Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sexual Misconduct

    1. What should I do if I or a friend may have been sexually assaulted?
    2. What should I do if I am uncertain about what I experienced constitutes sexual assault?
    3. Does the complaint remain confidential?
    4. Can I make a report anonymously?
    5. Do I have to name my assailant?
    6. Will the accused student know my identity?
    7. If I report my assailant, I am afraid that I will be subject to retaliation from him/her or his/her friends. What kinds of protection can Saint Mary’s College provide to me?
    8. What if I have a relationship with the person who assaulted me?
    9. Will my parents be told?
    10. What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?
    11. My assailant lives in my residence hall and/or attends one of my classes. I am also having difficulty concentrating on my schoolwork. How can I change my residence hall and receive help with my courses?
    12. Will a student be punished when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used alcohol and/or other drugs?
    13. If I engage in a sexual activity with someone who has been drinking, can I be accused of sexual assault?
    14. Can I file a complaint with the College and also with the police? Can I do one and not the other?
    15. How do I file a complaint?
    16. What is the discipline process for sexual misconduct cases?
    17. What is the role of the Advisor in a Discipline Hearing Board (DHB) case?

 

1) What should I do if I or a friend may have been sexually assaulted?

You should seek medical attention as soon as possible, and contact the Campus Assault Resources and Empowerment Care (CARE) hotline at 925-878-9207, 24 hours a day/7 days a week during the regular academic year. The Coordinator of Sexual Assault, Awareness, Outreach and Education (Mitty Hall, Ground Floor) at 925-631-4193 is also available as a resource to help you or your friend get the care you need. A staff member of Counseling and Psychological Services is also on call 24/7. During the day you may call 925-631-4364 or after hours, contact Public Safety at 925-631-4282 (or 9-1-1 by landline only) and ask for the Public Safety officer on call. You should also call Moraga Police at 925-284-5010 to report a possible assault. For more information to get the support you need, and what options are available to you, go to the Sexual Assault and Dating Violence page. If you wish to pursue a complaint against the alleged perpetrator, or if you wish to discuss your options, you should consult with the College’s Title IX Coordinator, one of the Title IX Deputy Coordinators or a member of the Title IX team.

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2) What should I do if I am uncertain about what I experienced constitutes sexual assault?

If you believe that you have experienced a non-consensual sexual contact, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the College’s sexual misconduct policy, you should contact Counseling and Psychological Services on campus, at 925-631-4364 or the Coordinator of Sexual Assault, Awareness, Outreach and Education (Mitty Hall, Ground Floor) at 925-631-4193 or another trusted administrator who can help you to define and clarify the event(s), and advise you of your options.

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3) Does the complaint remain confidential?

When an individual contacts the Campus Assault Resources and Empowerment (CARE) Line, no college discipline action will take place unless the individual chooses to give her or his name and the details surrounding the incident. Any reports that include a victim’s name or alleged perpetrator’s name will be considered formal reports and will initiate college action. In order to ensure that students have as many options as possible when utilizing the line, students who are unsure if they would like to move forward with an on-campus discipline hearing board case are encouraged not to reveal their names.

If a student is seeking more personal confidential support from the College rather than the anonymous support that the CARE line offers, they may contact the Coordinator for Sexual Assault Awareness, Outreach and Education, Gillian Cutshaw (925-631-4193), a certified sexual assault counselor as defined by California Evidence Code Section 1035 et. Seq, and who can therefore offer confidentiality to the student. This will give the student time to seek out support, learn their options regarding reporting both on and off campus, without initiating a college disciplinary response. The confidentiality offered through this resource applies only to the student’s communications with the sexual assault counselor and does not preclude the College from fulfilling its obligations to investigate incidents of assault based on information obtained from other sources. It will be important for the student to understand that if the College obtains information through other sources (e.g., roommates, witnesses, parents, friends or others), the College is obligated to act on that information, which may lead to the initiation of a disciplinary hearing or other administrative action. 

Additionally, the counselors at the Counseling and Psychological Services (925-631-4364) can offer students, as clients, confidentiality and the information and options available to them. Finally, information can be shared confidentially with a priest on campus, in the context, and under the protection, of the priest-penitent privilege. 

In a student discipline proceeding, every reasonable and appropriate effort will be taken by all involved staff to protect the privacy of all individuals as well as the confidentiality of the details and content of the student discipline process, including, but not limited to the preliminary investigation, Discipline Hearing Board, appeal process, and except where permitted by College policy and consistent with applicable law, the sanctions imposed and on whom. However, the College cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality. Students involved in the student discipline process, either directly, or as a witness, are expected to maintain the confidentiality of the process and be mindful of the privacy of others involved.

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4) 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 Respondent or requesting any action. Depending on the level of information available about the incident or the individuals involved, however, the College’s ability to respond to an anonymous report may be limited. Anonymous reports may be made by contacting the CARE Line at 925-878-9207 or the Coordinator of Sexual Assault, Awareness, Outreach and Education (Mitty Hall, Ground Floor) at 925-631-4193. This service allows the person making the report and College administrators to confer about additional details, while the reporting party’s identity remains confidential. All reports will go to the Title IX Coordinator.

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5) Do I have to name my assailant?

Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged assailant. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint. Survivors should be aware that not identifying the assailant may limit the College’s ability to respond comprehensively.

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6) Will the accused student know my identity?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused student has the right to know the identity of the complainant/alleged victim. If there is a hearing, the College does provide options for questioning without confrontation. The answer is only no if no specific name or identity is provided. In this situation the issue is counted in the College’s reporting data, but no formal investigation or confrontation can be conducted.

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7) If I report my assailant, I am afraid that I will be subject to retaliation from him/her or his/her friends. What kinds of protection can Saint Mary’s College provide to me?

Threats or other forms of intimidation and/or retaliation against a student or employee for bringing a complaint of any alleged violation of the Code or other College policy are prohibited. This includes threats or other forms of intimidation and/or retaliation against the family or friends of a student or employee who brings a complaint, those who assist a student or employee in bringing a complaint or those who participate in an investigation and/or student discipline process for an alleged violation of the Code or other College policy. Retaliation is a violation of College policy and may also be a violation the law. An allegation of retaliation constitutes an independent basis for investigation and imposition of sanctions on the retaliating student or employee if determined to have occurred. All incidents that are believed to constitute retaliation should be reported immediately to the Dean of Students (when the individual alleged to have engaged in retaliation is a student) or to the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources (when the individual alleged to have engaged in retaliation is a non-student).

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8) What if I have a relationship with the person who assaulted me?

It is never okay to force, threaten or coerce someone into having sex against his/her will, even if they are in a relationship. Just because you have been intimate with someone in the past does not automatically mean you give consent for any and all future sexual activity.

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9) Will my parents be told?

In the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents.

If the student is under age 21, the College has a Parental Notification Policy to enhance campus safety, student health and wellness, and academic success. In accordance with the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, the College is permitted to disclose to the parents/guardians of a student who is under age 21 if a true health or safety emergency exists, in order to protect the student or others

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10) What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

Do not contact the alleged victim. If you are a student, you must contact the Office of Community Life in Ferroggiaro Hall Room 200, 925-631-4238 The Office of Community Life staff will explain the College’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints and provide the option to select an Advisor from the list of trained Advisors, explain the rights and responsibilities of the Complainant and Respondent, explain the prohibition against retaliation, and explain the Hearing Board process.

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11) My assailant lives in my residence hall and/or attends one of my classes. I am also having difficulty concentrating on my schoolwork. How can I change my residence hall and receive help with my courses?

The Coordinator of Sexual Assault, Awareness, Outreach and Education serves as the primary advocate for students who have been assaulted. The Coordinator will work directly with the Dean of Students to arrange for any residence hall/room changes as well as provide initial assistance with courses (i.e. extensions, switching classes). The Special Assistant to Vice President for Student Academic Rights, Responsibilities, and Institutional Compliance will assist with any courses and communications with professors, but please note that recommendations about courses are at the sole discretion of the professors.

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12) Will a student be punished when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used alcohol and/or other drugs?

Saint Mary’s College’s primary concern is the health and safety of its students. When conducting an investigation of an alleged sexual assault, the College’s focus will be on addressing the sexual assault and not the lesser policy violations that may be discovered or disclosed. The College may, however, provide referrals to counseling or require other educational options.

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13) If I engage in a sexual activity with someone who has been drinking, can I be accused of sexual assault?

Yes, it is against Saint Mary’s College’s Sexual Misconduct policy 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.

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14) Can I file a complaint with the College and also with the police? Can I do one and not the other?

Yes, you may take action through both the campus disciplinary system and the criminal justice system. The College encourages Complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual harassment or misconduct that may also be crimes under California law. In every case of sexual violence, the College, through the Chief of Public Safety, will notify the Moraga Police Department of the allegations. The College will also assist a Complainant in making a criminal report and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies if a Complainant decides to pursue the criminal process to the extent permitted by law. However, a Complainant may also choose not to pursue criminal action, and under most circumstances, the Moraga Police Department will not force a Complainant to pursue charges if he/she is not willing to do so.

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15) How do I file a complaint?

A person, who has experienced an incident of sexual misconduct, as defined in the Sexual Misconduct Policy, may file a complaint against the Saint Mary’s College student responsible for that conduct. Persons may include any member of Saint Mary’s College, including students, faculty, administrators, and staff members, or visitors / guests. Submit a statement to Community Life in the Office of the Dean of Students. This statement should contain sufficient information to permit the Respondent to understand the charges being brought and to be able to adequately respond.

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16) What is the discipline process for sexual misconduct cases?

Upon receipt of a report or of conduct, whether oral or written, of an alleged violation, the Dean of Students, or designee, will begin a preliminary investigation and determine if there is enough information to merit a disciplinary hearing regarding the allegation. The Dean of Students, or designee, will meet with the complainant and the respondent separately to explain the student discipline process and obtain from each a written statement and list of witnesses, if any, who have information pertinent to the incident. After meeting with the complainant and respondent, the Dean of Students, or designee, will prepare the case to be heard by a Discipline Hearing Board (DHB). The complainant and respondent will generally be given at least twenty-hour advance notice of the scheduled meeting tie for the DHB panel. Students are expected to participate in the student discipline process whey they are called as a complainant, respondent, or witness to a hearing. Should a student fail to appear for a hearing when proper notification has been given or should the student fail to provide a statement during the hearing, the hearing will proceed without benefit of that student’s input. Meetings with the DHB panel will be scheduled taking into consideration the student’s regular academic schedule only.

The Discipline Hearing Board (DHB) is comprised of SMC staff and faculty who have been trained to hear these cases. Three members of the DHB pool are appointed by the Dean of Students to sit on a DHB panel, with one member serving as Chair. The Dean of Students, or designee, serves as the discipline process facilitator for all sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment cases and is present during the hearing. The facilitator’s role is to assist the chair and to ensure compliance with the process and procedures. For more information about the hearing, please refer to the Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct Policy of the Student Handbook (link here).

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17) What is the role of the Advisor in a Discipline Hearing Board (DHB) case?

An Advisor serves to guide the Complainant and Respondent through the pre-hearing and hearing process and may accompany the student to the hearing. The Advisor may not be a parent, relative, an attorney, or a representative of an attorney. The Advisor is not an advocate for the student in the proceedings and may not direct questions to or otherwise address the Discipline Hearing Board (DHB), but may consult with the student that he or she is assisting. The advisor is obligated to maintain the confidentiality of the nature of the allegation(s), the content of the student discipline process, and the privacy of the Complainant, Respondent, and any witnesses known to the advisor. A list of individuals who have volunteered and have been trained to serve as advisors in sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment cases is available from the Dean of Students, or designee, to both the Complainant and Respondent. Students are strongly encouraged to choose an advisor to assist them in the student discipline process. It is the student’s decision if they want an advisor and who that advisor will be.

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