FAQs

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.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the College's sexual misconduct policy and procedures.

Does information about a complaint remain private?

The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct must be respected, except insofar as it interferes with the college's obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy it not strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. Dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure is not permitted. Violations of the privacy of the complainant or the accused individual may lead to conduct action by the college.

In all complaints of sexual misconduct, all parties will be informed of the outcome. In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief public announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, without using the name or identifiable information of the alleged complainant. Certain college administrators are informed of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy (e.g., the President of the college, Dean of Students, Director of Campus Safety). If there is a report of an act of alleged sexual misconduct to a conduct officer of the college and there is evidence that a felony has occurred, local police will be notified. This does not mean charges will be automatically filed or that a complainant must speak with the police, but the institution is legally required to notify law enforcement authorities. The institution also must statistically report the occurrence on campus of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.

Will my parents be told?

No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the complainant or the accused individual, the College's primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. College officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, in a life-threatening situation, or if an accused individual has signed the permission form at registration which allows such communication.

Will the accused individual know my identity?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused individual has the right to know the identity of the complainant/alleged complainant. If there is a hearing, the college does provide options for questioning without confrontation, including Skype or using a room divider.

Do I have to name the perpetrator?

Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint (but you should consult the complete confidentiality policy above to better understand the college's legal obligations depending on what information you share with different college officials). Complainants should be aware that not identifying the perpetrator may limit the institution's ability to respond comprehensively.

What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

DO NOT contact the alleged complainant. You may immediately want to contact someone in the campus community who can act as your advisor. You may also contact the Interim Title IX Coordinator, who can explain the college's procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints. You may also want to talk to a confidential counselor at the counseling center or seek other community assistance.

Will I (as a complainant) have to pay for counseling/or medical care?

Not typically, if the institution provides these services already. If a complainant is accessing community and non-institutional services, payment for these will be subject to state/local laws, insurance requirements, etc.

What about legal advice?

Complainants of criminal sexual assault need not retain a private attorney to pursue prosecution because representation will be handled by the District Attorney's office. You may want to retain an attorney if you are the accused individual or are considering filing a civil action. The accused individual may retain counsel at their own expense if they determine that they need legal advice about criminal prosecution and/or the campus conduct proceeding.

What about changing residence hall rooms?

If you want to move, you may request a room change. Room changes under these circumstances are considered emergencies. It is typically institutional policy that in emergency room changes, the student is moved to the first available suitable room. If you want the accused individual to move, and believe that you have been the complainant of sexual misconduct, you must be willing to pursue a formal or informal college complaint. No contact orders can be imposed and room changes for the accused individual can usually be arranged quickly. Other accommodations available to you might include:

  • Assistance from college support staff in completing the relocation;
  • Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund;
  • Assistance with or rescheduling an academic assignment (paper, exams, etc.);
  • Taking an incomplete in a class;
  • Assistance with transferring class sections;
  • Temporary withdrawal;
  • Assistance with alternative course completion options;
  • Other accommodations for safety as necessary.

What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?

Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the alleged complainant's person within 120 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been a complainant of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to a local hospital Emergency Room or rape treatment center (e.g. Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center), before washing yourself or your clothing. A complainant advocate from the institution can also accompany you to Hospital and law enforcement or Student Affairs staff can provide transportation. If a complainant goes to the hospital, local police will be called, but s/he is not obligated to talk to the police or to pursue prosecution. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to a complainant, but will not obligation him or her to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the complainant decide later to exercise it.

For the Complainant: the hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want. Do not disturb the crime scene-leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.

Will a complainant be sanctioned when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used drugs or alcohol?

No. The severity of the infraction will determine the nature of the College's response, but whenever possible the College will respond educationally rather than punitively to the illegal use of drugs and/or alcohol. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the College does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.

Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct conduct complaint?

The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused individual's responsibility. On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the complainant's memory and, therefore, may affect the outcome of the complaint. A person bringing a complaint of sexual misconduct must either remember the alleged incident or have sufficient circumstantial evidence, physical evidence and/or witnesses to prove his/her complaint. If the complainant does not remember the circumstances of the alleged incident, it may not be possible to impose sanctions on the accused without further corroborating information. Use of alcohol and/or other drugs will never excuse a violation by an accused individual.

Will either party's prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?

Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.

What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?

If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of Oxy's sexual misconduct policy, you should contact theInterim Title IX Coordinator.

Last updated June 26, 2012