Administrative Overview

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SUNY Plattsburgh
Sexual Harassment & Sexual Violence Policy


Approved by Executive Council 8/2/2011
Reapproved by Executive Council 4/8/2014 and 8/12/2014
 
1.0 Purpose

The State University at New York College at Plattsburgh (SUNY Plattsburgh or the College) is an educational community bound by common standards of conduct and a commitment to ensuring a safe and supportive learning and working environment for all students, faculty, and staff. This policy establishes procedures for responding to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including procedures to assist victim/survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and reduce the incidence of sexual violence and harassment.

Sexual violence is considered particularly troubling because these crimes interfere with the above commitment by:
1. endangering the physical and emotional well-being of community members;
2. offending the dignity and violating the autonomy of community members; and
3. disrupting the academic progress and/or work environment of victim/survivors or survivors.
 
2.0 Revision History

Originally written on March 2, 2007 – updated on July 5, 2011
Revised March 2014

Reviewed by:
Arlene Sabo, Chief, University Police
Lynda J. Ames, Ph.D., Title IX Coordinator/Affirmative Action Officer
Bryan Hartman, Vice President for Student Affairs
Stephen Matthews, Dean of Students
 
3.0  Persons Affected

All college students and all college employees, as well as contractors/vendors and visitors to campus.
 
4.0 Policy

It is the policy of SUNY Plattsburgh that sexual harassment and sexual violence will not be tolerated.

It is the policy of the College to support and assist victim/survivors in attaining the services they may need and/or to assist in reporting the incident to appropriate College offices and/or police agencies. Assisting victim/survivors includes providing them with information about medical, legal, and counseling services available so victim/survivors can make informed decisions and avail themselves of all the services and rights to which they are entitled. When sexual violence is reported, a coordinated response is initiated. Unless the victim/survivor is in immediate danger, all steps taken should be discussed with the victim/survivor and initiated with her/his consent.

The use of alcohol and other drugs in conjunction with an incident of sexual violence does not mitigate accountability for the commission of these acts or diminish the seriousness of the offense. In addition, a victim/survivor’s use of alcohol will not result in charges of alcohol violations against the victim/survivor

It is the policy of the College to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, through campus judicial or personnel procedures if appropriate, and by working with community agencies and law enforcement as appropriate.

SUNY Plattsburgh will not wait for the conclusion of a criminal investigation or criminal proceeding to begin its own sex discrimination investigation, and if needed, will take immediate steps to protect a victim in the education setting (e.g., classroom section change if available, etc.).

All reports of sexual violence will be reported as required by the Clery Act.

Portions of this policy may parallel state or federal laws, but are in no way intended to substitute or supplant those laws. As members of the SUNY Plattsburgh community, students and employees of the College are expected to comply with and abide by SUNY Plattsburgh’s policies and procedures, in addition to federal, state, and local laws whether off campus or on-campus.

The policy will be reviewed annually by the Title IX Coordinator and the Chief of University Police.
 
5.0  Definitions

All acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Therefore, this policy has been promulgated in part to ensure SUNY Plattsburgh’s compliance with the Title IX requirements applicable to sexual violence.
 
Sexual Harassment:  Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome, inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature and can include such acts as comments, gestures, or physical contact.  Sexual harassment can involve a quid pro quo in which an employee with authority demands sexual favors of a subordinate employee or a student with either a reward promised or punishment threatened.  Sexual harassment can involve the establishment of a hostile work or school environment, with the target/victim/survivor subjected to sexual jokes, pictures, touching, unwelcome requests for dates, and other conduct.  (See http://web.plattsburgh.edu/policies/affirmativeaction/sexualharassment/ for more detail).
Sexual Violence:  Following the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the United States Department of Education, sexual violence in this policy refers to a physical sexual act perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim/survivor’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to intellectual or other disability. 
 
Consent is the mutual or simultaneous initiation of specific sexual acts, or freely given verbal agreement to engage in specific sexual contact. Nothing other than mutual or simultaneous initiation of specific sexual acts, or freely given verbal agreement to engage in specific sexual contact will constitute consent. The use of force, threat of force, threat of immediate or future harm, or use of physical intimidation to secure compliance with sexual activity implies a lack of consent. Consent cannot be inferred by lack of physical resistance or lack of verbal refusal (which may include silence). Lack of consent is implied by objective evidence that would be recognizable to a reasonable person of the physical or mental incapacity of an individual. For instance, someone who is asleep or unconscious is incapable of providing consent. An individual who is significantly impaired by alcohol or drugs also may be considered incapable of providing consent.
 
Although consent may initially be given, it may be revoked at any point, either verbally, through physical resistance, by loss of consciousness, or by any action that a reasonable person would consider a withdrawal of consent. Failure to respond promptly to a withdrawal of consent constitutes sexual assault.
 
Types of Sexual Violence include Sexual Assault and Sexual Exploitation

Sexual assault includes any intentional, nonconsensual physical contact of a sexual nature, including but not limited to:
 
• any attempted or completed act of nonconsensual sexual penetration. Sexual penetration is any degree of insertion of any object or body part into a person’s urethra, anus or vulva, or any degree of insertion of genitalia into the mouth;
• attempted or completed nonconsensual genital contact of any kind, including but not limited to nonconsensual oral intercourse or manual contact with genitals;
• any nonconsensual physical assault during sexual contact, such as punching, strangling, burning or otherwise intentionally causing physical harm without the consent of a partner; and/or
• intentional and unwelcome physical contact with an individual’s buttocks or breasts, and unwanted kissing, fondling or groping.

Sexual exploitation is nonconsensual, abusive sexual behavior that does not otherwise constitute sexual assault. Many instances of sexual exploitation are serious enough to be treated as equivalent to sexual assault at SUNY Plattsburgh.
 
Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to, tampering with or removal of condoms or other methods of birth control and STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) prevention prior to or during sexual contact in a manner that significantly increases the likelihood of pregnancy or STI contraction by the non-consenting party, nonconsensual video or audio taping of sexual activity, allowing others to watch consensual or nonconsensual sexual activity without the consent of a sexual partner, peeping tommery, trafficking people to be sold for sex, and inducing incapacitation with the intent to sexually assault another person.

6.0  Responsibilities and Procedures

The Title IX Coordinator, the Student Conduct Office, the Office of Housing and Residence Life, the Student Health and Counseling Center, the Office of Human Resource Services, and employees and students will support and assist (with the victim/survivor's consent) victim/survivors of sexual harassment and sexual violence to report any incident to campus authorities, law enforcement agencies, and to contact the local sexual assault agency and/or the SUNY Plattsburgh Student Health and Counseling Center. In order to provide for the needs and care of victim/survivors, as well as to enforce behavior standards critical to our educational mission, it is important that all violations of this policy are reported to appropriate authorities, including the law enforcement officials or agencies with jurisdiction in the location of the incident and to the Vice President for Student Affairs.  (See flowchart in Appendix B below).
 
When a victim/survivor of sexual violence is identified or comes forward, there are three possible processes he or she can engage to seek remedy.  A victim/survivor has the choice to involve him or herself in one, two, or all three processes. The three processes include a Title IX investigation, the criminal justice process assisted by either University Police or local law enforcement, and/or the campus judicial process. In all known cases, the Title IX Coordinator is charged to ensure that whatever path the victim/survivor takes, including not participating in any formal process, the College is in compliance with Title IX.  Any and all procedures that the college offers, including judicial proceedings, must provide prompt and equitable resolution.
A Title IX investigation is different from any law enforcement investigation and a law enforcement investigation does not relieve the college of its independent Title IX obligation to determine if there is a sexually hostile environment. If the complainant requests confidentiality or asks that the complaint not be pursued, the college will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue investigation. The college may weigh the request for confidentiality against factors such as: the seriousness of the alleged incident; the complainant’s age; whether there have been other sexual harassment or violence complaints about the same individual; and the alleged perpetrator’s rights to receive information about the allegation if the information is maintained by the school as an “education record” under FERPA.
   
College Title IX investigations and/or disciplinary procedures will:
  • Proceed independently of any action taken in the criminal or civil courts, as determined on a case-by-case basis in compliance with Title IX regulations. College procedures are not a substitute for criminal court proceedings;
  • Absent extenuating circumstances, be completed within sixty days. 
  • Proceed with appropriate attention to victim/survivor safety; and
  • Not require a victim/survivor to mediate directly with the person accused, including couples counseling
College Employees (when informed of an incident of sexual violence) should:

• Offer support for the victim/survivor in non-judgmental ways, allowing the victim/survivor to make her/his own decisions; (See Appendix A below)
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to explore her/his options with and/or to report the incident to the police, the Title IX Coordinator, and/or the Student Conduct Office;
• See the attached flowchart
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to contact the local sexual assault agency and/or the SUNY Plattsburgh Student Health and Counseling Center (at 564-2187);
• College employees with supervisory responsibilities will ensure all policies and procedures are followed to provide the victim/survivor choices in services and support;

College Students

• Are encouraged to be familiar with campus and community resources available to victim/survivors, and offer support and assistance as appropriate; (See "Resources" below).
• Are encouraged to be familiar with the student code of conduct;
• Are encouraged to report instances of sexual harassment or sexual violence to campus authorities:  the Title IX Coordinator, Res Life staff, University Police.
Title IX Coordinator will:
• Respond to allegations of employee and student sexual harassment and sexual violence.  Such allegations can be made by victim/survivors or witnesses. Consistent with Title IX requirements, investigations will proceed independently from any criminal investigation; 
• See Complaint Procedure for Review of Allegations of Unlawful Discrimination/Harassment.
• Regardless of whether a victim/survivor, her/his parent, or a third party files a complaint under the school’s complaint procedures or otherwise requests action on the student’s behalf, promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation;
• Take interim safety steps on behalf of the victim/survivor, which may include a change of housing assignment, changing class schedules. Safety steps taken should minimize the burden on complainant;
• Not require a victim/survivor to mediate directly with person accused;
• If the victim/survivor is a student, ensure the victim/survivor has academic support available and offered to her/him, such as tutoring, re-taking a course or withdrawing from class without penalty;
• Provide assistance to law enforcement regarding appropriate response and have access to campus law enforcement investigation records and findings for the Title IX investigation, so long as it does not compromise the criminal investigation;
• Review all cases in the campus judicial system at least annually to determine if some remedy available under Title IX was not available through the judicial system;
• If the victim/survivor presents to this office, complete the Victim’s Services Notice and distribute copies as indicated.  Make referrals as indicated;
• If the victim/survivor has not reported the incident to UP, complete a confidential Clery Crime report form (see below) and forward it as directed.

Student Health and Counseling Center will:

• Maintain the contact as strictly confidential;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator, police and/or Student Conduct Office;
• Provide appropriate medical services, counseling, and documentation;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to contact local victim/survivor services agencies.
• Have Victim’s Safety Service Notices available;  
• If the victim/survivor has not reported the incident to UP and the victim consents, complete a confidential Clery Crime report form (see below) and forward it as directed.
 
University Police will:

• Investigate reports on the basis of either a statement of sexual assault from the victim/survivor or a witness’s statement or complaint (i.e., residence hall staff, police, faculty, staff, parent, visitor, or another student);
• Refer perpetrator for prosecution, personnel action, and/or judicial action as appropriate;
• Assist the victim/survivor in obtaining medical assistance, if needed;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to contact local victim/survivor services agencies;
• If the victim/survivor presents at UP, provide the Victim’s Safety Services Receipt and distribute copies as indicated;
• Refer cases/complainants to the Title IX Coordinator if the victim/survivor wants to file a complaint through that office, whether the accused is a student, employee, or a third party;
• File crime and other reports as appropriate.

Vice President for Student Affairs will:

• Receive reports of sexual violence and compile for review by Title IX Coordinator;
• Collect confidential Clery Crime Incident Report forms and summarize to College officials and the University Police (UP) for the purposes of annual statistical crime reporting;
• Organize educational sessions regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence reporting and prevention during New Student Orientation. This education will inform students that sexual harassment and sexual violence are prohibited, and will include definitions, list options for by-stander action, and describe warning signs.
 
Office of Housing and Residence Life Staff will:

• If the victim/survivor presents to this office, complete the Victim’s Services Notice and distribute copies as indicated;
• Report all incidents to the Director of Housing and Residence Life, who will refer as appropriate. The Director of Housing and Residence Life is obligated to report as per the Clery Act, but the name of the victim/survivor will only be provided with the victim/survivor's consent, except in extenuating circumstances;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to contact the Student Health and Counseling Center and assist in obtaining medical care, if needed;
• Contact the Counseling Center and ask them to reach out to the student victim/survivor;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to contact local victim/survivor services agencies;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator or police;  
• Report the incident to the Student Conduct Office, with consent of the victim/survivor if the person accused is a student;
• Place this policy in the manual for RAs and RDs and provide yearly training on the policy.

Student Conduct Office will:

• Respond to allegations of student misconduct consistent with the Student Conduct Manual.  Such allegations can be made by victim/survivors or witnesses (i.e., residence hall staff, police, faculty, staff, parent, visitor, or another student). This procedure is independent of any criminal procedure. Proceedings shall provide for prompt, fair and impartial resolutions. The accuser and accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have a support person of their choice at any proceeding or related meeting;
• Not require a victim/survivor to mediate directly with person accused;
• Hold student perpetrators accountable utilizing the Student Code of Conduct and procedures therein. The standard for holding individuals accountable will be a “preponderance of the evidence”.  The accuser and accused will be simultaneously informed in writing of the outcome of disciplinary proceedings;
• If the victim/survivor presents to this office, complete the Victim’s Services Notice and distribute copies as indicated;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to contact local victim/survivor services agencies;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator and police;
• If the victim/survivor has not reported the incident to UP, complete a confidential Clery Crime report form (see attached) and forward it as directed on the;
• Ensure that the victim/survivor, if desired, has a support person present at any interview or hearing, in a manner consistent with the governing student conduct procedures;
• Organize training of judicial boards hearing cases involving sexual violence.
 
Human Resource Services will:

• Respond to allegations of employee misconduct consistent with College policy. Such allegations can be made by victim/survivors or witnesses. This procedure is independent of any criminal procedure and will proceed independently in compliance with Title IX procedures;
• Support and assist the victim/survivor (with the victim/survivor's consent) to report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator and/or police. Human Resource Services may be obligated to report to the police the fact that an assault was reported, but the name of the victim/survivor will only be provided with the victim/survivor's consent, except in extenuating circumstances;
• Not require a victim/survivor to mediate directly with person accused;
• If the person accused is a student, the incident will be reported to Student Conduct Office;
• If the victim/survivor has not reported the incident to UP, complete a confidential Clery Crime report form (see attached) and forward it as directed on the form;
• Work with the Title IX Coordinator to investigate and initiate disciplinary procedures when warranted;
• Pursue disciplinary charges against the accused employee in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements when sufficient information indicates that there are reasonable grounds to pursue disciplinary action, whether or not legal authorities pursue these charges and whether or not the employee is convicted of these charges;
• If the victim/survivor presents at this office, provide a Victim’s Services Notice  and distribute copies as indicated on the form;
• Disseminate, on an annual basis, information to College employees concerning this policy.
• Ensure new employees receive sexual violence prevention education which informs them that sexual harassment and sexual violence are prohibited, and which includes definitions, lists options for by-stander action, and describes warning signs.
 
7.0 Resources

On-Campus Services and Support
• Title IX Coordinator/Affirmative Action Officer (564-3310)
• University Police (564-2022)
• Student Conduct Office (564-3282)
• Office of Housing and Residence Life (564-3824)
• Student Health and Counseling Center (564-2187)
• Human Resources Services (564-5062)
• Health Educator & Outreach Coordinator (564-4848)
Off Campus Services and Support (current as of January 2014)
• Sexual Assault Services, Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York 1-877-212-2323
• Plattsburgh City Police 563-3411
• NY State Police 563-3761
• Champlain Valley Physician’s Hospital Emergency Center
 
8.0 Retaliatory Harassment
 
An employee or student who participates in any of the sexual harassment or sexual violence reporting procedures has the right to do so without fear of or actual retaliation. It will be made clear to Respondent that retaliation against an employee or a student who has filed a complaint, or against any witness, will result in appropriate sanctions or disciplinary action as covered by College policies or applicable collective bargaining agreements. These sanctions will be invoked for retaliation regardless of the merits of the original complaint.
 
9.0  Prevention Efforts
 
Title IX regulations requires the college to publish notice of nondiscrimination and grievance procedures as part of prevention efforts. Statements of nondiscrimination and grievance procedures must be easily located and widely distributed to all constituents (e.g., posted on college’s website, sent electronically to all constituents via email, summarized in or attached to major publications, such as handbooks, code of conduct, college catalog). All students and employees must be notified of the name and title of the Title IX Coordinator. Prevention should include education at student and employee new orientation programs, RA/RD training, and athlete/coach training.
 
College staff will be required to organize or conduct sexual violence prevention programming for students and faculty/staff each academic year. This prevention effort must inform students that sexual harassment and sexual violence is prohibited, focus on the root causes of sexual violence rather than on risk reduction techniques for potential victim, and will not connote the blaming of the victim for sexual violence. It will include definitions, by-stander options and warning signs. The Title IX Coordinator/Affirmative Action Officer or designee will ensure that this programming takes place each academic year.
 
In addition, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will conduct periodic assessments to: 1) ensure practices and behavior of students and employees do not violate policies, 2) ensure employees with knowledge of a sexual assault carried out response duties, and 3) work with student leaders on a “climate check” to assess effectiveness of efforts.
 
10.0    Training
 
Law enforcement employees, Title IX Coordinator, and all persons involved in implementing grievance procedures (investigators and adjudicator) must receive training on what constitutes sexual harassment, including sexual violence, and the Title IX grievance procedure. Training must include applicable confidentiality requirements.

APPENDIX A:  Working with Victim/survivors/Survivors
If a victim/survivor talks to you or seeks should ensure the victim/survivor’s safety. First responders are expected to follow general guidelines for creating a comfortable environment:
• Support the victim/survivor without passing judgment;
• Let the victim/survivor make choices for him or herself;
• Communicate, “I’m glad you’re okay,” “It’s not your fault,” and “I’m sorry that this happened,”
• Don’t physically comfort the victim/survivors without their permission;
• Review the Victim/survivor Services Notice;
• Act in a manner that is supportive and non-judgmental;.
• Discuss their reporting obligations and confidentiality issues with the victim/survivor.
 
In all cases, first responders will inform the VP for Student Affairs or his/her designee of the date, time and location of the incident.  This report to the VP Student Affairs can be done without naming the victim/survivor.
Links:
Response to Sexual Violence Flowchart
Clery Crime Incident Report Form
Victim’s Services Notice


 

 

Contact Information

For more information about Administrative Policies approved by Executive Council, please contact:

Sean Brian Dermody
Assistant to the Vice President for Administration
Management Services Office
Office: Kehoe 710-11
Phone: (518) 564-2539
Fax: (518) 564-2540
Email: dermodsb@plattsburgh.edu