myMCLA LOGON
DIRECTORY | SUPPORT MCLA   

Sexual Violence Policy and Information

Overview

MCLA is committed to creating and maintaining an environment where sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and retaliation are not tolerated, are strictly prohibited, and where all members of the College community are educated in preventing and reporting such incidents.

These incidents can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including between people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Victims can be any gender. Any person, regardless of gender identity, can commit sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation, and these behaviors can occur between people of the same or different gender.

Acts of sexual violence are violations of Commonwealth law; the State University Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Plan; the MCLA Student Handbook; and Title IX. Any person charged with an act of sexual violence may be prosecuted under Massachusetts criminal statutes. An MCLA student may also be sanctioned following a Title IX investigation in accordance with the State University Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Plan. If found responsible following a Title IX investigation, a student could face disciplinary action. Even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute an alleged respondent, disciplinary action may be pursued if the College believes a policy violation occurred.

If the College suspects a violation under the State University Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Plan was committed by an enrolled MCLA student, the College may immediately suspend the respondent from the residence areas and/or College pending the outcome of a formal investigation. Alternative academic or living arrangements for the respondent and/or the complainant may also be made by the College, regardless of whether the respondent is an enrolled student, if appropriate and reasonably available.

Information concerning the investigation and resolution procedures can be found in the State University Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Plan (Appendix 4).

Selected Policy Definitions

MCLA is committed to creating and maintaining an environment where sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and retaliation are not tolerated, are strictly prohibited, and where all members of the College community are educated in preventing and reporting such incidents.

These incidents can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including between people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Victims can be any gender. Any person, regardless of gender identity, can commit sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation, and these behaviors can occur between people of the same or different gender.

Sexual Violence. As defined by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and this Plan, 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 [person’s] age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the [person] from having the capacity to give consent).” All forms of sexual violence are prohibited by the Universities and Title IX.

Rape. Rape is the penetration, no matter how slight, of (1) the vagina or anus of a person by any body part of another person or by an object, or (2) the mouth of a person by a sex organ of another person, without that person’s consent. Rape is also the performance of oral sex or anal sex on another person without that person’s consent.

Affirmative Consent. Consent is an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions, which indicate a willingness by all parties to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent must be informed, freely and actively given. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain clear and affirmative responses at each stage of sexual involvement. 

Whether an individual has taken advantage of a position of influence over a complainant may be a factor in determining consent. For example, a position of influence could include supervisory or disciplinary authority.

Silence, previous sexual relationships or experiences, and/or a current relationship may not, in themselves, be taken to imply consent. While nonverbal consent is possible (through active participation), it is best to obtain verbal consent. Similarly, consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly. 

Sexual Assault. Sexual assault is any kind of sexual physical contact that involves any form of coercion, force or lack of consent. Sexual physical contact includes the intentional touching of another person on an area of the body generally recognized as a private part of the body, or touching any part of another person’s body with a private part of one’s own body or object, no matter how slight. Sexual intercourse means penetration, no matter how slight, of a bodily orifice (vagina, anus, or mouth) by an object or by a body part, and/or non-consensual oral sex or anal sex. 

Sexual Harassment. Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is prohibited when: submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; and/or submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; and/or such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or work professional performance or creating a sexually intimidating or hostile employment, educational, or living environment.

Gender-Based Harassment. Unwelcome conduct of a nonsexual nature based on a person’s actual or perceived sex, including conduct based on gender identity, gender expression, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, is prohibited when: submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; and/or submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; and/or such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating or hostile employment, educational, or living environment based on gender.

Domestic and Dating Violence. Domestic and dating violence are acts of abusive or coercive behavior (physical, sexual, financial, verbal and/or emotional) used by a perpetrator to gain or exercise control over another, including any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Domestic and dating violence can occur in relationships between persons of any gender.

Domestic violence is such behavior directed against a current or former spouse, family member (blood, step, adoptive or foster), person with whom a child is shared, or cohabitant (possibly a roommate).

Dating violence is such behavior directed against another person in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, and where the existence of such a relationship is determined based on a consideration of the length and type of relationship and frequency of interaction between the persons involved. 

Stalking. Engaging in a course of harassing, threatening, or unwanted behavior that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress or fear for their safety or the safety of others. Stalking may occur in a range of formats including, but not limited to, in-person conduct, writings, texting, voicemail, email, social media, following someone with a global position system (GPS), and video/audio recording. 

Retaliation. The Universities prohibit retaliation against any person for making a complaint of sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation, for assisting in making a complaint, for resisting or openly opposing such conduct, or for otherwise using or participating in the complaint investigation process under the Policy.  Persons who file, or participate in the investigation or resolution of, claims or complaints of sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation with outside agencies, law enforcement or otherwise pursuant to any applicable state or federal law, are also protected from retaliation by this Policy.

Prohibited retaliation includes, but is not limited to: threats; intimidation; reprisals; continued harassment or misconduct; other forms of harassment; slander and libel; and adverse actions related to employment or education. Retaliation can be committed by individuals or groups, including friends, relatives or other associates of the person against whom a complaint is filed. Retaliation, even in the absence of proven sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking in an underlying complaint, constitutes a violation of this Policy that is just as serious as the main offense itself.

Rights of Individuals Who Experience Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, Gender-Based Harassment, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking or Retaliation

Individuals who experience sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and retaliation have the following rights regardless of whether they choose to report the crime to Public Safety or local law enforcement:

  • Determine whether or not to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.
  • Pursue disciplinary action against the respondent through the Campus Title IX Investigation Process.
  • Be accommodated, if needed, in the event of a disability.
  • Confidential counseling services by a trained counselor on or off-Campus;
  • Receive confidential support and information regarding the available choices.
  • Confidential medical treatment.
  • Academic support from faculty and administrators.
  • Change in academic, living, transportation, dining, and working situations, if requested.
  • Availability of reasonable interim measures such as alternate options for transportation, working situations or on-Campus housing if one feels unsafe in the current residence or the residence of others. The burden on the complainant will be minimized whenever possible.
  • No contact orders or judicial orders of protection.
  • Fair, prompt, impartial investigations and resolutions conducted by College officials who receive annual training.
  • Determine whether or not parents will be notified.
  • Not to be harassed by the respondent or the respondent's friends.
  • Updates as to the status of the Campus Title IX Investigation

Reporting Sexual Violence at MCLA

MCLA strongly encourages anyone who experiences sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking to report the incident so MCLA may provide support and pursue an appropriate resolution. MCLA prohibits and will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who makes a report.

Several options for reporting exist: Confidential Reports, Non-Confidential Reports, and Making No Report. As a general rule, when MCLA receives a report of sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking or retaliation, it must investigate the report. If unsure of someone’s duty to report or ability to maintain one’s confidence, one should ask them before disclosing information. They will be able to explain if they are required to make a report, and they can identify others who can help.

Criminal Actions or Emergencies

MCLA encourages all criminal actions or other emergencies occurring on Campus to be reported to the Department of Public Safety. Public Safety will assist individuals in reporting alleged acts of sexual violence to other appropriate agencies. The emergency telephone number is (413) 662-5100, ext. 5100 from on Campus or 911. If one experiences an act of sexual violence and decides not to notify Public Safety, please:

  • Get to a safe place.
  • Seek immediate emotional support.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Confidential Medical & Emotional Assistance

Individuals who feel they experienced sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking or retaliation should report the matter to and seek medical and emotional assistance from any of the following offices or community agencies:

MCLA Health ServicesMountainOne Wellness Center413.662.5421
MCLA Counseling ServicesMountainOne Wellness Center413.662.5331
Berkshire Medical Center - North AdamsHospital Drive, North Adams413.664.5256
Elizabeth Freeman Center 24-Hour HotlineNorth Adams, Pittsfield413.663.9709


Non-Confidential, Private Assistance

MCLA offers a variety of resources to those community members who have experienced sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking or retaliation. While the following resources are not bound by confidentiality, they will maintain one’s privacy within the limited group of MCLA personnel necessary to address the matter presented.

MCLA Department of Public Safety277 Ashland Street

413.662.5100

ext. 5100 on Campus

911

MCLA Title IX Coordinator, Nicole Comstock
Venable 309C
413.662.5571
MCLA Residential Programs & ServicesFlagg Townhouse 89413.662.5249
MCLA Student Affairs Division OfficeAmsler Campus Center413.662.5231

 

Responsible Employees

MCLA recognizes that one may feel most comfortable disclosing an incident to a University employee that one knows well. Pursuant to Title IX certain employees are required, under nearly all circumstances, to report incidents to the Title IX Coordinator. These employees, known as “Responsible Employees” or “REs” are those with supervisory responsibilities or the authority to address or remediate sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and retaliation, or whom a student might reasonably believe has such supervisory responsibility or authority. 

The Universities encourage victims to speak with an RE so that the incident can be investigated and properly resolved. When one makes a report to an RE, one has the right - and should expect - the University to take the report seriously, to undertake a prompt, thorough and fair investigation, and to resolve the matter in accordance with the procedures in this Policy. 

The REs at the Universities include persons holding the following positions:

  • Members of the Boards of Trustees;
  • The President and Vice Presidents;
  • Assist./Assoc. Vice Presidents;
  • Title IX Coordinator/ Deputy Coordinators;
  • EO Officer;
  • Campus Police;
  • Institutional Security Officers;
  • Director and Assist./Assoc. Director of Human Resources;
  • Departmental Directors and Assist./Assoc. Directors[1];
  • Residence Life Staff (including RDs and RAs);
  • Athletic Coaches, Assistant Coaches and Athletics Administrators;
  • Studio Managers;
  • Lab Managers;
  • Deans and Assistant/Associate Deans
  • Academic Department Chairs;
  • Academic and Non-Academic Program Directors/Coordinators;
  • Faculty/Staff Leading or Chaperoning Travel or Overnight Trips; and
  • Faculty/Staff Advisors to Student Organizations.

Making No Report

Individuals have the right not to make a report to anyone. MCLA, however, strongly encourages individuals to seek medical attention, counseling and support. Individuals are always welcome to file a report at a later date, but please note a delay in reporting could weaken the evidence necessary to determine whether the accused is found responsible for committing an act of sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking or retaliation.

Preservation of Evidence

The College strongly urges any person who experiences sexual violence to take steps to preserve evidence of the incident. After an incident, individuals are encouraged to:

  • Go to a safe place.
  • Avoid washing, douching or changing clothes before getting help.
  • Avoid touching any evidence of struggle or disarray. This evidence is important should the individual choose to report the incident to the police (then or later).
  • Seek medical attention. Try to bring a trusted person when seeking this care.
  • Seek professional counseling for support and to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Refrain from self-isolation.
  • Be patient. It takes time to recover and trust again.
  • Refrain from blaming oneself. The person who committed the assault is responsible. Sexual penetration without consent (even within the context of a date) is RAPE.

Social Media and Title IX

MCLA conducts regular social listening across all social media platforms typically used by our undergraduates. MCLA’s EO plan should be considered a guide to these matters generally.

In the event of a Title IX issue on social media, screenshots will be sent directly to Title IX Coordinator, or in the event the Title IX Coordinator is not present, a Deputy Title IX Coordinator. The Social Media and Marketing Manager will fill out a Title IX report form as is outlined in MCLA’s EO Plan once screenshots are sent. The Title IX Coordinator will inform other necessary parties of the issue and attempt a resolution.

Actions taken after an instance is reported will be evaluated on a case by case basis as all Title IX matters are under our EO plan.

Under no circumstances should College social media accounts (institutional, departmental, administrative, or student-run) respond publicly to individuals with Title IX-related concerns. However, in the case of a widespread community concern or reaction, it is appropriate to publicize links and resources regarding relevant College policies and/or statements. Under no circumstance should any official college social media account comment on individual Title IX-related matters publicly or privately.

If you have any questions regarding your rights, please contact the Title IX Coordinator:

Nicole Comstock

Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX
Title IX Coordinator
Venable 309C
413.662.5571
nicole.comstock@mcla.edu


[1] Those Departmental Directors, Assistant Directors and Associate Directors who serve in professional roles in which communications are afforded confidential status under the law (e.g., licensed mental health care providers, medical providers, pastoral counselors and clergy) are not REs under this Policy.