Sexual Violence Policy and Information
MCLA is committed to creating and maintaining an environment where domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape are strictly prohibited and where all members of the College community are educated in preventing and reporting such incidents. All reports of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape will be investigated and will result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the College. The College will provide a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution of any and all reports.
The College does not tolerate sexual violence in any form. Sexual violence includes but is not limited to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape. These are violations of Commonwealth law and College policy. Any person charged with domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and/or rape can be prosecuted under Massachusetts criminal statutes and an MCLA student may also be disciplined under the MCLA student conduct process.
Under Massachusetts law, rape is a felony offense, punishable by imprisonment in a state prison. All acts of sexual violence violate state law, the College's Affirmative Action Policy, and Title IX. These laws and policies are violated in the case of same sex conduct as well. If found responsible under the College's student conduct code, a student could be removed from College residence areas and/or suspended or dismissed from the College. Even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute an alleged assailant, student conduct action may be pursued if the College believes a policy violation has occurred.
If the College suspects a violation under this policy was committed by an enrolled MCLA student, the College may immediately suspend the alleged perpetrator from the residence areas and/or College pending the outcome of a hearing. Alternative academic or living arrangements for the accused and/or the survivor may also be made by the College, regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator is an enrolled student, if appropriate and reasonably available.
Many survivors of violent crimes, and especially survivors of sexual assaults, experience emotional distress. Victims become survivors by taking control of their lives again. The process of surviving begins by making sure you receive the physical and emotional care you need. Also, it is important to learn about your rights. A student, staff or faculty member who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape is strongly encouraged to report the crime immediately to the Department of Public Safety. The College may provide support to survivors through a variety of resources including Counseling Services, Health Services, the Department of Public Safety, Residential Programs & Services, and the Student Affairs Division Office. It is each survivor's individual decision whether to report these crimes to the local police, but the College urges that reporting take place to help assure a safe living and working environment for the entire College community. Even if a survivor does not wish to pursue a criminal prosecution or initiate a formal complaint, the College urges that the victim notify campus authorities so appropriate support services can be pursued in an informed manner.
II. PROCEDURES FOR REPORTING SEXUAL VIOLENCE AT MCLA
All criminal actions or other emergencies occurring on campus should be reported to the Department of Public Safety. Public Safety staff will assist the victim in reporting the case of alleged sexual violence to other appropriate agencies. The emergency telephone number is (413) 662-5100, ext. 5100 from on Campus or 911. If you are a victim and decide not to notify Public Safety, please:
- Get to a safe place.
- Get immediate emotional support.
- Get immediate medical attention.
Victim Confidentiality - All police contacts with victims of sexual violence are private matters. Massachusetts law guarantees the privacy of victims of sexual violence. The identity of victims will be kept private and will not be released to anyone without the victim's consent, including College officials or the media. The College respects requests for confidentiality to the extent possible while following through with the obligation to investigate and respond to complaints of violations of this policy.
Retaliation - All allegations of retaliation against reporters of allegations of sexual violence will be investigated and charges will be filed for all substantiated violations.
The victim has the option of reporting to law enforcement (on-campus and local police). The victim also has the option to be assisted by Campus authorities in notifying law enforcement or to decline to notify such authorities if the victim so chooses. The victim may request orders of protection, no contact orders, restraining orders or similar lawful orders issued by a criminal, civil or tribal court. Where such orders are issued, the College will enforce such orders to the extent permissible by law.
III. CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY
Where to Get Other Confidential Help
Any person who feels they are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and/or rape should report the matter to any of the following staff and/or office representatives:
MCLA Department of Public Safety: (413) 662-5100, ext. 5100 from on Campus or 911. The Department of Public Safety can also provide information concerning civil and criminal proceedings.
Counseling and mental health services, medical assistance, victim advocacy, legal assistance, and other services available for victims both on-Campus and in the local community.
MCLA Health Services, (413) 662-5421
MCLA Counseling Services, (413) 662-5331
MCLA Residential Programs & Services, (413) 662-5249
MCLA Student Affairs Division Office, (413) 662-5231
MCLA Center for Student Success & Engagement, (413) 662-5400
MCLA Title IX Coordinator & Director of Human Resources, Mary Ellen Olenyk, (413) 662-5597
Berkshire Medical Center Satellite Emergency Facility, North Adams (413) 664-5256
The Elizabeth Freeman Center, 24 hour hotline (413) 663-9709), a local rape crisis center providing legal assistance and victim advocacy with offices in North Adams and Pittsfield.
IV. PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE
If you are raped, sexually assaulted or otherwise victimized:- Go to a safe place.
- Don't wash, douche or change clothes before getting help.
- Don't touch any evidence of struggle or disarray. If you choose to report
- Seek medical attention. Try to engage the help of someone you trust to
- Seek professional counseling for support and to help prevent post-traumatic
- Don't isolate yourself.
- Be patient with yourself; it takes time to recover and trust again.
- Don't blame yourself. The person who committed the assault is responsible.
V. RIGHTS OF VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DATING VIOLENCE, STALKING, SEXUAL ABUSE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, AND RAPE
Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape have the following rights regardless of whether they choose to report the crime to Campus police or local law enforcement:
- Determine whether or not you want to cooperate with law enforcement
- Pursue disciplinary action against the perpetrator through the MCLA
- Be accommodate if you need such in the event of a disability.
- Confidential counseling services by a trained counselor on or off-Campus;
- Receive confidential support and information regarding the choices that are
- Confidential medical treatment.
- Academic support from faculty and administrators.
- Change in your academic, living, transportation, dining, and working
- Availability of reasonable interim measures such as other options for
- No contact orders or judicial orders of protection.
- Fair, prompt, impartial investigations and resolutions conducted by
- Determine whether or not your parents will be notified.
- Not to be harassed by the perpetrator or the perpetrator's friends.
- Updates as to the status of the Title IX investigation.
VI. THE STUDENT CONDUCT SYSTEM
Complaints for violations of this sexual violence policy or any other violation can be fled with the Office of the Associate Dean of Students. All complaints must be in writing, and procedural advice is readily available by contacting the Associate Dean of Students. Any investigation and hearing will be conducted by officials, including students who sit on conduct boards, who receive annual training on:- Issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault,
- How to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects
- How to protect the confidentiality of victims.
The evidentiary standard used in cases of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape is the preponderance of the evidence.
Survivors are entitled to these additional rights within the College student conduct system:
- To have a person of the student's choice accompany the student throughout
- To give testimony in the presence of the accused at the hearing or give
- To remain present during the entire proceeding.
- Not to have one's irrelevant past sexual history discussed during the hearing.
Accused persons have the following rights under the student conduct system:
- To have an immediate review of the suspension decision, if applicable.
- To have a person of the student's choice accompany him or her throughout the
- To have access to information in a timely fashion so as to prepare appropriately
- To ask questions after the case has been presented in a hearing.
- Not to have one's irrelevant past sexual history discussed during the hearing.
The College will simultaneously notify both the accuser and the accused, in writing, of:- The outcome of the disciplinary proceeding;
- The procedures for the accused and the victim to appeal the results;
- Any change in the results that occurs prior to the time the results become final;
- When the results become final.
VII. RECOGNIZING WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR AND HOW TO AVOID POTENTIAL ATTACKS
- Prevention is being alert and prepared.
- Lock your room at all times. Lock your townhouse door as well.
- Use the peephole in your door.
- Avoid poorly lighted streets, alleys and pathways.
- Keep alert - if you see a person acting suspiciously head for bright lights
- Never jog/walk alone. Stick to a planned route and run with a friend.
- Never hitchhike.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Your first defense is noise - scream! Scream "fire" not "help" to attract
- Don't get in an elevator if there is someone suspicious already in the car.
- Convey confidence through body language. Walk with your head up and
- Don't mark your room key or key chain with your name, address or
- If a person at a party insists or pressures you to accept a ride home,
- If you use alcohol, do so responsibly.
- Never leave your drink unattended.
- In a dating situation, define exactly what you want from a relationship.
- Always strive to say what you really mean. Be assertive. Maintain control
- Trust your instincts. If you feel it is not right, it probably is not.
VII. SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY AND ACCESS TO RELATED INFORMATION
The federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, enacted on October 28, 2000, went into effect October 28, 2002. The law requires institutions of higher education to issue a statement advising the campus community where law enforcement agency information provided by a state concerning registered sex offenders may be obtained. It also requires sex offenders already required to register in a state to provide notice to each institution of higher education in that state at which the person is employed, carries on a vocation or is a student. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, convicted sex offenders must register with the Sex Offender Registry Board. Information concerning offenders registered with the Sex Offender Registry Board may be disclosed to any person 18 years of age or older requesting information on a specific individual in accordance with the law. Information regarding a specific person requested pursuant to the law shall be disseminated upon receipt of an official request form, which may be obtained through the City of North Adams Police Department. Information concerning offenders may also be available electronically through contact with the appropriate web site related to the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board. The pertinent web site address for securing related information is: http://www.state.ma.us/sorb/
IX. SELECTED POLICY DEFINITIONS
Consent. There is no statutory definition of consent in Massachusetts. A person, however, cannot lawfully consent to sexual contact if: that person was using drugs or alcohol to the point of incapacitation; that person was drugged, asleep, unconscious, underage (under 16 in Massachusetts) or is not able to lawfully consent due to an intellectual or other disability.
Dating Violence. Violence by a person who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Whether there was such a relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction. There is no specific statutory definition or crime of "dating violence" in Massachusetts other than what might exist under the ambit of M.G.L. Chapter 209A.*
Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment prohibited by Title IX.
Domestic Violence. In Massachusetts, "domestic violence" refers to abuse committed by a member of a family, a household or an intimate partner against another member of the family, household or against the intimate partner. "Abuse" is the occurrence of one or more of the following acts: (a) attempting to cause or causing physical harm; (b) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; (c) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress. "Family or household members" are persons who: (a) are or were married to one another; (b) are or were residing together in the same household; (c) are or were related by blood or marriage; (d) having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or (e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by courts in consideration of the following factors: (1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has been terminated by either person, the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.*
Rape. In Massachusetts, rape is the penetration of any bodily orifice by any part of the body, or by an object, performed against the victim's will, without consent, and with the threat of or actual use of force. Mass. Gen. Laws c. 265, § 22.
Sexual Assault. Sexual assault is charged as indecent assault and battery in Massachusetts. It is defined as a crime that occurs when the offender, without the victim's consent, intentionally has physical contact of a sexual nature with the victim. Mass. Gen. Laws c. 265, § 13H.
Stalking. Under Massachusetts law, stalking is a willful and malicious pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress or the making of a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury. Mass. Gen. Laws c. 266, § 43.*
*The definitions of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking also apply to same-sex relationships and domestic partners
For additional information, please contact: The Student Affairs Division Office (413) 662-5231. A written explanation of the rights and options will be provided to students or employees who reports to the College that they have been a victim of one of the aforementioned crimes.