Things to Consider

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 circumstances such as 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 reporting sexual violence can help prevent future acts of sexual violence.

Anonymous Reporting

Any individual may make an anonymous report concerning an act of sexual harassment or misconduct.  An individual may report the incident without disclosing his / her name, identifying the Respondent or requesting any action. Depending on the level of information available about the incident or the individuals involved, however, the College’s ability to respond to an anonymous report may be limited.  Anonymous reports may also be made through EthicsPoint, a service that allows anyone to report suspected misconduct or other issues with complete confidentiality. This service allows the person making the report and College administrators to confer about additional details, while the reporting party's identity remains confidential. All reports will go to the Title IX Coordinator.

Law Enforcement

The College encourages Complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual harassment or misconduct that may also be crimes under Massachusetts law.  In every case of sexual violence, the College, through the Chief of Amherst College Police, will notify the Amherst Police Department of the allegations.  The College will also assist a Complainant in making a criminal report and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies if a Complainant decides to pursue the criminal process to the extent permitted by law.  However, a Complainant may also choose not to pursue criminal action, and under most circumstances, the Amherst Police Department will not force a Complainant to pursue charges if he/she is not willing to do so.

Town of Amherst Police Department | 413-259-3000
District Attorney’s Office | 413-586-9225
Victim’s Witness Program | 413-586-9225

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Interim Measures

Upon receipt of a report, the College will provide interim support and reasonable protective measures to prevent further acts of misconduct, and to provide a safe educational and work environment.  The College will determine the necessity and scope of any interim measures.  Even when a Complainant or Respondent does not specifically request that protective action be taken, the College may choose to impose interim measures at its discretion to ensure the safety of any individual, the broader College community or the integrity of the review process.  The range of interim measures may include no contact directives, changes in class or work schedules, changes in living, interim suspension or other measures as necessary.

Students seeking such assistance should speak with the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, who will coordinate such requests on the behalf of the student.  The College will maintain contact with the parties to ensure that all safety and emotional and physical well-being concerns are being addressed.

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Review, Investigation and Resolution

The College will address all reports of sexual misconduct.  The Title IX team, under the leadership of the Title IX Coordinator, will oversee the College’s Title IX review process.  In every report of sexual misconduct, the College, through a Title IX team member will make an initial assessment of any risk of harm to individuals or to the campus community and will take steps necessary to address those risks.  These steps will include interim measures to provide for the safety of the individual and the campus community.  The College’s responsibility to review and respond to all allegations of misconduct exists regardless of whether that review culminates in additional investigation or goes before a Hearing Board, and exists independently of the criminal justice process.

The Title IX team member may determine if an investigation of the report of sexual misconduct should be conducted.  This determination is based on a variety of factors, such as the Complainant’s wish to pursue disciplinary action, the risk posed to any individual or the campus community by not proceeding, and the nature of the allegation.  The Title IX team member may designate an investigator of its choosing.  Any investigator used by the College, whether internal or external, must have specific training and experience investigating allegations of sexual misconduct.

The investigator will coordinate the gathering of information from the Complainant, the Respondent, and any other individuals who may have information relevant to the determination.  The investigator will also gather any available physical or medical evidence, including documents, communications between parties, and other electronic records as appropriate.  The investigator may also consider prior allegations of, or findings of responsibility for, sexual misconduct by the Respondent.  In gathering such information, the investigator will comply with applicable laws and Amherst College policies.  The investigation will be thorough, impartial and fair, and all individuals will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect.  All College investigations will respect individual privacy concerns.

Information gathered during the investigation will be used to evaluate the responsibility of the Respondent, provide for the safety of the individual and the College campus community, and impose remedies as necessary to address the effects of the alleged conduct.  Any investigative report will serve as the foundation for all related resolution processes.

The investigation and resolution (including appeal) of all reports will generally be completed within 60 to 90 days.  In general, a Complainant and Respondent can expect to receive periodic updates as to the status of the review or investigation.  In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the College will notify all parties of the need for additional time and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner.

Disciplinary Action and Sanctions

If the Hearing Board finds the Respondent responsible for violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy and / or other College policies, the Hearing Board will impose appropriate sanctions by selecting from the range of sanctions outlined in the Student Conduct Process.  Sanctions may be issued individually or in combination with other sanctions.  In determining the appropriate sanction(s), the Hearing Board may consider a number of factors including:  the harm suffered by the Complainant; any ongoing risk to either the Complainant or the community posed by the Respondent; the impact of the violation(s) on the community, its members, or its property; any previous conduct violations; any mitigating or aggravating circumstances; and the information contained in any impact statements submitted by the parties.

Prohibition of Retaliation

It is a violation of College policy to retaliate in any way against an individual or a group because the individual or group of individuals reported an allegation of sexual harassment or misconduct. The College recognizes that retaliation can take many forms, may be committed by an individual or a group against an individual or a group, and that a Respondent can also be the subject of retaliation by the Complainant or a third party.  The College will take immediate and responsive action to any report of retaliation an may pursue disciplinary action as appropriate.

Amnesty

The College encourages reporting and seeks to remove any barriers to reporting by making the procedures for reporting transparent and straightforward.  The College recognizes that an individual who has been drinking or using drugs at the time of the incident may be hesitant to make a report because of potential Honor Code consequences for his / her own conduct.  An individual who reports sexual misconduct, either as a Complainant or a third party witness, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the College for his / her own personal consumption of alcohol or drugs at or near the time of the incident, provided that any such violations did not and do not place the health or safety of any other person at risk.  The College may, however, initiate an educational discussion or pursue other educational remedies regarding alcohol or other drugs.  The amnesty policy applies to the College’s student conduct process.

Bystander Intervention

The College expects all community members to take reasonable and prudent actions to prevent or stop an act of sexual misconduct.  Taking action may include direct intervention, calling law enforcement, or seeking assistance from a person in authority.  Community members who choose to exercise this positive moral obligation will be supported by the College and protected from retaliation.

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 exists regardless of the specific role the suspected offender occupies 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 DCF at 1-800-792-5200 or http://www. mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/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 reports of sexual misconduct 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. 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 or 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.