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Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure (Title IX) for Students and Employees

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is committed to fostering a respectful, safe, and non-threatening environment for its students and employees. This policy describes prohibited conduct and establishes procedures for responding to sexual misconduct incidents. These incidents include sexual assault, sexual harassment and other unwelcome behaviors as explained below. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities.

The Title IX Coordinator oversees policies and procedures that apply to complaints or reports of sexual misconduct by students, employees, or third parties, and advises victims of sexual misconduct of their right to file a complaint or to seek informal resolution and the process for each. Responsibilities performed in this policy by the Title IX Coordinator may be performed by the Title IX Coordinator or by another UMMC employee trained by, and acting under the supervision of, the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator shall appoint a sufficient number of individuals to serve as members of the UMMC Sexual Misconduct Investigation Team (SMIT) with the assistance and approval of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Director of Human Resources. Approximately 50% of SMIT members must be individuals serving in academic roles and with designated academic appointments at the institution. All SMIT members must receive appropriate training, and the Title IX Coordinator supervises the functional operation of the SMIT members, which includes the investigation and hearings of sexual misconduct complaints and reports. For reports concerning students, the Title IX Coordinator reports a de-identified summary of incidents to the Student Affairs Council for review. Further information is available in the Procedures for the Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment section of this policy.

Students or employees who believe they have been a victim of sexual misconduct may submit a complaint against the accused in writing or in person to the Title IX Coordinator, Office of Human Resources, (601) 815-7777. Any UMMC faculty or staff member with significant responsibility for student and campus activities, except those providing counseling and/or health care services in a patient/provider capacity, who is notified by a student of an incident of sexual misconduct is to report the incident immediately (but not later than three calendar days following an incident) to the Title IX Coordinator.

Students and employees also are encouraged to immediately contact the UMMC Police Department (601-815-7777) and/or call 911 if they have been sexually assaulted and to seek immediate medical attention. Students and employees should seek medical attention even if they do not wish to pursue criminal charges or otherwise pursue a complaint against their attacker.

Policy statement

UMMC prohibits sexual misconduct in any form, including sexual assault or sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and other forms of nonconsensual sexual conduct.

It is the position of UMMC that sexual misconduct in any form will not be excused or tolerated. Criminal, civil and university disciplinary processes are available to a student or employee with a complaint. UMMC is committed to prompt, effective and fair procedures to investigate and adjudicate reports of sexual misconduct and to the education of the university community about the importance of responding to all forms of sexual misconduct. Special emphasis is placed on the rights, needs, and privacy of the student or employee with the complaint, as well as the rights of the accused. At the same time, UMMC adheres to all federal, state, and local requirements for intervention and crime reporting related to sexual misconduct.

Victim confidentiality

When a student or employee is the victim of sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator first will request that the victim give consent for an investigation to begin. If a victim requests confidentiality or asks that the complaint not be pursued, the Title IX Coordinator will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the victim's request; however, the Title IX Coordinator may determine that the circumstances of the sexual misconduct incident are so severe or that the circumstances otherwise indicate there is an ongoing danger to the victim and/or members of the UMMC community such that action must be taken on the part of UMMC beyond the action requested by the victim.

Consistent with Title IX, UMMC prohibits retaliation against any individual who makes a report of sexual misconduct or who cooperates with an investigation into sexual misconduct. Retaliation against such an individual is a violation of this policy and is subject to discipline up to and including dismissal and/or termination.

What is effective consent?

Effective consent is the basis of this policy because effective consent maintains the value that all persons have the right to feel respected, acknowledged, and safe during sexual activity.

Sexual intimacy requires that all participants consent to the activity. Consent between two or more people is defined as an affirmative agreement - through clear actions or words - to engage in sexual activity. The person giving the consent must act freely, voluntarily, and with an understanding of his or her actions when giving the consent.

Lack of protest or resistance does not constitute consent, nor does silence mean consent has been given. Relying solely on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstanding. Persons who want to engage in sexual activity are responsible for obtaining consent - it should never be assumed.

A prior relationship or prior sexual activity is not sufficient to demonstrate consent.

Consent must be present throughout the sexual activity - at any time, a participant can communicate that he or she no longer consents to continuing the activity. If there is confusion as to whether anyone has consented or continues to consent to sexual activity, it is essential that the participants stop the activity until the confusion can be clearly resolved.

What is not effective consent?

Effective consent cannot result from force, or threat of force, coercion, fraud or intimidation. In addition, an incapacitated person is not able to give consent. The use of force to obtain sexual access or to induce consent violates this policy whether the force is physical in nature, violent, or involves threats, intimidation or coercion.

  • Physical force: Physical force means someone is physically exerting control of another person through violence, and it includes but is not limited to: hitting, kicking, and restraining.
  • Threatening: Threats exist where a reasonable person would have been compelled by the words or actions of another to give permission to sexual activity to which he or she otherwise would not have consented. Threatening someone to obtain consent for a sexual act is a violation of this policy.
  • Intimidation: Intimidation is an implied threat. Intimidation exists when a reasonable person would feel threatened or coerced even though there may not have been any threat made explicitly. Intimidation is evaluated based on the intensity, frequency, or duration of the comments or actions.
  • Incapacitation: It is a violation of this policy if the initiator has sex with someone the initiator knows, or reasonably should know, to be incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, sleep or physical/mental illness. A person who is unconscious, unaware, or otherwise physically helpless cannot give effective consent to sexual activity. Someone is incapacitated when he or she cannot respond appropriately to identifying questions such as who, what, when, where, why, or how, with respect to the sexual interaction.
  • Age of consent: According to Mississippi Code §97-3-65, effective consent can never be given by persons under the age of 14. Students who are at least 17 years old cannot receive effective consent from anyone between the ages of 14 and 16, if they are younger by more than 36 months that the person requesting consent.

Prohibited conduct

Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any sexual behavior that was committed or initiated without effective consent. Sexual misconduct may vary in its severity and consists of a range of behaviors. The requirements of this policy apply regardless of the sexual orientation, sexual identity, or preference of individuals engaging in sexual activity.

The use of alcohol or other drugs never excuses behavior that violates this policy.

The following definitions represent sexual behaviors that violate UMMC's community standards and values of respect, civility, and personal integrity. These behaviors are serious violations and represent a threat to the safety of the UMMC community.

  • Sexual penetration: Sexual intercourse, or sexual penetration, however slight, with any object or body part without effective consent. This includes penetration by a person of any gender upon another person of any gender.
  • Sexual touching: Any intentional touching of intimate body parts without effective consent. Sexual touching includes bodily contact or contact made with an object.
  • Sexual harassment: Harassment of a sexual nature that is so objectively offensive, pervasive, or severe that it effectively denies the victim access to UMMC's resources and opportunities, unreasonably interferes with the victim's work environment, or deprives the victim of some other protected right.
  • Sexual exploitation: Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes nonconsensual, unfair, or abusive sexual advantage of another person for his or her own advantage or benefit, even though that behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples include, but are not limited to: •Non-consensual video/audio taping, or photographing of sexual activity even if the sexual act is consensual.
    • Non-consensual posting, publishing, sharing or displaying photo, audio or video of sexual activity and/or of individuals in a state of undress, even if the activity was originally recorded with effective consent.
    • Voyeurism is a form of sexual exploitation in which on individual engages in secretive observation or non-consensual video or audio taping of another for personal sexual pleasure.
    • Any disrobing of another or exposure to body parts objectively considered to be sexual in nature to another without effective consent.
  • Stalking: Stalking is sexual misconduct when the content of the messages or the nature of the physical stalking is of a sexual nature.
  • Attempted act/accomplice to sexual misconduct: Attempts to commit sexual misconduct also are prohibited under this policy, as is aiding in the commission of sexual misconduct as an accomplice.
  • Use of drugs and/or alcohol to induce incapacity: This policy also prohibits sexual activity or attempted sexual activity with someone whose incapacity results from ingestion of/exposure to a drug or alcohol. Possession, use, and/or distribution of any “date-rape” drugs or substances, including but not limited to flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), ketamine, and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), are prohibited, and administering or attempting to administer any of these drugs or substances, including alcohol, to someone else for the purpose of inducing incapacity is a violation of this policy. A person may be charged with a violation of this policy even if no sexual activity took place.
  • Retaliation: Pursuant to Title IX, retaliation against an individual who initiates a sexual misconduct complaint, participates in an investigation, or pursues legal action, is prohibited. Independent action may be taken against anyone engaging in retaliation including individuals who are acting on behalf of the accused, with or without the knowledge of the accused. Retaliation may occur in person or electronically. In an effort to avoid retaliation, prevent recurrence of any discrimination or discriminatory effects, and provide for the safety of the victim(s) and others, UMMC will implement all necessary remedies during an investigation period and/or at the conclusion of an investigation. These remedies may include, but are not limited to: mutual “no contact” letters, changes in course schedules, and changes in work assignments.

Sanctions

A wide range of sexual misconduct is prohibited by this policy. As such, dependent upon the facts unique to each case, sanctions may range from a verbal reprimand to dismissal and/or termination from UMMC.

Victim amnesty

The use of alcohol or drugs by either party in conjunction with a sexual assault does not alleviate responsibility on the part of the accused or diminish the serious nature of the offense. When alcohol or drugs are involved, a victim will not be found responsible for alcohol or drug violation and should not let his or her use of alcohol or drugs be a deterrent to reporting the incident.

Procedures

Students or employees who believe they are victims of sexual harassment or misconduct may have the option of proceeding informally or formally. The formal complaint process is available for sexual harassment or misconduct of any nature. Informal resolution is not an option for cases of sexual assault or sexual violence. Persons who have been victims of either sexual assault or sexual violence are encouraged to immediately contact the UMMC Police Department or dial 911 and seek immediate medical attention even if they do not wish to pursue criminal charges or otherwise pursue a complaint against their attacker. UMMC has an obligation to investigate complaints or reports of sexual misconduct regardless of whether or not law enforcement is conducting a separate criminal investigation. However, the Title IX Coordinator will comply with law enforcement requests for cooperation, and such cooperation may require the Title IX Coordinator to temporarily suspend the fact-finding aspect of the investigation while law enforcement is in the process of gathering evidence. UMMC will promptly resume its investigation as soon as the Title IX Coordinator is notified by the law enforcement agency that it has completed the evidence gathering process.

Informal resolution procedures
If an employee or student chooses to proceed informally, he or she should contact the Title IX Coordinator to report the sexual harassment or misconduct and specify that they wish to proceed informally. Resolution at the informal complaint process level will be mediated by the Title IX Coordinator, or his/her designee, and may include an agreement in which one or more of the parties involved agrees to accept discipline in the form of a warning, censure, probation, or other such disciplinary action as may be warranted by the circumstances of each case. In those cases that include a student, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs to consider the case and administer the disciplinary actions as necessary. In cases involving an employee, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the Director of Human Resources to consider the case and administer the disciplinary actions as necessary.

To the extent the parties are able to achieve a satisfactory resolution of the complaint through the informal resolution process, the complaint will be considered resolved. The accused and accuser will receive written notification of the outcome and disposition of the complaint from the Title IX Coordinator. In those cases that include a student, the Title IX Coordinator will provide copies (which must be maintained) of the written notification to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the appropriate school's Dean's Office. In those cases that include an employee, the Title IX Coordinator will provide a copy of the written notification to the Director of Human Resources. The fact that a complaint of sexual harassment or misconduct may be concluded at the request of the accusing party does not preclude the filing of a formal complaint by others, including appropriate UMMC officials.

In those cases in which a mutually satisfactory resolution of an informal complaint of sexual harassment or misconduct cannot be achieved, either the accused or accuser may request in writing to advance the complaint to the formal complaint process from the Title IX Coordinator. This request should be submitted in writing to the Title IX Coordinator within ten (10) working days of the proposed informal resolution. For reports concerning students, the Title IX Coordinator reports a de-identified summary of incidents to the Student Affairs Council for review.

Formal resolution procedure
Every administrator, supervisor and UMMC official is responsible for promptly reporting incidents of sexual misconduct which come to their attention. Students, faculty and staff who witness, or are aware of, suspected incidents of sexual misconduct are strongly encouraged to report the incident. Complaints or reports of sexual misconduct should be reported immediately, or as soon as possible, to the Title IX Coordinator.

Complaints may be made in writing to the Title IX Coordinator, or may be made or reported in person to the Title IX Coordinator. Complaints may also be made or reported to faculty, chairs, deans, or UMMC employees in positions of authority which shall then, immediately or as soon as possible, be reported to UMMC's Title IX Coordinator. While an investigation may begin on the basis of an oral complaint or report, the Complainant is strongly encouraged to file a written complaint. The written complaint should include a signed statement setting out the details of the conduct which is the subject of the complaint, including the Complainant's name, signature and contact information; the name of the person directly responsible for the alleged violation; a detailed description of the conduct or event that is the basis of the alleged violation; the date(s) and location(s) of the occurrence(s); the names of any witness(es) to the occurrence(s); the resolution sought; and any documents or information that are relevant to the complaint.

Preliminary investigation
Upon receiving a complaint or report of sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator has the responsibility to conduct a preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining whether or not there is sufficient evidence of a violation of UMMC's sexual misconduct policy which would justify proceeding with a formal investigation. The preliminary investigation should be initiated, conducted and completed within seven (7) business days from the date the complaint is received by the Title IX Coordinator. In those cases that include a student, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the case.

If the Title IX Coordinator finds that (a) the facts in the complaint or the report, even if taken as true, do not constitute a violation of UMMC's sexual misconduct policy; or (b) the complaint fails to allege facts that suggest sexual misconduct; or (c) the appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved, the Coordinator shall close the investigation and notify the Complainant of the findings and that the matter is closed. For reports concerning students, the Title IX Coordinator reports a de-identified summary of incidents to the Student Affairs Council for review.

If the Title IX Coordinator finds sufficient evidence of a violation of UMMC's Sexual Misconduct Policy, a formal investigation will be initiated in accordance with the procedure set forth below.

Formal investigation
Upon a determination to initiate a formal investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will set the target date for the completion of the formal investigation.

The Title IX Coordinator shall notify the Complainant that the investigation is proceeding. The notice will include the target date for completion of the investigation. The Title IX Coordinator shall also prepare and send a Notice of Allegation to the Respondent (the one accused of the misconduct), which will include the target date for completion of the investigation.

In cases involving students, the Title IX Coordinator, with the assistance and the approval of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, shall select three (3) members of the Sexual Misconduct Investigative Team (SMIT) with no dual relationship or conflict of interest with the complainant or respondent, to investigate the complaint or report of sexual misconduct and an appropriate number of team members to serve on the Hearing Panel, if a hearing is later requested. For reports involving students, at least two (2) of the SMIT members designated to investigate the complaint or report of sexual misconduct must have an academic role and academic appointment at the institution. In cases involving employees, the Title IX Coordinator, with the assistance and the approval of the Director of Human Resources, shall select three (3) members of the Sexual Misconduct Investigative Team (SMIT) to investigate the complaint or report of sexual misconduct and an appropriate number of team members to serve on the Hearing Panel, if a hearing is later requested.

During the investigation, SMIT members will collect all evidence relating to the complaint or report of sexual misconduct from all available sources and conduct interviews when appropriate. Upon completion of the formal investigation, they shall reach a finding by majority vote, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, as to whether or not a violation of the UMMC's sexual misconduct policy occurred. The Team shall prepare a written report which will be presented to the Title IX Coordinator.

If there is a finding of no violation of the UMMC Sexual Misconduct Policy, the process is concluded. The Title IX Coordinator will give written notice of the findings and termination of the proceedings to the Complainant and Respondent. In those cases that include a student, the Title IX Coordinator will provide copies (which must be maintained) of the written notification to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the appropriate school's Dean's Office. Also, for cases concerning students, the Title IX Coordinator reports a de-identified summary of incidents to the Student Affairs Council for review. In those cases that include an employee, the Title IX Coordinator will provide a copy of the written notification to the Director of Human Resources.

If there is a finding of a violation of the UMMC Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Title IX Coordinator will give written notice of the findings and initiate the hearing process if a hearing is requested by either party.

Hearing process
When a formal investigation finds that a violation of UMMC's Sexual Misconduct Policy has occurred, the Title IX Coordinator will, within three (3) business days, give written notice to the Complainant and Respondent of the finding. If either the Complainant or Respondent wishes to place the matter before a hearing panel, then he or she shall request such hearing within three (3) business days in writing to the Title IX Coordinator.

If a hearing is requested by either party, the Title IX Coordinator shall appoint a Hearing Panel for each separate hearing process. For a hearing process involving a student, the hearing panel shall consist of the Chief Student Affairs Officer, or his/her designee, and two (2) SMIT members, who have not participated in or have prior knowledge of the investigation and with no dual relationship or conflict of interest with the complainant or respondent, as designated by the Title IX Coordinator. At least one of the two (2) SMIT members must have an academic role and academic appointment at the institution. For all other hearing processes, the hearing panel shall consist of three (3) SMIT members who have not participated in or have prior knowledge of the investigation and with no dual relationship or conflict of interest with the complainant or respondent, as designated by the Title IX Coordinator. All hearings shall be closed to the public. However, the Complainant and Respondent have a right to be present at all times. Either party may request a privacy screen or some other appropriate means to assure the parties do not have to personally confront one another.

The Complainant shall provide information first. The Complainant may elect to have a member of the SMIT who conducted the formal investigation present the complaint and evidence supplemented by the Complainant's or other witnesses' testimony. In the event of such an election by the Complainant, one or more members of the SMIT Investigative Team will present the findings of investigation to the Hearing Panel. The Respondent shall have an opportunity to ask questions of the Complainant and witnesses in a cross-examination format. All members of the Hearing Panel shall have the right to ask questions of any party, witness or SMIT investigative member during the hearing process.

The Respondent will then have an opportunity to present information. The Complainant will have an opportunity to ask questions of the Respondent and witnesses in a cross-examination format.

The Complainant will then be permitted to present witnesses in rebuttal, to which the Respondent may only respond in a cross-examination format.

The parties shall have an opportunity to present closing statements, with the Complainant going first, the Respondent second and the Complainant finally.

The Complainant and the Respondent are permitted to summon and question witnesses and offer tangible information. Parties may have an adviser present for support and consultation. The adviser, who may be an attorney, will not be allowed to question witnesses, address the Hearing Panel, or otherwise participate in the hearing process. The adviser may serve in an advisory capacity only during the hearing process.

After all parties have presented their information to the Hearing Panel, the hearing will be closed and the matter recessed, for a maximum of three (3) business days, to allow the panel to deliberate and reach a finding. After deliberation, the Hearing Panel will vote for the purpose of determining whether or not a violation of UMMC's Sexual Misconduct Policy has occurred. The decision will be based upon majority vote of the three (3) panel members. Furthermore, The Hearing Panel will make a decision on a recommendation for sanction(s) upon majority vote of the panel.

After the panel has reached a decision, the Chair will inform the parties, the Title IX Coordinator, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for student related cases, and the Director of Human Resources for employee related cases of the outcome and recommended sanctions. The parties may be informed via their UMMC email accounts; and/or by U.S. Mail. The Chair will also advise the parties in writing of each one's right to appeal. For reports concerning students, the Title IX Coordinator reports a de-identified summary of incidents to the Student Affairs Council for review.

Generally, cases of sexual misconduct will be investigated and fully decided within sixty (60) business days of the date that the Title IX Coordinator is notified of the complaint, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as uncooperative witnesses, break periods, and periods when UMMC is closed.

Appeals
A party aggrieved by a decision of the Hearing Panel, or by the sanctions imposed, may file a Petition for Appeal within five (5) business days of notification of the final outcome.

The appeal must be sent to the Title IX Coordinator in writing and state clearly what the grounds are that would justify consideration. General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the proceeding is not a basis for appeal. The written appeal must address one of the following criteria.

  • An error in procedure, which prejudiced the process to the extent the participant, was denied a fundamentally fair hearing as a result of the error. Only significant procedural errors that may have affected the decision of the Hearing Panel or which relate to the sanction imposed will be considered.
  • New evidence that was previously unknown or unknowable and is available during the appeal process that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included with the notice of appeal.
  • Clearly demonstrated bias of an investigator or hearing panel member.

An appeal which does not clearly raise one of these three criteria will be dismissed without further consideration.

After receipt of the Petition for Appeal and any response, the Title IX Coordinator shall notify the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, or his/her designee (if the appellant is a student); or the Chief Human Resources Officer, or his/her designee (if the appellant is an employee), who shall act as the Appeals Officer.

The Appeals Officer shall review the appeal and any response to determine if the appeal meets any of the limited grounds and is timely. Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original hearing panel, making changes to the finding only if there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or does not meet one of the above stated grounds. The Appeals Officer will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within seven (7) business days from receipt of the appeal. The Appeals Officer's decision to deny appeal requests is final. For appeals concerning students, the Title IX Coordinator reports a de-identified summary of incidents to the Student Affairs Council for review.

If the Appeals Officer determines that new evidence should be considered, he/she will return the complaint to the original hearing panel to reconsider in light of the new evidence only, and the parties will be notified in writing accordingly. The hearing panel shall conduct any supplemental hearing in accordance with the procedures set out above with proper notice and opportunity to be heard conveyed to the parties. The reconsideration of the hearing panel is not appealable.

If the Appeals Officer determines that a material procedural error occurred, he/she may return the complaint to the original hearing panel with instructions to reconvene to cure the error. In rare cases, where the procedural error cannot be cured by the original hearing panel members (as in cases of bias), the Appeals Officer may order a new hearing on the complaint with a new body of hearing panel members. The results of a reconvened hearing cannot be appealed. The results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on the three applicable grounds for appeals. All reconvened or new hearings will follow the format set forth above. Upon the conclusion of the appeals process, when the process involves a student, the Title IX Coordinator reports a de-identified summary of incidents to the Student Affairs Council for review.

If, in any of the processes noted above, an original panel member is unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., medical leave, separation from the institution, etc.), another member of SMIT not involved in the previous investigative process and with no dual relationship or conflict of interest with either the complainant or respondent shall be appointed using the same process as was utilized when appointing the original member.

A student and/or employee may file a complaint with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights regarding an alleged violation of Title IX by visiting http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html or by calling 1-800-421-3481.