The following Sexual Misconduct Policy was in place for students of Occidental College until August 24, 2013. Any incident reported during the time the old policy was in place follows the procedures of the old policy. Any incident reported after August 24, 2013 will fall under the current Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Members of the college community, guests and visitors have the right to be free from sexual violence. All members of the campus community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. The College will not tolerate gender-based sexual misconduct; such misconduct is prohibited under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. When an allegation of sexual misconduct is brought to an appropriate administrator's attention, and a respondent is found to have violated this policy, sanctions will be used to reasonably ensure that such actions are not repeated. This policy has been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for those individuals whose rights have been violated. This policy is intended to define community expectations and to establish a mechanism for determining when those expectations have been violated.
COLLEGE EXPECTATIONS WITH RESPECT TO SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
The expectations of our community regarding sexual misconduct 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 a person wants sexually and what a person doesn't want. 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. Coercion happens when someone is pressured unreasonably for sex. Coercing someone into sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into 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."
It is imperative that all community members understand the terms and definitions listed here.
OVERVIEW OF POLICY EXPECTATIONS WITH RESPECT TO CONSENSUAL RELATIONSHIPS
There are inherent risks in any romantic or sexual relationship between individuals in unequal positions (such as teacher and student, supervisor and employee). These relationships may be less consensual than perceived by the individual whose position confers power. The relationship also may be viewed in different ways by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual involvement, this past consent may not remove grounds for a later charge of sexual misconduct. The College does not wish to interfere with private choices regarding personal relationships when these relationships do not interfere with the goals and policies of the college.
Consensual romantic or sexual relationships in which one party maintains a direct supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are unethical. Therefore, persons with direct supervisory or evaluative responsibilities who are involved in such relationships must bring those relationships to the timely attention of their supervisor, and will likely result in the necessity to remove the employee from the supervisory or evaluative responsibilities, or shift the student out of being supervised or evaluated by someone with whom they have established a consensual relationship. This includes RAs and students over whom they have direct responsibility. While no relationships are prohibited by this policy, failure to self-report such relationships to a supervisor as required can result in disciplinary action for an employee.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE -- RISK REDUCTION TIPS
Risk reduction tips can often take a complainant-blaming tone, even unintentionally. With no intention to complainant-blame, and with recognition that only those who commit sexual violence are responsible for those actions, these suggestions may nevertheless help you to reduce risk in experiencing a non-consensual sexual act. Below, suggestions to avoid committing a non-consensual sexual act are also offered:
- Make any limits known as early as possible.
- Tell a sexual aggressor "NO" clearly and firmly.
- Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor.
- Find someone nearby and ask for help.
- Take affirmative responsibility for your alcohol intake/drug use and acknowledge that alcohol/drugs lower your sexual inhibitions and may make you vulnerable to someone who views a drunk or high person as a sexual opportunity.
- Take care of your friends and ask that they take care of you.
If you find yourself in the position of being the initiator of sexual behavior, you owe sexual respect to your potential partner. Follow these suggestions:
- Clearly communicate your intentions to your sexual partner and give them a chance to clearly relate their intentions to you.
- Understand and respect personal boundaries.
- DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS about consent; about someone's sexual availability; about whether they are attracted to you; about how far you can go or about whether they are physically and/or mentally able to consent. If there are any questions or ambiguity then you DO NOT have consent.
- Mixed messages from your partner are a clear indication that you should stop, defuse any sexual tension and communicate better. You may be misreading them. They may not have figured out how far they want to go with you yet. You must respect the timeline for sexual behaviors with which they are comfortable.
- Don't take advantage of someone's drunkenness or drugged state.
- Realize that your potential partner could be intimidated by you, or fearful. You may have a power advantage simply because of your gender or size. Don't abuse that power.
- Understand that consent to some form of sexual behavior does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual behavior.
- Silence and passivity cannot be interpreted as an indication of consent. Read your potential partner carefully, paying attention to verbal and non-verbal communication and body language.
In campus hearings, legal terms like "guilt, "innocence" and "burdens of proof" are not applicable, but the College never assumes a student is in violation of college policy. Campus hearings are conducted to take into account the totality of all evidence available from all relevant sources.
The College reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct in order to protect students' rights and personal safety. Such measures include, but are not limited to, modification of living arrangements, interim suspension from campus pending a hearing, and reporting the matter to the local police. Not all forms of sexual misconduct will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and the college reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from warning to permanent separation from the college, depending on the severity of the offense. The College will consider the concerns and rights of both the complainant and the person accused of sexual misconduct.
Students who do not wish to file an official report of sexual misconduct may submit an anonymous report through this website. Students are encouraged to seek care in the event of an assault, and can review on- and off-campus resources within the Sexual Assault Resources and Support webpage.
Last updated September 18, 2012