Title IX Policies
SMC takes sexual misconduct seriously and encourages all members of its community to act responsibly.
Title IX of the US Education Amendments of 1972 states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”. While most people think of Title IX as related to sports, it also includes behaviors based on gender that deny a student the ability to fully participate in their educational experience. This includes all forms of sexual violence including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence.
SMC has a comprehensive Title IX investigation policy called the Sexual Misconduct Policy. If a sexual misconduct-related report is received, it will be investigated under this policy in lieu of the Student Conduct Policy.
Select resources from the Sexual Misconduct Policy are provided below. Sexual Misconduct Policy or in the Student or Employee Handbook.
About Sexual Misconduct
Advocacy and Support
SMC students, faculty, and staff may contact any of the Title IX officers for assistance with the process of reporting, interim actions to protect the reporting person (including class removal, escorts, and on-campus no-contact orders), any legal process including Personal Protection Orders and Crime Reporting, and with help finding personal resources such as counseling. The same applies to those persons that have been accused of violating this policy. Our goal is to help provide options that allow the individual to continue to pursue their educational endeavors.
Southwestern Michigan College has an official Memorandum of Understanding with Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services (DASAS). From any campus phone, you can dial extension 8880 (from outside lines you can call 269-783-8880) and this will automatically connect you with DASAS’s 24-hour anonymous reporting, advocacy, and support.
DASAS provides well trained advocates for victims of all forms of sexual violence including Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Additionally, they also provide Emergency Shelter, Support Groups, and assistance with Personal Protection Orders.
Expectation of Consent
The expectations of our community regarding sexual conduct can be summarized as follows: In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing, and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity. Consent is sexual permission. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want sexually and what you don’t. Once given, consent may be withdrawn.
Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity. Silence—without actions demonstrating permission—cannot be assumed to show consent.
Additionally, there is a difference between seduction and coercion. Coercing someone into sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into sex. Coercion happens when someone is pressured unreasonably for sex.
Because alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to consent in question, sober sex is less likely to raise such questions. When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to give valid consent if they cannot fully understand the details of a sexual interaction (who, what, when, where, why, or how) because they lack the capacity to reasonably understand the situation. Individuals who consent to sex must be able to understand what they are doing. Under this policy, “No” always means “No,” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes.” Anything but a clear, knowing, and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “no.”
You always have the right to say no even if:
- You’ve been drinking
- You’ve been flirting
- You’ve been making out
- You’ve had sex with the person before
- You said “Yes” then changed your mind
Sexual Misconduct Offenses
If a report is received that fits one of the definitions below, it will be investigated under the Sexual Misconduct Policy in lieu of the Student Conduct Policy. Examples of these charges can be found in the full Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome, gender-based verbal, written, online, and/or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives someone of the ability to participate in or benefit from the college’s educational program and/or activities, employment, promotion, or emotional well-being on the job, and is based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation.
Non-consensual Sexual Contact
Non-consensual sexual contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman that is without consent and/or by force. This includes the attempt to commit any of these acts.
Non-consensual Sexual Intercourse
Non-consensual sexual intercourse is any sexual intercourse however slight, with any object or body part, by a person upon another person that is without consent and/or by force. This includes the attempt to commit any of these acts.
Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited and when that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. This includes the attempt to commit any of these acts.
Other Gender-based Misconduct Offenses
Other violations of the Southwestern Michigan College rules, policies, and Student Code of Conduct may fall under this policy when the parties involved are or have been in an intimate relationship with each other or their actions are sex- or gender-based.
Reporting Sexual Misconduct Violations
Law Enforcement Involvement
The college encourages anyone who has been the victim of sexual violence or potential criminal conduct to call 911 or contact local law enforcement (269 445-1560) as soon as it is safe to do so after an incident.
If one desires that details of the incident be kept confidential, they should speak with a private counselor, members of the clergy and chaplains, or off-campus rape crisis resources who can maintain confidentiality. The college recommends contacting Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services at 1-800-828-2023.
Sexual Assault Hotline
Survivors of sexual assault and their friends and family may call the toll-free Sexual Assault Hotline provided by the state of Michigan for confidential support and resources. The hotline is staffed 24/7 by professional crisis counselors with specialized training in crisis intervention, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, victim's rights, health options, and Michigan law. Hotline staff can help connect victims with community-based sexual assault programs that offer additional counseling, advocacy, and support.
Formal Reporting Options
You are encouraged to submit a Concerns Report or directly contact one of the Title IX Officers listed on the bottom of this page.
You may also speak to officials of the institution to make formal reports of incidents (deans, vice presidents, or other administrators with supervisory responsibilities, campus security, and human resources). The college considers these people to be “responsible employees.” Notice to them is official notice to the institution.
You have the right and can expect to have incidents of sexual misconduct to be taken seriously by the institution when formally reported and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. Formal reporting means that only people who need to know will be told, and information will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.
Sexual Misconduct (Title IX) Investigation Procedures
Sexual Misconduct Investigation procedures may be found in the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted...
1. Get to a safe place.
After an attempted or completed rape or any other act of sexual violence, it may be helpful to contact a trusted friend to stay with you for support.
2. Seek medical attention.
Both local Hospitals (Niles and Dowagiac) have specially trained personnel to provide care in these situations. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program provides specially trained nurses who can examine you after an attempted or completed sexual assault and can collect evidence.
3. Preserve any evidence.
Place your clothing and other items (sheets, blankets) in a brown paper (not plastic) bag. Avoid drinking, bathing, showering, douching, brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, combing your hair, or changing your clothes. Physical evidence will be collected if you choose to visit an Emergency Room after an attempted or completed rape. Write down, or have a friend write down, everything you can remember about the incident. You should attempt to do this even if you are unsure at the moment if you are planning on reporting the incident in the future.
4. Report the incident.
You have a few options with reporting:
- We encourage you to create a report with Law Enforcement by calling 911 or 269-782-6689. DPD will take seriously every report of sexual misconduct, offering complainants appropriate support and allowing them to maintain as much control as possible over their individual situations.
- You can either contact directly any of the Title IX staff listed on this page or you can submit a Concerns report here.
The College recognizes that a complainant may desire confidentiality and may request that the College not investigate or pursue resolution of a report. In such cases the College will maintain to the extent permitted by law and other safety considerations. However, the College may determine that it must investigate and pursue resolution of a report, and take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to a charge of sexual misconduct in order to protect the rights, interests and personal safety of the Southwestern Michigan College community.
5. Talk about the incident
Remember that being a victim of sexual assault is not your fault. You are not responsible for the actions of others and it is not your fault that someone decided to hurt you. Talking with supportive people may help you regain a feeling of control and help you feel less alone.
We strongly encourage you to contact Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services (DASAS). You can call them at 296-783-8880 (x8880 from any campus phone). They can offer advocacy and support during all steps of the process.
If You Have Been Accused of Violating the College's Sexual Misconduct Policy...
1. You can speak to the Title IX Coordinator or Administrator.
This person is an unbiased trained individual who can:
- Help you understand your rights,
- Explain the investigation and adjudication process,
- Refer you to campus and community resources for mental health counseling, and
- Assist with housing and academic (class) changes and other needs.
2. Don’t contact the complainant or their witnesses as this may be construed as an attempt to influence the process or threaten the complainant.
3. Preserve any evidence.
Document all interactions with the accuser and keep all electronic evidence of conversations, etc.
4. Take care of your mental and physical health.
It is important that you stay active and away from drugs and alcohol during the time that you are involved in this process. There are a number of resources listed on the college's Personal Wellness Resources page that can assist as well.
We ask that every member of the SMC community do their part in preventing sexual violence on our campus. Each individual should do what they can to safely prevent sexual violence whenever they have the opportunity. The term for this is “Active Bystander”. When an act of sexual violence takes place, it is likely that somebody will have the chance to intervene before the situation takes place. While the responsibility still falls on the perpetrator to not commit the crime, being an Active Bystander can help stop somebody from being victimized.
Steps to Being an Active Bystander
- Be aware of your surroundings. You can often tell when a person is in danger. Many times in sexual violence situations, bystanders were able to see that something was not right.
- Recognize it as a problem. As you are active in your surroundings, keep an eye open for behaviors that you recognize to be a problem. Some example potential issues are:
- An intoxicated person being separated from a group that they are a part of.
- A person talking about another person at a party as an object or a conquest. This person may use phrases such as “I’m getting lucky tonight no matter what” or “I’m going to go get me a piece of that”.
- Feel Responsible to Act. Each individual must accept the fact that it is his responsibility to act. Many times people feel that somebody else will take care of it. When everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible. It is up to each person to take responsibility and react to situations they see.
- Make a plan. Be aware of the different options to intervene. Once you take a look at the situation, determine the best course of action to prevent the act.
- Safely Intervene. Take action and stand up for the safety of others. When you take action, please make sure not to place yourself in unnecessary danger.
Ways to Intervene as an Active Bystander
While there are infinite ways that you could intervene, we would like to point out a few options to consider when planning to intervene:
- Tell another person. There is safety in numbers. If you have somebody else in the know they can help support your plans.
- Talk directly to the victim. This will both give them an ear to listen and also give them an option out of the current situation.
- Help remove the potential victim from the situation. Help make sure the person leaves the situation and gets home safely.
- Call 911 or get somebody in authority. Contact local police, housing staff, or campus security to help with the situation.
- Distract the potential perpetrator. If you know the potential perpetrator, you may be able to talk with them directly. You could also try to distract them or change their direction. Another example would be to “accidently” spill a drink if you see that it has been drugged.
While it is solely the responsibility of the perpetrator to not commit the act of sexual violence, we do ask that members of the SMC community take reasonable steps to lower their risk of being a victim.
Steps to Reduce the Risk of Sexual Misconduct
- Have a plan. Before going out for the evening, make a plan. Will you be drinking? Do you plan on having sex? Who will you be hanging out with? How do they know that you want to be an active participant in a sexual situation?
- Safety in numbers. If possible, go out as a group and come home as a group. Watch out for each other and make sure no friend gets left behind.
- Intervene for each other. If you see something, say something. Be sure to be an Active Bystander with the group that you are in.
- Trust your gut. Most people are able to identify that a situation is not right. Trust that instinct. If something does not feel right, get your group out of there if possible.
- Keep an eye on your drink. Never leave a drink unattended or with a person that you have just met. Do not accept drinks that you did not see being made. Also avoid community alcohol (such as Jungle Juice) especially if not everyone is drinking from it.
Report a Concern
See something suspicious, or have concerns for a fellow student? Report it anonymously using the Cause for Concerns reporting form.
Non-discrimination and Title IX Contacts
FOR EMERGENCIES, DIAL 911.
Director of Security and Conduct
Title IX Coordinator (Students)
David C. Briegel Building, Room 2104
58900 Cherry Grove Rd.
Dowagiac, MI 49047
Director of Human Resources
Title IX Coordinator (Employees)
David C. Briegel Building, Room 2106
58900 Cherry Grove Rd.
Dowagiac, MI 49047
Chief of Staff
Civil Rights Coordinator
David C. Briegel Building, Room 2104
58900 Cherry Grove Rd.
Dowagiac, MI 49047
Executive Director of the Niles Campus
Title IX Liason
Niles Campus, Room 1108B