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MSU Sexual Misconduct Policy

Midwestern State University is committed to creating and sustaining a campus environment where all members of the university community can learn, work, play, and love without experiencing or fearing sexual assault, harassment, dating/domestic violence, or stalking. This website is designed to serve as an informational resource to communicate institutional policy concerning sexual misconduct and outline expectations of appropriate conduct. Additionally, resources are provided to enhance awareness on reporting options and support services should an incident of alleged sexual misconduct occur.

If you have any questions about the policies, reporting procedures, or support opportunities on this webpage related to sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, harassment, or stalking, please contact one of the individuals below.

 

Matthew Park, Title IX Coordinator
Associate VP for Student Affairs & Dean of Students
Clark Student Center 104
(940) 397-7500
matthew.park@mwsu.edu

 

Dail Neely, Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Director of Student Conduct & Clark Student Center
Clark Student Center 116
(940) 397-6273
dail.neely@mwsu.edu

 

Dawn Fisher, Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Director of Human Resources
Hardin Administration Building 210
(940) 397-4221
dawn.fisher@mwsu.edu

 

 

Quick Links

Sexual Misconduct Policy

University & Community Resources for Victims of Sexual Misconduct

Information Supplementing the Sexual Misconduct Policy

Frequently Asked Questions

Risk Reduction Tips

 

 

Sexual Misconduct Policy

Midwestern State University maintains a policy of zero tolerance for sexual misconduct regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of individuals engaging in sexual activity. Members of the University community, guests and visitors have the right to be free from sexual violence. When an allegation of sexual misconduct is brought to the administration, and an accused student/respondent is found to have violated this policy, serious sanctions will be imposed to ensure that such actions are never repeated. All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. The Midwestern State University sexual misconduct policy has been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for those individuals whose rights have been violated. This policy has dual purposes; it serves as a measure to determine, after-the-fact, if behaviors trespassed on community values and as a guide for students on the expectations Midwestern State University has, preventatively, for sexual communication, responsibility and respect.

While the policy below is quite detailed and specific, the expectations of this community can be summarized in this simple paragraph: Consent is clear sexual permission and can only be given by one of legal age. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is more ambiguous than explicitly stating one’s wants and limitations. Consent to one form of sexual activity should not, and cannot, be taken as consent to any other sexual activity. Individuals who consent to sex must be able to fully understand what they are doing. Under this policy, “No” always means “No” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes.” For example, when alcohol or other drugs are used, a person will be considered unable to give valid consent if the person cannot appreciate the who, what, where, when, why, or how of a sexual interaction. In addition, silence—without clear actions demonstrating permission—cannot be assumed to indicate consent.

Finally, there is a difference between seduction and coercion; coercion is defined in this policy as unreasonably pressuring another person for sex. Coercing someone into engaging in sexual activity violates this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into engaging in sexual activity.

 

  1. Violations of the University Sexual Misconduct Policy

Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and such violations are subject to any combination of conduct sanctions. Conduct procedures with individuals found responsible for violation of the nonconsensual sexual intercourse policy face a recommended sanction of university suspension or university expulsion. Refer to the MSU Code of Student Conduct, Section 8: Conduct Procedures, for a full list of conduct sanctions available at the University. The Code of Student Conduct is available online via the my.MWSU portal, Student Life website, and Dean of Students website, as well as in person at the Clark Student Center Information Desk and Dean of Students office (CSC 104).

 

A partial list of Midwestern State University sexual misconduct policy violations is listed below.

a) Sexual Harassment: Gender-based verbal or physical conduct that has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment. There are two types of sexual harassment:

1. Hostile Environment includes situations in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive/persistent and objectively offensive so that it alters the conditions of education or employment, from both a subjective (the alleged victim’s) and objective (a reasonable person’s) viewpoint. The determination of whether an environment is “hostile” must be based on all the circumstances. These circumstances could include, but are not limited to:

                  •     The frequency of the speech or conduct;

                  •     The nature and severity of the speech or conduct;

                  •     Whether the conduct was physically threatening;

                  •     Whether the speech or conduct was humiliating;

                  •     The effect of the speech or conduct on the alleged victim’s mental and/or emotional state;

                  •     Whether the speech or conduct was directed at more than one person;

                  •     Whether the speech or conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;

                  •     Whether the speech or conduct unreasonably interfered with the alleged victim’s educational or work performance;

                  •     Whether a statement is a mere utterance of an epithet which engenders offense in an employee or a student or offends by mere discourtesy or rudeness; and/or

                  •     Whether the speech or conduct deserves the protections of academic freedom.

 

2.   Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment exists when there are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where submission to, or rejection of, such conduct results in educational or employment action.

b)   Nonconsensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempts to commit the same):

            •     Any sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, without consent and/or by physical force.

c)   Nonconsensual Sexual Contact (or attempts to commit the same):

            •     Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon another person, without consent and/or by physical force.

d)   Sexual Exploitation: Taking nonconsensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit a person other than the one being exploited. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  1. Prostituting another student;

  2. Non-consensual video or audio recording of sexual activity;

  3. Exceeding the boundaries of explicit consent, such as allowing friends to hide in a closet to be witness to one’s consensual sexual activity;
  4. Engaging in voyeurism (Peeping Tommery); and/or

  5. Knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted disease/infection or HIV to another student.

e)   Dating Violence: Violence between those in a continuing relationship of an intimate or romantic nature with one another.  The existence of such a relationship shall be determined with consideration of:

•   the length of the relationship;
•   the type of relationship; and
•   the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

f)    Domestic Violence: Violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, a person who is cohabitating or had cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, or a person similarly situated to a spouse, adult or youth victim protected by domestic or family violence laws.

g)   Stalking: Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress. For the purpose of this definition…

1. Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person, or interferes with a person’s property.

2. Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

h)  Retaliation exists when an individual harasses, intimidates or takes other adverse actions against a person because of the person’s participation in an investigation of discrimination or sexual misconduct or their support of someone involved in an investigation of discrimination or sexual misconduct. Retaliatory actions include, but are not limited to, threats or actual violence against the person or their property, adverse educational or employment consequences, ridicule, intimidation, bullying, or ostracism. The University will impose sanctions on any individual found to be engaging in retaliation.

  1. Reporting Sexual Misconduct and Confidentiality

University officials, depending on their roles at the University, have varying reporting responsibilities and abilities to maintain confidentiality. In order to make informed choices, one should be aware of confidentiality and mandatory reporting requirements when consulting campus resources. On campus, some resources may maintain confidentiality, offering options and advice without any obligation to inform an outside agency or individual unless you have requested information to be shared. Other resources exist for you to report crimes and policy violations and these resources will take action when you report victimization to them. Most resources on campus fall in the middle of these two extremes; neither the University nor the law requires them to divulge private information that is shared with them, except in the rare circumstances. The following describes the three reporting options at Midwestern State University:

a)   Confidential Reporting: If you would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, you may speak with on-campus counselors, campus health service providers, off-campus rape crisis resources, or off-campus members of the clergy/chaplains who will maintain confidentiality. Campus counselors in the Counseling Center are available to help you free of charge and can be seen on an emergency basis during normal business hours.

b)   Private Reporting: You may seek advice from certain resources who are not required to tell anyone else your private, personally identifiable information unless there is cause for fear for your safety, or the safety of others. These resources include employees without supervisory responsibility or remedial authority to address sexual misconduct, such as hall directors, faculty members, advisors to student organizations, career services staff, admissions officers, student activities personnel, and many others. If you are unsure of someone’s duties and ability to maintain your privacy, ask them before you talk to them. They will be able to tell you and can help you make decisions about who can help you best. Some of these resources, such as resident assistants (RAs), are instructed to share incident reports with their supervisors. If your personally identifiable information is shared, it will be shared with as few people as possible and all efforts will be made to protect your privacy to the greatest extent.

c)   Formal Reporting: You are encouraged to speak to university officials, such as the Title IX Coordinator, Director of Student Conduct, Campus Police, Director of Human Resources, Academic Deans, Athletic Head Coaches, and Vice Presidents to make formal reports of incidents of sexual misconduct. You have the right, and can expect, to have incidents of sexual misconduct taken seriously by the University when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. Formal reporting still affords privacy to the reporter, and only a small group of officials who need to know will be told. Information will be shared as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused student/respondent. The circle of people with this knowledge will be kept as tight as possible to preserve your rights and privacy.

  1. Federal Timely Warning Obligations

            Victims of sexual misconduct should be aware that university administrators must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The University will make every effort to ensure that a victim’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.

  1. University Response to Reports of Sexual Misconduct

            Refer to the Code of Student Conduct, Section 7: Special Conduct Procedures for Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination, for the response protocol at Midwestern State University when reports of sexual misconduct are received involving one or more students as the responding party. The Code of Student Conduct is available online via the my.MWSU portal, Student Life website, and Dean of Students website, as well as in person at the Clark Student Center Information Desk and Dean of Students office (CSC 104).

 

University & Community Resources for Victims of Sexual Misconduct

 

MIDWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY RESOURCES

University Police
            Patrick Coggins, Chief of Police, (940) 397-4239, patrick.coggins@mwsu.edu
            Albert Jimenez, Sergeant, (940) 397-4239, albert.jimenez@mwsu.edu
 
Counseling Center
            Dr. Pam Midgett, Director, (940) 397-4618, pam.midgett@mwsu.edu
Vinson Health Center
            Tiffany Kosse, Medical Office Manager, (940) 397-4231, tiffany.kosse@mwsu.edu
            Dr. Keith Williamson, Medical Director and University Physician, (940) 397-4231,  keith.williamson@mwsu.edu

 

Title IX Coordinator
Matthew Park, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students, (940) 397-7500, matthew.park@mwsu.edu

Debbie Coughran, Assistant to the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students, (940) 397-7500, debbie.coughran@mwsu.edu

 

Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Dail Neely, Director of Student Conduct/Clark Student Center, (940) 397-6237, dail.neely@mwsu.edu

 

Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Dawn Fisher, Director of Human Resources, (940) 397-4221, dawn.fisher@mwsu.edu

 

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

First Step, Inc. - First Step provides comprehensive services to victims of sexual assault and domestic and family violence, including an abuse prevention program. Their services are offered free of charge and include a 24-hour crisis hotline, 24-hour emergency shelter, confidential counseling, legal advocacy, and emergency transportation. The hotline phone number is (800) 658-2683. The regular office phone number is (940) 723-7799. First Step is located at 624 Indiana Avenue, Wichita Falls, TX 76301.

 

United Regional Health Care System
1600 Eleventh Street
Wichita Falls, TX 76301
(940) 764-7000

Kell West Regional Hospital
5420 Kell Boulevard
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
(940) 692-5888

Crime Victim Compensation – Attorney General’s Office - (800) 983-9933

 

Information Supplementing the Sexual Misconduct Policy

In addition to the information provided in the University Sexual Misconduct Policy, students should know that rape is a crime and should be reported to civil authorities. Rape is often thought of as a violent attack on a woman by a madman who uses a weapon to threaten his victim, but this description does not apply to the majority of rapes that take place in the United States. “Victims of rape and sexual assault report that in nearly 3 out of 4 incidents, the offender was not a stranger…two thirds of the victims 18 to 29 years old had a prior relationship with the rapist” (Greenfield, 1997). Therefore, university students are more likely to be victimized by someone they know, and perhaps trust, than by someone who is a stranger. Both men and women can be victims. Non-consensual intercourse by a person one knows is defined as date rape or acquaintance rape, both of which are as serious a crime as stranger rape.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The following are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and procedures.

a)   Does a complaint remain confidential?

Reports made to licensed counselors, health service providers and clergy will be kept confidential. All other reports are considered private. The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct will be maintained, except insofar as it interferes with the University’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where information is shared, 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.

In all complaints of sexual misconduct, the complainant will be informed of the outcome. In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, to the community, though personally identifying information about the victim will not be shared. Certain university administrators are informed privately (e.g., the President of the University, Title IX Coordinator, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Chief of Police, Director of Student Conduct, Director of the Counseling Center etc.).The University must statistically report the occurrence on campus of any of six major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.

 

b)   Will my parents/guardians be told?

No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the complainant or the accused student/respondent, the University’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent/guardian; however, in the event of major medical, conduct action, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. University officials may directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, or in a life-threatening situation, or if an accused student has signed the permission slip at registration which allows such communication.

 

c)   Will I have to confront the alleged perpetrator?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint, but not directly. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused student/respondent has the right to question the accuser; however, the University does provide options for allowing questioning without direct contact, including closed-circuit testimony, video interview (i.e. Skype), using a room divider or using separate hearing rooms, etc.

 

d)   Do I have to name the alleged perpetrator?

Yes, if you want formal conduct action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint. One should consult the complete privacy policy described in Section 12: Sexual Misconduct Policy of the Student Code of Conduct to better understand the University’s legal obligations regarding information which is shared with various university officials.

 

e)   What should I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

First, do not contact the alleged victim. You may immediately want to contact someone in the campus community who can act as your advisor. You may also contact the Director of Student Conduct, who can explain the University’s procedures for dealing with sexual misconduct reports. You may also want to talk to a confidential counselor in the Counseling Center.

 

f)    What should I do about legal advice?

Victims of criminal sexual assault need not retain a private attorney to seek prosecution because legal issues will be handled through a representative from the local District Attorney’s office. You may want to retain an attorney if you are the accused student/respondent or are considering filing a civil action against the alleged perpetrator.

 

g)   What should I do about changing university housing rooms?

If you want to move, or have the accused student moved, you may request a room change. Room changes under these circumstances are considered emergencies. It is the University’s policy that in emergency room changes, the student is moved to the first available suitable room. Other accommodations available to you might include:

      1.   Assistance from university support staff in completing the relocation;

      2.   Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund;

      3.   Exam, paper or assignment rescheduling;

      4.   Taking an incomplete in a class;

      5.   Transferring class sections;

      6.   Temporary withdrawal; and/or

      7.   Alternative course completion options.

 

h)  What should I do to preserve evidence of a sexual assault?

Physical information of a sexual assault must be collected within about 120 hours of the assault for it to be useful in a criminal prosecution. If you believe you have been a victim of a sexual assault, you should go to a hospital emergency room before washing yourself or your clothing. A sexual assault health professional (a specially trained nurse called a SANE) at the hospital is on call and will counsel you. If you go to the hospital, local police will be called but you are not obligated to talk to the police or to prosecute. The exam will help to keep that option open for you should you decide later to exercise it.

The hospital staff will collect information, check for injuries 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 forensic information 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 information. 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 information for the police to collect.

 

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

No, not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.

 

j)    Will a student be sanctioned when reporting an act of sexual misconduct if the student has illegally used drugs or alcohol?

No. The University offers amnesty in such situations. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the University does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.

 

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

If you believe that you have experienced non-consensual sexual contact, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the University’s sexual misconduct policy, you should contact the Title IX Coordinator and/or Director of Student Conduct. The University employs licensed counselors who can help you to define and clarify the event(s), and advise you of your options.

 

RISK REDUCTION TIPS

Tips like these tend to make victims feel blamed if a sexual assault occurs. It is never the victim’s fault, and these tips are offered in the hope that recognizing patterns can help men and women to reduce the risk of victimization. That said, only a rapist or an empowered bystander can intervene to prevent a rape or assault. Generally, an assault by a known offender will follow a four-step pattern:

a)   An individual’s personal space is violated in some way. For example, the perpetrator may touch the victim in a way that does not feel comfortable.

b)   If the victim does not express discomfort, the perpetrator may begin to view the victim as an easy target because she/he is not acting assertively.

c)   The perpetrator may take the victim to a location that is secluded and where the victim is vulnerable.

d)   The victim feels trapped or unable to be assertive and is raped or assaulted.

Decisive action early in an encounter may be the key to avoiding rape. An individual who can combine assertiveness and self-defense skills, who is self-confident and definite in his/her interactions with others, is less likely to become a victim of rape. If the individual can assertively defend his/her rights initially, he/she has a better chance of avoiding being raped than does a person who resorts to techniques such as pleading or trying to talk the perpetrator out of it. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable sexual situation, these suggestions may help you to reduce your risk:

a)   Make your limits known before things go too far.

b)   Give clear messages. Say “yes” when you mean yes and “no” when you mean no. Leave no room for misinterpretation. Tell a sexual aggressor “NO” clearly and loudly, like you mean it.

c)   Try to extricate yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor.

d)   Grab someone nearby and ask for help.

e)   Be responsible for your alcohol intake/drug use and realize that alcohol/drugs lower your sexual inhibitions and may make you more vulnerable to someone who views a drunk or high person as a sexual opportunity.

f)    Watch out for your friends and ask that they watch out for you. A real friend will get in your face if you are about to make a mistake. Respect them if they do.

g)   Be aware of any nonverbal messages you may be sending that conflict with what you are saying. Notice your tone of voice, gestures and eye contact.

h)  Be forceful and firm when necessary. Don’t be concerned with being polite. Your passivity may be interpreted as permission or approval for this behavior.

i)    Do not acquiesce to something you do not want just to avoid unpleasantness. Do not allow “politeness” to trap you in a dangerous situation. This is not the time to be concerned about hurt feelings.

j)    Trust your feelings or instincts. If a situation does not feel comfortable to you or you feel anxious about the way your date is acting, you need to respond. Leave immediately if necessary.

If you find yourself in the position of being the initiator of sexual behavior, you owe sexual respect to your potential partner. These suggestions may help you to reduce your risk for being accused of sexual misconduct:

a)   Do not make assumptions about:

      a.   Consent;

      b.   Someone’s sexual availability;

      c.   Whether a person is attracted to you;

      d.   How far you can go; or

      e.   Whether a person is physically and mentally able to consent to you.

b)   Clearly communicate your intentions to your sexual partner and give him/her a chance to clearly relate his/her intentions to you.

c)   Mixed messages from your partner should be a clear indication that you should step back, defuse the sexual tension, and communicate better. Perhaps you are misreading your partner. Perhaps your partner has not figured out how far he/she wants to go with you yet. You need to respect the timeline with which your partner is comfortable.

d)   Do not take advantage of someone’s drunkenness or drugged state, even if he/she did it to him/herself.

e)   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. Do not abuse that power.

f)    Understand that consent to some forms of sexual behavior does not necessarily imply consent to other forms of sexual behavior.

g)   On this campus, 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.

h)  Do not force someone to have sex with you, or have sex with a partner who has not clearly consented to you by words or actions unmistakable in their meaning.

 

REFERENCES

Greenfield, L.A. (1997). Sex offenses and offenders [Electronic version]. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved July 26, 2010, at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1146.