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Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct Policy

Policy Contents

  1. Immediate Response and Care
  2. Prohibited Conduct
  3. University Resources
  4. Filing a Complaint with the University
  5. Filing a Criminal Complaint
  6. University Response
  7. Interim Measures
  8. Retaliation Policy

Boston College attempts at all times to maintain a safe environment that supports its educational mission and is free from exploitation and intimidation as well as discrimination based upon gender.   Sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct of any kind is antithetical to the mission of Boston College and the values it espouses and will be responded to accordingly. In accordance with Title IX, the University strives to eliminate sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual misconduct, prevent their recurrence, and address their effects.  This policy describes the University's response to victims, what conduct is prohibited, available University and community resources, and how to file a complaint.

1.     Immediate Response and Care

The University encourages students to report incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual misconduct immediately.  To report such an incident, the victim/survivor  may contact the Boston College Police at 617-552-4444, the Sexual Assault Network at 617-552-2211, a member of the Residential Life staff at 617-552-3060, or the Office of the Dean for Students at 617-552-3470.

Boston College recognizes the importance of offering victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual misconduct immediate treatment, counseling support, and assistance.  In addition, appropriate interim measures to help assure the safety and wellbeing of the victim will be offered.  Consideration of the victim's wishes will be taken into account throughout the process; however, the University may have a legal obligation to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct, even without the participation of the victim.

2.     Prohibited Conduct

The University prohibits all forms of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual misconduct, whether perpetrated by a stranger or acquaintance, whether occurring on or off campus, and whether directed against a member of the Boston College community or someone outside the University community. Such behavior by a Boston College student is a violation of the University Code of Conduct, and in certain cases, may also be a criminal violation..  Please also see the University's Discriminatory Harassment Policy, at http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/offices/policies/pdf/policies/I/1-200-025.pdf, which addresses the resolution of complaints of discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment, against University employees and faculty.

Prohibited conduct ranges from acts of non-consensual sexual intercourse and non-consensual sexual contact, to sexual misconduct including, but not limited to, harassment of a sexual nature, sexual exploitation, stalking, relationship violence, voyeurism, exposure, video or audio taping of sexual activity, and sexual activity resulting from emotional coercion. The University does not limit its ability to discipline students for inappropriate sexual behavior and forms of sexual misconduct that may not be specifically listed here or constitute criminal behavior. 

In the context of this policy, active consent is needed to engage in sexual activity.  For the purpose of this policy, consent is informed, freely and actively given, mutually understandable words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in a mutually agreed upon sexual activity.  It is incumbent upon both parties to both obtain and give active consent prior to any sexual activity.  Consent may never be given by children (in Massachusetts, those not yet sixteen (16) years of age), those who are incapable of giving informed consent as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary), those who are mentally incompetent, those with impairments to reasoning or judgment, or those who are unconscious, unaware or otherwise physically helpless. Effective consent may never be obtained as a result of coercion, intimidation, threat of force, or force.

Complaints of sexual harassment, stalking, relationship violence, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault against a student member of the University community will be investigated and adjudicated in accordance with the Student Conduct System policies and procedures, as described in Section 5 of the Boston College Student Guide.  University disciplinary action may be taken whether or not criminal charges are filed and without regard to whether the conduct occurred on or off the Boston College campus.

Any member of the University community found responsible for violating this policy is subject to disciplinary action from Boston College including, but not limited to loss of privileges, delay of degree, Housing Probation, Housing Suspension or Dismissal, University Suspension, and/or University Dismissal. The standard used to determine responsibility is a preponderance of the evidence, that is, whether it is "more likely than not" that the accused has violated the policy.

It is also a violation of University policy to engage in any form of retaliation or intimidation in connection with complaints of sexual harassment, misconduct, or assault.  Any such acts of retaliation or intimidation by a Boston College student should be reported to the Dean of Students Office.  Complaints against other members of the Boston College community should be referred to the University Harassment Counselor and will be addressed in accordance with the University Discriminatory Harassment Policy.

Definitions of Prohibited Conduct

Sexual Assault:

Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs by force or without consent of the recipient of the unwanted sexual activity.  Included within this broad term are rape and attempted rape, groping, and forced kissing.  

Examples of Sexual Assault:

Sam and Baxter have been dating for a year and have previously engaged in sexual intercourse. One evening, Sam and Baxter attend a party where they both consume a number of alcoholic beverages and become intoxicated. They walk back to Baxter’s residence hall where they begin to become physically intimate, but Sam losses consciousness. Baxter proceeds to have sexual intercourse with an unconscious Sam. This would be an example of sexual assault because Sam is incapable of giving consent due to incapacitation.

Celeste and Jim are attending a University-sponsored dance in a hotel in downtown Boston. Celeste is dancing with friends when Jim, a student she knows vaguely from class, approaches her from behind and begins to dance with her. Jim then grabs Celeste around the waist and reaches up her dress to touch her legs. Celeste turns around and tells Jim that she is not okay with him touching her in that way. Jim then pulls Celeste toward him and tells her to loosen up and dance with him. Celeste attempts to push Jim away, but he forcefully holds her close to him and continues to touch her legs. This would be an example of sexual assault because Jim continues to touch Celeste in an unwanted manner in an intimate area of her person.

Stalking:

Stalking is engaging in a course of behavior, directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress.. Stalking includes unwanted and repeated harassing behavior, such as: following a person; appearing at a person’s home, class or work; making frequent phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.; continuing to contact a person after receiving requests not to; leaving written messages, objects or unwanted gifts; vandalizing a person’s property; and threatening, intimidating or intrusive behavior.  

Examples of Stalking:

Michaela noticed that another student, Joe, sat behind her during Biology class every day. After class was over, Joe would follow Michaela wherever she was going. Michaela told Joe she was not interested in any kind of relationship with him. Joe began to show up at Michaela’s other classes, trying to engage her in conversation, and also started to wait for Michaela outside of her residence hall. Joe told Michaela that she needed to give him a chance “or else.” Joe’s behavior may constitute stalking.

Luis began to receive anonymous notes in his campus mail box and under the door of his dorm room. At first, the notes were filled with flattering comments and Luis just thought it was strange. Then the notes began to contain more personal information, such as his cell phone number and names of family members, which the “secret admirer” had gathered about him. One note even said, “I am always watching and waiting for you.” As Luis began to receive more of these notes, he felt they were creepy, and none of his friends had any information. This behavior would constitute stalking, and Luis should report it to the BCPD or the Office of the Dean of Students for investigation.

Jessie and Ryan, two students, went on a couple of dates and then stopped seeing each other when Jessie declined to go out with Ryan again. Ryan continued to call and text Jessie, and eventually Jessie stopped responding. Ryan then began sending Jessie multiple emails and Facebook messages per day. Jessie changed his email address and blocked Ryan on Facebook, but Ryan found out his new address and began sending further messages. Jessie was very uncomfortable and scared by this, but was not sure what to do. Ryan’s behavior may constitute cyber-stalking, which is a violation of this policy.

Relationship Violence (also known as Dating Violence or Domestic Violence):

Boston College prohibits all forms of relationship violence and abuse.   Relationship violence (including domestic and dating violence) is a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other partner.  Relationship violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.  This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.  Relationship violence is defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, where the existence of such a relationship is determined based on the following factors:  the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. 

Under Massachusetts law, domestic abuse is defined to be the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:  attempting to cause or causing physical harm, placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; and causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.  Under this law, family or household members include people who are or were married, residing in the same household, related by blood or marriage, having a child together, or having a substantive dating or engagement relationship. Individuals who are victims of domestic abuse in Massachusetts may seek an abuse prevention order, also known as a “restraining order” or “209A order,” in addition to pursuing criminal charges and disciplinary charges, if the offender is a Boston College student.

Examples of Relationship Violence:

Maria’s boyfriend Michael screamed at her when she showed up late to the football game. Michael grabbed Maria by the wrist and pulled her out of the stands to further yell at her, which embarrassed Maria. At first Michael was such a good boyfriend and seemed to do so many nice things for her, and now Maria feels like she is constantly walking on eggshells around Michael. Michael later apologized for yelling at her and said that it would never happen again. Maria is afraid that it will happen again and that next time it might be worse.

Aaron and Jordan have been dating for six months. Jordan makes comments about Aaron’s appearance constantly and tells Aaron what to wear when they go out. Often Aaron changes clothing because Jordan says that Aaron looks “too fat” or “not pretty enough”. Aaron now calls Jordan before getting dressed in the morning and has also been restricting food in order to lose weight. Aaron’s friends do not like being around Jordan, so Aaron hardly spends time with friends anymore. Jordan is starting to make demands about other aspects of Aaron’s life as well, such as when Aaron calls home, eats dinner, studies, and goes out.  Aaron finds it easier just to go along with what Jordan says to avoid “starting a fight.”

Gabby and Sam met in class and have been dating for a month. Sam has always had jealous tendencies, but now becomes angry when Gabby does not text back immediately so that Sam can know where Gabby is. Sam threatens to kill Gabby if she ever cheats on her with someone else, and Sam sometimes also says that she would kill herself if Gabby ever left her. Recently Sam shoved Gabby when she was angry and Gabby fell down. Gabby is becoming more fearful of Sam, but is afraid to leave and feels trapped.

3.     University Resources

Boston College is committed to providing support and assistance to victims as well as taking active measures to help assure the physical and emotional well-being of survivors/victims. A number of University offices are available to assist a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual misconduct.

Sexual Assault Network
617-552-2211

The Boston College Sexual Assault Network (SANet) is a 24/7 private hotline for anyone affected by sexual violence, even if the caller is not a survivor himself or herself. The hotline is staffed by trusted and trained advocates who can assist callers.

SANet can assist callers with:

  • Information about all options available to survivors or friends of survivors, including accompaniment through this often difficult journey.
  • Seeking professional support (on or off campus)
  • Seeking medical evaluation and treatment (on or off campus)
  • Seeking evidence collection
  • Reporting internally or through the police department

The network is comprised of a group of highly trained professionals who have volunteered to serve as advocates for survivors of violence.  Male and female advocates are available to serve the diverse needs of our survivors.

*Please note that SANet utilizes cell phones and advocates may at times be in areas without service. Callers are encouraged to leave a message or to call back.

Student Affairs Title IX Coordinator

Katherine O'Dair, Executive Director for the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs

Maloney Hall 260
617-552-3280

The Student Affairs Title IX Coordinator oversees the University's response to complaints of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence in cases where a Boston College student is the complainant.  The coordinator or designee is available to meet with students as needed.  The coordinator will help ensure that appropriate measures are taken to adequately address complaints and protect the safety and wellbeing of victims.  The Title IX coordinator also maintains records of all cases, documents the University's response, and sees that appropriate measures are taken to identify and address any patterns or systemic problems that may contribute to a hostile environment for students at the University.

Boston College Police Department
Maloney Hall
617-552-4444

Officers are trained and available 24/7 to respond to victims and to provide assistance with medical treatment and in pursuing legal action both on and off campus.

If a student chooses to report the incident to the Boston College Police, a specially trained officer will conduct an investigation, which involves asking the student to describe the assailant and what happened. An officer may ask questions about the scene of the crime, any witnesses, and what happened before and after.

Boston College Harassment Counselor
Linda Riley
Rubenstein Hall 001
617-552-0486, l.riley.1@bc.edu

The University Harassment Counselor, Linda Riley, is available to counsel individuals who believe they may have been sexually harassed and to assist victims in filing complaints.

Campus Ministry
McElroy 215
617-552-3475

The staff in the Campus Ministry is available for pastoral counseling and spiritual direction.  Some members of the staff reside in the residence halls.  A resident minister is also available twenty-four hours a day by contacting the Boston College Police at 617-552-4444.

Health Services
Cushing Clinic - 617-552-2225 (9-5, M-F)
Cushing Primary Care - 617-552-3227 (24 hours a day during the academic year)

Medical personnel are available on campus 24 hours a day.  In addition, the University has developed a relationship with the Beth Israel Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital, both in Boston, for the treatment of sexual assault and rape survivors.  The Primary Care Center, in Cushing Hall, is also available 24 hours a day to provide a safe haven or a meeting place for survivors to access campus support services.

University Counseling Services
Gasson 001
617-552-3310 (during normal business hours)

University Counseling Services (UCS) is available twenty-four hours a day to assist student victims of sexual harassment, misconduct or assault.  UCS is available during normal business hours at 617-552-3310.  During nights, weekends and holidays, a University psychologist is available on call by contacting either Boston College Health Services (617-552-2225) or the Boston College Police (617-552-4444).

Members of the Sexual Assault Network, BC Police, the Office of Residential Life, the Student Affairs Title IX Coordinator and the Office of the Dean of Students can provide the following:

  1. Assistance with emergency rape crisis treatment and emergency medical services, including accompanying the survivor to the hospital or Health Services, the police, or the Office of the Dean of Students.
  2. Guidance and support with filing charges through the University's Student Conduct System and/or through the criminal justice process.
  3. Advice and assistance in obtaining University Stay Away Orders. In situations where the alleged offender seriously disturbs or presents a potential threat to the victim/survivor, a University Stay Away Order prohibiting the alleged assailant from having any contact with the victim may be imposed. Such an order could also require the alleged offender to adjust his/her academic or work schedule and/or living arrangements, if on-campus. Advice and assistance in obtaining court-issued retraining orders.
  4. Assistance in addressing academic concerns of the victim.    Assistance in addressing academic concerns may be requested through the Office of the Dean of Students who will work with the survivor’s academic dean and faculty to provide the survivor with reasonable support services and adjustments.  These may include, but not be limited to: academic support services such as tutoring, changing classes, extra time to complete academic requirements, or allowing the survivor to retake or withdraw from a class without penalty.  Survivors are to make requests for academic assistance in a timely manner. 
  5. Assistance in addressing living arrangements.
  6. Assistance in arranging other forms of  assistance as appropriate, including on-campus counseling through University Counseling Services, medical assistance through University Health Services, and pastoral care and support through Campus Ministry.
  7. Assistance in contacting community resources such as The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center or other support services.
  8. Assistance in contacting the appropriate police department.
  9. Assistance with securing a summary suspension.  In situations where the alleged offender may pose a threat to the safety of the victim, the Dean of Students or designee may impose on the alleged offender a summary suspension from either housing or from the University, pending final resolution of the matter.

Accused students, as well as victims, will have access to the above-listed resources for support and care, including, but not limited to University Counseling Services, Campus Ministry and an on-campus conduct system advisor.  

4.     Filing a Complaint Within the University

Victims are strongly encouraged to report incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, stalking, relationship violence to the Office of the Dean of Students and to the Boston College Police in order to receive assistance in accessing support services and in filing charges against the alleged offender.

Any member of the University community who is informed of an incident of sexual misconduct should contact either the Office of the Dean of Students, the Boston College Police Department, or the Title IX Coordinator for advice and assistance and to help ensure that the University responds appropriately.

Upon a victim’s disclosure of such an incident, Boston College will provide the complainant with written notification of options including information on filing a complaint within the University, information on filing a criminal complaint, and information on pursuing both options at the same time.  This notification will also include information about how to pursue a University stay-away order as well as a restraining order or abuse prevention order under Massachusetts law, together with a listing of resources and supportive services available to the complainant both on and off campus.

The Office of the Dean of Students offers five different internal University reporting options to victims if the perpetrator is a BC student:

  • Option 1: Speak to a member of the Office of the Dean of Students to gain advice, support, and information. There is no requirement to divulge your name, the perpetrator’s names, or pursue a formal disciplinary charge at this point. A survivor may be accompanied by a person of his or her choosing.
  • Option 2: Give a member of the Office of the Dean of Students a written report explaining the case and request that the report be kept on file should the survivor decide to pursue a formal disciplinary charge at a later date.
  • Option 3: Give a member of the Office of the Dean of Students a written report with the name of the perpetrator and ask that he/she be contacted and given a “Stay Away Order,” which prevents any contact with the survivor. The perpetrator would also be informed that a complaint is outstanding. The complainant may pursue a formal disciplinary charge  at any time the survivor chooses.
  • Option 4: Give a member of the Office of the Dean of Students a written report and ask that the case promptly proceed to an on-campus conduct hearing and disciplinary process if the alleged perpetrator is a Boston College student..
  • Option 5: BCPD and the Office of the Dean of Students can assist in pursuing external criminal complaints.

5.     Filing a Criminal Complaint

If a student chooses to report a sexual assault to the Boston College Police (which is not required), the Police will conduct an investigation and assist the victim to file criminal charges against the alleged offender if he or she chooses. The Boston College Police also help in obtaining protective restraining orders and abuse prevention orders for relationship/domestic violence incidents.  If the incident occurred off campus, the Boston College Police will assist the victim in informing the appropriate municipal police department if he or she so desires.

The Boston College Police have specially trained officers to respond to sexual assault and domestic violence complaints. The police make every effort to offer female victims/survivors an opportunity to have a female officer present during all interviews. As stated above, the Boston College Police will help a victim/survivor make contact with local police if the assault occurred off campus, as well as with the district attorney's office for criminal prosecution and victim-witness assistance.  The Boston College Police work cooperatively with the Office of the Dean of Students to investigate and resolve cases under this policy.  The Police will refer cases to the Dean of Students as appropriate and will also assist in protecting the safety of complainants.

6.     University Response

Boston College takes incidents of sexual violence very seriously. The University will make all reasonable efforts to preserve confidentiality, restricting information to those with a legitimate need for it. The University does not include the names or other identifying information of victims in any publicly available documents.  If other policy violations have occurred in connection with an assault, particularly alcohol or substance use/abuse violations, the University generally will not pursue disciplinary actions against the complainant or against student witnesses of the incident. The University will make every reasonable effort to resolve a disciplinary charge within 60 days.

If the complainant proceeds with both a disciplinary complaint and a criminal complaint, the University conduct process will normally proceed while the criminal action is in process.  However, in such cases, the Dean of Students may elect to stay the disciplinary process if a student is summarily suspended and the criminal matter remains open.

When there is reasonable cause to believe that a student member of the University has violated the Code of Student Conduct, including the stalking, relationship violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct, the University will take action in accordance with the established policies and procedures outlined in the Boston College Student Guide Section 5.   The University’s disciplinary proceedings are designed to be prompt, fair, and impartial, and in cases of sexual violence, are conducted by individual who receive annual training on issues related to relationship violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability.  In certain circumstances, the University may conduct an investigation and, if appropriate, take disciplinary action independent of whether the complainant wishes to pursue the matter or not. University judicial action may be taken whether or not criminal charges are filed and without regard to whether the conduct occurred on or off the Boston College campus.

7.      Interim Measures

Temporary No Contact Orders and University Stay Away Orders

In instances where it has been determined by a University administrator that contact between specific persons may pose an immediate threat to an individual or may cause concern for the safety or emotional wellbeing of an individual, a Temporary No Contact Order or University Stay Away Order may be issued, prohibiting the accused from having any contact with the victim or complainant. Such an order could also require adjustment of academic or work schedule and/or campus housing arrangements.

Summary Suspension

In situations where the alleged offender may pose a threat to the safety of the victim, the Dean or designee may impose on the alleged offender a summary suspension from either housing or from the University, pending final resolution of the matter.

Other Interim Measures

  • Assistance with emergency rape crisis treatment and emergency medical services, including accompanying the survivor to the hospital or Health Services, to the police, or to the Office of the Dean of Students.
  • Guidance and support with filing charges through the University's Student Conduct System and/or through the criminal justice process.
  • Assistance in addressing academic concerns of the victim. See Section 3, “University Resources” for more information on academic accommodations.
  • Assistance in addressing living arrangements.
  • Assistance in arranging other forms of  assistance as appropriate, including on-campus counseling through University Counseling Services, medical assistance through University Health Services, and pastoral care and support through Campus Ministry.
  • Assistance in contacting community resources such as The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center or other support services.
  • Assistance in contacting the appropriate police department.

8.      Retaliation Policy

It is a violation of University policy to engage in any form of retaliation or intimidation in connection with complaints of sexual harassment, misconduct, or assault.  Any such acts of retaliation or intimidation by a Boston College student should be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students. Complaints against other members of the Boston College community should be referred to the University Harassment Counselor and will be addressed in accordance with the University Discriminatory Harassment Policy.