Things to Consider

Student Handbook—the Full Policy

Sometimes a student may wish to report an incident of sexual misconduct without pursuing disciplinary or legal action. The college will seek to respect the wishes of the student when possible, recognizing that the college has a legal obligation to review all reports of sexual misconduct. Even if a student does not want to proceed, the college may choose to proceed under limited circumstances. Depending on the severity of the event, the respective ages and roles of the parties, whether there have been prior complaints against the accused, and right of the accused to be informed of the allegations against him/her, the college may determine it is necessary to proceed with a disciplinary response or implement other appropriate remedies. In such cases, the college will notify and support the original student complainant.

Students are urged to keep in mind that an assailant who is allowed to go unpursued is a potential future danger, not only to the initial victim but also to other members of the community.

Anonymous Reporting

If you wish to report information concerning an act of sexual misconduct anonymously, you may do so. The college’s ability to respond, however, may be limited in these circumstances.

Law Enforcement

Except in emergency situations, it will be your choice whether to report an incident of sexual misconduct to local law enforcement. If you choose to do so, the Amherst College Police Department will support and assist you. Notifying local law enforcement will generally result in your being contacted by a police officer. The police department determines if a criminal investigation will occur and if the case will be referred for prosecution. A case not referred for criminal prosecution will still be investigated by the college.

Town of Amherst Police Department: (413) 259-3000

District Attorney's Office: (413) 586-9225

Victim's Witness Program: (413) 586-9225

Accessible (through the District Attorney's Office) to victims of rape or sexual assault who are going through the court process.

Interim Measures

Upon receipt of a report, the college will take interim measures to protect the parties involved. These may include counseling, no contact directives, changes in class or work schedules, changes in housing, interim suspension, or other measures as necessary.

Students who request assistance in changing their academic or living situation after an incident of sexual assault will receive appropriate and reasonably available accommodations. Students seeking academic assistance or changes in their housing should speak with the Title IX Coordinator, who will coordinate such requests on the behalf of the student.

Review, Investigation and Resolution

The college will take immediate action in all allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct to protect the safety of the community and of individuals involved. Whenever the college is informed of allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct, efforts will be made to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and address the effects. In general, the college, after consultation with the complainant, will pursue a thorough review or investigation.

Disciplinary Action and Sanctions

The college may impose the full range of sanctions, up to and including expulsion, on students who are found responsible for committing an act of sexual misconduct. Students who are considering bringing such complaints should speak with the Dean of Student Conduct in the Dean of Students’ Office and should review the Student Conduct Process in the Student Handbook.

As specified in the Student Handbook, in cases involving charges of sexual misconduct, as in all cases brought to a hearing before the Committee on Discipline, both the complainant and respondent are entitled to bring with them one member of the college community as an advisor, and both students will be notified of the outcome of the campus hearing process. 

Prohibition of Retaliation

It is a violation of college policy to retaliate in any way against a student because he or she raised allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct. The college will take immediate and responsive action to any report of retaliation. Students are encouraged to access Amherst College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy Definitions in Appendix D of the Student Handbook for more information.

Leniency for reporters, witnesses or complainants

The college encourages reporting of incidents of sexual misconduct. Sometimes, reporters, witnesses or complainants are hesitant to make reports because they fear that they may be charged with violations of the Honor Code, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. To encourage reporting of sexual misconduct incidents, the college will exercise leniency towards a reporter, witness or complainant with respect to taking action for other violations of the Honor Code.

reports involving minors

Amherst College is committed to the prevention of child abuse and encourages reporting of suspected child abuse by all Amherst community members. Amherst students, staff or faculty may interact with minors on campus or through Amherst programs in the community. Under Massachusetts law, educators or other professionals who work with minors are considered mandatory reporters. This means that Amherst employees must report if there is reasonable cause to believe that a child (under 18 years of age) is suffering physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse, including sexual abuse, which causes harm or substantial risk of harm to the child's health or welfare. Reasonable cause to believe that a child is suffering harm or substantial risk of harm may be based on information shared with the employee by the child or any other individual; or the employee's own observations or knowledge.

Child abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect. Child abuse may be committed by any individual, including an employee, volunteer, parent, caregiver or other party in the child's life. The duty to report is triggered by reasonable suspicion or belief. There is no requirement that an employee have actual evidence of abuse, nor should an employee seek to investigate the matter himself/herself. For Amherst employees, failure to report suspected child abuse is a crime and may constitute grounds for discipline, including termination.

All Amherst employees are directed to bring all suspicions or beliefs to the immediate attention of the Amherst College Police Department or the Title IX Coordinator, who will then make the appropriate external report to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). Any Amherst community member may also make a direct report to the DCF at 1-800-792-5200 and http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/dpartments/dcf/. The notification to DCF should be made immediately. Immediate reports may be made in-person, by telephone or by e-mail, and should be followed up within 24 hours by completing a written incident report.

Clery Reporting

The college is required to document all such reports to satisfy the college’s obligation to report statistics of crime on campus consistent with the Clery Act. No personally identifiable information about the complainant will be shared for the purpose of maintaining these statistics; therefore, identities and specific fact patterns will remain anonymous.

If a report of misconduct discloses an immediate threat to the College campus community, where timely notice must be given to protect the health and safety of the community, the college may not be able to maintain the same level of confidentiality. Immediately threatening circumstances include, but are not limited to, reported incidents of sexual misconduct that include the use of force, a weapon, or other circumstances that represent a serious and ongoing threat to the College students, faculty, administrators, staff or visitors.