Student Sexual Misconduct Complaints
Your health, safety, and well-being are the University’s primary concern. If you or someone you know may be the victim of sexual misconduct of any kind, you are strongly urged to seek immediate assistance through the avenues enumerated on this site [link to page with list of resources]. Sexual Misconduct (as defined below) violates University policy and Federal civil rights law and may also be subject to criminal prosecution. The University of Virginia Policy and Procedures for Student Sexual Misconduct Complaints (the “Sexual Misconduct Policy”), describe what constitutes “Sexual Misconduct,” how to report Sexual Misconduct, and how complaints of Sexual Misconduct are investigated and resolved.
Sexual Misconduct, as defined in the Sexual Misconduct Policy, comprises a broad range of behavior that will not be tolerated in the University’s community of trust. Definitions of the various behaviors that comprise Sexual Misconduct under the Sexual Misconduct Policy are set forth below. The University is committed to fostering a community that promotes prompt reporting of all types of Sexual Misconduct and timely and fair resolution of Sexual Misconduct complaints.
Definitions from the Sexual Misconduct Policy
“Sexual Misconduct” is a broad term encompassing “Sexual Exploitation,” “Sexual Harassment,” “Non-Consensual Sexual Contact,” and “Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse,” as defined in this Policy. Sexual Misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Sexual Misconduct can be committed by men or by women, and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.
“Sexual Exploitation” means taking sexual advantage of another person without Effective Consent, and includes, without limitation, causing or attempting to cause the Incapacitation of another person in order to gain a sexual advantage over such other person; causing the prostitution of another person; recording, photographing or transmitting identifiable images of private sexual activity and/or the intimate parts (including genitalia, groin, breasts or buttocks) of another person; allowing third parties to observe private sexual acts; engaging in voyeurism; and/or knowingly or recklessly exposing another person to a significant risk of sexually transmitted infection, including HIV.
“Sexual Harassment” means unwelcome conduct, based on sex or on gender stereotypes, which is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with a person’s University employment, academic performance or participation in University programs or activities and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive. Sexual Harassment may include, for example, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and acts of sexual violence. In evaluating any complaint of Sexual Harassment, the perceived offensiveness of a particular expression, standing alone, is not sufficient by itself to constitute Sexual Harassment. The conduct in question must be objectively intimidating, hostile or offensive and interfere with a person’s right to equally participate in programs and activities of the University. The exclusive purpose of this Policy is to protect students from sex discrimination, consistent with both federal regulatory law and the requirements of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“Non-Consensual Sexual Contact” means Sexual Contact that occurs without Effective Consent.
“Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse” means Sexual Intercourse that occurs without Effective Consent.
“Effective Consent” means words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Effective Consent cannot be gained by Force, by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another, or by taking advantage of the Incapacitation of another, where the accused student knows or reasonably should have known of such Incapacitation. Effective Consent is also absent when the activity in question exceeds the scope of Effective Consent previously given. In addition, certain states have designated a minimum age under which a person cannot give “Effective Consent.”
“Force” means physical force, violence, threat, intimidation or coercion.
“Incapacitation” means the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments. States of Incapacitation include, without limitation, sleep, blackouts, and flashbacks. Where alcohol is involved, one does not have to be intoxicated or drunk to be considered Incapacitated. Rather, Incapacitation is determined by how the alcohol consumed impacts a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make informed judgments. The question is whether the accused student knew, or a sober, reasonable person in the position of the accused student should have known, that the complainant was Incapacitated. Because Incapacitation may be difficult to discern, students are strongly encouraged to err on the side of caution; i.e., when in doubt, assume that another person is Incapacitated and therefore unable to give Effective Consent. Being intoxicated or drunk is never a defense to a complaint of Sexual Misconduct under this Policy.
“Sexual Contact” means the deliberate touching of a person’s intimate parts (including genitalia, groin, breast or buttocks, or clothing covering any of those areas), or using Force to cause a person to touch his or her own or another person’s intimate parts.
“Sexual Intercourse” means penetration (anal, oral or vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger, or an inanimate object.
Complaints of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Dean of Students (Allen Groves (434) 924-7429) and his or her designee (the “Dean”). The University has designated the Dean as the Title IX Coordinator for purposes of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
What is the Sexual Misconduct Board?
The Sexual Misconduct Board (SMB) is a body of faculty, professional staff, and students who are trained to apply the Sexual Misconduct Policy. The SMB has been delegated the authority to hear and resolve all complaints brought under the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Who can file a complaint? Who is subject to the Policy? What if the conduct occurred off University grounds?
Anyone can file a complaint alleging Sexual Misconduct against a person who was a University of Virginia student at the time the conduct occurred and who remains a University student at the time the complaint is filed. Students are encouraged to report alleged Sexual Misconduct immediately in order to maximize the University’s ability to obtain evidence, and conduct a thorough, impartial and reliable investigation. Failure to promptly report alleged Sexual Misconduct may result in the loss of relevant evidence and witness testimony, and may impair the University’s ability to enforce this Policy. In addition, the Sexual Misconduct Policy applies regardless of where the alleged Sexual Misconduct occurred, though Sexual Misconduct that is alleged to have occurred at a significant distance from the University may be more difficult to investigate.
Students wishing to file a complaint of alleged Sexual Misconduct should schedule an appointment with Allen Groves, Dean of Students, at their earliest convenience by calling (434) 924-7429. Alternative arrangements can be made if a student is uncomfortable meeting with a person of the same or opposite gender.
What are my options under the Sexual Misconduct Policy?
The following provides a brief overview of pertinent information about the options available under the Sexual Misconduct Policy. For more information about the SMB or the Sexual Misconduct Policy, contact Dean Nicole Eramo, the Chair of the SMB at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 434-924-7133, or consult the Sexual Misconduct Policy (pdf). Simply discussing the process with a dean does not obligate a student to file a complaint and the process can be discussed without details or full disclosure of the perpetrator’s identity.
The Sexual Misconduct Policy allows for two resolution options:
- Formal Resolution
- Informal Resolution
- Once a formal complaint is filed with Dean, the filer is referred to as the Complainant and the alleged perpetrator as the Accused.
- The case is then referred for a full investigation by two impartial investigators in the Office of the Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer. The investigators create a report and make a recommendation as to whether or not enough evidence exists to send the matter on to a full hearing before the SMB.
- If a full hearing is recommended, both parties appear and tell their stories before a panel of 3–5 faculty, staff and/or students with a non-voting chair. Parties may also call witnesses and provide evidence on their behalf.
- Students found responsible under the Sexual Misconduct Policy are subject to disciplinary action, which can include suspension or permanent expulsion.
- More informal process with a presiding officer/facilitator who is professional University staff.
- Provides opportunity for Complainant to confront the Accused in a less formal and potentially less intimidating setting.
- Offers an option to Complainants who do not wish to pursue formal disciplinary action.
Please note that these are very brief overviews of the different options. For full information, please consult the Sexual Misconduct Policy (pdf) or make an appointment to speak with Dean Eramo or Dean Groves.
How do I get involved with the Sexual Misconduct Board?
Several students serve as members of the Sexual Misconduct Board. If you are interested in serving, you may make a self-nomination to Dean Eramo directly, or to the Office of the Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer. Please note that students involved as educators or advocates for victims of sexual violence may not be members of the Sexual Misconduct Board.
See Va. Code §18.2-63 for the age of consent under Virginia law: http://leg1.state.va.us/000/cod/18.2-63.HTM.