Sexual Misconduct Policy
Sexual misconduct and rape will not be tolerated at Lycoming College. The nature of these types of incidents causes immense difficulty to the individuals directly involved and offends the educational mission of the institution. Those identified as being responsible for such acts may expect to be held accountable under the sexual misconduct grievance procedure set forth in this policy statement. If someone believes they have been subjected to sexual misconduct, they must report it to the College within six (6) months of the incident. The College also conducts numerous educational programs throughout the academic year to advance the understanding of sexual misconduct and rape. This is accomplished through a variety of educational programming coordinated by Residential Life, Counseling, Safety and Security, Campus Ministry, and Orientation.
Sexual Misconduct is defined as: deliberate physical contact of a sexual nature (or threats or attempts thereof) which is against the person's will or without their consent or cognizance. Sexual misconduct may involve various forms of coercion or force and can occur when a victim is incapable of giving consent due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, emotional trauma, or other factors. Examples of sexual misconduct include, but are not limited to: (1) unwanted sexual contact such as fondling; (2) deliberate or reckless threats, actual or implied, of physical contact of a sexual nature that result in reasonable apprehension of a sexual misconduct or physical harm, or (3) coerced sexual activity which, in its most severe form, is manifested by any form of sexual penetration when consent was not freely given.
Reporting An Incident
A student who believes that she or he has been subjected to sexual misconduct or raped by another student may choose to report the incident to the Williamsport Police Department, Wise Options for Women and/or to the appropriate College officials. If both actions are taken simultaneously, the adjudication processes will be separate and distinct from one another. Should a student decide to pursue the incident through College procedures, they will need to talk with the Dean of Student Affairs or Director of Residential Life. Students reporting such incidents are encouraged to utilize a personal advocate; however, this is not required. Once a student takes the option to file an incident report of a sexual misconduct, there will be an investigation of the incident. After interviewing all of the principal parties knowledgeable about the incident, a case may be brought forward to the Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Board for a hearing decision and possible sanction. Cases of sexual misconduct involving students as the accused will be heard by a board of three (3) individuals from the faculty and staff. At the conclusion of a hearing, a decision is made by the Board concerning the accused's responsibility for the violation. If the accused is considered responsible, sanctions will be assessed which could include but are not limited to probation, suspension, or expulsion.
Filing A Complaint
A student may file a formal complaint with the Dean of Student Affairs or designee. This complaint shall consist of a written statement outlining the time, place, and nature of the alleged sexual conduct as well as the name of the accused. Under exceptional circumstances information from an anonymous source can be received and investigated, after which charges may be brought by College authorities. The Dean will determine the course of action or appropriate process to follow in adjudicating the complaint. The complainant's preferences, including, but not limited to, the option of filing a confidential report without a formal charge, will be given full consideration by the Dean of Student Affairs.
Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Board—Sexual misconduct complaints involving students which are referred by the Dean, will be adjudicated by the Sexual Misconduct Board. The board shall be composed of three (3) members: two (2) faculty and one (1) staff member. Each appointed member of the board will have participated in special training programs on sexual misconduct and related disciplinary procedures. The Dean or designee will serve as the presiding officer.
Complainant— The Dean will meet with the complainant whose case will be heard by the board to discuss the occurrence and to apprise him/her of rights under the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Accused—The accused will meet with the Dean to discuss the complaint and to be apprised of his/her rights under this policy. At the meeting, the accused will receive written notification of the charge as well as a copy of the complaint. At this time, the accused will have 48 hours to submit to the Dean a written response to the allegations. The complainant will be provided a copy of the accused's response to the charges.
The complainant and the accused will have the following rights:
- to an advocate who may accompany the student to the hearing. An advocate must be a member of the Lycoming College community or Wise Options for Women, may not be an attorney, and may be the same or a different individual than the person who assisted the student in understanding this policy;
- to utilize trained College faculty and staff who are familiar with this policy as resources for understanding these procedures and preparing for the hearing;
- to medical and emotional support from Counseling and Health Services and/or a sexual misconduct advocate;
- to designate witnesses who may be called before the board to testify or to be interviewed;
- to obtain a copy of all written material submitted to the board;
- to decline to answer any questions;
- to offer a closing statement;
- to contest the membership of individual hearing board members thought to be unable to serve objectively;
- to cross-examine witnesses.
- to exclude from the hearing information or questions pertaining to one's sexual history or character not pertaining to the complaint;
- to full and complete confidentiality which would preclude the College from releasing information to the College community regarding the alleged incident;
- to consultation with local law enforcement agencies and an off-campus counseling service;
- to withdraw a complaint;
- to petition, pending disposition of charges, to have restrictions placed on the accused student's living and working environment.
- to waive one's right to a disciplinary hearing and to accept responsibility of the charges as well as the Dean's administrative sanction(s).
If the Dean determines that there is sufficient basis to believe that a sexual misconduct may have occurred, the Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Board will be convened. The board shall determine if a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy occurred as alleged by the complainant. The board's decision will be made based upon the information generated during the course of the investigation and introduced at the hearing as well as evidence and testimony offered throughout the hearing. The hearing proceedings are confidential and only open to those members of the College community and Wise Options recognized by the College. A summary record of the proceedings will be maintained by the Dean's Office.
The chair, at the opening of the hearing, will introduce all participants and provide guidelines relative to the proceedings. Specifically, the complainant and accused will be afforded the opportunity to make opening statements, present evidence, challenge testimony, and clarify issues. The complainant and the accused may be present for all testimony. Either party may request a physical barrier to prohibit visible contact between complainant and accused. Witnesses will only be present for their testimony. In conclusion, the complainant and the accused or their advocates may offer a concluding statement.
If it is determined that a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy has occurred, the accused student's disciplinary record will be reviewed by the board while determining an appropriate sanction. The Dean will notify the accused and complainant of the decision and of any related disciplinary sanctions in writing. The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and/or Residential Life Office will maintain, in confidence, the records of the case in accordance with the College's Disciplinary Records Retention Policy.
The Appeal Process
Following a decision, the accused student may request an appeal of the final decision by the Provost . The request for an appeal must be submitted in writing by the student, not an attorney, within two (2) days of the date of receipt of the decision. Failure to file a request for appeal in a timely manner constitutes a waiver of any right to an appeal. The bases for an appeal are limited to the following grounds:
- The evidence presented at the hearing does not support the verdict;
- The sanction is excessively severe;
- New or newly discovered evidence is of a character which may substantially affect the outcome of the hearing;
- There was a procedural error that substantially affected the outcome of the hearing.
The Provost has the authority to change a finding of responsibility, to increase or decrease a sanction.
Appeals should not be requested frivolously. An appeal hearing is not a re-hearing; it represents a procedural safeguard for the student. In an appeal process, the burden of proof is shifted to the student making the appeal. Appeal letters will be reviewed and, if there is adequate reason to believe that one or more of the grounds for appeal have merit, an appeal hearing will be scheduled with the Provost.