The Statement on Respect for Persons voted on by the faculty can be found in the Faculty Handbook.
3.1. Purpose And Scope of Policy
3.1.1. Statement of Institutional Values
Sexual misconduct of any form is a violation of a person’s rights, dignity and integrity. An act of sexual misconduct represents a fundamental failure by a community member to recognize and to respect the intrinsic worth and dignity of another. Acts of sexual misconduct are harmful and will not be tolerated at Amherst College. Such acts corrupt the integrity of the educational process, are contrary to the mission and values of the Amherst College community and are against College policy.
All members of the Amherst College community should be free from sexual misconduct in the classroom; the social, recreational and residential environment; and the workplace. The College seeks to foster a climate free from sexual misconduct through a coordinated education and prevention program and the promulgation of clear and effective policies, as well as investigative and grievance procedures that are prompt, equitable and accessible to all. In response to any reported sexual misconduct, the College will take all appropriate steps to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.
In order to foster a climate of respect for oneself and for one another and provide for the safety and security of our community, the College expects all community members to take action to prevent acts of sexual misconduct. Creating a safe campus environment is the responsibility of all members of the College community, both individually and collectively.
In order to foster a climate that encourages reporting of sexual misconduct, the College will actively educate the community, will respond to all allegations promptly, will provide interim measures to address safety, emotional well-being and academic needs and will act in a manner that recognizes the inherent dignity of the individuals involved.
In order to achieve equitable results, the College will carefully review and/or investigate all reports with an earnest intent to understand the perspective and experiences of each individual involved and provide for fair and impartial evaluation and resolution.
3.1.2. Purpose of Policy
The purpose of this policy is to provide the Amherst College community with a clearly articulated set of behavioral standards, common understandings of definitions and key concepts and descriptions of prohibited conduct. The policy applies to all community members, including students, faculty and staff, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is intended to protect and guide students, faculty, staff and visitors who have been affected by sexual misconduct, whether as a Complainant, a Respondent or a third party.
When used in this policy, “Complainant” refers to the individual who believes themselves to have been the subject of sexual misconduct. “Respondent” refers to the individual who has been accused of sexual misconduct. “Third party” refers to any other participant in the process, including a witness to the incident or an individual who makes a report on behalf of someone else. “Report” refers to any incident or concern regarding sexual misconduct that is disclosed to the Title IX Coordinator, one of the Deputy Title IX Coordinators or any other College employee as identified in Section VI: Reporting. A “complaint” is an allegation of sexual misconduct filed against a faculty or staff member, student or visitor that initiates the appropriate disciplinary process.
In addition to defining sexual harassment and the forms of sexual misconduct that violate the standards of our community, this policy will also
1. Identify resources and support for all members of the College community
2. Identify the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators and their roles
3. Provide information about where a College community member can obtain support or access confidential resources
4. Provide information about how a College community member can make a report on campus or off campus, and
5. Provide information about how a report against a College community member will be investigated, evaluated and resolved.
As stated above, this policy applies to all members of the Amherst College community, including students, employees, visitors and independent contractors, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. When used in this policy, “employee” generally refers to both staff and faculty members, although there are separate complaint processes delineated for non-faculty employees and for faculty members. Vendors, independent contractors, visitors and others who conduct business with the College or on College property are also expected to comply with this policy.
All College community members are responsible for their actions and behavior, whether the conduct in question occurs on campus or in another location. Members of the Amherst College community have a responsibility to adhere to College policies and local, state and federal law.
As a result, this policy applies both to on-campus and off-campus conduct. In particular, off-campus behaviors that have an actual or potential adverse impact on any member of the College community or the College fall under this policy.
Amherst College has joined with Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to form the Five Colleges. Amherst College students, when studying or visiting on the campus of one of the Five Colleges, riding a Five Colleges bus or attending a College-related event for one of the Five Colleges, will be subject to Amherst policies as well as the policies of the visited institution. The student conduct adjudication procedures of the institution at which the accused student is enrolled shall govern. Five-College students, including Amherst College students, who wish to report concerning behavior that occurs at an institution other than their home campus may do so by contacting the Title IX Office at either: 1) their home instution; or 2) the institution where either: a) the behavior occurred or b) where the alleged perpetrator of the concerning conduct is enrolled. As appropriate, the Amherst Title IX Office will coordinate with another institution in support of any persons affected by reported sexual misconduct.
Any individual may make a report alleging a violation of this policy. The College will provide resource options and respond promptly and equitably to all allegations of sexual misconduct. The College will engage in a Title IX review throughout which it is committed to maintaining fairness for all parties and to balancing the needs and interests of the individuals involved with the safety of the community as a whole.
3.1.4. Coordination with Non-Discrimination
The College recognizes that harassment related to an individual’s actual or perceived sex or gender (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity)can occur in conjunction with misconduct related to an individual’s actual or perceived identity regarding their race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, disability, genetic information, military service or any other characteristic or class protected under applicable federal, state or local law. Targeting individuals on the basis of these, and other, identities may constitute violations of the College’s community standards, in addition to the Sexual Misconduct Policy. When reports of sexual misconduct include allegations that community members may have been targeted for or subjected to misconduct because of their actual or perceived identity regarding their race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, disability, genetic information, military service or any other characteristic or class protected under applicable federal, state or local law, the College will coordinate the investigation and resolution efforts (see Section 13, The Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Process) to address harassment related to the targeted individual’s actual or perceived sex or gender (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity) together with the conduct related to the targeted individual’s actual or perceived identity regarding their race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion age, disability, genetic information, military service or any other characteristic or class protected under applicable federal, state or local law.
3.2. Notice of Non-Discrimination
The College is committed to establishing and maintaining an environment free of all forms of harassment and discrimination for all College community members. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, religion or any other protected class.
The College does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational, extracurricular, athletic or other programs or in the context of employment. Sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment as defined in this policy, is a form of sex discrimination that unjustly deprives a person of equal treatment. It is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that provides that:
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.
Sexual harassment is also prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 151B and other applicable statutes.
This policy prohibits sexual misconduct against all Amherst community members of any gender or sexual orientation. This policy also prohibits gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
3.3. College Statement on Privacy
The College is committed to maintaining the privacy of all individuals involved in a report of sexual misconduct. In any Title IX review of an allegation of sexual misconduct, every effort will be made to protect the privacy and interests of the individuals involved in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review of the allegation. Such a review is essential to protecting the safety of the Complainant, the Respondent and the broader campus community and to maintaining an environment free from sexual discrimination.
At all times, the privacy of the parties will be respected and safeguarded. Information related to a report of misconduct will be shared only with those College employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the review and/or investigation and resolution of the complaint. Students or employees wishing to obtain confidential assistance through on-campus or off-campus resources without making a report to the College may do so by speaking with professionals who are obligated by law to, or have been identified by the College as persons who may, maintain confidentiality. These professionals are identified in the Resources section of this policy.
When the College has received a report of sexual misconduct, but the Complainant requests that their identity remain confidential or that the College not pursue an investigation, the College will balance this request with its responsibility to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all College community members. The College will take all reasonable steps to review and respond to the report consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation (see Section 3.8.5, Request for Confidentiality). In doing so, the College may take steps to limit the effects of the alleged sexual misconduct and prevent its recurrence without initiating formal action. Examples include: providing increased monitoring, supervision or security at locations or activities where the misconduct occurred; providing training and education materials for students and employees; revising and publicizing the school’s policies on sexual misconduct; and conducting climate surveys regarding sexual misconduct. At all times, the College will seek to respect the request of the Complainant, and where it cannot do so, the College will consult with the Complainant and keep them informed about the chosen course of action.
If a report of misconduct discloses an immediate threat to the College campus community, the College may issue a timely notice of the conduct to the community to protect the health or safety of the broader campus community. This notice will not contain any biographical or other identifying information. Immediately threatening circumstances include, but are not limited to, reported incidents of recently occurring sexual misconduct that include the use of force, a weapon or other circumstances that represent a serious and ongoing threat to College students, faculty, administrators, staff or visitors. All resolution proceedings are conducted in compliance with the requirements of FERPA, the Clery Act, Title IX and College policy. No information shall be released from such proceedings except as required or permitted by law or College policy.
3.4. Prohibited Conduct and Definitions
The College prohibits sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, cyber-stalking, bullying and cyber-bullying and aiding or facilitating the commission of a violation and retaliation.
Consistent with the values of an educational and employment environment free from harassment based on sex, the College also prohibits gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression, intimidation or hostility based on gender or gender-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
3.4.1. Definition of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
• Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, evaluation of academic work or participation in social or extracurricular activities
• Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual, or
• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning or sexually offensive working, academic or social environment. The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of a Complainant.
A single or isolated incident of sexual harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to provide a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical.
3.4.2. Forms of Prohibited Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is prohibited. In some cases, sexual harassment is obvious and may involve an overt action, a threat or reprisal. In other instances, sexual harassment is subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated.
Sexual harassment can take many forms:
• It can occur between equals (e.g. student to student, staff to staff, faculty member to faculty member, visitor/contracted employee to staff) or between persons of unequal power status (e.g. supervisor to subordinate, faculty member to student, coach to student-athlete, student leader to first-year student). Although sexual harassment often occurs in the context of an exploitation of power by the individual with the greater power, a person who appears to have less power in a relationship can also commit sexual harassment (e.g. student harassing faculty member).
• It can be committed by an individual or may be a result of the collective actions of an organization or group.
• It can be committed against an individual, an organization or a group.
• It can be committed by an acquaintance, a stranger or someone with whom the Complainant has a personal, intimate or sexual relationship.
• It can occur by or against an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
• It does NOT have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target or involve repeated incidents.
Examples of behavior that might be considered misconduct include, but are not limited to:
• Unwanted or inappropriate sexual innuendo, propositions, sexual attention or suggestive comments and gestures; humor and jokes about sex or gender-specific traits; sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality or gender; insults and threats based on sex or gender; and other oral, written or electronic communications of a sexual nature that an individual communicates is unwanted and unwelcome
• Written graffiti or the display or distribution of sexually explicit drawings, pictures or written materials; sexually charged name-calling; sexual rumors or ratings of sexual activity/performance; the circulation, display or creation of emails or websites of a sexual nature
• Non-academic display or circulation of written materials or pictures degrading to one or more individuals or gender group
• Inappropriate or unwelcome physical contact or suggestive body language, such as touching, patting, pinching, hugging, kissing or brushing against an individual’s body
• Undue and unwanted attention, such as repeated inappropriate flirting, inappropriate or repetitive compliments about clothing or physical attributes, staring, or making sexually oriented gestures
• Physical coercion or pressure of an individual to engage in sexual activity or punishment for a refusal to respond or comply with sexual advances
• Change of academic or employment responsibilities (increase in difficulty or decrease of responsibility) based on sex, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation
• Use of a position of power or authority to (1) threaten or punish, either directly or by implication, for refusing to tolerate harassment, for refusing to submit to sexual activity or for reporting harassment or (2) promise rewards in return for sexual favors
• Sexual assault and rape
• Abusive, disruptive or harassing behavior, verbal or physical, which endangers another’s mental or physical health, including, but not limited to, threats, acts of violence or assault based on gender and/or in the context of intimate partner violence
• Demeaning verbal or other expressive behavior of a sexual or gendered nature in instructional settings, and
• Acts of verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression, intimidation or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping. Harassment for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for one’s sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or target.
3.4.3. Additional Definitions of Prohibited Sex- / Gender-Based Conduct
Sexual misconduct may vary in its severity and consists of a range of behaviors. The following descriptions represent behaviors that violate Amherst College’s community standards and a person’s rights, dignity, and integrity.
Sexual Violence: Physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. This includes rape, sexual assault, battery and sexual coercion. Sexual violence may involve individuals who are known to one another or have an intimate and/or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals not known to one another. Examples include, but are not limited to
• Having or attempting to have sexual intercourse with another individual without consent. Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part or object or oral copulation by mouth-to- genital contact.
• Having or attempting to have sexual contact with another individual without consent. Sexual contact includes kissing, touching the intimate parts of another, causing the other to touch one’s intimate parts or disrobing of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, mouth or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner.
Domestic Violence: An act of violence committed by: 1) a) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; b) a person with whom the victim shares a child; and/or c) with whom the victim cohabitates; or 2) a person considered similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A Section 1 defines Domestic Violence as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:
• attempting to cause or causing physical harm
• placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm
• causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress
“Family or household members” are persons who:
• are or were married to one another
• are or were residing together in the same household
• are or were related by blood or marriage
• have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together, or
• are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship.
Dating Violence: Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.
Sexual Exploitation: An act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage or any other non-legitimate purpose. Sexual exploitation may involve individuals who are known to one another, have an intimate or sexual relationship and/or individuals not known to one another. Examples include, but are not limited to:
• Observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved
• Non-consensual streaming of images, photography, video or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved
• Prostituting another individual
• Knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without their knowledge, and
• Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.
Stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. This includes cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which electronic media such as the Internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts or other similar devices or forms of contact are used to pursue, harass or make unwelcome contact with another person. Stalking and cyber-stalking may involve individuals who are known to one another or have an intimate or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals not known to one another.
Aiding or Facilitating: Aiding, facilitating, promoting or encouraging the commission of a violation under this policy. Aiding or facilitating may also include failing to take action to prevent an imminent act when it is reasonably prudent and safe to do so. Taking action may include directly intervening, calling Amherst College Police or local law enforcement or seeking assistance from a person in authority.
Intimidation: Placing another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through: 1) the use of threatening words and/or other conduct or 2) subjecting the person to actual physical attack.
Retaliation: Acts or attempts to retaliate or seek retribution against the Complainant, Respondent or any individual or group of individuals involved in the investigation and/or resolution of an allegation of sexual misconduct. Retaliation can be committed by any individual or group of individuals, not just a Respondent or Complainant. Retaliation may include continued abuse or violence, other forms of harassment, slander and libel. Retaliation does not include reports and/or complaints of Sexual Misconduct that are made in good faith.
3.4.4. Statement on Consent, Coercion, Incapacitation, and Alcohol
Consent to engage in sexual activity must be knowing and voluntary. Consent to engage in sexual activity must exist from the beginning to end of each instance of sexual activity and for each form of sexual contact. Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact. For example, an individual may agree to kiss but choose not to engage in touching of the intimate parts or sexual intercourse. An individual should obtain consent before moving from one act to another.
Consent consists of an outward demonstration indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual activity. Consent is demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or actions that clearly indicate a willingness to engage freely in sexual activity. A physiological manifestation of arousal does not constitute consent. Relying on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response alone. A person who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. In the absence of an outward demonstration, consent does not exist. If at any time it is reasonably apparent that either party is hesitant, confused or uncertain, both parties should stop and obtain mutual verbal consent before continuing sexual activity.
A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates willingness to engage in sexual activity each time such activity occurs. Consent to previous sexual activity does not constitute consent in the future. Consent must be obtained each time.
Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another. Each person must obtain individual consent.
Consent may be withdrawn by either party at any time. Withdrawal of consent must also be outwardly demonstrated by words or actions that clearly indicate a desire to end sexual activity. Once withdrawal of consent has been expressed, sexual activity must cease.
In the state of Massachusetts, consent can never be given by minors under the age of 16.
Consent is not effective if it results from the use or threat of physical force, intimidation or coercion, or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his or her own free will to choose whether or not to have sexual contact. Coercion includes the use of pressure and/or oppressive behavior, including express or implied threats of harm and/or severe and/or pervasive emotional intimidation, which places an individual in fear of immediate or future harm or physical injury or causes a person to engage in unwelcome sexual activity. A person’s words or conduct amount to coercion if they wrongfully impair the other’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity.
An individual who is incapacitated is not able to make rational, reasonable judgments and therefore is incapable of giving consent. Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless due to drug or alcohol consumption, either voluntarily or involuntarily, or the individual is unconscious, asleep or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. In addition, an individual is incapacitated if the individual demonstrates that they are unaware of where they are, how they got there or why or how they became engaged in a sexual interaction. Where alcohol is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. Some indicators of incapacitation may include, but are not limited to, lack of control over physical movements, lack of awareness of circumstances or surroundings or the inability to communicate for any reason. An individual may experience a blackout state in which they appear to be giving consent but does not actually have conscious awareness or the ability to consent. It is especially important, therefore, that anyone engaging in sexual activity be aware of the other person’s level of intoxication due to alcohol and/or drug use. The relevant standard that will be applied is whether the Respondent knew, or a sober reasonable person in the same position should have known, that the other party was incapacitated and therefore could not consent to the sexual activity.
The College considers sexual contact while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to be risky behavior. Alcohol and drug use impairs a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of the consequences and ability to make informed judgments. Being intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol is never an excuse for sexual misconduct and does not excuse one from the responsibility to obtain consent.
The College is committed to treating all individuals with dignity, care and respect. Any individual affected by sexual misconduct, whether as a Complainant, a Respondent or a third party, will have equal access to support and counseling services through the College. The College recognizes that any individual may have questions and we encourage Amherst community members to seek the support of campus and community resources. The College can provide guidance in making decisions, obtaining information about available resources and assisting either party in the event that a report and/or resolution is pursued. Individuals are encouraged to use all available resources, regardless of whether the incident occurred recently or in the past.
Complainants, Respondents, and third parties can expect:
• The opportunity to meet with the Title IX or Deputy Title IX Coordinator or another member of the Title IX Office to answer questions regarding the College’s policies and processes related to sexual misconduct.
• Notice of confidential resources, including health care and mental health counseling services, on campus and in the local community.
• Notice of the option to pursue law enforcement action and to be assisted by Amherst College Police or other College officials in accessing and communicating with such authorities. This notice will include a discussion of the importance of the preservation of evidence.
• The opportunity to request that the College take steps to prevent unnecessary or unwelcome contact or communication with another member of the Amherst community.
• The right to be free from retaliation. Any concerns of retaliatory behavior should be immediately reported to Amherst College Police and/or the Title IX Office.
3.5.2. Confidential Resources and Support
The College encourages all Amherst community members to report an incident of sexual misconduct. The College recognizes, however, that there are many barriers to reporting, both individual and societal, and not every individual will choose to report to the College or local law enforcement. For those individuals who are not prepared to make a report, there are several confidential resources available for students, staff and faculty. Individuals seeking to talk to someone about an incident of sexual misconduct in a confidential manner without making a report to the College or triggering a review by the College may utilize the following confidential medical, mental health and clerical resources. These resources are prohibited, either by state law or College policy from releasing an individual’s information without that individual’s express consent (except under limited circumstances that pose an imminent danger to the individual or to others.) The following resources are confidential:
3.5.3. On-Campus Resources
In addition to the confidential resources listed above, all Amherst community members have access to a variety of resources provided by the College that can provide crisis intervention services, counseling, academic support and medical services. All of the staff and faculty listed below are trained to support individuals affected by sexual misconduct and to coordinate with the Title IX Coordinator consistent with the College’s commitment to a safe and healthy educational environment. While not bound by confidentiality, these resources will nevertheless maintain the privacy of an individual’s information within the limited circle of those involved in the Title IX resolution process.
Amherst College Police Department
ACPD is available 24 hours a day.
Office of Student Affairs/Administrator on Call
Available during regular office hours and can assist with academic concerns, changes in housing or other modifications and referrals to other resources. An Administrator-on-Call is also available 24 hours a day by calling Amherst College Police at (413) 542–2111.
Title IX Coordinator
Available during regular office hours for any questions about Title IX at Amherst.
Title IX Deputy Coordinators
Available during regular office hours.
• Dean Gendron (students)
• Amanda Collings Vann (students)
•Jennifer Hughes (athletics)
• Catherine Epstein (faculty)
• Maria-Judith Rodriguez (staff, administration, and visitors)
RCs are students living in the residence halls that are employed by Residential Life and trained to refer students to campus resources. RCs are mandated reporters.
Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect
The Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect are students who receive intensive training and on-going supervision to act as an educational resource and referral source for students who are in need of support on issues of sexuality, relationships, trauma, violence, and sexual respect or misconduct.
3.5.4. Community Resources
Students, faculty and staff may also access resources located in the local community. These organizations can provide crisis intervention services, counseling, medical attention and assistance in interfacing with the criminal justice system. All individuals are encouraged to utilize the resources that are the best suited to their needs, whether on or off campus. A list of resources in the local community is provided in Section 3.5.2.
All College employees, including faculty, staff and administrators, certain student employees and certain student volunteers are required to share with the Title IX Office information they learn that gives them reason to believe that an Amherst College community member has been affected by sexual misconduct.
Resident Counselors and volunteers have the responsibility to report – to the Title IX Office – information regarding sexual misconduct of which they become aware at any time.
Students also have the responsibility to report – to a member of the Title IX Office – instances of sexual misconduct of which they become aware while acting in the following roles:
• Student Security Monitors
• Orientation Leaders
• Community Engagement Orientation Trip (CEOT) Leaders
• First-Year Orientation Trips (FOOT) Leaders
All Amherst community members, even those who are not obligated by this policy, are strongly encouraged to report information regarding any incident of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Office.
The Title IX team, working with the Title IX Coordinator, will ensure that the College responds to all reports in a timely, effective and consistent manner. The Title IX team is led by the Title IX Coordinator and consists of a small group of administrators, including: the Deputy Title IX Coordinator(s) for students; a representative of the Office of Student Affairs; the Amherst College Chief of Police; and others as may be necessary. The team is charged with the review and resolution of all reports to ensure consistent responsiveness and the integrated provision of interim measures to support individuals and to protect the campus community. It is only through this consistent and informed response that we create a culture of accountability and break the culture of silence. The Title IX team is positioned to provide seamless support, to assess campus safety and to effectively respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.
The College will promptly and thoroughly review and respond to all reports of sexual misconduct. The College will respond to all reports in an integrated, consistent manner that treats each individual with dignity and respect. The College will approach each report with an earnest intent to understand the perspective and experiences of each individual involved in order to ensure fair and impartial evaluation and resolution.
The College is committed to providing a variety of welcoming and accessible means so that all instances of sexual misconduct can be reported. The College also recognizes that the decision whether or not to report sexual misconduct is personal and that there are many barriers to reporting, both individual and societal. Not every individual will be prepared to make a report to the College or to law enforcement, and individuals are not expected or required to pursue a specific course of action.
An incident does not have to occur on campus to be reported to the College. Off-campus conduct that adversely affects the College or the Amherst community also falls under this policy.
An individual does not have to decide whether or not to request disciplinary action at the time the report is made. The College recognizes that choosing to make a report, and deciding how to proceed after making the report, can be a process that unfolds over time. The College will respect an individual’s autonomy in making these important decisions and provide support that will assist each individual in making that determination.
As outlined in the Resources section of this policy, there are confidential resources on campus and in the community available to individuals not wishing to make a report to the College. Information shared with these confidential resources will not be reported to the College.
As outlined in the College Statement on Privacy, the College respects the privacy interests of students, faculty and staff. All information reported will be shared only with those college employees who will assist in the investigation and/or resolution of the complaint.
3.6.1. Emergency/Immediate Reporting Options
The College encourages all individuals to seek assistance from a medical provider and/or law enforcement immediately after an incident of sexual misconduct. This is the best option to ensure preservation of evidence and to begin a timely investigative and remedial response. The College will assist any Amherst community member to get to a safe place and will provide transportation to the hospital, coordination with law enforcement, and information about the College’s resources and complaint processes.
Assistance is available from the College 24 hours a day year-round by calling the Amherst College Police. Any individual can request that a member of the Amherst College Police respond and take a report, or request to speak with an Administrator on Call or a member of the Counseling Center. There is no requirement that an individual file an incident report with the Amherst College Police in order to speak with an Administrator on Call or a member of the Counseling Center.
A medical provider can provide emergency and/or follow-up medical services, and the ability to discuss any health care concerns related to the incident in a confidential medical setting may bring peace of mind. The medical exam has two goals: first, to diagnose and treat the full extent of any injury or physical effect (e.g. sexually transmitted infection or the possibility of becoming pregnant) and second, if qualified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, to properly collect and preserve evidence. There is a limited window of time (typically 72 to 96 hours) following an incident of sexual assault to preserve physical and other forms of evidence. Taking the step to gather evidence immediately does not commit an individual to any course of action. The decision to seek medical attention and gather any evidence will remain confidential and may assist in the preservation of the full range of options to seek resolution through the College’s complaint processes or through the pursuit of criminal action. The College encourages victims to obtain medical attention promptly after an assault.
- Amherst College Police Department
- Amherst (Town) Police Department
Health and Safety
- Amherst College Health Services
- Cooley Dickinson Hospital
3.6.2. Campus Reporting Options
The College recognizes that a student or employee may choose to disclose sexual misconduct to any trusted employee of the College. For example, a student may choose to confide in a Resident Counselor, a faculty member or a coach, all of whom are considered “mandatory reporters.” Under this policy, mandatory reporters must share the disclosed information to the Title IX Office. An employee may choose to confide in a supervisor, also considered a “mandatory reporter.” Under this policy, any employee (who has not been designated as confidential) who receives a disclosure of sexual misconduct must share the report with the Title IX Office.
To enable the College to respond to all reports in a prompt and equitable manner, the College encourages all individuals to directly report any incident of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Office.
3.6.3. Anonymous Reporting
Any individual may make an anonymous report concerning an act of sexual 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 be made by telephone at (888) 497–1022 or online at www.amherst.ethicspoint.com. EthicsPoint is 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 anonymous. All reports will go to the Title IX Coordinator.
3.6.4. Reporting Patterns of Sexual Misconduct
In the event that an individual believes that they may be experiencing behavior that points to a pattern of sexual misconduct, he or she should document that behavior and report it to the Title IX Office.
3.6.5. Time Frame for Reporting
Individuals are encouraged to report sexual misconduct immediately in order to maximize the College’s ability to respond promptly and equitably. The College does not, however, limit the time-frame for reporting. Adjudication processes are not available for individuals who are no longer associated with the College. Regardless of the status of the alleged perpetrator, however, the College will conduct a Title IX review and take appropriate steps depending on the level of control (if any) the College has over the alleged perpetrator.
3.6.6. Coordination with Law Enforcement
The College encourages Complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual misconduct that may also be crimes under Massachusetts law. The College can assist a Complainant in making a criminal report, either with the Amherst College Police Department or the Town of Amherst Police Department. The College will, to the extent permitted by law, cooperate with law enforcement agencies if a Complainant decides to pursue the criminal process. However, a Complainant may also choose not to pursue criminal action, and under most circumstances, the Amherst College Police Department will not force a Complainant to pursue charges if they are not willing to do so.
3.6.7. Amnesty for Students Who Report Sexual Misconduct
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 Student Code of Conduct consequences for their own conduct. An individual who reports sexual misconduct, either as a Complainant or as a third-party witness, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the College for their 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 Community Standards Adjudication Process.
3.6.8. Bystander Intervention
The College encourages all community members to take reasonable and prudent actions to prevent or stop an act of sexual misconduct. Taking action may include direct intervention, creating a distraction or delegating: calling law enforcement or seeking assistance from a person in authority.
3.6.9. Statement Against 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 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 and may pursue disciplinary action as appropriate. An individual reporting sexual misconduct is entitled to protection from any form of retaliation following a report that is made in good faith, even if the report is later not proven.
3.7. 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 person involved with the Title IX process 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.
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.
All individuals are encouraged to report concerns about the failure of another individual to abide by any restrictions imposed by an interim measure. The College will take immediate and responsive action to enforce measures previously ordered or implemented by the College.
The College may impose any remedy that can be tailored to the involved parties to achieve the goals of this policy, even if not specifically listed here. The range of interim measures may include:
No-Communication and Restricted Proximity Order (NCRPO): A student may request, or the College may impose, communication and contact restrictions to prevent further potentially harmful interaction. These communication and contact restrictions generally preclude in-person, telephone, electronic or third-party communications. In some cases, an individual may also wish to consider an Abuse Prevention Order or a Harassment Prevention Order, either of which can be obtained from the local courts through a civil proceeding that is independent of the College. If a court order is issued the College will, to the extent possible, assist the protected person in benefiting from the restrictions imposed by the court and will also facilitate on campus compliance with the order. The College may also limit an individual or organization’s access to certain College facilities or activities as part of the NCRPO.
Academic, Employment, or Residence Modifications: An individual involved with the Title IX process may request an academic or employment modifications or a change in residence after a report of sexual misconduct. An individual who requests assistance in changing their academic or living situation will receive appropriate and reasonably available modifications. These may include:
• Academic modifications, including a change in class schedule, taking an incomplete, dropping a course without penalty, attending a class via Skype or other alternative means, providing an academic tutor or extending deadlines for assignments
• Change of dormitory assignment
• Change in work assignment or schedule, or
• Providing an escort to ensure safe movement between classes and activities.
Emotional Support: The College will provide counseling services through the Counseling Center or will assist in providing a referral to off-campus agencies as detailed in the Campus Resources and Community Resources sections of this policy. Counseling and emotional support is available to any member of the campus community.
Interim Separation: Where the report of sexual misconduct poses an ongoing risk of harm to the safety or well-being of an individual or members of the campus community, the College may place an individual or organization on interim suspension or impose leave for an employee. Pending resolution of the complaint, the individual or organization may be denied access to campus. When interim suspension or leave is imposed, the College will make reasonable efforts to complete the investigation and resolution within an expedited time frame.
3.8. Title IX Review
3.8.1. Role of the Title IX Coordinator
The Title IX Coordinator oversees the College’s centralized review, investigation and resolution process for reports of sexual misconduct and coordinates the College’s compliance with Title IX. The Title IX Coordinator is supported by several College administrators who serve as Deputy Title IX Coordinators.
The Title IX and Deputy Title IX coordinators can be contacted by telephone, by email or in person during regular office hours. For a comprehensive list, see here.
The duties and responsibilities of the Title IX and Deputy Title IX Coordinators include training, education and climate checks as well as the oversight of procedures that promptly and equitably eliminate sexual harassment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects on individuals and our community. The Title IX and Deputy Title IX Coordinators will:
• Oversee the investigation and resolution of all reports of sexual misconduct
• Meet with any individual, whether a Complainant, a Respondent or a third party, to discuss interim measures, resources and procedural on and off campus
• Ensure prompt and equitable resolutions that comply with all requirements and time-frames specified in the complaint procedures
• Conduct ongoing and regular climate checks, tracking and monitoring of sexual misconduct allegations on campus, and
• Coordinate all training, education and prevention efforts.
3.8.2. Role of the Title IX Team
While a report may emerge through many sources, the College is committed to ensuring that all reports are brought to the College’s Title IX team. This interdepartmental team, led by the Title IX Coordinator, ensures consistent application of the policy to all individuals and allows the College to respond promptly and equitably to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence and address its effects. The Title IX team coordinates the review and resolution of the report and ensures that all appropriate interim measures are implemented. Members of the Title IX team include the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinator(s) for students, a representative from the Office of Students Affairs, the Amherst College Chief of Police and others as may be necessary.
College policy requires that any employee who receives a report of sexual misconduct bring the report to the Title IX Coordinator or a member of the Title IX team.
The Title IX team oversees the resolution of reported misconduct through the College’s complaint processes. The process will be determined by the role of the Respondent:
• Complaints against students will be resolved by the Student Complaint Process.
• Complaints against employees will be resolved by the Employee Complaint Process.
• Complaints against faculty will be resolved by the Faculty Complaint Process.
Each process is guided by the same principles of fairness and respect for all parties. Resources are available for both students and employees, whether as Complainants or Respondents, to provide guidance throughout the investigation and resolution of the complaint.
3.8.3. Initial Assessment
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 the Chief of College Police and the Title IX Coordinator, 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 Coordinator 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 Coordinator may designate an investigator of their 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 the 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.
As described in the College Statement on Privacy section, all College investigations will respect individual privacy concerns.
Information gathered during the investigation may be used to evaluate the responsibility of the Respondent, to provide for the safety of the individual and the College campus community and to 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.
3.8.5. Request for Confidentiality
Where the College has received a report of sexual misconduct, but the Complainant requests that his/her identity remain confidential or that the College not pursue an investigation, the College must balance this request in the context of its responsibility to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all college community members, including the Complainant. The College will take all reasonable steps to review and to respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation, but its ability to review may be limited by the request for confidentiality. Although rare, there are times when the College may not be able to honor a Complainant’s request in order to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all students. The College has designated its Title IX Coordinator as the individual responsible for evaluating requests for confidentiality.
When weighing a Complainant’s request for confidentiality or that no investigation or discipline be pursued, the Title IX Coordinator will consider a range of factors, including the following:
• The increased risk that the Respondent will commit additional acts of sexual misconduct, such as:
• Whether there have been other reports of sexual misconduct against the same Respondent
• Whether the Respondent has a history of arrests or records from a prior school indicating a history of violence
• Whether the Respondent threatened further sexual misconduct or other violence against the Complainant or others
• Whether the sexual misconduct was committed by multiple Respondents
• Whether the sexual misconduct involved the use of a weapon
• Whether the Complainant is under 18 years of age
• Whether the College possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence of the sexual misconduct (e.g. security cameras, physical evidence), and
• Whether the Complainant’s report reveals a pattern of sexual misconduct (e.g. via illicit use of drugs or alcohol, at a particular location, or by a particular group).
The presence of one or more of these factors could lead the College to investigate and, if appropriate, to pursue disciplinary action. If none of these factors are present, the College will likely respect the Complainant’s request for confidentiality, but may nonetheless be prompted to consider broader remedial action, such as: increased monitoring, supervision or security at locations where the sexual misconduct occurred; increased education and prevention efforts, including to targeted population groups; conducting climate surveys; and/or revisiting its policies and practices.
At all times, the College will seek to respect the request of the Complainant, and where it cannot do so, the College will consult with the Complainant and keep him/her informed about the chosen course of action, and, to the extent possible, share information with only those people responsible for handling the College’s response. The College may not require a Complainant to participate in any investigation or disciplinary proceeding.
3.8.6. Time Frame for Resolution
The review and resolution (including appeal) of all reports will generally be completed within 60 to 90 days.
Extenuating circumstances may arise that require the review and resolution process to extend beyond these time frames, including, for instance: the complexity and severity of the review; whether a complaint has been filed that has initiated adjudication under Section 13 of this policy; if there is a parallel criminal investigation; or if a review or adjudication occurs during school breaks or between school years. In general, a Complainant and Respondent can expect to receive periodic updates as to the status of the review or investigation.