Sexual Misconduct Policy

At Warren Wilson, we have a shared value that if members of our community choose to engage in sexual activity, that they engage only in healthy consensual sexual interactions that they are positively choosing to make. We envision a community where people feel free and able to voice whether or not they desire to engage in sexual activity with a particular person(s) at a particular time, and that those choices will be listened to and respected by the other person(s). We also envision a community where sexual misconduct will not be accepted as normative or tolerated by any community members, and it is, in fact, not acceptable according to our standards of behavior.   

The following policy on sexual misconduct should be used as a guideline to understand these community values at Warren Wilson. We hope to create an environment with dialogue about healthy sexuality, consensual sex and relationships, and sexual misconduct so that everyone understands positive ways of communicating their intentions and boundaries.  This policy states the boundaries of acceptable behavior in our community and outlines the process by which behavior that violates these boundaries can be reported.

While Warren Wilson College is a smaller and closer community than most other campuses, sexual misconduct still happens here. This policy provides students with the ability to file a report of sexual misconduct in a safe and respectful way, as well as the ability for students to respond to a report in a safe and respectful way. People who experience sexual misconduct have the right to decide whether or not to file an informal or formal report, or no report at all. The policy that follows applies to a situation in which the sexual misconduct had been committed by a student.  For information on sexual misconduct committed by staff, faculty, or supervisors, see the section at the end of the policy entitled “Sexual Misconduct by a College Employee.”

Definitions of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Harassment: behavior including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexual jokes, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:


Sexual Harassment can be reported by a third party who feels impacted in any of the above ways by harassment that someone else is experiencing.  Retaliation or threatened retaliation to the reporting of harassment is also considered a violation of this policy.

Nonconsensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempted): Any penetration (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object or body part, by a person of any gender against a person of any gender without consent.

Nonconsensual Sexual Contact (or attempted):
Any sexual touching, however slight, with any object or body part, by a person of any gender against a person of any gender without consent.

Sexual Exploitation: A person takes nonconsensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his or her own advantage or benefit, or for the benefit or advantage of a third party, and that behavior does not constitute one of the other definitions of sexual offenses.

Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:


The pertinent North Carolina statutes on sex offenses can be found at www.ncleg.net/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_14_7A.html  (and 26.html)

Procedures for Filing an Informal or Anonymous Report on Campus

Contact the RISE Project Director to file an informal or anonymous report. This is a way to document your experiences and seek support in having some of your needs met such as exploring room changes, work crew changes, class changes, etc. without pursuing a formal report.  With this option there would not be a formal investigation of the charges and no disciplinary action would be possible against the person named in the report.

Procedures for Filing a Formal Report on Campus

To file a formal report, a student should meet with the Dean of Students. You can choose to do this by first contacting the RISE Project or a RISE Advocate for support, or by going directly to the Dean of Students’ Office. This will need to be followed by filing a written incident report.  There is not a deadline for filing a formal report, but the accused must still be at the college in order for it to go through the campus judicial process.

Next Steps:

  1. The Dean of Students will meet with the person who the report is about to notify him/her that a report has been filed. The person responding to the report will then have an opportunity to write a statement regarding the charges from his or her perspective.
  2. The Dean will also interview any other people with relevant information to the situation.
  3. If the facts in the case are clear and agreed upon by all parties the Dean may make a determination of sanctions.
  4. If the facts are not clear or are in dispute, or if in the judgment of the Dean of Students the case is best handled by a hearing panel, she will then convene the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel to review the case and conduct a hearing related to the charges as quickly as possible.  

In cases where the person filing the report requests special protections to feel safe until a hearing can happen and/or the college feels that based on the evidence presented actions are necessary to protect the person filing the report or other members of the community, the college reserves the right to take any action it deems necessary to protect student rights and safety.  This may include, but not be limited to, a modification in living arrangements, removal of the accused from campus pending a hearing, or notification of authorities.   

Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel

 Composition of the Panel

 Hearing Process:

Hearing Order of Business

Step 1: The Hearing Officer will introduce all parties and explain the hearing process.
Step 2: The student who filed the report may make an opening statement, either verbally or in writing, if the student chooses.
Step 3: The student responding to the report may make an opening statement, either verbally or in writing, if the student chooses.
Step 4: The panel will question the student who filed the report.
Step 5: The panel will question the student responding to the report.
Step 6: Both parties have the opportunity to present witnesses one at a time. The student who filed the report will be able to present witnesses first. This student can then question the witness. Afterward, the student responding to the report can question the witness. The panel can then question the witness.
Step 7:  The two parties will then have an opportunity to submit (in writing) questions for each other to the hearing officer.  The hearing officer will review the questions and those that are deemed to be appropriate will be passed on to the panel to ask.  The panel members may also ask their own questions of either party at this time.
Step 8: The student who filed the report will make a closing statement.
Step 9: The student responding to the report will make a closing statement.
Step 10: Both parties will be excused from the room. The panel will then deliberate to determine if the student responding to the report is responsible for sexual misconduct, and if so, will decide on an appropriate sanction.

 Deliberation and Determination

The Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel will deliberate until a determination is made. The panel will strive for consensus, but will reach a decision by majority vote if that is not possible. If the panel does not find the accused responsible for the report as written, the panel can still find the accused in violation of another part of the sexual misconduct policy if the student has been informed of that possibility.

Notification of the panel’s decision will be made via letter written by the Hearing Officer. Copies of the letter will be sent to both parties in cases of non-consensual contact/intercourse.  In cases that result in a finding of sexual harassment or sexual exploitation the student found responsible will receive written notification of the outcome, and in accordance with FERPA privacy laws, the person filing the report will only receive information regarding sanctions directly pertinent to herself or himself (for instance, a limitation on contact).

Sanctions

The hearing panel reserves the right to broaden or lessen the following range of recommended sanctions in the case of mitigating circumstances, but neither the panel nor the appeal officers will deviate from this range unless compelling justification to do so exists.

Appeal

Either party may appeal the decision of the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel to the Dean of the College. The appeal must be made in writing within 5 working days of the issuance of the decision letter. The letter should clearly outline the grounds for the appeal. An appeal is not the rehearing of the evidence. It is to determine whether procedures were followed appropriately and accurately, and whether the sanction imposed, if any, was suitable. The appeal may also consider newly discovered evidence, but only if it is deemed to be relevant and was not available at the time of the hearing. The Dean of the College may rule that there are insufficient grounds to hear the appeal, may reconstitute the hearing panel to accommodate the introduction of new evidence or may constitute a group to evaluate the appeal. This appeal group would include three members: the Dean of the College, one member of the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel that did not hear the case originally and a member of the administrative council. The inability to reach a two-thirds vote in favor of the party who brought the appeal will be considered an affirmation of the panel’s original decision.

Special Conditions for Sexual Misconduct Cases

a.  Notice of when the accused is made aware of the report by the Dean of Students: The student who files the report will be notified as to when the student responding to the report is made aware of the report.
b.  No-contact order: Students are entitled to seek a no-contact order that imposes reasonable restrictions of student contact during and potentially after campus conduct proceedings are in progress.
c.  Sexual History: All parties to a report have a right not to face questions or discussion of their sexual history, unless the hearing officer determines that such information about the student responding to the report is highly relevant to determining whether or not the policy has been violated as it establishes a pattern of behavior consistent with the report.
d.  Separate Testimony Options: Any student who files a report can request to give testimony through alternate means to being in the physical presence of the student responding to the report. Screens and closed circuit broadcasts may be permitted.
e.  Right to Present Own Report or Use Proxy: The student who files the report has the right to present it, or to ask the college to present it on her or his behalf.
f.  Right to be Informed of the Appeal Status: The parties will be informed by the Dean of Students Office if any of the parties request an appeal.

Sexual Misconduct by a College Employee

If you believe you have been or are being sexually harassed (this includes Nonconsensual Sexual Intercourse and Nonconsensual Sexual Contact) by a college employee (staff, faculty, or supervisors), you may choose to address the situation by informal consultation or by filing a formal complaint under the college’s Sexual Harassment Policy listed in the general policies section of this chapter. The confidentiality of a report will be preserved to the greatest extent possible, and you should not hesitate to contact the Dean of Students Office for clarification and guidance regarding this policy and other related college policies.  The same options for support listed at the start of this chapter are available to students in this situation.

Although sexual harassment involves sexual conduct that is unwelcome, students should know that even consensual sexual relations may lead to reports that the policy has been violated. A report could be filed in situations in which one person to the relationship has power or authority over the other, one person suffers retaliation for seeking to end the relationship, or actual or potential abuse exists in the relationship. A report might also be filed by third parties not involved in the relationship who believe it is affecting their own employment, education, or living environment. Retaliation or threats of retaliation are considered in violation of this policy.