Title IX: Learn more about Title IX at Springfield College
Consistent with Title IX, Springfield College does not discriminate against any person on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other legally protected class in admission and access to, and employment and treatment in, its programs and activities. Students and employees are protected against unlawful acts of sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and gender-based harassment, collectively known as sexual- and gender-based misconduct. The College is committed to responding promptly and effectively when it learns of any form of possible discrimination.
As required by federal law, each year Springfield College prepares an annual Security and Fire Safety Report, commonly referred to as the Clery Report. The Report contains information regarding campus security and personal safety including topics such as crime prevention, safety, reporting policies, disciplinary procedures and other matters of importance related to security and safety on campus. You can learn more about the Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act and read the report here.
- The Gender-based Misconduct Policy defines specific types of prohibited gender-based misconduct and the processes and procedures the College utilizes to address reports of misconduct.
Key Terms as Defined by Springfield College
A. Title IX Sexual Harassment
Conduct on the basis of sex that aligns with one or more of the following conditions as defined by Title IX:
- An employee of the College conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the College on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
- Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the College’s education program or activity; or
- Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking as defined below as required by the United States Department of Education:
- Sexual Assault: an offense classified as a forcible or nonforcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting (UCR) system of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
- Rape: the carnal knowledge of a person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Sodomy: Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Sexual Assault with an Object: To use an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Fondling: The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Incest: Nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
- Statutory Rape: Nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
- Dating Violence: Violence committed by a person (a) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant; (b) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i) the length of the relationship; (ii) the type of relationship and (iii) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
- Domestic Violence: includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the complainant, by a person with whom the complainant shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the complainant as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth complainant who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
- Stalking: engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (a) fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or (b) suffer substantial emotional distress.
- Sexual Assault: an offense classified as a forcible or nonforcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting (UCR) system of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
B. Sexual Harassment
Any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is further defined as:
- Hostile Environment Harassment: unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive as to limit a person’s ability to work or participate in a program or activity.
- Quid Pro Quo Harassment: when a person with authority uses submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual conduct as the basis for making academic or employment decisions affecting a subordinate or a student. This kind of harassment usually involves explicit or implicit threats of retaliation for refusing to submit to sexual advances.
It should be emphasized, however, that isolated instances (e.g. a single comment or joke) ordinarily will not constitute harassment unless it is repeated or egregious. Harassment may not be present if the conduct is welcomed or encouraged.
C. Sexual Assault
Any non-consensual sexual act or attempts of any non-consensual sexual act, including:
- Non-consensual sexual contact: touching of the private body part(s) of another person with the consent of that person.
- Non-consensual sexual intercourse: penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ on another person, without the consent of that person. This term includes instances when the person is unable to consent due to being under the legal age of consent in the state when the behavior occurred, if the person was unable to consent due to temporary or permanent mental incapacity, including intoxication, or when the perpetrator has threatened, coerced, or exhibited a use of force against the other person.
D. Sexual Exploitation
An act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose. The act or acts of sexual exploitation are prohibited even though the behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Sexual exploitation may involve individuals who are known to one another, such as those engaged in an intimate or sexual relationship, and/or individuals not known to one another.
E. Domestic Violence as defined by Massachusetts State Law
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A Section 1 defines “domestic violence” as 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; or
- causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.
“Family or household members” are defined as persons who:
- are or were married to one another,
- are or were residing together in the same household,
- are or were related by blood or marriage,
- have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together, or
- are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship.
F. Dating Violence
Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i) the length of the relationship; (ii) the type of relationship and (iii) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
G. Gender-based Harassment
Gender-based harassment is verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostile conduct based on sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation or gender identity, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s education or work programs or activities.
H. Aiding of Facilitating the Commission of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct
Aiding, facilitating, promoting, or encouraging the commission of a violation under this policy. Aiding or facilitating may also include failing to act to prevent an imminent act when it is reasonably prudent and safe to do so. Taking action may include directly intervening, calling the Springfield College Department of Public Safety or local law enforcement, or seeking assistance from a person in authority.
No person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, its implementing regulations, or the College’s SGBM policy.
No person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under this Policy.
Any intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, its implementing regulations, or the SGBM policy constitutes retaliation. This includes any charges filed against an individual for code of conduct violations that do not involve sex discrimination or sexual harassment, but that arise from the same facts or circumstances as a report or complaint of sex discrimination or a report or Formal Complaint of sexual harassment.
Law and Legal Definitions
Key laws include:
- Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Title IX regulations and/or regulatory guidance define or provide guidance on key terms such as sexual harassment, sexual violence, and responsible employees. These terms are also defined by Springfield College policy.
- Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 and its implementing regulations define Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Education and Awareness Programs.
- Clery Act, or the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act is a broad federal law that mandates the collection and publication of certain criminal statistics. VAWA amended the Clery Act to include sexual violence, dating and domestic violence and stalking to the list of Clery Act crimes that institutions must make available to the public. For more information about the Clery Act, review the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Report by the Department of Public Safety.
- Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6, Section 168. This Massachusetts law directs higher education institutions in the state to respond to sexual violence. The law also requires regular reporting of statistics to the state, campus climate surveys, and training requirements for individuals involved in the response to sexual violence.
- Massachusetts General Laws. The Massachusetts Criminal Code has several laws related to or referencing sexual violence. These criminal laws may use different definitions to identify actions and define behaviors than the College. In most cases, if conduct violates Massachusetts criminal law, those same actions likely violate the Springfield College Code of Conduct.
Q. How do I decide whether to make a report or file a complaint? What’s the difference?
A. The decision to report an incident or file a formal complaint is a complicated and deeply personal decision. No matter what decision you make, know that you will be offered the emotional and academic support necessary to help you through this process. You have control over your experience and will be supported in maintaining that control. However, if there is a perceived threat of imminent danger to the campus community, or if the subject of the report has also been the subject of reports or complaints by other individuals in other instances, the Title IX coordinator may go forward with a college-initiated complaint, at which point all parties would be notified.
You can choose to report an incident without filing a formal complaint. Making a report simply alerts the college that an incident took place and helps you access support resources you might need. Filing a formal complaint indicates your desire for the incident to be investigated further.
Unless you specifically indicate your desire to make a formal complaint against a specific party, a report will simply remain a report. If there is an imminent danger to the person or community, the College must take action regardless of the complainant's wishes.
Q. Can a report be anonymous?
A. Yes, a report can be made anonymously using our online reporting form. You may access the form here.
Q. Who might have access to my initial report?
A. There are people who must consult with each other in order to make a determination of whether an imminent danger exists or whether there is a pattern of misconduct. Only those people who need to know will know initially and anyone who knows will maintain the privacy of the complainant. When a report is filed online, the recipients include the Title IX coordinator, dean of students/deputy Title IX coordinator, and vice president of student affairs.
If you decide to file a complaint, other people will have information about your case, such as the investigators.
Q. What are my emotional support resources while making these decisions?
A. While deciding whether to report an incident, file a formal complaint, or simply to manage the effects of an incident of gender-based misconduct, you always have access to an array of on- and off-campus resources that are strictly confidential (meaning, they will not share anything without your permission unless they professionally deem you are an imminent threat to yourself or others). Confidential on-campus resources include the Counseling Center and Health Center. The YWCA is an off-campus confidential resource that you can access 24/7.
To obtain a full list of resources, please visit our Resource Page.
Q. What are supportive measures and how can I access them?
A. Supportive measures are measures taken to stabilize a situation, stop the gender-based misconduct, and support the people involved in an incident. Supportive measures could include, but are not limited to, academic modifications, such as a change in class schedule, taking an incomplete, dropping a course without penalty, attending a class remotely or other alternative means, providing an academic tutor, or extending deadlines for assignments. In addition, a change of housing assignment, work assignment, or work schedule are possible supportive measures.
A complainant can access supportive measures without going through an investigation by contacting the deputy Title IX coordinator. Supportive measures are available before, during, and after a gender-based misconduct investigation or adjudication.
Q. What happens financially and academically if I choose to take a leave of absence due to a sexual assault?
A. Every student’s academic history and personal financial situation are different. Generally speaking, this is decided on a case-by-case basis. The dean of students/deputy Title IX coordinator can help you navigate all of your options.
Q. How long can I expect an investigation to take?
A. The College seeks to complete an investigation that is fair, thorough, and timely, and strives to do this within 60 days. The process may be extended due to extenuating circumstances of a case in order to ensure a thorough and fair process. Following an investigation, an adjudication will take place that will follow the outlined steps in the gender-based misconduct policy.
Q. What is the process of an investigation?
A. The investigative process is written in detail within the gender-based misconduct policy.
Q. What are my rights throughout the investigative stage?
A. As a complainant or respondent, you have the right to:
- Protection from any form of retaliation
- An advisor or support person of your choosing
- To review and respond to all evidence collected by investigators that is directly related to the complaint
- A fair and prompt process
A comprehensive list of rights is listed within the gender-based misconduct policy.
Q. What is the timeframe within which I can bring forth an investigation?
A. Individuals are encouraged to report allegations of gender-based misconduct as soon as possible in order to maximize the College’s ability to respond promptly and effectively. The College does not, however, limit the timeframe for reporting. If the respondent is no longer a student or employee, the College may be limited in their response options, however, will still seek to meet its Title IX obligation by taking steps to end the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
Q. I am a student and a Title IX complaint has been filed against me. What do I do?
A. You are now a respondent in a case. This can be a scary and challenging time. You have access to the same on- and off-campus resources available to the complainant.
You will be contacted by the dean of students/deputy Title IX coordinator who will walk you through the process and resources available to you. As a respondent, you–just like the complainant–are entitled to have an advisor or support person present at any meetings and investigative interviews.
Like the complainant, you will be notified and kept up to date, the charges will be explained to you, you will have the opportunity to name witnesses and submit evidence, and you have the right to appeal an outcome under the published grounds.
Q. What constitutes retaliation, and what doesn’t? Does it cover behavior by third parties?
A. Retaliation refers to acts or attempts to seek retribution against a complainant, respondent, witness, or any individual or groups of individuals involved in or after participation in the investigation and/or resolution of an allegation of gender-based misconduct. Retaliation can be committed by any individual or group of individuals, not just by a respondent or complainant. Retaliation can take many forms, including continued abuse or violence, and other forms of harassment or defamation. Retaliation is prohibited at Springfield College.
The following is not considered retaliation: talking to a confidential resource, seeking help from an advisor, requesting accommodations, or discussing your experience privately with close friends. The College’s retaliation policy applies to respondents, complainants, witnesses, and third parties.
Q. What do I do if I see or experience retaliation?
A. If you see or experience retaliation, you can report it to the Title IX coordinator, deputy Title IX coordinator, or to the Department of Public Safety. Everyone has a responsibility to abide by the policy against retaliation.
Q. Can I still go to the police even if I want an on-campus investigation?
A. Yes, members of a police department are always offered as a resource to you. You can choose to go through both channels, or one, or neither.
Q. What is the preponderance of evidence standard?
A. In an on-campus investigation, the preponderance of evidence standard means whether it is “more likely than not,” based upon the information provided through the investigation, that the respondent is responsible or not responsible for the alleged policy violation(s). This differs from a criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The College’s record will not reflect the terms “guilty” or “not guilty” as it is not a criminal investigation.
Q. Do I have to directly interact with the other party during the investigation process?
A. During the investigation, you will each participate separately in the process. However, during the living hearing, all parties have a right to see and hear the other party and in a Title IX formal grievance hearing, a party’s advisor is able to cross-examine any other party or witness. At no time will the Title IX coordinator, investigator, or decision-maker require you to directly speak to or address the other party.
The College ensures that Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, appeal officers, and any person who facilitates an informal resolution process receive annual training on:
- The definition of sexual harassment under this policy.
- The scope of the College’s education program or activity.
- The sexual and gender-based misconduct policy and procedures, including how to conduct investigations, hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes, as applicable.
- How to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias.
The College ensures that investigators receive training on issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence.
The College ensures that decision-makers receive training on any technology to be used at a live hearing and on issues of relevance of questions and evidence, including when questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant.
All available materials used to train Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, appeal officers, and any person who facilitates an informal resolution process will be made publicly accessible below:
Looking to get involved?
If you’re looking for ways to support Title IX and anti-discrimination initiatives on campus consider joining these organizations:
Campus Organizations and Community Groups:
- Gender and Sexuality Alliance
- Pride Alliance
- Student Against Violence Everywhere (S.A.V.E.)
Learn more about the College’s bystander intervention training and programming to learn how to protect our pride. Review the College’s situational guidelines, learn tips about being an active bystander, and about support and resources here.