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, and stalking, collectively known as “Gender-based Misconduct.” The College is committed to responding promptly and effectively when it learns of any form of possible discrimination.
- Policies define conduct and requirements related to reporting. Important policies related to Title IX:
- The Title IX Notice of Non-Discrimination prohibits all forms of discrimination, including sexual violence and other forms of sexual harassment, and details reporting obligations at the College.
- 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
- Adviser: Advisers serve as a support person for the complainant and the respondent during the process, including participating in investigative meetings, meetings with the Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator, and sanctioning meetings. Students who are witnesses to the incident or are otherwise involved in the matter may not typically serve as advisers. Advisers are not permitted to advocate for a student or speak on their behalf during any of the aforementioned meetings. The adviser’s role shall be to quietly and unobtrusively advise the advisee in whispers or by written note.
- Aiding or Facilitating: Aiding or facilitating includes aiding, facilitating, promoting, or encouraging the commission of a violation under this Policy. Aiding or facilitating may also include failing to take action 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.
- Complainant: The individual who believes themselves to have been the subject of gender-based misconduct.
- Confidentiality: Confidentiality exists in the context of laws that protect certain relationships, including medical and clinical care providers, mental health providers, counselors, and ordained clergy (but not those who provide administrative services related to the provision of those services), all of whom may engage in the confidential communications under Massachusetts law. Springfield College confidential resources can be found here.
- Consent: Consent to engage in sexual activity must be knowing and voluntary. Consent to engage in sexual activity must exist from the beginning to end of each instance of sexual activity and for each form of sexual contact. Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact.
- For example, an individual may agree to kiss, but choose not to engage in touching of the intimate parts or sexual intercourse. An individual should obtain consent before moving from one act to another. Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another. Each person must obtain individual consent.
- Consent may be withdrawn by any party at any time. Withdrawal of consent must also be outwardly demonstrated by words or actions that clearly indicate a desire to end sexual activity. Once withdrawal of consent has been expressed, sexual activity must cease.
- Consent consists of an outward demonstration indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual activity. Consent is demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or actions that clearly indicate a willingness to engage freely in sexual activity.
- A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates willingness to engage in sexual activity each time such activity occurs. Consent to previous sexual activity does not constitute consent in the future. Consent must be obtained each time.
- In the state of Massachusetts, consent can never be given by minors under the age of 16. Consent is not effective if it results from the use or threat of physical force, intimidation or coercion, or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his or her own free will to choose whether or not to have sexual contact. Coercion includes the use of pressure and/or oppressive behavior, including express or implied threats of harm and/or severe and/or pervasive emotional intimidation, which places an individual in fear of immediate or future harm or physical injury or causes a person to engage in unwelcome sexual activity. A person’s words or conduct amount to coercion if they wrongfully impair the other’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity.
- Dating Violence: Dating violence is violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement, and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Dating violence generally describes violence or abuse by a person in an intimate relationship, who do not live together, share a child in common, or have an ongoing or former partnership.
- Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviors and tactics used by one person over another to gain power and control. This may include abuse of a verbal, financial, emotional, sexual, or physical nature. Domestic violence occurs in heterosexual, as well as same-sex partnerships, and crosses all ethnic, racial, and socio-economic lines. Domestic violence describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse, and does not require sexual intimacy.
- Hostile Environment: A hostile environment exists when sex-based harassment is sufficiently serious to deny or limit an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the College’s education or employment programs or activities. When considering whether conduct has created a hostile environment, Springfield College considers the conduct from the perspective of a “reasonable person,” measuring how severe, persistent, and/or pervasive the conduct is.
- Hostile Environment Harassment: This kind of harassment is 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.
- Incapacitation: An individual who is incapacitated is not able to make rational, reasonable judgments and therefore is incapable of giving consent. Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless due to drug or alcohol consumption, either voluntarily or involuntarily, or the individual is unconscious, asleep or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. In addition, an individual is incapacitated if the individual demonstrates that they are unaware of where they are, how they got there, or why or how they became engaged in a sexual interaction. Where alcohol is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. Some indicators of incapacitation may include, but are not limited to, lack of control over physical movements, lack of awareness of circumstances or surroundings, or the inability to communicate for any reason. An individual may experience a blackout state in which he/she appears to be giving consent but does not actually have conscious awareness or the ability to consent. It is especially important, therefore, that anyone engaging in sexual activity be aware of the other person’s level of intoxication due to alcohol and/or drug use. The relevant standard that will be applied is whether the respondent knew, or a sober reasonable person in the same position should have known, that the other party was incapacitated and therefore could not consent to the sexual activity.
- Intimidation: Placing another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the person to actual physical attack.
- No-Contact Order: A no-contact order involves communication and contact restrictions to prevent further potentially harmful interaction. These communication and contact restrictions generally preclude in-person, telephone, electronic, or third-party communications.
- Privacy: Privacy means that information related to a report of gender-based misconduct will be shared with a limited circle of College employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the support of the complainant and in the assessment, investigation, and resolution of a report.
- Preponderance of the Evidence: the standard utilized by the College to determine if a violation of the Code of Conduct or Gender-Based Misconduct Policy has been committed. The standard is satisfied if credible, relevant, and convincing evidence shows that it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred.
- Quid Pro Quo Harassment: This kind of harassment occurs 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.
- Respondent: The individual who has been accused of gender-based misconduct.
- Responsible Employee: This is someone who must report any disclosed or witnessed Title IX violation.
- Retaliation: Acts or attempts to retaliate or seek retribution against the complainant, respondent, or any individual or group of individuals involved 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 a respondent or complainant. Retaliation may include continued abuse or violence, other forms of harassment, slander, and libel. Retaliation does not include reports and/or complaints of gender-based misconduct that are made in good faith.
- 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, have an intimate or sexual relationship, and/or individuals not known to one another.
- Sexual Assault: Sexual assault involves any sexual act perpetrated against another person, against that person’s will, or without that person’s consent, including instances where the individual is incapable of giving consent due to incapacitation or age. Sexual assault includes non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact or touching, and sexual coercion. Sexual assault may involve individuals who are known to one another or have or have had an intimate and/or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals not known to one another. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Having or attempting to have sexual intercourse with another individual without consent. Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part or object or oral copulation by mouth-to-genital contact.
- Having or attempting to have sexual contact with another individual without consent. Sexual contact includes kissing, touching the intimate parts of another, causing the other to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing of another without permission. Intimate parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, mouth, or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner.
- Stalking: In Massachusetts, "stalking" is a specific criminal offense found in the penal code. Stalking refers to a clear, repetitive pattern of intentional unwanted, harassing, or threatening behavior directed toward another person, or that of immediate family members, that causes fear of personal safety.
- Third Party: Any other participant in the process, including a witness to the incident or an individual who makes a report on behalf of someone else.
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. 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. 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, vice president and general counsel, 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 interim remedies and how can I access them?
A. Interim remedies are measures taken to stabilize a situation, stop the gender-based misconduct, and support the people involved in an incident. Interim remedies 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 interim remedies.
A complainant can access interim remedies without going through an investigation. Interim remedies are available before, during, and after a Title IX process.
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 its process within 60 days. The process may be extended due to extenuating circumstances of a case in order to ensure a thorough and fair process.
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
- A support person of your choosing
- 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. Complainants and third-party witnesses 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 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 a 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 adviser, 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. No, you will never be expected to speak to the other person involved in the process. During the investigation, you will each participate separately in the process.
Thank you to Grinnell College for sharing some of their FAQ information with us.
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.