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SEXUAL VIOLENCE POLICY AND INFORMATION

1.     OVERVIEW

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 assault in any form.  Domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape are violations of Commonwealth law, as well as 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. 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 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.

2.     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,  911 or ext. 5100 from on Campus. If you are a victim and decide not to notify Public Safety, please:

  • Get immediate emotional support.
  • Get to a safe place.
  • 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 this policy.

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.

3.     CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY

Where to Get Other Confidential Help

Any person who feels he/she is 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:  911, (413) 662-5100 or ext. 5100 from on Campus. 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 Director of Human Resources, Mary Ellen Olenyk, (413) 662-5560

North Adams Regional Hospital Emergency Room, (413) 664-5256

The Elizabeth Freeman Center, (24 hour hotline 413-663-9709), a local rape crisis center with offices in North Adams and Pittsfield.

4.     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 the incident to the police (then or later), this evidence is very important.
  • Seek medical attention. Try to engage the help of someone you trust to go with you.
  • Seek professional counseling for support and to help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 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. Sexual penetration without your consent (even with a date) is RAPE.

5.     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 the victim chooses to report the crime to campus police or local law enforcement:

  • Determine whether or not you want to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.
  • Pursue disciplinary action against the perpetrator through the MCLA student conduct system.
  • Confidential counseling services by a trained therapist on or off-Campus;
  • Receive confidential support and information regarding the choices that are available.
  • Confidential medical treatment.
  • Academic support from faculty and administrators.
  • Change in your academic, living, transportation, and working situations, if requested.
  • Availability of reasonable interim measures such as other options for transportation, working situations, or for other on-campus housing if you feel that you are not safe in your current residence.
  •  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 your parents will be notified.
  • Not to be harassed by the perpetrator or the perpetrator's friends.

6.     THE STUDENT CONDUCT SYSTEM

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, sexual abuse,  stalking, and rape.
  • How to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability.
  • 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 prepoinderance 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 her/him throughout the student conduct hearing.
  • To give testimony in the presence of the accused at the hearing or give evidence to the Hearing Board without physically appearing before the board through the use of a speaker telephone.
  • 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 hearing.
  • To have access to information in a timely fashion so as to prepare appropriately for the hearing.
  • 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.

    7.     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 and people.
  • 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 more attention.
  • 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 be alert. 
  • Don't mark your room key or key chain with your name, address or telephone number.
  • If a person at a party insists or pressures you to accept a ride home, become suspicious and do not accept the offer.
  • 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 over your personal life.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel it is not right, it probably is not.
     
     

8.     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/

9.     SELECTED POLICY DEFINITIONS

Consent.  There is no statutory definition of consent in Massachusetts.  A person, however, cannot lawfully consent to sexual contact if she or he was using drugs or alcohol to the point of incapacitation or if she or he was drugged, asleep, unconscious or underage (under 16 in Massachusetts). 

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.*

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 she or he has been a victim of one of the aforementioned crimes.