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.
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.
- 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
A. Title IX Sexual Harassment:
The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regard sexual harassment, a specific form of discriminatory harassment, as an unlawful discriminatory practice. Springfield College has adopted the following definition of sexual harassment in order to address the unique environment of an academic community, which consists not only of employer and employees, but of students as well. Acts of sexual harassment may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity of those involved. Sexual harassment, as an umbrella category, includes the offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, and is defined as:
Conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:
- Quid Pro Quo: an employee of the recipient conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the recipient, on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; and/or
- Sexual Harassment: unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person, to be so severe, and pervasive, and objectively offensive, that it effectively denies a person equal access to Springfield College’s education program or activity.
- Dating Violence: violence on the basis of sex, committed by a person, who is in or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant.
- The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the Complainant’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. For the purposes of this definition—
- Dating violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse.
- Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
- Domestic Violence: violence on the basis of sex, 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; or by a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner; or by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; 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 Massachusetts.
- Stalking: engaging in a course of conduct on the basis of sex, directed at a specific person, that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety, or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress. For the purposes of this definition—
- Course of conduct means two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which the Respondent directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
- Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.
- Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may but does not necessarily require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.
- “Sexual assault” as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), “domestic violence” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or “stalking” as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30):
- Sex Offenses, Forcible: any sexual act directed against another person without the consent of the Complainant, including instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent.
- Forcible Rape: penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the Complainant.
- Forcible Sodomy: oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Sexual Assault with an Object: the use of an object or instrument to penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Forcible Fondling: the touching of the private body parts of another person (buttocks, groin, breasts), for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will (non-consensually), or not forcibly or against the person’s will in instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent because of age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Sex Offenses, Non-forcible:
- Incest: non-forcible sexual intercourse, between persons who are related to each other, within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by the Commonwealth.
- Statutory Rape: non-forcible sexual intercourse, with a person who is under the statutory age of consent within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Sexual harassment, under Title VII and this policy, is further defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Definitions of sexual harassment include:
Hostile environment 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.
Quid pro quo 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.
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.