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Sexual Misconduct Policy

  1. Introduction
  2. Resources for Support
  3. Policy Definitions
  4. Reporting Sexual Misconduct
  5. Investigation Procedures and Protocols
  6. Student College Conduct Process (Adjudication Procedures)
  7. FAQs

Introduction

Keene State College is committed to creating and maintaining a community in which students, faculty, and staff can work together in an environment free of all forms of harassment, exploitation, violence, and intimidation. Relationship violence and sexual misconduct are antithetical to the standards, values, and mission of Keene State College and will not be tolerated. This policy prohibits all forms of relationship violence, sexual misconduct and related offenses. These broad terms include, but are not limited to, acts of sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual violence, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. The College also prohibits retaliation, including retaliatory harassment, against individuals who report sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence, or who participate in the College’s investigation and handling of such reports.

The College will respond to reports of relationship violence and sexual misconduct to stop the prohibited conduct, take steps to prevent the reoccurrence of the conduct, and address its effects on the campus community regardless of location.

This policy applies to all students, faculty, and staff – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, sex, gender expression, or gender identity – regardless of immigration status, national origin, or citizenship status. This policy applies to all forms of relationship violence, sexual misconduct and related offenses committed by or against a student when: the conduct occurs on campus; the conduct occurs off campus but in the context of College employment, education, research, or activities; the conduct occurs off campus but has any continuing effects on campus or in an off campus program or activity and is creating or contributing to a hostile environment. The College reserves the right to assert its jurisdiction in certain off-campus incidents when specific actions by Keene State College community members adversely affect the College community and/or its mission.

Title IX Office

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and other laws prohibit sex and gender discrimination at institutions of higher education. Keene State College prohibits sex and gender discrimination in any of its programs or activities. This Sexual Misconduct policy applies to a broad range of violations including, but not limited to, the range of violations governed by Title IX. The Title IX Coordinator oversees and coordinates the College’s response to all issues of gender equity. The Title IX Coordinator or their designee is available to meet with any member of the College community to discuss Title IX compliance or issues of gender discrimination, including sexual misconduct and relationship violence.

Contact Information:
Deirdre Loftus (she/her/hers)
Deirdre.loftus@keene.edu
603-358-2958 Elliot Center room 250

Freedom of Speech

The protections of the First Amendment must be carefully considered in all reports involving speech or expressive conduct. The fact that speech or expressive conduct is offensive is not, standing alone, a sufficient basis to establish a violation of this policy. Students and faculty in an educational environment have robust speech rights, including the right to freely examine, exchange, and debate diverse ideas. Speech or expressive conduct that constitutes sexual harassment is neither legally protected expression nor the proper exercise of academic freedom.

Resources for Support

The health and safety of campus community members is the College’s primary concern. Call 911 if you or another member of the KSC community is in immediate danger.

A victim/survivor of sexual misconduct or relationship violence may experience many conflicting emotions including shock, fear, anger, guilt, shame, or numbness. Each survivor’s response is unique. Often people find that their eating, sleeping, exercise, self-care or social patterns have changed. They find themselves isolating from others or being unable to concentrate on work or schoolwork. Whether someone chooses to report their experience or not, talking with a counselor or a trusted friend or family member can be very helpful.

Confidential Support and Help

Keene State College has support resources with professional and legal mandates to protect the confidentiality of the information disclosed by a person impacted by sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence. These resources are not required to report what is shared with them to the College or law enforcement personnel:

Community Resource

MCVP: Crisis and Prevention Center provides confidential crisis intervention services for people who have experienced relationship violence, stalking, and sexual violence, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and child abuse. They provide confidential crisis intervention services, including medical, legal and court advocacy, financial advocacy, crisis counseling, safety planning, and referrals to other resources. They provide secondary support for an individual’s friends and family, emergency shelter, and Housing First. Their advocates may also be able to help qualifying victim/survivors with unbundled or pro bono legal services, financial compensation, access to food, clothing, and transportation. MCVP is oftentimes on campus facilitating sexual misconduct prevention education and can meet students on campus for counseling.

  • MCVP: Crisis and Prevention Center 24hr confidential hotline: 1-888-511-6287 or 603-352-3782

National Resources

Medical Considerations

Victim/survivors may wish to seek medical attention. Along with treating injuries, prompt medical examinations can test for pregnancy and STI’s, and provide post exposure treatment for HIV. If non-consensual choking or strangling was involved in the incident, then a medical provider will examine the area for injury and outline steps for recovery.

A forensic examination can also secure valuable evidence that could be used later if a person wishes to involve law enforcement. Physical evidence may exist up to five (5) days, or longer, after a sexual assault or rape, though individuals are recommended to receive an examination as soon as possible. Local medical facilities can arrange to have a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) conduct a forensic examination, which collects evidence from a person’s body, clothes, and other belongings. A trained advocate can meet a victim/survivor at the hospital to provide emotional support, which would be arranged by the hospital. The results of this examination can be provided to law enforcement anonymously. The choice to report is always in the hands of the victim/survivor.

When a sexual assault or relationship violence victim/survivor seeks treatment at the hospital, the State of New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General will pay the cost for medical expenses, including the physical examination, if the experience is reported to the police. Other expenses related to the incident may also be provided at no cost to the victim/survivor through the Victim’s Compensation Program. Specific information on expenses is available through MCVP: Crisis and Prevention Center.

Reporting to Law Enforcement

Victims/survivors of sexual misconduct can always report their experiences to law enforcement, including local police. This option may be helpful if a person plans to pursue a criminal or civil lawsuit. It can also be helpful for obtaining a legal order of protection and/or other forms of legal protection.

If desired, college officials will assist in notifying law enforcement authorities. It is the individual’s choice to make such a report to law enforcement. Keene Police Department (KPD) employs a College Liaison Officer. This Officer responds to calls and reports involving KSC students throughout the academic year and helps facilitate communication between the College and the KPD.

To file a police report, call 9-11 or Dispatch, or go directly to Keene Police Department:

Academic Accommodations and Supportive Measures

Keene State College may take supportive measures upon learning of any allegation of sexual misconduct or relationship violence. These measures are available regardless of whether the victim/survivor chooses to report the relationship violence or sexual misconduct to law enforcement. Supportive measures may be remedial or protective. Supportive measures will not disproportionately impact the reporting party or the responding party.

Possible supportive measures may include the ability to change academic or work schedules, withdraw from or retake a class without penalty, receive academic support services or counseling, or change housing arrangements.

The College may also issue “no contact” orders between involved parties or limit an individual or organization’s access to certain College facilities or activities pending resolution of the matter.

In sexual misconduct or relationship violence cases, the Dean of Students will assure appropriate supportive measures are provided for students.

Outside Options for Complaint Resolution

Keene State College community members who believe that they are a victim/survivor of discrimination or discriminatory harassment can view the Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Policy and also may wish file a report with the regional enforcement office for the Office of Civil Rights or the at the following addresses:

Office for Civil Rights: US Department of Education 5 Post Office Square - 8th floor, Boston, Mass 02109-3921 617-289-0111 OCR.Boston@ed.gov

Policy Definitions

The following are definitions for this College policy and may differ from definitions under federal, state, or local law. Offenses may occur along a continuum that includes verbal statements that create a hostile environment through physical acts such as unwanted and/or forced sexual contact. It is impossible for a policy to depict all circumstances of offenses. It is important to recognize that gender discrimination includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of misconduct as discussed below. It can be an evolving journey for individuals who experience gender discrimination to define for themselves what they experienced; the below definitions are how the College distinguishes forms of misconduct, though they may or may not match the words that an individual uses to define their experience for themselves.

Sexual Misconduct is a broad term that encompasses sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and related offenses.

Sexual Violence - Sexual Violence is a form of sexual harassment. It is a physical sexual act perpetrated without consent. Such acts include, but are not limited to, unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault, which can be rape.

  • Unwanted Sexual Contact - intentional contact or touching of the intimate parts of another, whether directly or through clothing, or the intentional exposure of intimate parts of self, without consent. Intimate parts may include, but are not limited to, breasts, genitals, buttocks, groin, or mouth.
  • Sexual Assault - having or attempting to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another by force or threat of force; or without consent; or where that person is incapacitated. This also includes rape, which is the sexual penetration, however slight, of another person, without consent. Sexual penetration may be vaginal, anal, or oral, and may involve the use of a body part or object.

Sexual Exploitation occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another, for any purpose, and that behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Sexual exploitation can take many forms including, but not limited, to the following:

  • Inducing intoxication or incapacitation for the purpose of sexual activity : providing drugs, alcohol, or other substances with the intent to impair their ability to withhold consent or their ability to knowingly consent to sexual activity
  • Invasion of privacy : surreptitiously recording, preserving, or storing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved, or in which the person observed has not attained 18 years of age. Sharing, transmitting, distributing, or streaming of images, video, or audio recordings of sexual activity or nudity, without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved shall constitute a separate act of sexual exploitation. The act of sexual exploitation can be committed by anyone knowingly possessing an image that was sent without the individual’s consent.
  • Voyeurism: the act of intentionally observing or, spying on, or listening to a person(s) involved in sexual contact or in any state of undress, without their consent. Voyeurism also occurs when an individual allows others to observe this behavior without the consent of all the person(s) involved.
  • STIs : knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted infection or virus without their knowledge.

Sexual Harassment is a form of unlawful gender (sex) discrimination. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that violates College policy when:

  • Submission to such behavior is made, explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic work, or status in a course, program, or activity; or
  • Submission to or rejection of such behavior is used as a basis for a decision affecting an individual’s employment, academic work, or participation in a course, program, or activity; or
  • Such behavior is so severe and pervasive that a reasonable person would find that it:
    • Alters the terms or conditions or a person’s employment or educational experience; or
    • Unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or performance in a course, program, or activity, thus creating a hostile or abusive working or educational environment

A person’s subjective belief alone that behavior is offensive does not necessarily mean that the conduct rises to the level of a policy violation. The behavior must be objectively offensive to meet the definition of sexual harassment.

It is important to note that one cannot assume that conduct is acceptable simply because an individual does not actively protest against it. In addition, some conduct may be considered sexual harassment, even if it is not intended as such. A single incident may constitute sexual harassment, depending on the severity of the conduct and on factors such as the degree to which the conduct affected the student’s education or the employee’s work environment, the type of conduct, and the relationship between the involved parties.

Relationship Violence is a broad term that encompasses domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. It is important to note that while abusive relationships often include ongoing emotional, psychological, and financial abuse, this policy addresses the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical violence. Physical violence involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force. Individuals experiencing other facets of an abusive relationship, on or off campus, are strongly encouraged to seek help from the resources listed in this policy.

  • Domestic Violence is violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner, a person sharing a child with the victim, or a person cohabiting or who has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner.
  • Dating Violence is violence committed by a person who 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 victim’s statement and/or with consideration of the type and length of the relationship and the frequency of the interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. A course of conduct means two or more acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through a third party follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.

Stalking includes incidences in which electronic media such as the internet, social media, texts, cell phones, GPS, and other similar forms of contact are used (sometimes referred to as cyber-stalking).

This policy prohibits all stalking, not just stalking that occurs within the context of a relationship.

Consent - Consent is the voluntary, informed, knowing, unambiguous agreement to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity through clearly communicated actions or words. It is important not to make assumptions. When in doubt, stop and ask .

  • Consent cannot be inferred from silence, passivity, or a lack of active resistance. Consent cannot be given by someone who is sleeping, unconscious, going in and out of consciousness, involuntarily restrained, or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated because of drugs, alcohol, or other contributing factors. Consent is required regardless of whether a person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Consent cannot be given under duress, threat, deception, coercion, force, or a misuse of authority. Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time; once consent is withdrawn or revoked the sexual activity must stop immediately. Consent cannot be assumed because of a previous relationship or because of previous sexual relations. In the State of New Hampshire, a person under the age of sixteen (16) cannot give sexual consent to any person over the age of 16. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Incapacitated Sexual Contact - sexual activity that occurs when one party lacks conscious knowledge of the nature of the act and/or is physically helpless due to impairment, illness, or physical or mental limitation or disability. An individual is incapacitated, and unable to give consent, when they are asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware sexual activity is occurring.

When incapacitation results from the use of alcohol or other drugs, evidence of impairment or intoxication are insufficient alone to establish incapacitation. Evaluating incapacitation requires an individual assessment of the impact of the consumption of alcohol/drugs on that individual as well as, an assessment of whether the responding party knew, or should have known, the reporting party was incapacitated. The impairment or intoxication of a responding party is not a defense for misconduct and does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.

Reporting Party - a person who alleges that another person or an organization violated this policy. This is the person who is alleged to have suffered a violation of this policy. The reporting party may also be referred to as the “complainant”.

Responding Party - any person or organization who is alleged to have violated this policy.

Third Party Reporting Individual - a person who alleges that another person or an organization violated this policy. This person does not allege to have experienced the reported violation of this policy.

Preponderance of Evidence Standard - the standard of proof used in all cases adjudicated. It asks whether it is “more likely than not” that the alleged violation occurred. If the evidence presented meets this standard, then the responding party must be found responsible.

Confidential - communication is legally privileged and cannot be shared. The only individuals at Keene State College who can maintain confidentiality of a disclosure of sexual misconduct or relationship violence are the professional staff of the Wellness Center. Confidential information cannot be revealed to any other person without the express permission of the individual, or as otherwise required by law.

Private - a private communication means that the information will only be shared with those individuals with a need to know and that all necessary precautions will be taken to protect the identity of the reporting party.

Responsible Employee – a College employee obligated by policy to share knowledge, notice, and/or reports of sexual misconduct, discrimination, and/or retaliation with the Title IX Coordinator. While Responsible Employees have reporting obligations to the Title IX Coordinator, they are not considered Officials with Authority.

Official with Authority (OWA)** - a College employee explicitly vested with the responsibility to implement corrective measures for harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation on behalf of the Recipient.

Reporting Sexual Misconduct

The College strongly encourages individuals impacted by relationship violence or sexual misconduct to report what happened and seek support services. Any person who has experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct or relationship violence, whether on or off campus, can report directly to the Title IX Coordinator, Department of Campus Safety, a Residential Life staff member, Human Resources, any College official, or the Keene Police Department. Making a report is not a filing a formal report and does not obligate the reporting party to proceed any further with an internal investigation or criminal charges. All of these College officials will provide the reported information to the Title IX Coordinator for follow-up.

Furthermore, it can be difficult for an individual to come forward after such an event, and there are several different options available for Keene State community members who wish to maintain confidentiality while getting the support they need. In these cases, a student may find it helpful to have a conversation with the Wellness Center - Counseling Services, the Wellness Center – Health Services, or MCVP: Crisis and Prevention Center. These offices can provide a confidential space where KSC community members may obtain support services and explore their options in a confidential manner.

A student can report about instances involving fellow students, non-students, faculty, staff, and individuals not affiliated with the College. Additionally, the Amorous Relationship Policy acknowledges existing hierarchies and power dynamics. For a formal report of sexual misconduct between a faculty or staff member and a student, the institution will, in general, be unsympathetic to a “consent” rational.

To Report Sexual Misconduct

Keene State College has a comprehensive system to assist students who choose to report sexual misconduct or relationship violence. Reports can be made to the following College authorities:

After reporting an incident of sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence, the student will be connected to either the Title IX Coordinator or a Title IX Intake Officer. These individuals will help the student to understand all of their options, including the option to pursue an investigatory process and/or conduct hearing.

In making the report, the College will:

  • Encourage the student to go to the hospital emergency room or the Wellness Center for medical services and offer to transport and/or accompany the student, if applicable.
  • Connect the student with a confidential counselor at the Wellness Center.
  • Provide resources to speak directly with the on-call, confidential counselor or an advocate from MCVP: Crisis and Prevention Center.
  • Provide support in understanding, evaluating, and choosing among the services described in this policy.
  • Provide the student with a written explanation of student rights.
  • Inform the student of their rights and options including the options of filing a formal report through the student conduct system or a criminal report through the Keene Police Department.

Students should understand that most KSC employees, except for those who maintain a legally recognized confidential relationship as discussed above, are required to report any disclosure about sexual misconduct or relationship violence. This report is made to the Title IX Coordinator even when the student requests privacy. The “Confidential Support and Help” resources identified above are not required to report a disclosure.

Making a Report to Campus Safety

Campus Safety is available 24/7 to make a report and seek support regarding sexual misconduct or relationship violence, regardless of where or when the incident occurred. While reporting does not obligate a student to file a formal report with the Title IX Coordinator or with the relevant law enforcement agency, the College will provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all students and employees. If desired by the reporting party, Campus Safety will provide a same-sex officer to record the report. The reporting student may have an advisor or advocate with them during any interviews or meetings with College officials.

Keene State College maintains a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Keene Police Department. This memorandum outlines the coordinated process and rights and responsibilities that will be followed if the reporting party wishes to file a concurrent report with the Keene Police Department.

The College may issue a campus alert (without identifying the reporting individual) in situations where the College believes there is an imminent threat posed to the campus community. All actions taken, including the possible release of a timely warning to the community, will be designed to protect the reporting individual’s identity.

Filing a Formal Report

After connecting with the Title IX Coordinator and reviewing options, the reporting party may decide to pursue an investigatory and/or conduct process. To initiate this process, they will sign a formal report, along with the Title IX Coordinator. This document will allege that one or more violations of this policy was committed by a responding party. It may sometimes be referred to as a “formal complaint.” Filing a formal report with the Title IX Coordinator will initiate the investigatory and/or conduct process. The responding party will be contacted and informed of the allegations, along with the reporting party’s name and details of the allegations. The Title IX Coordinator will connect with the responding party to explain the investigatory and/or conduct process and will offer individualized support.

The Title IX Coordinator will review the formal report to determine whether the allegations fall under the scope of Title IX regulations. In situations listed below, the Title IX Coordinator will “dismiss” the formal report as a Title IX incident; however, the Institution remains committed to addressing any sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence impacting the College community. If a possible violation of this Policy occurred, an investigation and/or further conduct process may still occur:

  • Misconduct occurred outside the United States.
  • Misconduct occurred outside the College’s education program or activity.
  • Misconduct does not fall within the scope of Title IX

A decision to dismiss a formal report under Title IX may be appealed using the online appeal form. See appeal process below.

If a reporting party files a formal report and requests that the College take investigatory or disciplinary action, then their anonymity will not be maintained. After a formal report is filed, the responding party must be contacted and informed about the charges. If the reporting party makes a report, and has not filed a formal report, then the Title IX Coordinator will weigh the reporting party’s request for anonymity with the College’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all students and employees, including the reporting party.

At times, in order to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for KSC community members, the Title IX Coordinator will file a formal report on behalf of the College. If this occurs, then the College may not be able to honor a reporting party’s request for anonymity. In such a case, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the reporting party prior to starting an investigation. Furthermore, the College will remain mindful of the reporting party’s well-being and will take ongoing steps to protect them from retaliation or harm.

Employee Reporting Obligations

A ‘Responsible Employee’ is a College employee obligated by policy to share knowledge, notice, and/or reports of sexual misconduct, discrimination, and/or retaliation with the Title IX Coordinator. At Keene State College, all faculty and staff, except for those who exist in a legally recognized confidential relationship to the reporting party, have a duty to report sexual misconduct or relationship violence. To the extent possible, information reported to the responsible employee will be kept private and will be shared only with people responsible for handling the College’s response to the report. Before a victim/survivor reveals any information to a responsible employee, the employee should ensure the victim/survivor understands the employee’s reporting obligation and, if they want to maintain confidentiality, direct them to confidential resources.

While Responsible Employees have reporting obligations to the Title IX Coordinator, they are not considered Officials with Authority. The College has determined that the following administrators are Officials with Authority to address and correct sexual misconduct, discrimination, and/or retaliation. The Officials with Authority listed below may also accept notice or reports on behalf of KSC:

  • Title IX Coordinator
  • Director of Human Resources
  • Dean of Students
  • Associate Dean of Students
  • Assistant Dean of Students

Emergency Removal

In some cases, the College may initiate an emergency removal of a responding party to protect the safety of the campus community, which may include contacting local law enforcement. Emergency removals can include removing a person from campus, an education program, and/or a residence hall, among other options. The reporting party and the responding party will receive written notice. The notice will contain: the date the removal is set to begin, the reason for removal, the consequences of non-compliance, and how to appeal the decision.

Emergency removal is not a substitute for reaching a determination of responsibility; it is rather for the purpose of addressing imminent threats posed to any person’s physical health or safety, which may arise from sexual misconduct allegations.

Investigation Procedures and Protocols

When an investigation is conducted, Keene State College has an obligation to ensure that the investigation is prompt, adequate, reliable, and impartial. In fulfilling these obligations, the College will respond to ensure that the prohibited conduct is stopped, eliminate any hostile environment, take steps to prevent its recurrence, and address any effects. Trained professionals will conduct the investigation under the oversight of the Title IX Coordinator. The investigator may be contracted from an external source and may be the Title IX Coordinator. The reporting party and responding party will be notified, in writing, of the initiation of the investigation and the potential policy violation(s) at issue. They will be provided the name of the appointed investigator(s) and an opportunity to raise concerns about bias or conflict of interest.

Interviews will be conducted with all parties and any relevant witnesses. All parties will have an opportunity to identify potential witnesses and provide any evidence or other information that may be relevant to the investigation. The investigator may review law enforcement investigatory files (if applicable) and student or personnel files. During the investigatory process, all parties will receive timely notice of any meetings at which their presence is requested. All parties will be provided regular updates regarding the status of the investigatory process.

All parties will be provided an equal opportunity to inspect and review any evidence obtained in the investigation that is directly related to the allegations. Prior to the conclusion of the investigative report, each party and their advisor will be provided a copy of the evidence. All parties are given ten (10) days to submit a written response, which will be included in the investigative report. From this, the investigator will determine if additional investigation is necessary. If so, they will complete any additional steps.

If, after an investigation has started, the reporting party asks to withdraw their formal report, then the College will try to honor the reporting party’s wishes to stop an investigation or disciplinary process.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will write a report setting forth the relevant facts of the investigation and submit the report to the Title IX Coordinator, who will review it for completeness.

Upon receipt of an investigation and final charges from the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Student Conduct initiates the student conduct hearing process as outlined below. All parties and advisors will have the opportunity to review and comment on the final report prior to the Hearing Board receiving a copy.

Law Enforcement Investigations

A reporting party may file a formal report (with the College) and criminal report (with the police) simultaneously. The investigations may proceed concurrently; the outcome of one investigation does not determine the outcome of the other investigation. While the College may briefly suspend fact-finding at the request of law enforcement, Federal law does not require the College to delay its investigation until the resolution of the criminal process.

Timelines

The College will conduct a timely review of all reports of sexual misconduct and relationship violence. Absent extenuating circumstances, the investigation and resolution are expected to take place within ninety (90) calendar days from receipt of the formal report These timeframes may be extended during periods when classes are not held or for good cause. Both parties will be provided with written notice of any extension.

Retaliation

Keene State College is committed to a policy that encourages disclosures of sexual misconduct and relationship violence. Any person, who, in good faith, reports an actual or perceived violation of this policy, shall not be subject to retaliation. The College will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs. If a reporting party or witness believes that they have been subjected to retaliation, they should promptly contact the Title IX Coordinator.

Student College Conduct Process (Adjudication Procedures)

Hearing Board

The Keene State College Office of Student Conduct will convene a hearing board for the purpose of adjudicating an alleged incident of sexual misconduct involving students. The hearing will provide a fair, impartial, and equitable process that respects the rights of all participants. The College has the burden of proving the responding party’s responsibility for the policy violations alleged. The Board will determine if a policy violation occurred using a preponderance of the evidence standard – namely, that it is more likely than not that the student or student organization has committed the violation as charged. Note that the hearing process may also be referred to as the grievance process in matters where a formal Title IX report is filed.

Composition of the Hearing Board

The Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board shall be composed of faculty and staff from Keene State College and the University System of New Hampshire who are trained annually on sexual misconduct issues, investigations, and hearing practices. In each hearing, the Board shall be comprised of three members, one of which will be a Presiding Officer (referred to as the Chair) who is tasked with conducting the hearing and determining questions of relevance. The Chair is a voting member of the Board.

At the hearing, the following individuals may be present:

  • Three Hearing Board members (including the Chair)
  • Reporting party
  • Advisor for the Reporting party
  • Responding Party
  • Advisor for the Responding party
  • Witnesses (only while providing relevant information)
  • A Member of the Student Conduct Office (to be consulted on for matters of policy and process)

Advisors

The role of an advisor is to support a student who is navigating the investigatory and/or student conduct processes and to conduct the questioning process during the conduct hearing. Advisors can assist with preparations, accompany the student to relevant meetings, and ask questions of the other party and witnesses at the conduct hearing. During a sexual misconduct process, both the reporting party and the responding party are required to have an advisor. Each party can choose their own advisor and are responsible for contacting that person to ask if they are able to serve. If a student does not arrange for an advisor, they must tell the Title IX Coordinator sothe College can provide an advisor, without fee or charge.

When the questioning process occurs, the advisor will ask the other party and witnesses questions on behalf of the party they are advising. Both the responding party and the reporting party are expected to work with their advisor on developing these questions. The responding and reporting parties may not ask direct questions of any witnesses or the opposing party. Advisors only speaking role in the hearing is to ask questions at the appropriate time.

During the conduct hearing, additional support personnel cannot be present, unless deemed necessary by the Director of Student Conduct for purposes such as accommodation of a disability or language translation.

Advisors must maintain the privacy of everyone involved in the conduct process and cannot disseminate or disclose any information about the conduct case. Advisors are not permitted to raise objections or speak out of turn. The College reserves the exclusive right to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of anyone present during a hearing. They must interact in a respectful, nonintimidating, non-coercive, and non-abusive manner. Additional rules for decorum will be provided to each advisor.

Hearing Board Process

The Chair will conduct the hearing in accordance with the established hearing board process. The process ensures that the investigation report is presented, that each party and witnesses have the chance to be heard, and that the Hearing Board has the opportunity to ask relevant questions of all parties and witnesses involved. If any party requests, the hearing can be conducted with the parties located in separate locations using technology or conducted with a physical barrier set up.

All hearing board proceedings are audio recorded. Individual recordings are not permitted by any other party. Additionally, the hearing board process ensures:

  1. All parties are introduced
  2. The rights of the parties involved are acknowledged
  3. All alleged conduct code violations are read
  4. The Responding Party is provided an opportunity to accept responsibility, deny responsibility, or decline to make a statement, for each alleged conduct code charge
  5. Each party and witness has an opportunity to be heard and be questioned by the Hearing Board and the advisors of both parties.
  6. Each party’s advisor will ask questions, on behalf of their advisee, of the other party and/or witnesses. The Chair will decide, in real time, if each question is relevant and will be permitted.
  7. Each party will be provided the opportunity to describe any mitigating factors relevant to the allegations, subject to relevancy exclusions.
  8. Each party has the chance to provide a closing statement to the Hearing Board
  9. If either party wishes to do so, they may bring a written statement to the Conduct Hearing. If the responding party is found responsible, the Chair will share the impact statement to the hearing board members as part of the sanctioning conversation.

If any individual should become disruptive during the hearing, including witnesses and advisors, the Hearing Chair retains the discretion to remove that individual from the hearing.

Questioning Process

To ensure that all parties have space to convey their perspective, the responding party and the reporting party must participate in a questioning process during the conduct hearing. To achieve this, each party’s advisor will ask the other party relevant questions and follow-up questions.

After an advisor poses a question, the hearing board Chair will determine whether the question is relevant before the responding party or reporting party is allowed to respond. If a question is deemed ‘not relevant’, the Chair will explain their decision; these decisions are final and are not subject to objection or reconsideration during the hearing. If a question is relevant but offered in an abusive or argumentative manner, the Chair has the discretion to ask the advisor to restate the question. Questions that seek information that is protected under a legally recognized privilege are not permitted, unless the individual has waived the privilege in writing.

Questioning can only be conducted by an advisor; it cannot be conducted by a responding party or reporting party themselves. The responding party and the reporting party cannot speak to each other and cannot attempt to communicate with each other through nonverbal cues during the conduct hearing.

If a reporting party, responding party, or witness does not agree to participate with questioning at the conduct hearing, then the hearing board cannot take any statement made by that party into consideration while making a determination regarding responsibility.

Witnesses

Any witnesses whose testimony is included in the investigative packet will be encouraged to attend the hearing. If a witness, or party does not attend the conduct hearing then the hearing board cannot take any statement made by that witness or party into consideration when making a decision regarding responsibility.

Sexual History of Parties

Generally, the sexual history of the reporting party is not relevant and will not be considered as evidence. Evidence about the reporting party’s sexual predisposition is always protected and never relevant. Evidence about the reporting party’s prior sexual behavior may be considered under the following limited circumstances:

  • To show that someone other than the responding party committed the conduct alleged by the reporting party
  • To show specific incidents of the reporting party’s prior sexual behavior, with respect to the responding party, that are offered to prove consent. As noted in the consent definition, the mere fact of a prior relationship or prior sexual act is not sufficient to prove consent.

Relevant evidence of prior sexual history must be based on direct evidence, not rumor, hearsay, or conjecture. The relevance and introduction of prior sexual history in a student conduct hearing will be determined by the Hearing Chair.

Hearing Board Deliberations

At the conclusion of the Hearing, all parties will be dismissed from the proceedings and the Board will deliberate privately to determine the Responding Party’s responsibility for the alleged violation(s). All decisions require a majority vote from the Hearing Board members.

If the Responding Party is found responsible, then impact statement(s), which are brought to hearing, can be read to the Board. If found not responsible, the impact statements will be destroyed without being reviewed. The parties must submit their statements prior to the hearing. The hearing board will recommend appropriate sanctions based on the severity of the violation, that student’s conduct history, and case precedent. During the sanctioning phase of deliberations, the Hearing Chair will:

  • Disclose the Responding Party’s past student conduct history, if any.
  • Provide sanction parameters, as defined by this policy for the applicable violations of the code of conduct.

If the Responding Party is found not responsible, there is no discussion of sanctions and the official proceeding concludes.

Once a decision is made, the Hearing Chair will convene a meeting with the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct to review the Hearing Board’s outcome for completeness.

Outcome

Both the reporting party and the responding party will be informed of the Hearing outcome, in writing, concurrently. The final outcome letter will set forth the name of the Responding Party; description of the steps taken from the receipt of a formal report through the hearing, the charged violation(s) of policy and the Hearing Board’s findings; the findings of fact supporting the determination; and the sanction(s) imposed, if any.

Sanctions

Violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy may result in suspension or expulsion from Keene State College. A full list of sanctions can be found here In instances where student organizations are involved, these organizations may also have sanctions taken against them, including the rescinding of their institutional recognition.

Students who would like more information regarding either the New Hampshire Sexual Assault Statute or College conduct expectations should review the law and the Student Code of Conduct. They may also contact the Director of Campus Safety, the Dean of Students or the Director of Student Conduct.

Appeals Process & Appeal Form for Sexual Misconduct

The findings of the Hearing Officer or Hearing Board may be appealed by either the Reporting Party or the Responding Party. Submitting an appeal will not guarantee that an outcome will be overturned, though it will ensure that it is fully vetted by an appellate officer. Please note that appeals do not serve as re-hearings of the original case. Either party may appeal on the basis of:

  1. Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter. (i.e. failure to follow the institution’s own procedures);
  2. New information has become available that could significantly change the hearing outcome or the decision for Title IX dismissal
  3. The Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) had/has a conflict of interest or bias that affected or could affect the outcome of the matter.
  4. The sanctions imposed are substantially outside the parameters or guidelines set by the College for this type of offense or the cumulative conduct record of the responding student or student organization.

Appeals must be submitted by the student or student organization in writing (through our online form) and contain the specific grounds for the appeal based on the criteria identified above. Please note that failure to attend the hearing or to provide a statement in lieu of attendance are not grounds for an appeal. In addition, the appeal must be received by the Student Conduct Office within five (5) calendar days of the date at the top of the hearing outcome notification e-mail. In most cases the Director of Student Conduct will review the appeal except in instances where they heard the original case. In some cases, the appeal may be considered by the Associate Dean of Students, the Dean of Students, or another College official.

Upon receiving an appeal, the Appellate Officer will vet the appeal to determine whether any of the grounds upon which a case can be appealed have been addressed at a sufficient level to warrant an appeal being granted.

Sanctions will generally not be implemented until the appeal process has been exhausted. However, in cases where the health, safety, or well-being of a particular student or the College community is threatened, the Director of Student Conduct may authorize immediate implementation of any sanctions and offer to expedite the review. They may also authorize immediate implementation of the sanction(s) during the final examination period.

Appeals Process

The appeal review is limited to an analysis of the written appeal document, the record and documents of the initial hearing, and an interview with the original Hearing Officer or Chair of the hearing board.

All decisions resulting from an appeal review shall be final. Although a verbal notification may be provided to the student who requested the appeal review, an e-mail notification of the decision shall be sent within twenty (20) days of the receipt of the appeal. In Title IX and/or Sexual Misconduct cases both parties will receive concurrent notice of the outcome of an appeal.

Possible Outcomes of an Appeal

An Appellate Officer will make one of the following decisions after carefully reviewing the appeal:

  1. Original hearing outcome will stand.
  2. Original hearing outcome stands but the Appellate Officer will adjust the sanction(s) as appropriate but will not increase the sanction(s).
  3. The case may be returned to the original hearing officer or hearing board, or a newly constituted one, to allow for a reconsideration of the original finding.

Appeal Form

An appeal of the outcome of a student conduct case is a formal document that becomes a part of the student’s conduct record. It is important to formulate the contents carefully and to write it in a clear, concise, and logical manner. Proper grammar and spelling are expected.

Appeals that are not filed properly or are missing information will not be considered. Appeals should be submitted through the following form: Student Conduct Appeal Form. Please only submit appeals through this form.

If you have questions about how to write your appeal, please contact the Student Conduct Office.

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal

A reporting party who requests a leave of absence or withdrawal from the College does not forfeit their right to resolution of the formal report.

Any student charged with sexual misconduct violation(s) of the Code of Conduct who requests a leave of absence or withdrawal from the College prior to a hearing will still incur relevant administrative actions. Depending on the case circumstances, these actions may include but not be limited to:

  • The continuation of the conduct process
  • Withdrawal with disciplinary case pending

The latter action makes the charged student ineligible to register or attend classes at any USNH institution for as long as the charge remains pending.

Statement of Rights for Involved parties

  • The right to a prompt and impartial college investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible reports of sexual misconduct and relationship violence made in good faith to college administrators
  • The right to notification of and assistance in options for changing academic, work, or living situations after an alleged incident, whether or not the incident is reported to law enforcement
  • The right to be informed of and have access to campus resources for medical, health, counseling, and advisory services
  • The right to receive regular updates on the status of an investigation or resolution
  • The right to have an advisor of choice with them throughout the investigative and resolution process
  • The right to be treated with respect by College officials
  • The right not to be discouraged by College officials from reporting a sexual misconduct or relationship violence to both on-campus and off-campus authorities
  • The right to review all relevant documentary evidence regarding the allegation including the investigative report (subject to statutory privacy limitations), at least ten (10) days prior to a student conduct hearing
  • The right to a student conduct hearing conducted by officers who have received sexual misconduct training
  • The right to accommodations throughout the Student Conduct process to minimize contact between the parties, if so requested
  • The right not to have past sexual history introduced as part of the testimony unless determined to be relevant by the Hearing Chair
  • The right to make an impact statement and to have that statement considered in determining sanctions
  • The right to be informed, in writing, promptly of the outcome, pending all appeals
  • The right to the preservation of privacy, to the extent possible and permitted by law

Prevention and Education

Keene State College provides well-developed, robust training and education programs, including: an online module on consent and respect that all incoming students must complete; interactive presentations during Orientation and Welcome Week on such topics as sexual misconduct, consent, relationship violence, and stalking; and a primary bystander intervention theater program, “No Zebras, No Excuses”, for all incoming students. Keene State has adopted a national model of peer education through Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), which provides ongoing learning opportunities throughout the year. MVP has conducted programming with Athletics, Greek Life, and in various classrooms.

Keene State College has developed strong relationships with both on campus and off campus constituencies and stakeholders, including the County Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, and Keene Police Department. The Title IX Coordinator and Director of Campus Safety are members of the Cheshire County Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) and the Title IX Coordinator is a member of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Advisory Board (SAB). Local crisis center MCVP: Crisis and Prevention Center provides 24/7 victim/survivor services and support for Keene State and the surrounding community, as well as on campus prevention education and outreach.

For questions concerning Keene State College’s prevention, education, and training programs please contact the Title IX Coordinator.

FAQs

What happens when a person who has been engaging in underage drinking reports sexual misconduct or relationship violence?

Keene State College’s primary concern is the health and safety of its students. When conducting an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct, the College’s focus will be on addressing the incident and not on lesser policy violations that may be discovered or disclosed. If a report is made in good faith, a reporting party or a witness will not be subject to a disciplinary proceeding or sanction of the lesser violation. The College may, however, provide referrals to counseling or require other educational options. More information is available here.

What happens when the sexual misconduct or relationship violence happens off-campus? Who do I report this to?

You can always report sexual misconduct, regardless of where it occurred. the Title IX Coordinator is available to walk students through their options and Campus Safety is available 24/7. While Keene Police Department has primary jurisdiction, some students may feel a greater sense of comfort reporting to a campus department.

What do I do if the sexual misconduct happened last week? Last month? Last semester? Longer ago?

Report as soon as possible even if some time has passed. While timely reporting increases the likelihood of obtaining more accurate information during an investigation, reporting at any time will ensure that you receive information on available support services. For a victim/survivor considering criminal charges, the statute of limitations for reporting a sexual assault varies from state to state. In New Hampshire, the statute of limitations for a felony offense is generally six (6) years, unless the victim/survivor was under the age of eighteen (18) at the time of the crime, and unless the alleged perpetrator of the crime has left the state. You can contact the Keene Police Department, Campus Safety, or the Title IX Coordinator with more specific information.

What if I have a relationship with the person who sexually assaulted me?

It is never okay to force, threaten or coerce someone into sexual activity, even if they are in a relationship or are married. This policy outlines support options, along with the College’s investigation and conduct process for any incident of sexual assault. For support, contact MCVP: Crisis and Prevention Center 1-888-511-6287 or 603-352-3782.

What happens if someone falsely reports a sexual assault?

False reports of sexual assault are extremely rare estimated at less than 2% of all reports. If an allegation of sexual assault moves forward to a student conduct hearing and/or a legal proceeding, and the accused party is found not responsible or not guilty, this does not necessarily mean the sexual assault did not occur, it merely might indicate that the burden of proof was not met.

Will my parents or guardians be told?

Whether you are the reporting party or responding party, the College’s primary relationship is to the student and not the parent or guardian. In the event of a major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to tell their parents or gradians. College officials will directly inform parents or guardians when requested to do so by a student, or in a health or safety emergency. The College reserves the right to notify a parent or guardian if your status at the College has changed or is in serious jeopardy of changing. More information on parental notification is available here.

What should I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct or relationship violence?

Do not contact the person making the accusation. You should contact the Dean of Students or Title IX Coordinator who can explain the College’s procedures for handling sexual misconduct and relationship violence reports. You may also wish to access support services, such as counseling. The Wellness Center is available to all students. Responding students (accused students) will be informed of their rights as a student and will be treated fairly and equitably. Students are required to work with an advisor, who can support during a potential conduct hearing.

What if I am uncertain if what happened is a sexual assault?

You are encouraged to schedule a meeting with the Dean of Students or Title IX Coordinator to review all of your options and to discuss available support and confidential resources. No details of the incident need to be provided at this meeting. You are welcome to bring an advisor or support person with you.

If I report sexual misconduct, will the responding party know my identity?

At times, victims/survivors of relationship violence or sexual misconduct may request that their name not be shared with the responding party, that the responding party not be notified of the report, or that no investigation occur. The Title IX Coordinator will weigh the reporting party’s request for anonymity with the College’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all students and employees, including the reporting party. However, if a reporting party wants the College to pursue the investigatory and/or student conduct process, they will need to sign a formal report. If a formal report is filed then the responding party will be notified of the charges, along with the reporting party’s identity. As discussed above, there are limited circumstances in which the Title IX Coordinator will file a formal report to initiate the investigation process if the reporting party does not do so.

Student Handbook – Page 16 of 17

About this Policy

Ownership: Dean of Students
Last Modified: Aug 14, 2020 – rcobb@keene.edu
Categories: Student Support
For questions regarding this policy, please contact the policy owner.
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