a responsibility to report to the Title IX Coordinator any potential sexual misconduct or violations of this policy of which they become aware so that the College can respond appropriately. Graduate assistants, resident assistants, and other students who have a supervisory responsibility or other responsibility for student welfare are also required to report to the Title IX Coordinator any sexual misconduct that is reasonably believed to be in violation of this policy. Any employee who receives a report of sexual misconduct must share the report with a member of the Title IX Team. No employee is authorized to investigate or resolve complaints of sexual misconduct without the involvement of the Title IX Coordinator.
Making a Report / Filing a Complaint
The College encourages anyone who experiences or witnesses sexual misconduct to report the misconduct, seek assistance and support services, and to pursue College action for their own protection and that of the entire campus community. However, the decision whether or not to report sexual misconduct is a difficult and intensely personal one. It may take some time to process an incident and decide how to proceed. The College wishes to provide support and services during this time.
A complainant or witness to sexual misconduct may make a report by talking to a trusted College employee such as a Resident Director or Gordon Police who will report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator. A complainant can also file a criminal complaint with Gordon Police or local law enforcement.
Or he or she might not be ready to report. Before or during this decision-making process, students are encouraged to seek assistance from a Confidential Resource before deciding how to proceed. These individuals can provide connections to on and off-campus resources and explain the other reporting options that are available.
Campus professionals in the Counseling Center and the College Chaplain can maintain complete confidentiality unless there is a concern for safety of the individual or others. Conversations are privileged and these employees cannot and will not disclose these conversations. Unless the student takes additional action, such as reporting to a member of the Title IX Team, the disclosure will not result in any action by the College.
Making a Report
Instances of sexual harassment and/or misconduct may be reported to a member of the Title IX Team, a member of the Office of Student Life staff, a supervisor, Gordon Police, or any faculty member or trusted employee. These employees are required to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator so that the College can respond appropriately. If an alleged victim or witness wants to tell a faculty or staff member about an incidence of sexual misconduct and wishes their conversation to remain confidential, the individual should understand that the Title IX Coordinator will consider the request but cannot guarantee confidentiality in all cases. (See Responsibility to Investigate, and Confidentiality and Privacy).
In most cases, a report of sexual misconduct will be investigated by the Title IX Team, whether or not the reporting individual wishes to pursue a formal complaint. A complaint is a request that the College investigate the incident. This can follow an informal or a formal process. Individuals may file a complaint with any member of the Title IX Team. The immediate goal is to stop the offensive conduct and ensure everyone’s safety. Private information will be shared with as few people as possible on a need to know basis.
The complainant should be prepared to give a detailed description of the sexual misconduct, the date and time of occurrence, the names of the persons involved, the names of any witnesses, and any further action taken. The complaint will be reviewed by a member of the Title IX Team, first seeking an informal resolution if appropriate (see Investigation Procedures).
Making a Criminal Complaint
In addition to violating College policy, sexual misconduct might also constitute criminal activity. Every alleged victim of a sexual assault maintains the right to file criminal charges with the appropriate local law enforcement agency simultaneously and in addition to making a report and/or filing a complaint with the College. The alleged victim can decline to notify such agency. Gordon Police can assist in contacting the proper authorities if the alleged victim chooses to. If a criminal complaint is filed, the complainant will be asked to assist the police with the investigation and provide them with details of what happened and with the collection of all relevant evidence. In some cases, a protective order may be obtained. The chances of a successful criminal investigation are greatly enhanced if evidence is collected and maintained immediately by law enforcement officers.
The College investigation and the criminal law system are independent of one another and, regardless of whether or not criminal charges are brought, the College will move forward with its internal investigation. The College will meet its responsibilities regarding any orders of protection, no contact orders, or restraining orders. For more information about pursuing criminal charges, contact the Gordon Police.
Timeframe for Reporting
The College strongly encourages prompt reporting of any violation of this policy in order to provide immediate protection and support for the victim. The College's ability to conduct a thorough investigation, however, may be limited with the passage of time or unavailability of the accused or witnesses.
Maintaining a healthy, safe, and respectful campus environment is the responsibility of all members of the Gordon community. Our shared faith teaches us to help those in need. Gordon College strongly encourages all students, faculty and staff to take action to prevent or stop acts of sexual misconduct if it is safe to do so. Such actions might include direct intervention, calling Gordon Police or 911, or seeking assistance from other College authorities. A student who calls for medical help will not be sanctioned for any accompanying conduct code violations.
Amnesty for Reporting Sexual Misconduct
Gordon College does not condone excessive drinking or illegal use of controlled substances. However, in order to encourage reporting of conduct that is prohibited under this policy, a student involved in filing a complaint or participating in the investigation of an allegation of sexual misconduct prohibited by this policy, will not be subject to disciplinary action under the College’s Life and Conduct Statement for his or her own personal consumption of alcohol or drugs at or near the time of the incident, provided that any such violations do not place the health or safety of any other person at risk. The College may initiate educational discussion or pursue other educational remedies regarding alcohol or other drugs.
The Importance of Preserving Evidence
Regardless of whether an incident of sexual misconduct is reported to the police or the College, Gordon College strongly encourages individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct to preserve evidence to the greatest extent possible, as this will best maintain all legal options for them in the future.
Below are suggestions for preserving evidence related to an incident of sexual misconduct. It is important to keep in mind that each suggestion may not apply in every incident:
Do not alter, dispose of, or destroy any physical evidence.
If there is suspicion that a drink may have been drugged, inform a medical assistance provider and/or law enforcement as soon as possible so they can attempt to collect possible evidence (e.g., from the drink, through urine or blood sample).
Preserve evidence of electronic communications by saving them and/or by taking screen shots of text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, or other electronic communications, and by keeping pictures, logs, or copies of documents that relate to the incident and/or perpetrator.
Even if a victim of sexual misconduct chooses not to make a complaint, he or she should nevertheless consider speaking with Campus Police or other law enforcement to preserve evidence in the event that they change their mind at a later date.
Suggestions Specific to Sexual Assault
Because some evidence, particularly evidence that may be located on the body, dissipates quickly (within 48-96 hours), individuals who have been sexually assaulted and wish to preserve evidence should go to a hospital or medical facility immediately to seek a medical examination and/or evidence collection.
An individual who has been sexually assaulted should not shower, bathe, douche, smoke, brush teeth, eat, drink, or change clothes or bedding before going to the hospital or seeking medical attention.
If the individual who has been sexually assaulted decides to change clothes or bedding, they should not wash the clothes worn or bedding used during the assault, and should bring them to a hospital, medical facility or the police in a non-plastic bag (e.g., paper bag).
In Massachusetts, individuals who have been sexually assaulted may allow the collection of evidence even if they choose not to make a report to law enforcement. After the evidence is collected, an unreported rape kit will be preserved for 15 years.