The official wording of Title IX is “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 developed a comprehensive Title IX investigation policy called the “Sexual Misconduct Policy”. The complete policy can be found in Chapter 4, Section 3 of the Student Handbook found at swmich.edu/handbook/sexual-misconduct-policy or in the SMC Employee Handbook. Additionally, we have provided some resources on this page from the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
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, 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. Some important things to know about consent:
- 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.
- 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 clear, knowing and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “no.”
Definitions of Sexual Misconduct
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 or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive and 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 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 man or 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.
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.
Retaliation is the act of harassing or bothering the complainant during or after an informal or formal investigation. Retaliation may be by the charged individual or by another individual doing so on their behalf. Retaliation will not be tolerated and may result in severe sanctions or an additional charge.
Active Bystander Intervention
As part of the SMC community, we ask that all students, faculty and staff be Active Bystanders when they are witnesses to any version of sexual violation. Please see the Active Bystander and Risk Reduction page for tips about being an Active Bystander.
While it is never the victims fault, SMC asks all students to take steps to reduce the risks of being a victim of sexual violence. Please see the Active Bystander and Risk Reduction page for information about risk reduction.
Reporting Sexual Misconduct Violations
Law Enforcement Involvment
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. If you choose this route, we recommend contacting 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 hotline.
Reporting to those who can likely maintain the privacy of what you share
You can seek advice from certain resources that are not required to tell anyone else your private, personally identifiable information unless there is cause for fear for your safety or the safety of others. These are individuals whom the college has not specifically designated as “responsible employees” for purposes of putting the institution on notice and for whom mandatory reporting is required, other than in the stated limited circumstances. These resources include those without supervisory responsibility or remedial authority to address sexual misconduct such as RAs, faculty members, advisors to student organizations, admissions officers, student activities personnel and many others. If you are unsure of someone’s duties and ability to maintain your privacy, ask them before you talk to them. They will be able to tell you and help you make decisions about who can help you best.
Some of these resources, such as RAs, should be instructed to share incident reports with their supervisors, but they will not share any personally identifiable information about your report unless you give permission, except in the event that the incident reveals a need to protect you or other members of the community. If personally identifiable information is shared, it will only be shared as necessary with as few people as possible and all efforts will be made to protect your privacy.
Formal reporting options
You are encouraged to submit a College Concerns Form or directly contact one of the Title IX Officers on the right side of the screen.
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
Below is a brief overview of the Sexual Misconduct Investigation procedures. Please read the full details in Chapter 4, Section 3 of the Student Handbook found at swmich.edu/handbook/sexual-misconduct-policy.
Prior to the formal investigation, the Title IX Administrator will review the case and will do the following:
- Initiate any necessary remedial actions;
- Determine the identity and contact information of the complainant (whether that be the initiator, the alleged victim or a college proxy or representative);
- Identify the correct policies allegedly violated;
- Meet with the complainant, if deemed necessary, to finalize the complaint;
- Determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the accused individual and what policy violations should be alleged as part of the complaint
- If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the complaint should be closed with no further action;
- If there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the Title IX Administrator will assign a trained investigator to investigate the charges.
- At no time will the accused student and the complainant be in the same room at the same time;
- All meetings will be private and closed to the public;
- All interviews will be recorded by the investigator and are the sole allowed recording;
- Both parties may have an advisor. This advisor may only speak with their party in a way that does not disrupt the meeting. At no time will they be allowed to address the investigators
- The college reserves the right to compel individuals to participate in the investigation;
- The investigation will be completed within 60 days unless unforeseen issues arise.
Notice During the Investigation
During the investigation, SMC will provide notice to both parties. This notice will include the initial charges and also the outcomes of the investigation.
Unlike charges under the Student Code of Conduct, charges of sexual misconduct are investigated in a non-confrontation format. This means that:
After completing all necessary interviews, the investigators will make a determination based on the Preponderance of Evidence (51%). This means that it was more likely than not that the violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy took place. If the accused student is found responsible, the investigators will also determine sanctions (See Sanctioning section below). If the investigators determine the accused is not responsible, the case will be closed unless there is an appeal (see Appeal Options below).
The goal of sanctioning is to mitigate the situation, prevent its reoccurrence and remedy its effect on the victim and the college campus. While the investigators reserve the right to broaden or lessen any range of recommended sanctions in the case of serious mitigating circumstances or egregiously offensive behavior, the following are the typical sanctions as related to Sexual Misconduct:
- Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-consensual or Forced Sexual Contact (where no intercourse has occurred) will likely receive a sanction ranging from probation to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
- Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-consensual or Forced Sexual Intercourse will likely face a recommended sanction of suspension or expulsion.
- Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Sexual Exploitation or Sexual Harassment will likely receive a recommended sanction ranging from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity.
- If an Employee of the College is found responsible, the college will take the necessary steps to prevent its recurrence. Such preventative measures may include disciplinary actions up to and including termination.
Each party has the right to appeal the finding of responsibility and the sanctions imposed within five (5) business days of the date the outcome letter is sent. Appeals will be sent directly to the Title IX Coordinator or can be submitted through the Cause for Concern reporting form. The following apply to the appeal options:
- Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the complaint (de novo). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal.
- The Title IX Coordinator may meet with individuals involved but is not required to unless they deem it necessary.
- New information will only be considered if the information was not available at the time of the initial investigation.
- The Title IX Coordinator will make the following determinations:
- Was the finding of responsibility correct?
- Was the sanction imposed properly and does it meet the goals of sanctioning?
- The Title IX Coordinator may lessen, alter or dismiss any finding or sanction from the investigators.
- In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term
- The Title IX Coordinator will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within seven (7) business days from hearing of the appeal.
- The decision of the Title IX Coordinator is the final official decision of the college. There are no more options to appeal after this point.
Examples of Sexual Misconduct Violations
Amanda and Bill meet at a party. They spend the evening dancing and getting to know each other. Bill convinces Amanda to come up to his room. From 11:00pm until 3:00am, Bill uses every line he can think of to convince Amanda to have sex with him, but she adamantly refuses. He keeps at her and begins to question her religious convictions and accuses her of being “a prude.” Finally, it seems to Bill that her resolve is weakening, and he convinces her to give him a "hand job" (hand to genital contact). Amanda would never had done it but for Bill's incessant advances. He feels that he successfully seduced her and that she wanted to do it all along but was playing shy and hard to get. Why else would she have come up to his room alone after the party? If she really didn't want it, she could have left.
Bill is responsible for violating the college Non-consensual or Forced Sexual Contact policy. It is likely that a college hearing board would find that the degree and duration of the pressure Bill applied to Amanda are unreasonable. Bill coerced Amanda into performing unwanted sexual touching upon him. Where sexual activity is coerced, it is forced. Consent is not effective when forced. Sex without effective consent is sexual misconduct.
Adam comes to Beth’s dorm room with some mutual friends to watch a movie. Adam and Beth, who have never met before, are attracted to each other. After the movie, everyone leaves, and Adam and Beth are alone. They hit it off and soon become more intimate. They start to make out. Adam verbally expresses his desire to have sex with Beth. Beth, who was abused by a baby-sitter when she was five and has not had any sexual relations since, is shocked at how quickly things are progressing.
As Adam takes her by the wrist over to the bed, lays her down, undresses her and begins to have intercourse with her, Beth has a severe flashback to her childhood trauma. She wants to tell Adam to stop, but cannot. Beth is stiff and unresponsive during the intercourse. Is this a policy violation?
Adam would be held responsible in this scenario for Non-consensual Sexual Intercourse. It is the duty of the sexual initiator, Adam, to make sure that he has mutually understandable consent to engage in sex. Though consent need not be verbal, it is the clearest form of consent. Here, Adam had no verbal or non-verbal mutually understandable indication from Beth that she consented to sexual intercourse. Of course, wherever possible, students should attempt to be as clear as possible as to whether or not sexual contact is desired, but students must be aware that for psychological reasons, or because of alcohol or drug use, one’s partner may not be in a position to provide as clear an indication as the policy requires. As the policy makes clear, consent must be actively, not passively, given.
Kevin and Amy are at a party. Kevin is not sure how much Amy has been drinking, but he is pretty sure it’s a lot. After the party, he walks Amy to her room, and Amy comes on to Kevin, initiating sexual activity. Kevin asks her if she is really up to this, and Amy says yes. Clothes go flying, and they end up in Amy’s bed. Suddenly, Amy runs for the bathroom. When she returns, her face is pale, and Kevin thinks she may have thrown up. Amy gets back into bed, and they begin to have sexual intercourse. Kevin is having a good time, though he can’t help but notice that Amy seems pretty groggy and passive, and he thinks Amy may have even passed out briefly during the sex, but he does not let that stop him. When Kevin runs into Amy the next day, he thanks her for the wild night. Amy remembers nothing and decides to make a complaint to the college.
This is a violation of the Non-consensual Sexual Intercourse Policy. Kevin should have known that Amy was incapable of making a rational, reasonable decision about sex. Even if Amy seemed to consent, Kevin was well aware that Amy had consumed a large amount of alcohol, and Kevin thought Amy was physically ill and that she passed out during sex. Kevin should be held accountable for taking advantage of Amy in her condition. This is not the level of respectful conduct expected of students.
If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 create a Sexual Misconduct Incident Report at:
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.
- 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.