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Sexual Misconduct - Title IX Policy


Mount St. Mary's University is a Catholic institution committed to upholding standards that promote respect and human dignity. Sexual misconduct, in any form, severely violates the trust and respect essential to the preservation of such an environment and directly threatens the safety and well-being of our community members.

The following policy and procedures are included within the University’s Code of Student Conduct and apply to all persons taking courses through the University (including summer sessions), both full and part time, pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies, and any person residing in University housing. The University may respond to any violation of the Code of Student Conduct committed during the time in which the student is enrolled, including incidents off campus, time between semesters, during breaks, semesters abroad, and during leaves of absences.

The following policy and procedures comply with the Title IX law and regulations and U.S. Department of Education guidance. Students who wish to file a complaint under Title IX may contact the Dean of Students, Michael Taberski, who serves as the Mount’s Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Students:

Contact

Michael Taberski
Dean of Students & Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Students
(301) 447-5274
taberski@msmary.edu
McGowan Hall 235 (Residence Life Office)

During Non Business Hours - Dean Taberski can be reached through the Office of Public Safety (301) 447-5357

Students may also contact the Title IX Coordinator:

Pauline Engelstatter
Vice President for University Affairs
Main Floor, Bradley Hall
(301)-447-5086
engelsta@msmary.edu


Mount St. Mary's University Sexual Misconduct / Title IX Policy

Mount St. Mary’s University will not tolerate acts of sexual misconduct committed by or against any member of our community. Sexual misconduct includes:

Sex Offenses
Sex Offenses are defined as any sexual act directed against another person without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent.  The term “sexual assault” means an offense that meets the following definitions of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape.

Rape is the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina, anus, or orally with any body part or by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.

Fondling is the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his or her age or because of his or her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.

Incest is non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.

Statutory Rape is non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Dating Violence
Dating Violence means violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.

Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence means a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred.

Stalking
Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.

Sexual Exploitation
Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual sexual advantage of another for her/his own benefit or the benefit of others. Sexual Exploitation includes but is not limited to recording or broadcasting (audio, visual, or pictorial) of sexual activity, voyeurism, or prostitution.

Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome and/or repeated sexual advances, requests, or threats; offensive or demeaning sexual language or actions which is severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive as to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an person’s educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. The University’s complete Sexual Harassment Policy (Section 14.10.0 of the Governing Documents) may be found at [insert link].

Retaliation
Retaliation or intimidation against anyone involved in a potential sexual misconduct situation will not be tolerated by the University. This includes the potential victim, potential respondent, or anyone participating in the reporting or investigation.

Consent
For the purposes of this policy, consent means words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in a mutually agreed upon sexual act. Consent is informed, freely and actively given, and cannot be obtained through coercion, intimidation, physical force or if either party is incapacitated. Silence or lack of active resistance should never be interpreted as consent. Consent cannot be inferred from previous sexual activity or intimate relationships.

*Note: Use of alcohol and/or drugs is not an excuse for violation of the Title IX Sexual Misconduct policy. A person who is intoxicated may have his or her judgment seriously impaired and thus might not be able to give informed consent to sexual activity. In addition, a person who is has consumed alcoholic beverages to the degree that he or she is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs may not be capable of discerning and confirming consent to sexual activity. It also should be reemphasized that silence, previous sexual activity or intimate relationships, and/or the current relationship status between the parties should not be taken as an indication of consent.

When there is reasonable cause to believe that federal or state laws prohibiting sexual misconduct have been violated, the University will assist and fully support individuals who wish to pursue filing a criminal report through the local police and/or civil action through the legal system. The University will also support individuals who wish to pursue disciplinary action against the employee, student, or third party accused of sexual misconduct through the University sexual harassment policy or student conduct process. Procedures have been developed to provide medical, emotional, and judicial assistance to victims of sexual misconduct. Because the right to privacy is a particularly sensitive issue in dealing with incidents of a sexual nature, these procedures have been designed specifically to maintain the highest level of confidentiality possible. The University strongly believes that it is important whenever possible for victims to be active in the decision-making process and thus recover a sense of control in their lives.

Reporting Procedure
A student who is the victim of sexual misconduct is encouraged to seek assistance as soon as possible after the incident. Community members who become aware of sexual misconduct (regardless of their involvement) are likewise encouraged to report the information in order for the University to assist potential victims and protect the community.

The following individuals are required to report information regarding alleged sexual misconduct involving students (as victim or accused) to the Dean of Students/Title IX Deputy Coordinator in order to ensure victims receive support and understand their rights:

  • University administrators

  • University athletic personnel including coaches, assistant coaches and trainers

  • Campus Ministry staff except for the University Chaplain or priests acting in a role as a pastoral counselor

  • University faculty

  • Public Safety Officers and Administrators

  • Residence Life Staff including Resident Assistants and professional staff members

  • Seminary Faculty, Staff and Administrators

  • University Staff

The following individuals, if requested by the victim, may maintain confidentiality and are thus not required to submit an identifiable report to the Dean of Students/Title IX Coordinator:

  • University Counselors

  • Health Services Staff

  • The University Chaplain or priests acting in a role as a pastoral counselor

A victim can also contact the Heartly House, a rape and sexual assault crisis center in Frederick, Maryland directly by calling 301-662-8800. Heartly House can provide counseling, emotional support and information regarding legal options. An advocate of the Heartly House will normally meet a victim at Frederick Memorial Hospital Emergency Room at the victim’s request.

Investigation
When the Dean of Students/Title IX Deputy Coordinator receives a report from a victim, community member, or University personnel, the Director of Public Safety/Title IX Deputy Coordinator (or designee) will be contacted in order to initiate an investigation. This investigation may include, but is not limited to: meeting with the victim, meeting with the accused respondent, and meeting with anyone who may have information regarding the alleged incident.

The University’s investigation will be handled separately from any other investigation (including criminal or civil) and every attempt will be made to have the University’s investigation completed in a timely manner independent of any other investigation.

Victims have the option to share as much or as little information as they are comfortable disclosing, and the University will maintain the strictest privacy possible. Information will only be disclosed to those responsible for the investigation and/or resolution of the situation when absolutely necessary.

While a victim can decide whether or not he or she wishes to pursue disciplinary action against the accused individual through the University’s sexual harassment policy or the student conduct process, as applicable, the University reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to pursue an investigation and disciplinary process in order to protect the University community.

Evidence Protection
A victim of sexual assault should:

  • Try to preserve all physical evidence.

  • Do not wash, use the toilet, bathe, shower, or change clothing if it can be avoided. If clothes are changed, place all clothing worn at the time of the assault or immediately following the assault in a paper (not plastic) bag. Victims should also preserve bedding (I.e. sheets, pillows, blankets, etc.) whenever possible.

  • Get medical attention as soon as possible to make sure there are not any physical injuries or other health related issues and to collect important evidence that will assist with a prosecution.

Student Conduct Process
Once an investigation has concluded, the Director of Public Safety/Title IX Deputy Coordinator will provide a report of the investigation to the Dean of Students/Title IX Deputy Coordinator. If there is reason to believe that a student has violated the sexual misconduct policy, the Dean of Students will initiate the Student Conduct Process. An explanation of the Student Conduct Process can be found with the University’s Student Code of Conduct at [insert link].  The “preponderance of the evidence” standard will be applied in the Student Conduct Process.

While the policies and procedures associated with the Student Conduct Process are consistent regardless of the type of conduct violation, it should be noted that cases involving Title IX/Sexual Misconduct also include the following procedures:

  • The victim may be present for the student conduct conference or witness the conference proceedings via an audio/visual connection.

  • The victim in a sexual misconduct situation also has the ability to appeal the outcome of the conduct process. The procedures for the appeal process (which are the same for victims in sexual misconduct cases) can be found in the student conduct process of the student Code of Conduct.

Rights of the Victim
Any student who is a victim of sexual misconduct shall have the following rights:

  • The right to decide whether he/she victim wants to initiate University disciplinary action against the accused and/or file charges with the Frederick Country Sheriff’s Department.

  • The right to file for a Peace Order or Protective Order at the Frederick County Commissioner’s Office prohibiting the accused or friends of the accused from contacting the victim.

  • The right to have a person of the victim’s choice accompany her/him during a University conduct conference or other University disciplinary proceeding. All participants will be bound by the rules of confidentiality governing the conduct conference.

  • The right to request modified living arrangements (if living in campus housing) pending the outcome of the University conduct process.

  • The right, where possible, to have classes reassigned so as to not share classes with the accused.

  • The right to make up academic work the victim has missed because of time lost due to the assault, investigation, and the University conduct process.

  • The right to request that the University proceedings be conducted so that the accused and the victim are never in the same room together. The right to be present at the University hearing or witness the hearing via an audio/video connection.

  • The right not to have his/her sexual history discussed during the University conduct process.

  • The right to make a victim impact statement.

  • The right to be notified of the outcome of the University conduct process.

  • The right to appeal the outcome of the University conduct process.

Rights of the Accused
Any student accused of sexual misconduct has the following rights:

  • The right to an explanation of the information brought against him/her.

  • The right to an explanation of the student conduct process.

  • The right to be presumed not responsible.

  • The right to a fair and impartial conduct process.

  • The right to have an advisor accompany him/her during a University conduct conference. All participants will be bound by the rules of confidentiality governing the hearing and the advisor standards explained in the University’s student Code of Conduct.

  • The right to know ahead of time the names of witnesses to be called in the conduct conference.

  • The right to testify on his/her own behalf.

  • The right to be free from a second conduct conference on the same charge after the actions of the accused has been found not to be in violation of University policies.

  • The right to be informed of the outcome of the conduct process.

  • The right to appeal the outcome of the University conduct process.

Title IX Grievance Policy
If a student feels she/he has been discriminated against by the University on the basis of sex, the student may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. For more information on this process please visit http://www.ed.gov/ocr

 
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