Policy on Sexual Assault
The Houghton College Community condemns sexual abuse and acquaintance or stranger rape. These actions constitute a violation of the Community Standards as well as New York State Law.
Furthermore, as an institution founded upon traditional Christian values that are reflected in its Statement of Community Responsibilities, Houghton College deplores the exploitation of a fellow human. It is the position of this Institution that sexual activity should never be initiated with an individual unwilling to participate and/or unable to adequately and competently reflect on the nature or consequences of their participation.
To take advantage of a person who is unwilling or incapacitated-- whether that state is brought about through his or her own behavior or imposed by some external stress or condition-- is reprehensible and totally contrary to the mission and philosophy of Houghton College. Individuals perpetrating such acts will be censured and subject to sanctions from the College and/or prosecution by the criminal justice system.
For the purposes of clarity in this document, the following definitions of sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse are utilized.
A. Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is the commission of a sex offense. It is a general term which includes, but is not limited to, the behaviors described below under rape and sexual abuse. For example, attempted rape would be a sexual assault.
B. Rape: Rape is forcing someone to have sexual intercourse, whether vaginal, anal or oral, using any threat or physical force that places the victim in fear of injury or death. The act may be perpetrated by a person who is either a stranger or an acquaintance of the victim. If a person is unable to consent to the sexual assault, the behavior of the perpetrator is still considered rape.
Persons are considered unable to consent if they are temporarily or regularly incapable of appraising or controlling their own actions. Persons may be physically or cognitively incapable of appraising or controlling their actions and environment for any of the following reasons:
- influence of alcohol or drugs;
- delayed and limiting physical development;
- delayed and limiting cognitive development;
- deemed too young legally to consent.
Having any sexual interaction with a person within the aforementioned circumstances is considered rape.
While this section attempts to be an inclusive outline of what legally defines rape, should the law expand this definition, it will supersede what is listed here.
C. Sexual Abuse: Forcing a person to engage in any sexual contact other than sexual intercourse or engaging in sexual contact with one unable to consent to it under the circumstances described in the above definition of rape is to be considered sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse means any touching of the sexual or intimate parts of another, whether directly or through clothing, which is offensive to the complainant/victim and which could reasonably be understood as offensive. (See the Houghton College Policy on Sexual Harassment for additional infractions not covered in this document.)
III. CAMPUS AWARENESS, EDUCATION, AND PREVENTION
A. Education of incoming students
In an effort to provide each new student with appropriate information concerning rape/sexual abuse on campus, first year and transfer student orientation programs will address these issues as a part of the curriculum. Topics covered and information provided will include:
- education on the nature of sexual assault for creating awareness and prevention on Campus;
- applicable laws and institutional policies;
- availability of counseling and other support services, both on Campus and in the community;
- reporting procedures for violations, including contact persons for filing such reports both on Campus and with local authorities;
- information on the detrimental effects of “victim blaming” attitudes;
- information regarding security procedures.
B. Education of students
In addition to providing incoming students with information concerning sexual assault, it is equally important to provide ongoing education to the student body at large. This will be accomplished through printed materials, workshops, seminars, discussion groups, and video/film presentations. The Office of Student Life and Counseling Services will work in cooperation with other groups both on and off Campus to implement educational/awareness events.
C. Education of faculty/staff
By law (Title IX; Educational Amendments of 1972), the personnel of Houghton College must be informed of the Institution’s policy pertaining to the issue of sexual assault, as well as the protocols/sanctions which will be instituted should a sexual assault be perpetrated by a College employee/affiliate.
Therefore, education promoting awareness, sensitivity and prevention of sexual assault will be provided to all Houghton College employees and affiliates. Personnel in the Office of Student Life, Counseling Services, Health Center and Campus Safety and Security will receive additional education and training specific to assisting victims of sexual assault in a competent, sensitive and professional manner.
IV. REPORTING INCIDENTS (see End Note)
Individuals with knowledge of a sexual assault have the responsibility to encourage the victim to report the incident to an appropriate staff person (an RD/RA, Counseling Center staff, Health Center staff, Campus Safety and Security staff, or other Student Life staff member).
Upon receiving the report, the staff person should discuss the availability of a Campus Advocate with the victim (see section V, number 1 and section VI) and the advisability of receiving medical attention. If the victim chooses not to speak to the Advocate, the staff person will inform the victim of necessary information regarding medical treatment, counseling availability, criminal prosecution, or College judicial procedures. Regardless of the student's decision for or against taking formal action, a confidential incident report will be filed in the Office of Student Life by the staff member receiving the information.
V. VICTIM SERVICES (see End Note)
The institution will be responsible for providing the following services to a victim of a sexual assault:
- availability of a Campus Advocate to give information and support, to accompany the victim to a medical facility, and to assist in the process of connecting with the appropriate law enforcement officials;
- transportation to an appropriate medical facility for necessary examination and treatment;
- counseling support through the Counseling Center;
- modification of living arrangements as appropriate and upon request, should the victim feel unsafe in the current living arrangement;
- academic support, extended time limits and alterations of assignments as a result of lost class time;
- availability of a Medical Withdrawal or a Temporary Leave of Absence should the victim need/choose to leave Campus as the result of the assault, before the semester is completed.
VI. CRIMINAL PROSECUTION/COLLEGE JUDICIAL PROCEDURES (see End Note)
The victim will be informed of the right to pursue prosecution of the alleged assailant through police and court procedures, as well as by means of the College judicial process. The victim may choose either or both options, and while not required to make the decision to prosecute immediately, the victim will be encouraged to promptly make decisions regarding police/court involvement. These actions will normally be considered after appropriate medical care has been given. If a victim chooses police or court involvement, a Campus Advocate will be available to accompany the victim to the legal authorities.
If the victim chooses to bring the matter to the College judicial process, s/he should be assisted in doing so (see appropriate faculty and student handbook or staff manual for complete outline of College judiciary procedure).
The alleged assailant will be instructed not to have further contact with the victim, and may be banned from Campus, pending a review within the College judicial process.
VII. MEDIA POLICY (see End Note)
Sexual assault is simultaneously a sexual violation and an abuse of power. Consequently, it is desirable that all communication regarding an incident of sexual assault involving a community member be handled with sensitivity toward the privacy of the victim and the rights of the accused. It is possible that improper communication concerning such a violation may result in further harm to the victim or violate the rights of the accused. As a result, the following guidelines for media communication are suggested:
- All Campus communication regarding the incident should be made by phone or person-to-person (i.e., no radios, emails, text messages, social media or voice mails should be used).
- All persons should use the term “sexual assault” until an official statement is issued.
- All communication to the College community and public must be coordinated through the Vice President for Student Life.
- Any public communication or media concerning an incident of sexual assault will be shown to the victim by the Vice President of Student Life to ensure the anonymity of the victim.
The policy statements under sections IV, V, VI and VII represent general guidelines. It is expected that the appropriate offices will develop expanded and detailed protocols on each issue that can be referenced in regard to the policy statement.