Student Sexual Misconduct Resource Guide
Sexual misconduct is a difficult issue on college campuses everywhere. This resource guide is designed to provide accurate information about Kalamazoo College’s definition of, efforts to prevent, and responses to allegations of sexual misconduct. Kalamazoo College uses the term “sexual misconduct” as an intentionally broad term to encompass many forms of conduct. Commonly used terms like “sexual assault” or “sexual violence” and others, are included in the College’s definition of sexual misconduct.
The very personal nature of the issue, combined with cultural and historical factors, result in sexual misconduct being under-reported on almost all college campuses. Students who experience sexual misconduct may face a range of challenging personal, emotional, and interpersonal issues. Students accused of sexual misconduct may also face a range of difficult concerns.
Kalamazoo College is committed to creating an environment in which students are well informed about sexual misconduct and take action to prevent it. The College is also prepared to respond appropriately to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Defining Sexual Misconduct
Kalamazoo College defines sexual misconduct as “sexual contact without consent” [Article III(B)(4) of the Student Code of Conduct].
Consent is defined as the act of freely, actively, and willingly agreeing to engage in sexual behavior. Silence or non-communication does not constitute consent, and a person in a state of diminished judgment or physical capacity cannot be considered to consent. Consent requires that a person be able to freely choose between two options: yes and no. Further, a person must be able to understand the choices and consequences of giving consent. A person is considered to be incapable of giving consent if they are asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unable to communicate. No one who has been threatened, coerced or drugged can be considered to consent. A person is usually considered unable to give consent when they are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or mentally impaired. A current or prior sexual or dating relationship does not constitute consent. A person can withdraw consent at any time during the course of a sexual encounter.
Sexual contact without consent could, theoretically, constitute everything from a manipulation of clothing to a violent encounter. Kalamazoo College’s policy is intentionally broad to address a wide array of behaviors. The key issue is that of consent. No student should be subjected to sexual contact without their consent, and no student should pursue such contact without the partner’s clear consent.
Lowering the Risk of Sexual Misconduct
It is the responsibility of every student at Kalamazoo College to lower the risk of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct occurs most often on college campuses between acquaintances and when alcohol or other drugs are involved. It can occur between people who are friends, dating, or as part of a casual sexual encounter which starts out as consensual. Peer pressure and concerns about the reaction of others can make it difficult for survivors of sexual misconduct to come forward, and can sometimes make it hard to understand if sexual misconduct may really have occurred. Sexual misconduct can occur on campus or off, and it can affect men , women, and transgender students. Some estimates suggest that up to 20% of college women and up to 10% of college men are subjected to unwanted sexual contact during their time in college.
The following factors can place students at risk for perpetrating sexual misconduct:
- Use of alcohol or other drugs that impair judgment
- Not communicating clearly about your wishes and expectations
- Not seeking clear, unambiguous consent for specific activities
- Ignoring “stop” signs or changes in consent during a sexual encounter
- Assuming consent when none is given
- “Hooking up” with unfamiliar persons
- Responding to a lack of consent by trying to convince or persuade someone to change their mind
The following factors can place students at risk for being subjected to sexual misconduct:
- Use of alcohol or other drugs that impair judgment
- Feeling pressured to engage in sexual activity or feeling like everyone else is doing it
- Not communicating clearly about one’s wishes and expectations
- Feeling awkward or embarrassed about saying “no”
- “Hooking up” with unfamiliar persons
- Feeling lonely or depressed
Individual students are in the best position to prevent most forms of sexual misconduct. It is essential to communicate assertively and clearly about your wishes and expectations, to seek and/or give unambiguous (yes or no) consent, and to avoid sexual encounters when your judgment is impaired in any way.
Positive action to prevent sexual misconduct is imperative, and is a responsibility shared by every single student. Programs related to sexual misconduct (its prevention, its effects, and ways of responding) will be provided by the College periodically.
A Bystander can be anyone who is nearby and in a position to intervene in a situation where sexual misconduct might occur. Often, this will occur at a social gathering or party when people are intoxicated. The goal of bystander intervention is to stop any kind of behavior (including thoughtless or impaired behavior) from crossing the line into sexual misconduct. This may occur because you directly stop it or because you distract one of the people in another way. It’s important to remember that by intervening, you are helping to keep your friends out of trouble – by protecting potential victims from harm and by preventing potential perpetrators from harming someone.
The key element in bystander intervention is to trust your intuition and experience in identifying a risky situation. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Check it out and be willing to act. It might feel awkward to become involved, yet doing so can prevent a terrible outcome.
There are many creative ways to intervene. Here are some examples:
- Say something directly. If you see that someone is at risk for harming someone else or being harmed, speak to one or the other person and get them out of the situation. Get a friend to back you up and go with you to check out a situation that doesn’t feel or look right to you. If you can remove one of the people, you can prevent a dangerous situation from becoming a tragic one.
- Say anything – “Hey, if you guys are leaving, I’ll come with you!,” “Are you hooking up tonight?,” “I twisted my ankle and need so-and-so’s help getting home,” “Look, she’s not really into you, but someone else downstairs/outside is,” “Don’t do it,” “He’s/she’s with me!”
- Have someone else get involved, maybe someone who knows one of the people well.
- Distract one of the people – spill something on them, hug them like a long lost friend, whisk them away and start dancing, fake an emergency of some sort.
Be prepared for the reality that your actions to intervene might be rebuffed by the people in the potentially dangerous situation. It never hurts to ask, “Are you ok? Is this what you want?”
When in doubt, DO SOMETHING.
The Role of the College
The College has a clear interest in taking reasonable and appropriate action to ensure that our environment is conducive to living and learning, which includes being free from sexual misconduct. In the case of sexual misconduct, we make efforts to educate the community about the issue and available resources, and have developed protocols to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Kalamazoo College has several key responsibilities in responding to allegations of sexual misconduct:
- We will be fair, neutral, and unbiased to all parties, including accused/responding students, reporting students , and witnesses. All students are entitled to use relevant campus resources, including staff members in the Counseling Center, the Office of the Chaplain, and the Office of the Dean of Students.
- To the extent possible to permit effective investigation and as allowed by law, we treat reports of sexual misconduct as confidential. The Chaplain and the Counseling Center staff are the only strictly confidential sources of support on campus; other staff and faculty members are required to share allegations of sexual misconduct with the Dean of Students.
- We will provide students with accurate information about the College’s responses (options for students) to sexual misconduct.
- As warranted by the circumstances, we may alter housing assignments, class schedules, or make other accommodations designed to respond to concerns about safety and the security of a person making a complaint or a person who is accused of sexual misconduct.
- A campus announcement may be made if an allegation suggests that the community’s safety is at risk (for example, if the alleged assailant is unknown to the student making the report).
- We will meet our legal obligations to report campus crime statistics (without personally identifying information) to the community.
Knowing what to do in the wake of an incident of sexual misconduct is challenging. There may be multiple, conflicting ideas and impulses. The most important point in determining what to do is finding the right course of action for reporting student.. Friends, loved ones, and family members often have strong feeling about what a reporting student “should” do. Each person needs to make the decisions that are best for their own well-being, regardless of what others might hope.
The College will do everything possible to respect and abide by the options selected by students reporting sexual misconduct. In rare cases, typically involving concerns about campus safety and security, the College reserves the right to pursue investigation and action that may differ from what the student chooses.
No matter what option(s) a student chooses, the College’s confidential supportive resources (Counseling Center, Chaplain), as well as non-confidential resources (Student Development staff) are available. We strongly encourage their use. Official reporting of an incident entails talking with a member of the Dean of Students’ Staff or with a member of the Security staff. A report may, if requested by the reporting student and if such changes are reasonably available, result in modifications to academic or living situations.
Student may wish to notify the College of the alleged incident and pursue no other official action.
The student reports information about the alleged incident to a college official, sharing as much detail as they wish, and doesn’t wish to take any formal action. This may be a temporary or final decision, and can serve to alert the College in case another student makes an allegation about a student previously reported. In some cases, this may entail an investigation (see next section) and follow-up action by the College.
Student may wish to pursue informal action to resolve the matter.
The informal action might include a structured meeting with the accused student and the reporting student, a meeting with a member of the Dean of Students’ staff and the accused student, or other methods. This may be a temporary or final decision, and can serve to clarify and discuss the incident in a structured and safe environment.
Such an informal action does not constitute a formal disciplinary proceeding. The essential elements of this process include taking action that is most likely to achieve the desired outcomes as determined by the student, while ensuring that none of the participants is placed at significant risk in doing so. If an informal action does not succeed, formal disciplinary action remains an option. This option is not available in circumstances where physical violence and/or rape may have occurred.
Student may wish to pursue formal disciplinary action to resolve the matter.
Following an investigation (see next section), the responding student may be charged with violating the Student Code of Conduct and a formal hearing would occur (please refer to the Student Code of Conduct, Article IV, for specific procedures). The hearing determines whether the Code had been violated and, if so, determines the appropriate sanction. This generally requires the participation of the reporting student. It is the most significant College action a student can take. Sanctions for students found responsible for sexual misconduct range from a warning to expulsion, and will likely result in suspension or expulsion from the College. Please refer to the Student Code of Conduct for more information.
The student making the report will provide an account, ideally in writing, of the incident(s), resulting in formal charges against the accused student. The Student Conduct Hearing Panel will hear the case and the reporting student will most likely participate in the hearing as a witness. Both the reporting student and the accused student may have one advisor of their choosing with them during the process. Advisors are not permitted to speak for the student or to the Hearing Panel during the hearing. Their role is to provide support and advice to their student. Material witnesses may also be called. The reporting and responding students have the opportunity to question each other’s information and each witness by way of the Hearing Panel. If the responding student is found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct, it will become part of their formal disciplinary file. Both reporting and responding students will be notified of the outcome of the hearing s and have the right to appeal a finding. More detailed information about disciplinary hearings can be found in the Student Code of Conduct.
Student may wish to pursue legal action.
Legal action involves the reporting student disclosing the incident to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. A police investigation usually follows if the reporting student seeks legal action. This option can be pursued simultaneously with or separate from any College resolution or disciplinary processes, and College staff will help facilitate this reporting if requested by the student. The College will cooperate with legal investigations.
Information about Michigan state laws related to sexual violence is available at the end of this document.
Personal Protective Orders
If the College is notified by a student that they have secured a Personal Protective Order (PPO) pertaining to another student, the College will make a good faith effort to reasonably respond to the conditions of the PPO. The small physical size of campus, the centrality of common facilities, and the limited course offerings may limit the College’s ability to fully enforce the PPO. The Office of Student Development, in conjunction with the Office of Campus Security, will work with each student to develop a plan to meet the requirements of the PPO as fully as possible. This might include plans for travel across campus, scheduled events, and the like. Information about the PPO and its conditions will be shared with others on campus who need to know of it to provide accommodations. If the student rescinds the PPO, they must follow the formal legal process for doing so before the College will change its accommodations. The presence of a PPO does not constitute information or “evidence” for the purposes of a campus conduct process.
Investigation and Resolution
Once a report is received from a student who seeks College action (described above), an investigation will begin. The investigation is conducted to identify people with first-hand information and to gather information relevant to the alleged misconduct. Investigations often begin with a written statement from the reporting student.
- Investigations may include personal interviews, review of phone/email/text/social media records, review of video and other surveillance records, review of written statements, and access to other resources that may provide relevant information.
- Investigations will be completed by one or more trained College investigators, and will start immediately upon receipt of a complaint that includes actionable information (for example, name of accused student(s)).
- Students who are interviewed as part of an investigation may be accompanied by an advisor of their choosing. Advisors are not permitted to speak for the student during the investigation process, nor may they engage in behavior that impedes the investigation.
- The reporting student(s) and responding student(s) will each have the opportunity to review the investigative report for factual accuracy prior to the hearing.
If a formal disciplinary action is pursued at the request of a reporting student or at the discretion of the College, the results of the investigation will be shared with the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer. A hearing will be conducted in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct hearing guidelines outlined in Article IV of the Student Code of Conduct (https://reason.kzoo.edu/studev/stuconduct/).
At the conclusion of a hearing, and after a finding has been reached, the reporting student and the responding student will be notified of the outcome, both in person and in writing. The responding student and the reporting student each have the right to appeal a decision as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct (link or anchor to Article IV.D. of Code).
If You Have Survived Sexual Misconduct
If you are a survivor of sexual misconduct, you are likely to have many concerns and needs. Among the most common concerns for survivors are physical health and safety, mental and emotional health, medical issues such as sexually transmitted diseases (for some students,, this may include concerns about pregnancy), and options for response to the issue.
With respect to your response, it is most important to do what is right for you. There are no right or wrong ways to handle sexual misconduct. Friends, loved ones, and family members often have strong feelings about what a survivor “should” do. Each person needs to make the decisions that are best for their own well-being, regardless of what others might hope.
If you have been subjected to sexual misconduct:
- Get to a safe place and contact someone who can help you (a friend, RA, college counselor, family member, Security, the Police, the YWCA). Your support person can be with you at every step of the way.
- Do not change clothes, bathe, shower, eat or drink. These activities can destroy important physical evidence if you decide to press legal charges.
- Get medical attention at the YWCA or the emergency rooms of Borgess Hospital, Bronson Hospital, (contact information is below).
- If you wish to make a police report, contact Kalamazoo Public Safety (contact information is below).
- Contact the YWCA, Gryphon Place Help Line, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (contact information is below) for immediate crisis support.
- If you are able, write down your account of the incident. Though difficult, this will be helpful if you choose to pursue College or legal action against the alleged perpetrator.
Personal and emotional support is essential to recovering from sexual misconduct. We encourage you to avail yourself of all relevant campus and community resources listed below. Whether you were subjected to sexual misconduct recently or in the past, all resources can be helpful to you.
Campus Security: 269.337.7321
Kalamazoo Public Safety: 269.337.8994
Counseling Center: 269.548.6907
You can seek medical treatment in a variety of locations. The Health Center and your private doctor will be able to provide care for injuries, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and, if applicable, provide emergency contraception. To be effective, emergency contraception must be started within 72 hours of an incident. The Health Center and your private physician will not collect legal evidence as part of their exam protocol.
An exam which includes gathering legal evidence must be conducted at Bronson Methodist Hospital, Borgess Hospital, or the local YWCA. It is recommended that those seeking treatment at any of these places refrain from changing clothes, bathing, brushing teeth, drinking, or urinating (if possible) before the exam. This will provide the best chance of collecting evidence. This type of exam enables a survivor to press legal charges against an alleged perpetrator if they wish to do so. Completing the exam does not require that the survivor press charges.
Important phone numbers for medical assistance:
- YWCA (free, confidential counseling and advocacy services as well as medical exams)
- Phone: 269.385.3587 (24 hours a day)
- Location: 353 E. Michigan
- Borgess Hospital (Trauma Services)
- Phone: 269.226.6917 (24 hours a day)
- Location: 1521 Gull Road
- Bronson Methodist Hospital (Trauma and Emergency Center)
- Phone: 269.341.6386 (24 hours a day)
- Location: 601 John Street
- Kalamazoo College Health Center (will not collect legal evidence)
- Phone: 269.337.7200 (9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday)
- Location: Hicks Student Center
- After hours, please contact the YWCA, Borgess Hospital, or Bronson Hospital mentioned above
Support and Information
Survivors often need confidential support and information. Confidential on-campus support includes:
- Kalamazoo College Counseling Center
- Phone: 269.548.6907 (24 hours a day)
- Kalamazoo College Chaplain
- Phone: 269.337.7362
- Stetson Chapel
Off-campus confidential resources include:
- YWCA (free, confidential counseling and advocacy services as well as medical exams)
- Phone: 269.385.3587 (24 hours a day)
- Location: 353 E. Michigan
- Gryphon Place (confidential, 24-hour crisis and information)
- Phone: 269.381.4357
- National Domestic Violence Hotline (confidential, 24-hour crisis and information)
- Phone: 800.799.7233
State of Michigan Laws and Definitions
Information about laws and definitions for the state of Michigan are provided here as a resource if legal action is being considered. To be clear, the College policy is different from the state of Michigan laws and definitions, just as College action differs from legal action. Even so, behavior described below falls under the College’s intentionally broad definition of sexual misconduct.
Domestic Violence: MCL 400.1501
Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, psychological attacks as well as economic threats that adults or adolescents use to control their intimate partners.
Dating Violence: MCL 400.1501
Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power in the relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation and humiliation to control the other person. Forms of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological. Note: Michigan defines domestic violence as certain acts towards “a family or household member” and includes “an individual with whom the person has or has had a dating relationship” as a “family or household member.” So though “dating violence” isn’t explicitly defined, a person in a dating relationship is protected.
Sexual Assault: MCL 750.520(b)-(e)
Sexual assault (often known as rape) is forcing or coercing an individual to engage in any non-consensual sexual contact or sexual penetration. In Michigan, the law regarding sexual assault is called the Criminal Sexual Conduct Act. It is gender neutral and includes marital, stranger, date, acquaintance, and child sexual assault.
Stalking: MCL 750.411(h)(1)(d)-(e)
Stalking is a ‘willful course of conduct’ involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
Citizen’s Guide to Michigan’s Anti-Stalking Laws [PDF, 177KB]
Personal Protection Orders: MCL 600.2950
“Domestic relationship personal protection order” is the name Michigan uses for restraining orders in cases of domestic violence. A domestic relationship personal protection order (PPO) is a civil court order that is designed to stop violent and harassing behavior and to protect you and your family from an abuser. To qualify, you must have a specific relationship with the abuser and s/he must have committed or be likely to commit specific acts.
Questions about Kalamazoo College’s sexual misconduct policy should be addressed to the Office of the Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students.