Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the university’s sexual assault policy and procedures.
Is it sexual assault?
What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened, or if it constitutes sexual assault?
If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct or a sexual assault, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the university’s policy on Sexual Assault, Stalking and Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct, you should contact the Office of Student Conduct, the Dean of Student’s office, the Title IX Coordinator or the Victims’ Center. They can help you to define and clarify the event(s) and advise you of your options.
What is consent?
Essentially, consent is a mutual agreement between two people about what they want and what they are comfortable with in terms of sexual activity. Consent is given freely and is never forced or given under pressure, duress, coercion or due to incapacitation.
Consent should be:
- Informed: a person has an understanding of what is being asked of them
- Voluntary: the choice by a person to participate or not participate is present and respected
- Active: actions, both verbal and non-verbal, demonstrate agreement from both parties
- Use clear words and actions : No means No, Stop means Stop, Slow Down means Slow Down
REMEMBER: A person cannot LEGALLY give consent if:
- A person is impaired, incapacitated or unconscious (to any degree) from voluntary or involuntary drug or alcohol use.
- A person has a physical or mental disability
If I engage in a sexual activity with someone who has been drinking, can I be accused of sexual assault?
Yes, it is against the university’s policy on Sexual Assault, Stalking and Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct to engage in any sexual activity with someone who is mentally or physically incapacitated, and therefore incapable of giving consent. Alcohol may cause such a state of incapacitation. However, it varies on a case by case basis. For a variety of reasons it is not advisable to engage in sexual activity while intoxicated. When one or both parties are intoxicated, people tend to misinterpret another’s sexual intentions and often proceed before the issue of consent has been clarified.
Does information about a complaint remain private?
The University will maintain the privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct, except when it interferes with the University’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. When privacy is not strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. Sharing 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 student may lead to conduct action by the university.
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 complainant.
Certain university administrators are informed of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy (e.g., the president of the university, dean of students or the director of security).
The institution 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.
Can I make a report anonymously?
Any individual may make an anonymous report concerning an act of sexual misconduct. An individual may report the incident without disclosing his/her name, identifying the accused or requesting any action. The level of information shared and made available about the incident or the individuals involved will affect the University’s ability to respond.
EthicsPoint is a service that allows anyone to report suspected misconduct or other issues with complete confidentiality. This service allows the person making the report and university administrators to confer about additional details, while maintaining the reporting party’s anonymity. All reports will go to the Title IX coordinator.
Anonymous reports may be made via telephone at 888-233-8988 (toll free) or on the EthicsPoint website.
Will my parents be told?
No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the complainant or the accused student, the University’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. University officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, in a life-threatening situation or if the complainant and/or an accused student has signed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permission form at registration ,which allows such communication with the parents and/or other permissible third party.
Will the accused student know my identity?
Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused has the right to know the identity of the complainant. If there is a hearing, the University does provide options for questioning without confrontation, including using Skype, closed circuit testimony and separate hearing rooms.
The answer can be “No” only if no specific name or identity is provided. In this situation, the issue is counted in the University’s reporting data (Clery Act), but no formal investigation or confrontation can be conducted.
Do I have to name the assailant?
Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged assailant.
You do not have to name the assailant if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint. Complainants should be aware that not identifying the assailant 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 victim.
You may immediately want to contact someone in the campus community who can act as your advisor. You may also contact the Student Conduct Office or the Dean of Students Office and/or the Title IX Coordinator or designee who can explain the university’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints. They will also be able to provide information regarding the right to select a support person; explain the rights and responsibilities of the complainant and respondent; explain the prohibition against retaliatory actions, and explain the Hearing Board process the respondent offender will be subject to in the matter.
Drug or alcohol use and sexual misconduct
Will a student be punished when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used drugs or alcohol?
Missouri State’s primary concern is the health and safety of its students. When conducting an investigation of an alleged sexual assault, the University’s focus will be on addressing the sexual assault and not the lesser policy violations that may be discovered or disclosed. The University may, however, provide referrals to counseling or require other educational options.
Will the use of drugs and/or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint?
The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the responsibility of the accused. However, alcohol and/or other drugs are likely to affect memories and may affect the outcome of a case.
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 student.
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.