When a complainant or witness reports a sexual misconduct violation, the College will take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what happened and work to resolve the matter promptly and equitably. The first step in this process is called an initial assessment.
A. Initial Assessment
Upon receipt of a report, the Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator will conduct an initial assessment. As part of the initial assessment, the Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator will:
- Assess the complainant’s safety and well-being and offer the College’s immediate support and assistance;
- Provide the complainant with written information about on-campus and off-campus resources and the range of appropriate and available interim measures based on the status of the complainant;
- Inform the complainant of the right to seek medical treatment, and explain the importance of obtaining and preserving forensic and other evidence;
- Inform the complainant of the right to contact law enforcement, decline to contact law enforcement, and/or seek a protective order;
- Inform the complainant of the right to seek alternative resolution (where available) or formal resolution under these procedures, discuss the complainant’s expressed preference for the manner of resolution and discuss any concerns or barriers to participating in any College investigation and resolution under these procedures;
- Explain the College’s prohibition against retaliation and that the College will take prompt action in response to any act of retaliation;
- Assess the nature and circumstances of the report;
- Ascertain the ages of the complainant and respondent, if known, and, if either of the parties is a minor (under 18), contact the appropriate child protective services agency; and
- Assess whether the report triggers any Clery Act obligations, including entry of the report in the daily crime log and/or issuance of a timely warning, and take steps to meet those obligations.
Typically, the College will seek to complete an initial assessment within five (5) business days. There may be circumstances, however, where the initial assessment takes longer based on the availability of the complainant or other necessary information, a complainant’s request to maintain privacy or not seek disciplinary action, or other factors outside of the College’s control. The College understands that a complainant may engage in delayed decision-making, which may impact the timing of the conclusion of the initial assessment.
B. Requests to Maintain Privacy, Not Seek Disciplinary Action and/or Request Not to Participate in the Investigation
Where a complainant requests that personally identifying information not be shared with the respondent, that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted and/or that no disciplinary action taken, the College will balance that request against the College’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory learning, living and working environment for all community members, including the complainant. This request may occur at any point after the report is made.
The Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator will evaluate the complainant’s request. When considering whether to honor a complainant’s request that no personally identifying information be shared with the Respondent or that no Investigation or disciplinary action be pursued, the College will consider the totality of the circumstances, including:
- The impact of moving forward on the complainant’s well-being; the increased risk that the respondent will commit additional acts of sexual or other violence, taking into consideration, among other matters, any known history of arrests, violence, or other reports of sexual misconduct violation involving the respondent, any threats of future violence made by the respondent, and whether multiple perpetrators were involved in the reported incident;
- Whether the sexual misconduct violation was perpetrated with the use or threat of use of a weapon or involved physical violence or threat of physical violence;
- Whether the report reveals a pattern of sexual misconduct violations;
- Whether the complainant is or at the time was a minor; and
- Whether the sexual misconduct violation occurred while the complainant was unconscious, physically helpless or unaware that the sexual misconduct violations was occurring;
- Whether the sexual misconduct violation was facilitated through the use of a “date rape” or similar drugs or intoxicants;
- Whether the College is able as a practical matter to pursue the investigation without the participation of the complainant (e.g., whether there has been other relevant evidence of the Violation such as admission by the respondent, security cameras, other witnesses, or physical evidence); and/or
- Whether other aggravating circumstances exist.
Where possible based on the facts and circumstances, the College will seek action consistent with the complainant’s request to maintain privacy and/or not conduct further Investigation or disciplinary action. If the College is able to honor the request, the College’s ability to meaningfully investigate and respond to a report may be limited. The College may only be able to respond in more general ways, such as providing targeted training or prevention programs or offering reasonably available remedial measures to the complainant.
At any time, the complainant who has initially requested to maintain privacy or declined to participate in an Investigation may choose to pursue alternative or formal resolution where available. The College may also reopen and pursue a report where new or additional information becomes available.
There are times when the College may not be able to honor a complainant’s request in order to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for the College community. Where the balance of factors requires that further investigation be conducted, that disciplinary action be taken, or that the identity of the complainant be disclosed, the College will inform the complainant of its intent to investigate prior to commencing the investigation and/or of its intent to disclose the identity of the complainant. In such cases, the College will make reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of the complainant consistent with the needs of the Investigation and resolution of the matter, and will, to the extent possible, only share information with people responsible for handling the College’s response; however an investigation normally involves speaking with the respondent and others who may have relevant information about the incident and disclosing the identity of the complainant may be necessary in those conversations.
The College will take ongoing steps to protect the complainant from retaliation or harm and assist the complainant in accessing support and safety services regardless of their level of participation or engagement with these procedures.
Because the College is under a continuing obligation to address sexual and gender-based harassment and violence campus-wide, reports of sexual misconduct violations (including reports that do not include personally-identifiable information) will also prompt the College to consider broader remedial action, such as increased monitoring, supervision or security at locations where the reported sexual violence occurred; increasing education and prevention efforts, including to targeted population groups; conducting climate assessments/victimization surveys; and/or revisiting its policies and practices.
C. Determination after Assessment
These procedures offer two forms of resolution for reports of sexual misconduct violations: (1) formal resolution, which involves investigation, and review and sanction (if applicable) by an adjudicator as described below; and (2) alternative resolution as described below, which includes a variety of informal options for resolving reports.
After the initial assessment, the Title IX coordinator will determine whether the circumstances warrant proceeding to an investigation. The Title IX coordinator may consult with other College administrators or legal counsel. The determination as to how to proceed will be communicated to the complainant in writing. Depending on the circumstances and requested resolution, the Respondent may or may not be notified of the report or resolution. A respondent will be notified when the College takes action that would impact a Respondent, such as protective measures that restrict the respondent’s movement on campus, the initiation of an Investigation, or the decision to seek to involve the respondent in alternative resolution, investigation, or other disciplinary process. Notice to the respondent will include a written explanation of all available resources and options. The respondent will also be offered the opportunity to meet to discuss those resources and options. The College will also provide the respondent an opportunity to respond to such actions.
Following this initial assessment, during an Investigation, or at any point in the disciplinary process, Hampshire College may seek an alternative resolution that, as appropriate, endeavors to prevent future sexual misconduct violations and addresses their effects without conducting or concluding, as applicable, a formal disciplinary process against a respondent. Alternatively, if appropriate, the College may pursue an Investigation and disciplinary process.