Responsibility of Employees to Report Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, or Sexual Assault
As an employee of Sarah Lawrence College, you are a mandated (non-confidential) reporter of any allegations of sexual assault, misconduct and/or harassment that occur on campus or between two Sarah Lawrence College students. As such you have an absolute obligation to report any knowledge, indication or complaint about sexual assault, misconduct or harassment that you hear about to the Assistant VP for Public Safety (ext. 2384). This document will provide you with the information you need in order to fulfill the college’s reporting policy and help to maintain a safer campus.
When you become aware of an alleged act of sexual assault, misconduct, or harassment, you must promptly contact the Assistant VP for Public Safety (ext. 2384). He will take responsibility for notifying appropriate campus officials and will report all allegations of sexual assault to the local police. The AVP for Public Safety will guide you with regard to how much detail is needed in an initial report. Subsequent to an initial report, campus officials may need additional information in order to fulfill the College’s obligations under Title IX. In taking these subsequent actions, the College will always be guided by the goals of empowering the student and allowing the student to retain as much control over the process as possible, but no employee (other than Health Services professionals) can or should promise confidentiality.
Students must be made aware that any information they share with you about this type of incident will be communicated to college administrators. Many students will assume that they can speak to you confidentially about any topic. While we encourage this type of honest communication, it is imperative that students be made aware of the limits of your ability to maintain confidentiality. When and if you think that a student may be about to report an act of sexual assault, misconduct, or harassment, then you should, if at all possible, tell the student that you cannot maintain complete confidentiality and are required to report to the College the allegation and the names of the parties involved. One way of avoiding a difficult situation is for those who meet regularly with students to begin their first meeting by reviewing the kinds of information they cannot keep confidential. If this is not practical, then it is incumbent on the faculty or staff member to listen carefully and stop the student if they determine or perceive that something confidential is about to be revealed.
Explain that you think they may be about to tell you something that you would not be able to keep confidential. Let them know that you appreciate their trusting you with this information, and that it is entirely their choice to continue. However, if they do tell you about an incident involving sexual misconduct, you are obligated to notify the AVP for Public Safety. The AVP for Public Safety will then conduct an investigation that will include interviewing involved students and will most likely involve notifying the police.
Let the student know that if they would rather talk to a confidential resource—someone who may keep what they tell them confidential—you would be happy to direct them to Health Services so they can share their experience with a non-mandated reporter. If you can, offer to actually take them there; if not, please give them directions to Health Services. You can also offer to give them the phone numbers of available confidential resources, listed below. It is very important that the student not feel shut down, but that they feel empowered to make their own decision about how to proceed and who to tell.
- Health Services (914) 395-2350 (on campus in Lyles House)
- Westchester County Victims Assistance Services (914) 395-9111
- My Sisters Place Domestic Violence Shelter and Hotline 800-298-SAFE (7233)
- New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project Hotline (212) 714-1141
Non-Confidential Resources on Campus
- Dean of Student Affairs (914) 395-2575
- Dean of Studies and Title IX Officer (914) 395-2249
- Dean of the College (914) 395-2303
- AVP for Public Safety (914) 395-2384
Formal Complaint Process
Faculty and staff should be familiar with the College’s complaint and disciplinary process in case they are asked about it. The process is published in the Student Handbook.
Reports made directly to members of Health Services are considered confidential and do not move forward to the AVP for Public Safety unless the student so decides.
Reports made to a resident advisor, faculty member, security officer, or any other staff member must be reported to the AVP for Public Safety.
The AVP for Public Safety will contact the Sexual Assault Liaison and set up a meeting with the student and the Liaison to receive the details of the report and describe the College’s investigation and disciplinary process.
An initial assessment is made by the AVP for Public Safety and the threat assessment team to determine if there is an imminent danger to the campus. If so, the respondent will be removed from campus pending completion of the investigation. If not, the College process will be followed. The students will receive a “No Contact Order” so that they are kept apart from each other.
If the report appears to meet the definition of a violent felony, the AVP for Public Safety contacts the Yonkers police department and sets up a meeting with the student, police, AVP for Public Safety, and Sexual Assault Liaison. The student is encouraged, but not compelled, to press charges.
The student then meets with the Hearing Coordinator to review the disciplinary process.
If the student decides to file a formal complaint, the process below is put into place. The College process will go forward regardless of whether the student presses charges with the police, and regardless of whether or not the district attorney decides to move forward with a criminal charge.
Upon receiving a formal complaint, the Hearing Coordinator contacts the respondent to review the disciplinary process.
The Hearing Coordinator collects statements from both parties and from all witnesses as well as any documented evidence. All statements and evidence are turned over to the AVP for Public Safety or his designee for the completion of the investigation. This can involve additional discussion with the parties or witnesses. The AVP for Public Safety compiles an investigation report for the Hearing.
All statements, documents, and reports are provided to both parties and to the hearing panel.
A hearing is called as soon as the investigation is complete. The hearing panel consists of one faculty member and two staff members who have been trained to conduct sexual misconduct and assault hearings.
If the student decides not to file a formal complaint, the AVP for Public Safety will continue to conduct an investigation to the extent possible and reasonable. The AVP for Public Safety, the Sexual Assault Liaison, the Hearing Coordinator, and the Title IX Coordinator will determine if there is a need for the College to go forward with a disciplinary process and may do so even without the cooperation of the original complainant or the reporter of the incident.