I. Reason or purpose for policy
The University has jurisdiction over Title IX sexual misconduct complaints, and has enacted this policy:
- To specifically prohibit and define particular acts of sexual discrimination, including but not limited to sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking.
- To define consent.
- To provide resources for victims, safe and positive options for bystanders, and resources for those accused of sexual misconduct.
- To outline grievance procedures for providing prompt and fair resolution to complaints of sexual discrimination, including sexual violence.
- To provide a description of the University’s prevention and awareness program.
The University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs and activities, and it is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) not to discriminate in such a manner. The University is committed to maintaining an environment that is safe and free from sexual violence and sexual harassment, including sexual assault and stalking. The University will take immediate action to eliminate harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. When an allegation of sexual misconduct is brought to a responsible University employee’s attention (“responsible employee”), and a respondent is found to have violated this policy, serious sanctions will be used to reasonably ensure that such actions are never repeated. This policy reaffirms these principles and provides recourse for those individuals whose rights have been violated. Title IX, state law, and University policy also prohibit retaliation against an individual who has brought forward a complaint of sexual misconduct or taken part in a conduct process as a result of a sexual misconduct complaint.
To the extent this policy contradicts any other University policy, practice, or procedure, this policy will be treated as controlling.
The following are intended as broad definitions, established for purposes of defining University policy:
Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g. due to the student’s age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the student from having the capacity to give consent). A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion. Sexual violence can be carried out by school employees, students, or third parties. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
- Forcible Sexual Offense: involvement in any sexual act with another person, without the consent of the other person, in which there is force which overcomes reasonable resistance; or the threat of force, expressed or implied; or the use of duress or deception.
- Nonforcible Sexual Offense: involvement in any sexual act with another person, without the consent of the other person, particularly when the other person is incapacitated by drugs, alcohol, mental deficiency, or other disability.
- Nonconsensual Sexual Contact: any intentional touching, without the consent of the other person, of the genitals or anus of any person, or the breast of any female person.
- Domestic or dating violence: Domestic or dating violence occurs when one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through actual or threatened physical or sexual violence, or psychological and emotional abuse. These acts may be directed toward a spouse, an ex-spouse, a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, or a current or former dating partner.
Sexual Harassment includes sexual assault and any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome written, verbal, or physical contact of a sexual nature, when:
- Submission to such conduct is made, explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s education, employment, or participation in a University program or activity.
- Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting that individual’s academic standing, employment status, or participation in a University program or activity.
- Hostile environment: such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for that individual’s employment, education, or participation in a University program or activity. The conduct will be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the complainant’s position, considering all the circumstances. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment, particularly if the conduct is physical. A single or isolated incident of sexual violence may create a hostile environment.
- Sexual exploitation: a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include: invasion of sexual privacy, non-consensual video, photographing, or audio-taping of sexual activity, sexually based stalking and/or bullying.
- Sexual Related Offenses: a person engages in obscene or indecent behavior that is sexually motivated, including but not limited to indecent exposure and voyeurism. Sexual related offenses may also include bullying, defined as repeated and/or severe aggressive behavior based on sex likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control or diminish another person, physically or mentally (that is not speech or conduct otherwise protected by the First Amendment).
Examples of Sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Verbal abuse or hostile behavior such as insulting, teasing, mocking, degrading or ridiculing another person or group.
- Unwelcome or inappropriate physical contact, comments, questions, advances, jokes, epithets or demands.
- Physical assault or stalking.
- Displays or electronic transmission of derogatory, demeaning or hostile materials.
- Unwillingness to train, evaluate, assist or work with a person.
- Engaging in behavior that is invasive or disruptive to another person or employee for the purpose of initiating a sexual or romantic relationship with that person.
Stalking is purposely, through a person’s course of conduct, harassing or following with the intent of harassing another person.
Consent is sexual permission and must be clear, knowing and voluntary. In order to consent effectively to sexual activity an individual must be able to understand “who, what, when, where, why and how” with respect to that sexual activity. Consent or lack of consent may be expressed or implied. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you want sexually and what you don’t. 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. Assent does not constitute consent if:
- It is given by a person who lacks the mental capacity to authorize the conduct and such mental incapacity is manifest or known to the actor; or
- It is given by a person who by reason of youth, mental disease or defect, intoxication, a drug-induced state, or any other reason is manifestly unable or known by the actor to be unable to make a reasonable judgment as to the nature or harmfulness of the conduct charged to constitute the offense; or
- It is induced by force, duress or deception.
A complainant is anyone who reports an incident of sex discrimination covered by this policy.
A respondent is anyone against whom a report or allegation of sex discrimination covered by this policy is made.
IV. Prohibited acts and potential sanctions
- Every member of the University community is prohibited from:
- Engaging in sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking;
- Retaliating in any manner against an individual who reports sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or stalking;
- Interfering with procedures to investigate or redress a complaint of sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or stalking; and
- Making an intentionally false accusation of sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or stalking through the University’s procedures.
- Any member of the University community who engages in one of these prohibited acts may be subject to corrective action and appropriate sanctions pursuant to this policy. All other complaints of sexual discrimination or other discriminatory conduct should be directed to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.
V. Reporting and making complaints
- These procedures are intended to provide for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints of sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking. All other grievances will be addressed through the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities, the Employee Handbook, the Faculty Handbook or the Office of Equity and Diversity Complaint Procedures. The University will act promptly in response to information that an incident of sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or stalking has occurred. Any conduct that may be in violation of this policy will be investigated and addressed in a timely manner, typically within 60 calendar days.
- Individuals who wish to report an incident or complaint under this policy may do so by reporting it to the University Title IX Coordinator: H. Wes Pratt, J.D., Park Central Office Building (PCOB), Rm. 111, 417-836-4252. Sexual violence, sexual assault (including but not limited to domestic or dating violence), and stalking, may be reported to the Springfield Police. (See below for contact information). An individual who is considering making a criminal complaint should seek medical care as soon as possible after an assault.
Individuals are encouraged to speak to officials of the University to make formal reports of incidents to any responsible employee (e.g., dean of students, athletic coaches, residence hall directors, vice presidents, or MSU public safety officers). The University considers these people to be “responsible employees.” Notice to them is official notice to the institution. You have the right and can expect to have incidents of sexual discrimination taken seriously by the institution when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through administrative procedures. Formal reporting means that only people who need to know will be told and information will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.
- Any member of the University community is strongly encouraged to report conduct that may constitute a violation of this policy to the Title IX Coordinator, or a responsible employee. Any responsible employee MUST forward such reports to the Title IX Coordinator within 3 days to review and investigate. Any responsible employee who knew about a violation of this policy and took no action to stop it or failed to report the prohibited act may be subject to disciplinary action.
- Reporting Confidentially
If one desires that details of the incident be kept confidential, they should speak with on-campus mental health counselors, campus health service providers or off-campus rape crisis resources who can maintain confidentiality. Campus counselors are available to help students free of charge. In addition, you may speak on and off-campus with members of the clergy, who may also keep reports made to them confidential (see below for contact information). The Title IX Coordinator and Office of General Counsel will evaluate other requests for confidentiality on a case-by-case basis.
- Individuals with complaints of sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking also always have the right to file a formal complaint with the United States Department Education:
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100 Customer Service Hotline #: 800-421-3481
Facsimile: 202-453-6012 TDD#: 877-521-2172
Important University contact information:
MSU Safety and Transportation……… 417-836-5509
Office of the Dean of Students…………417-836-5527
Counseling and Testing Center……… 417-836-5116
Taylor Health Center ………………… 417-836-4000
Title IX Coordinator…………………… 417-836-4252
Other sources of counseling, advocacy and support off campus:
Springfield Police Department……………911 or 417-864-1810
Victim's Center (417)………………………417-864-7233
Family Violence Center……………………417-864-7233
Mercy Emergency- Trauma Center………417-885-2115
Cox Emergency Department - North…… 417-269-3393
Cox Emergency Department - South……417-269-4083
Upon receipt of a grievance (complaint), the Title IX Coordinator or designee will open a formal case file and assign an Investigator who will direct the investigation and confer with other University Officials as necessary (e.g. with a need to know on interim action, accommodations for the alleged victim, or other necessary remedial short-term actions). In general, the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance will investigate complaints against employees, and the Dean of Students office will investigate complaints against students. If the alleged conduct is also the subject of a criminal investigation, the campus may not wait for the conclusion of the criminal investigation to begin an investigation pursuant to this Policy. However, the University may need to coordinate its fact-finding efforts with the police investigation.
The Investigator will then take the following steps:
- In coordination with the appropriate University officials, initiate any necessary remedial actions, and may recommend that interim protections or remedies for the parties or witnesses be provided by appropriate University officials. These protections may include separating the parties, placing limitations on contact between the parties, or making alternative working or student housing arrangements;
- Determine the identity and contact information of the complainant (whether that be the initiator, the alleged victim, or a University proxy or representative);
- Attempt to meet with the Complainant and finalize the complaint;
- Identify the correct policies allegedly violated;
- Prepare the notice of charges on the basis of the initial investigation;
- Meet with the Respondent. S/he will be provided a copy of the Complaint and given a full and complete written statement of the allegations, and a copy of this Policy. Also, the Respondent shall state whether s/he is "responsible" or "not responsible" for the alleged violation during the meeting;
- Commence a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the accused individual, who may be given notice prior to or at the time of the interview;
- Complete the investigation promptly, and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline;
- Make a preliminary finding, based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not);
- Present the preliminary finding to the Respondent and Complainant as well as the appropriate University official(s) and hearing panel(s).
VII. Rights of the complainants and the accused
- The Complainant has the right to choose whether or not to file a formal complaint. There may be circumstances, however, in which the University must investigate and take action to protect the complainant or other members of the University community.
- In addition to pursuing administrative penalties and remedies, the Complainant maintains the right to pursue criminal charges.
- Both the Complainant and the Respondent shall be informed of the outcome of any institutional disciplinary proceeding brought alleging sexual misconduct (the University’s final determination and any sanction(s)).
- The Complainant and the Respondent are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during an institutional disciplinary proceeding.
- A Complainant has the right to change University housing and academic arrangements if such changes are reasonably available.
VIII. Corrective actions and disciplinary procedures
- If the respondent is a student, the University will utilize the process outlined in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. If the Respondent is a faculty member, the University will utilize the process outlined in the Faculty Handbook. If the Respondent is a staff member, the University will utilize the process outlined in the Employee Handbook for Administrative, Professional and Support Staff Employees.
- Possible sanctions for students resulting from the University disciplinary process range from a warning to disciplinary expulsion. Possible sanctions for faculty and staff range from an oral warning to termination of employment. Both the complainant and the respondent shall be informed of the outcome of the corrective action or disciplinary process.
IX. Federal statistical reporting obligations
Certain campus officials have a duty to report sexual misconduct for federal statistical reporting purposes (“Clery Act”). All personally identifiable information is kept confidential, but statistical information must be passed along to campus law enforcement regarding the type of incident and its general location (on or off-campus, in the surrounding area, but no addresses are given) for publication in the annual Campus Security Report. This report helps to provide the community with a clear picture of the extent and nature of campus crime, to ensure greater community safety. Responsible officials include: Dean of Students, campus law enforcement, coaches, athletic director, residence life staff, office of student engagement staff, human resources staff, advisors to student organizations and any other official with significant responsibility for student and campus activities. The information to be shared includes the date, the location of the incident (using Clery location categories) and the Clery crime category. This reporting protects the identity of the victim and may be done anonymously. Missouri State’s security report can be found on the Safety and Transportation website.
X. Federal timely warning reporting obligations
Victims of sexual misconduct should also be aware that University administrators must issue immediate timely warnings for incidents reported to them that are confirmed to 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. The reporters for timely warning purposes are exactly the same as detailed at the end of the above paragraph.
XI. Bystander engagement
The welfare of students in our community is of paramount importance. At times, students on and off-campus may need assistance. MSU encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others, for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a sexual misconduct victim to the Office of Safety and Transportation). The University pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who offer help to others in need. While policy violations cannot be overlooked, the University will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.
XII. Training opportunities
As part of the University’s commitment to providing a working and learning environment free from sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and stalking, this Policy shall be disseminated widely to the University community through publications, websites, new employee orientations, student orientations, and other appropriate channels of communication. The University shall make preventive educational materials available to all members of the University community to promote compliance with this Policy and familiarity with local procedures. Each Vice-President shall designate University employees responsible for reporting sexual harassment and sexual violence and make available prevention training to designated employees. In addition, the University will provide annual training to investigators and hearing officers.