Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Title IX Information
- Who to call?
- Things to consider
- Anonymous Reporting
- Confidentiality in Reporting
- How to Make a Report
- Who and what is the Title IX Coordinator
- Title IX Committee
- Discrimination/Harassment/Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Policy and Procedure
- Student Code of Conduct
Definition – Sexual Misconduct
Sexual Misconduct is a broad term encompassing Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence.
Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.
Sexual Violence is physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. Sexual violence includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.
Whom Should I Call First?
If you experience sexual misconduct, you are likely to have many immediate concerns. Based on the circumstances of the misconduct you may have concerns about your immediate physical health, your emotional and mental well-being, as well as your personal safety.
As you think about how you want to respond, it is most important to do what is right for you. Friends, loved ones and family members may have strong feelings and opinions about how you should react, but you must do what you think is right for you. The information on this website is meant to provide you with resources and information to help you determine how to proceed.
A person who experiences an incident of sexual misconduct should consider the following services immediately:
Law Enforcement can assist you in obtaining medical treatment, counseling support and police services.
911- Emergencies- on or off campus Campus Public Safety Department: 413-782-1411 Springfield Police: 413-787-6359
Health and Medical Care
Western New England Health Services: 413-782-1211 Baystate Medical Center: 413-794-0000 Mercy Medical Center: 413-748-6910
When seeking medical attention it is important to tell the clinician everything that occurred to ensure the medical exam is thorough and addresses all of the possible medical issues related to the incident of sexual misconduct. Medical issues may include injury or physical trauma and the possibilities of sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy. In addition to providing appropriate treatment, the clinician must be fully informed of what occurred during the incident to ensure that evidence is preserved if you decide to file criminal charges.
Things to Consider
You may make an anonymous report concerning an act of sexual misconduct, harassment, or discrimination without disclosing names or requesting that any action be taken. The University’s ability to respond to an anonymous report will be limited.
Anonymous reports may be made by completing the online reporting form. This form can be used to report incidents of sexual misconduct, sexual violence, harassment, and all forms of bias.
The person completing this form can include his/her name or may remain completely anonymous.
Confidentiality in Reporting
You may be concerned about confidentiality in the reporting and investigative processes. If you ask for your identity to be withheld in the investigative process or ask that no action be taken by the University your request will be considered. Requests for confidentiality are considered on a case by case basis but in most cases once a complainant shares certain information with a responsible employee the University has a responsibility to investigate and in some cases take immediate action to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all.
In general the confidentiality of the proceedings and the identities of parties to the complaint shall be protected to the fullest extent practicable under the facts and circumstances of each case. However, the University cannot guarantee complete confidentiality once certain details are disclosed.
The University’s reporting policy includes protections against retaliation and University officials will not only take steps to prevent retaliation but also take strong responsive action if it occurs.
If you report an incident of sexual misconduct but you do not provide enough information for the University to investigate or implement interim or protective measures the University may still take action to ensure the safety of those on campus. This action could include providing increased monitoring or security at certain locations, and changing class schedules or room assignments.
You may forgo making a report (as outlined below) and seek confidential services on or off campus. Confidential Offices and Services (on campus) include the Counseling Center, Spiritual Life and Health Services. You may also seek confidential support services and advocacy from external sources.
- You may report an incident to law enforcement for criminal action. This type of report can be made to the Campus Public Safety Department or the Springfield Police Department. The University encourages individuals to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual misconduct, violence, or harassment that may also be crimes under Massachusetts law. The University will also proceed with the internal process of investigating when a criminal complaint has been made. The University will not wait until the criminal case is resolved before proceeding with the University process.
- A complainant may report an incident to the Campus Public Safety Department but choose not to pursue criminal charges. The Campus Public Safety Department will forward the report to the Title IX Coordinator for evaluation and action.
- A complainant may choose to report an incident to a University representative other than the Campus Public Safety Department. These reports can be made directly to the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators, Dean of Students, or other members of the faculty or staff. When the University becomes aware of sexual misconduct, violence or harassment, it may have an obligation to proceed with an investigation regardless of the complainant’s wishes.
- A complainant may pursue both the University process and the criminal process simultaneously.
- A complainant may wish to report an incident anonymously or confidentially to the University without disclosing the names of the respondent or witnesses. The University’s ability to respond to this type of report will be limited. When a report is made confidentially or anonymously the University may become the complainant. This decision will be made based on the information reported and after the initial evaluation of the report and request for confidentiality.
The Title IX Reporting Form can be found below:
What will the University do if I make a report of sexual misconduct, harassment, or discrimination?
When the University receives a report it will conduct a preliminary evaluation to determine if immediate action must be taken to protect the complainant or other members of the campus community. At this stage the University will evaluate the complainant’s request for confidentiality. If the report moves to a complaint status under the University’s Harassment/Discrimination/Sexual Misconduct policies the University’s Title IX coordinator will assign the complaint to an Investigator who will conduct an investigation. The investigation will be adequate, reliable, impartial, and prompt and include the opportunity for both parties to present witnesses and other evidence. In compliance with OCR guidelines, the University will make every effort to complete all investigations including adjudication processes within a 60 business day time period. This 60 day time period can be extended for appropriate cause by the Title IX Coordinator.
How is an investigation completed?
Investigations are conducted in a manner that is consistent with the Institution’s policies and transparent to the complainant and respondent.
- Initial report made
- Preliminary investigation of the report and request for confidentiality is evaluated
- Report becomes a formal complaint
- Title IX Coordinator assigns an Investigator
- Respondent is notified of complaint
- Interviews are scheduled and will include the complainant, respondent, and witnesses if applicable.
- Investigator completes the investigative report and draws a conclusion that is not a final determination.
- Investigator and Title IX Coordinator review the investigative report and the case is forwarded to the appropriate hearing committee/board for adjudication. This may result in sending the case for a conduct review.
While an investigation is ongoing, what immediate safety measures and accommodations are available to me?
During the investigation, the University will take reasonable steps to provide an equitable and safe environment should they be necessary. Possible remedies include and are not limited to:
- No Contact Orders between individuals
- Provide escort or transportation
- Changes in academic arrangements
- Changes in living arrangements
- Changes to work schedules
- Counseling, academic support, and other services
If I make a report, I may be afraid of retaliation by the Respondent and his/her friends. What protections can be offered to me?
The University recognizes that retaliation can take many forms and may be committed by one person or a group. Both the respondent and complainant can be the subject of retaliation. All complaints of retaliation should be made to the investigator, Title IX Coordinators or Deputy Coordinators.
Do Title IX protections apply only to women?
The law requires educational institutions to maintain policies, practices, and programs that do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender. Elimination of discrimination against women has received more attention because females have historically faced greater gender restrictions and barriers in education. However, Title IX has also benefited men. Continued efforts to achieve educational equity have benefited all students by moving toward the creation of University environments where all students can learn and achieve the highest standards.
Can I report on behalf of someone else? What if I witnessed something or heard about something but it did not happen to me?
You can report an incident as a witness to the actual incident or as a concerned party. If you can provide enough information the University can pursue an investigation. If the information is incomplete or lacking specific information the University may be limited in the ability to respond.
If I engage in sexual activity with someone who has been drinking, can I be accused of sexual assault?
Yes. If you engage in sexual activity with someone who is physically or mentally incapacitated, consent for sexual activity cannot be given. Alcohol may cause such a state of incapacitation. For such reasons it is unwise to engage in sexual activity when one or both parties are intoxicated.
What should I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?
Do not contact the alleged complainant. You should contact the Title IX Coordinator, or the Office of the Dean of Students who will explain the University’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints. You will also receive information on your rights and responsibilities as well as any resources that may be available to you.
How will the Hearing Committee/Board determine if a respondent is responsible for the conduct that has been reported?
Based on a fair and impartial review and evaluation of all evidence developed and presented the Hearing Board/Committee will make a decision based on Preponderance of the Evidence Standard. The Definition of Preponderance of the Evidence Standard is more likely than not (50% plus a feather).
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. All public and private elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities receiving any federal financial assistance must comply with Title IX. Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are forms of sex discrimination. Western New England University is committed to providing an environment that is free from harassment, discrimination and violence.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states: "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."
On April 4, 2011, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter on sexual harassment and sexual violence. This letter explains a school’s responsibility to respond promptly and effectively to sexual violence in accordance with the requirements of Title IX. For more information see link below.
Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinators
The Title IX Committee
The Title IX Committee is charged with the following:
• Identify the needs, issues, trends, and climate of campus around sex discrimination issues;
• Develop, implement, and monitor approaches and efforts to addressing those needs;
• Review, recommend and implement Title IX policies, initiatives, programming, and materials;
• Provide oversight of and accessibility to reporting and response systems; and
• Ensure Title IX-related work is compliant and consistent with identified best practices
Yvonne Bogle, Assistant Dean of Diversity Program and Service
Sean Burke, Associate Director of Residence Life for Operations and Title IX Deputy
Adina Elfant, Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning and Career Development
Jean Hart-Steffes, Vice President Student Affairs, Dean of Students
Beth Hill, Senior Associate Director of Residence Life
James Jerome, Administrative Lieutenant
Maureen Keizer, Associate Dean of Students/Student Activities and Leadership Dev
Lori Mayhew, Assistant Director Ath/Equipment Dir/Softball Coach and Title IX Deputy
Joanne Ollson, Assistant Vice President Human Resources
Jerry Roeder, Assistant Dean of Students and Residence Life
Cheryl Smith, General Counsel, Office of the President and Title IX Coordinator
Adam Woodrow, Director of Public Safety
Title IX Investigators
Jodie Griffith, Human Resource Generalist
Beth Hill, Senior Associate Director of Residence Life
Donna-Rae Kenneally, Associate Director of Human Resources
Jerry Roeder, Assistant Dean of Students and Residence Life
To the Members of the University Community:
Western New England University is and has been committed to providing an environment that is free from harassment, discrimination, and violence. As such, the University has complied with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Title IX protects students, employees, applicants for admission and employment, and other persons from all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity or on a person’s not conforming to conventional notions of masculinity or femininity. Other examples of the types of discrimination that are covered under Title IX include the failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics; discrimination in a school’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses and programs; and discrimination based on pregnancy and parental status.
The University’s Title IX Committee convenes on a regular basis throughout the year and provides training opportunities for students, faculty and staff. The University’s Title IX Coordinator is Cheryl Smith. Should you have any questions about the policy or training opportunities please contact Cheryl Smith, Title IX Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 413-782-1542.
Resources Available on and off Campus
Harassment, Discrimination, Retaliation Complaint, and Resource Information
If you are a student or employee at Western New England University and have been the victim of sexual harassment, sexual violence or other gender-based harassment it is important that you read the following information. Although not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of your options and rights, this information may be useful to you.