Sexual Responsibility and Misconduct at SMC

 
 
Title IX (United States Education Amendments of 1972)

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 Sexual/Gender-Based Misconduct Policy

SMC has developed a comprehensive Title IX investigation policy called the “Sexual Misconduct Policy”. Read the full policy here or in the Student or Employee Handbook. Additionally, we have provided some resources on this page from the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

 

Advocacy and Support

Internal 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.

Anonymous Advocacy
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.

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.”

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
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
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.

Active Bystander Intervention

The welfare of students in our community is of paramount importance. At times, students on and off campus may need assistance. The college encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a sexual misconduct victim to get help). The college pursues a policy of partial immunity for students who offer help to others in need. While policy violations cannot be overlooked, the college will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.

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.

Risk Reduction

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 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.

Confidential Reporting
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
855-VOICES4 (855-864-2374)
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 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 the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Part I: Assignment of Investigator
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Chief of Staff will:

  1. Assign an investigator to the case. The investigator may be one or more individuals. If there is more than one investigator, they shall be present at all meetings.
  2. Review if any immediate steps need to be taken for the safety of campus or individuals involved.
  3. Monitor that the investigation is completed within 60 days unless there are reasonable documented external factors which require an extension.

Part II: Pre-investigation
Prior to the beginning of the formal investigation, the investigator may review all information in order to:

  1. Initiate any necessary remedial actions.
  2. Determine the identity and contact information of the complainant (whether that be the initiator, the alleged victim, or a college proxy or representative).
  3. Identify the correct policies allegedly violated.
  4. Determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the accused individual and what policy violations should be alleged as part of the complaint.
  5. If there is insufficient evidence to support reasonable cause, the complaint should be closed with no further action.
  6. Meet with the complainant to finalize the complaint.

Part III: Formal Investigation
Once the pre-investigation is completed and it is determined there is reasonable cause to charge the student, the formal investigation process will begin.

  1. A Notice of Charge letter will be sent to the accused student that includes the charges and a scheduled initial meeting time.
  2. The accused student will be presented with the opportunity to accept responsibility. If responsibility is accepted, the investigator may meet with any individuals they deem necessary before moving to sanctioning.
  3. The investigator will meet with all individuals involved, including all witnesses.
  4. The investigation process may require several meetings before completion. Please see Part IV: Investigation Meeting Details for more information.
  5. The investigator will review all additional available information.

Part IV: Investigation Meeting Details

  1. Each meeting will be held privately and closed to the public. At no time during the investigation will the accused student and the complainant be in the same room.
  2. These meetings are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings.
  3. Each interview will be recorded by the college. This will be the sole recording for the meeting.
  4. Both parties will be allowed an advisor to be present during the meetings. The 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.
  5. The college reserves the right to compel individuals to participate in the investigation.

Part V: Determining Responsibility

  1. At the conclusion of the formal investigation, the investigator will determine if the accused student is responsible for the alleged violation and assign appropriate sanctions.
  2. The investigator will make a decisions based on the preponderance of evidence (51%). This means that they will be determining if it is more likely than not the violation took place.
  3. Once the decision is made, an Investigation Outcome Letter will be sent both parties. There are two possible outcomes:
    1. Not Responsible
      It was determined that there was not enough available information to show that it was more likely than not that the violation took place.
    2. Responsible
      It was determined that there was enough available information to show that it was more likely than not that the violation took place.
  4. If the student is found not responsible, both parties will have the option to appeal (see Part VII: Appeal).
  5. If the student is found responsible, the Investigation Outcome Letter will contain information about sanction (See Part VI: Sanctioning).

Part VI: Sanctioning

  1. Once an individual is found responsible, the investigator will determine sanctioning based on the following criteria:
    1. The goal of sanction is to mitigate the situation, prevent its reoccurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and college community.
    2. 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 usual sanctions as related to Sexual Misconduct.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 of the incident and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.

Part VII: Appeal

  1. Once the outcome letter is complete, each party will have a chance to appeal.
  2. Each party has the right to appeal:
    1. The finding of responsibility.
    2. Sanctions imposed.
  3. All appeals must be received within five (5) business days.
  4. Appeals will be sent directly to the Chief of Staff.
  5. 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.
  6. The Chief of Staff may meet with individuals involved but is not required to unless they deem it necessary.
  7. New information will only be considered if the information was not available at the time of the initial investigation.
  8. The Chief of Staff will make the following determinations:
    1. Was the finding of responsibility correct.
    2. Was the sanction imposed proper and did it meet the goals in Part VI.a.i.
  9. The Chief of Staff may lessen, alter, or dismiss any finding or sanction from the investigators.
  10. 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.
  11. The appeals committee or officer will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within seven (7) business days from hearing of the appeal.
  12. The decision of the Chief of Staff is the final, official decision of the college. There are no more options to appeal after this point.

Examples of Sexual Misconduct Violations

  1. 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 11:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m., Bill uses every line he can think of to convince Amanda to have sex with him, but she adamantly refuses. He keeps at her, 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.

  2. 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 are soon becoming more intimate. They start to make out. Adam verbally expresses his desire to have sex with Beth. Beth, who was abused by a babysitter 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.

  3. 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 dean.

    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. He 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...

  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:

    1. 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.

    2. 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:

      https://publicdocs.maxient.com/reportingform.php?SWMichiganCollege&layout_id=2

      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.