If you are a victim of sexual assault, you have the right to assistance. You may request an advocate twenty-four hours a day by contacting University Police at 607-587-3999, or in-person at the Theta Gamma House. While this service is activated through University Police, you will not have to speak to the police about the incident or answer questions unless you choose to do so.
Disciplinary Charges, Procedures, Hearings & Appeals Regarding Sexual Misconduct
- Pre-Disciplinary Hearing Information & Procedures
- Rights of the Complainant and Respondent
- Size and Composition of Specialized Panels
- Definitions of Sexual Misconduct
- Limited Immunity for Victims
Off Campus Complaints
Alfred State takes judicial jurisdiction, to the extent practical and possible, over all sexual misconduct cases as long as the person being charged is a student, regardless of the enrollment status of the alleged victim.
The college will also take judicial jurisdiction, to the extent practical and possible, over all sexual misconduct cases that occur off-campus, if the person being charged and the alleged victim is a student and the impact of the assault is likely to have a substantial effect on the alleged victim’s on-campus life and activities, or if the incident poses a threat or danger.
To the extent practical and possible, Alfred State may also take judicial jurisdiction over students charged with off-campus sexual misconduct cases where the alleged victim is not a student. Complaints can also be brought against students when incidents take place during a period when the college is not in session (such as spring break).
After Graduation Complaints of Pre-Graduation Incident
This policy does not include adjudicating incidents that occurred before the accused was matriculated or after the student has graduated. The college can hear complaints against students who have graduated if the alleged incident took place before the accused (respondent) student graduated and the complainant files a written complaint within the twelve months of the accused’s date of graduation. If found to be responsible for a violation of sexual misconduct policy, the former student charged could face revocation of his/her diploma. SUNY Board of Trustees reserves the sole right to revoke a SUNY degree and as such, the college would forward such a recommendation to the SUNY Chancellor’s Office for further consideration once the disciplinary hearing had concluded, a final decision had been reached by the panel and any appeal process has concluded.
It is the goal of Alfred State to ensure that student victims (complainant) and the student accused (respondent) of sexual misconduct have access to needed resources, services and information. Alfred State strives to offer a reasonable parity of resources, services and information, to the extent possible, to all parties to the complaint, including, but not limited to, the following rights:
Rights of Complainant (Victim)
It is the goal of Alfred State to ensure that students alleging sexual misconduct have access to needed resources, services, and information including:
- The right of the victim to be treated with respect by college officials;
- The right not to be discouraged by the college officials from reporting a sexual misconduct offense;
- The right to a college "No Contact" condition (for student victims) against another student who has engaged in or threatens to engage in stalking, threatening, harassing or other improper behavior that presents a danger to the welfare of the complaining student or others;
- The right to have complaints of sexual assault responded to quickly and with sensitivity by University Police.
- The right to be informed of their options to notify proper law enforcement authorities, including on-campus and local police, and the option to be assisted by college SART Advocates (for ASC students), if the student so chooses. This also includes their right not to report, if this is the victim's desire;
- The right to be notified of available medical services, counseling, mental health or student services for victims of sexual assault, both at the college and in the community;
- The right to notification of and options for, and available assistance in, changing academic and living (campus residential) situations after an alleged sexual assault incident, if so requested by the victim and if such changes are reasonably available (no disciplinary charges or investigation, college or criminal, need occur before this option is available);
- The right to be accompanied by another member of the college community (defined as a faculty or staff member of the college community) to serve as "adviser." Adviser is permitted to advise the student charged in the organization of their thoughts and presentation of materials and can advise the student directly in the hearing. (Advisers may not address the hearing board or any other individuals providing testimony and may not respond to any questions for the respondent. Advisers may be present at hearings only. Members of the press and attorneys are prohibited from serving as advisers during a sexual misconduct disciplinary hearing);
- The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history admitted in a college hearing;
- The right to review all written statements regarding any discussion that will be presented following at an initial conference (and prior to the disciplinary hearing);
- Ask questions of the hearing board and via the hearing board indirectly request responses from the complainant and any other witnesses present;
- The right to make an impact statement to the hearing panel at the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing;
- The right to submit a written victim-impact statement to the hearing panel prior to the panel rendering a final decision;
- The right to be informed of the outcome and any sanctions imposed from a disciplinary hearing involving sexual misconduct;
- The victim does not have a right to appeal the final decision rendered by the disciplinary hearing panel.
Rights of Respondent (Accused Student)
Students charged with one or more violations of sexual misconduct have a right to:
- Be treated with respect by college officials.
- The right to be notified of available medical services, counseling, mental health or other student services related to incident of sexual assault, both at the college and in the community;
- The right to request assistance in changing one’s academic and living (campus residential) situations after an alleged sexual misconduct incident if such changes are reasonably available (no disciplinary charges or investigation, college or criminal, need occur before this option is available);
- Receive a written statement of the specific charges. If requested, students will be allowed to examine any written statements of evidence that the college plans to submit to the hearing body (written statements are normally reviewed at the initial conference with a campus judicial hearing officer or the Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs);
- Reasonable time to prepare for the hearing;
- The right to review all written statements regarding any discussion that will be presented following an initial conference (prior to the disciplinary hearing);
- Be present at the hearing during the presentation of any matters on which a decision may be based;
- Present an explanation of his/her situation/circumstances at the hearing and ask individuals to present information on their behalf. However, should the student fail to appear at the scheduled time and place, the hearing will be held in his/her absence;
- Be accompanied by another member of the college community (defined as a faculty or staff member of the college community) to serve as "advisor." Advisor is permitted to advise the student charged in the organization of their thoughts and presentation of materials and can advise the student directly in the hearing (Advisers may not address the hearing board or any other individuals providing testimony and may not respond to any questions for the respondent. Advisers may be present at hearings only. Members of the press and attorneys are prohibited from serving as advisers);
- Ask questions of the hearing board and via the hearing board indirectly request responses from the complainant and any other witnesses present.
- Reserve the right to not answer questions. No negative presumption will be presumed by the disciplinary hearing panel if any individual does not respond to a question;
- Present a summary-impact statement at the close of the hearing (also reserved for the complainant);
- The right to write a victim-impact statement to the disciplinary panel prior to rendering a final disciplinary decision;
- An expeditious hearing of the student’s case;
- A written report of the results and findings of the hearing within five (5) business days of the hearing (unless the hearing panel requires additional days to deliberate in rendering a decision);
- The right to appeal the finding and sanction of the administrative judicial panel to the Vice President for Student Affairs and in accordance with the standards for appeal established in the Student Code of Conduct.
Removing Respondent from Residential or Academic Environment
The college will remove a respondent from her/his living unit and/or academic setting, if requested by the complainant and the college finds it is reasonable to do so (space available, etc.). Although such an administrative action by the college may seem unfair to the respondent, it may be a necessary action so that the college can protect the rights of the complainant and minimize any further interaction that may occur if left unaddressed. This decision is implemented by the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee and is not appealable.
Interim Suspension – Removal from the college until Hearing
The college can also choose to invoke an interim suspension with alleged infractions of sexual misconduct and can be invoked when the college believes there is evidence that the respondent may pose a risk to the safety and well-being of others prior to the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings. When an interim suspension is invoked, the student is immediately suspended from classes and is banned from entering college property or attending college-sponsored events. In doing so, the college will conduct a hearing within ten business days, unless:
(a) the respondent requests an earlier date for the hearing or
(b) the respondent requests a delay in order to prepare for the hearing.
In the case of either request (a) or (b), they are subsequently reviewed for approval by the Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs.
Sexual misconduct is a complex issue for disciplinary panels to hear. Panelists for sexual misconduct cases complete 20 hours of training provided by the Division of Student Affairs (Basic Hearing Panel training – 8 hours, Sexual Harassment training – 6 hours, and Sexual Misconduct training – 10 hours) before they can serve on a specialized panel for sexual misconduct.
Sexual misconduct complaints are heard by faculty and staff who are appointed to the Student Conduct Committee by the Vice President for Student Affairs and are selected to serve on sexual misconduct cases. Sexual misconduct panels are chaired by the Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs or his/her designee. The three person panel will consist of the chair and two other members of the Student Conduct Committee. All disciplinary hearings are closed to the public and are limited to college representatives on the hearing panel, the victim, the respondent, advisers and witnesses. The college does not allow character witnesses to attend disciplinary hearings.
Rendering Disciplinary Decisions
Disciplinary panels for sexual misconduct will draft a decision and send it to the complainant and respondent for their review. Either may elect to provide a written impact statement on the draft decision before it is finalized by the panel. These statements must be submitted to the Chair of the Panel within four (4) business days of receipt of the draft decision. Thereafter, the panel will render a final decision regarding the matter and impose sanctions (if any) appropriate with their decision. No disciplinary action shall be taken unless it is established by a preponderance of evidence upon the record considered as a whole that the accused student has committed the charged offense.
Respondents may wish to appeal decisions of the administrative hearing panel. To initiate an appeal, the student must submit a written request for an appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs within four (4) business days of notification of the results of the hearing.
There are three types of charges of sexual misconduct: non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, and sexual exploitation.
Non-consensual Sexual Contact
- Engaging in sexual contact (touching or disrobing or exposure) with any individual with any object, however slight, by an individual upon an individual without effective consent is prohibited.
- Sexual contact is defined as any contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, mouth, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts or disrobing or exposure of genitalia.
- "Effective consent" is informed, freely and actively given, with mutually understandable words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually-agreed-upon sexual activity.
- Consent is "mutually understandable" when a reasonable person would consider the words or actions of the parties to have manifested a mutually understandable agreement between them to do the same thing in the same way at the same time with each other.
- Consent that is obtained through the use of fraud or force, whether perceived or overt, and whether that force be physical force, threats, intimidation, or coercion, is ineffective consent.
Penalty: not less than disciplinary probation, not more than expulsion/revocation of degree
Information - Violators may also be subject to criminal charges and prosecution under local and state laws and civil action under federal law. In general, most complaints involving non-consensual sexual intercourse also include a charge of non-consensual sexual contact.
Sexual Exploitation is prohibited and includes the following:
- Engaging in any behavior where a student takes non-consensual, unjust, or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited; and that behavior does not otherwise constitute non-consensual sexual intercourse, or non-consensual sexual contact.
Penalty: not less than formal probation, not more than expulsion/revocation of degree
Information—Sexual exploitation includes prostituting another student, non-consensual video, photographic or audio-taping of sexual activity, or non-consensual distribution after initial consent was given, going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting friends surreptitiously watch you have consensual sex), engaging in "peeping tommery," knowingly transmitting an STD or HIV to another student, and inducing incapacitation with the intent to rape or sexually assault another student.
Any attempt to commit an act of sexual misconduct is also prohibited under this policy, as is aiding the commission of sexual misconduct as an accomplice. Students involved in these inappropriate behaviors can also be charged with a violation of sexual misconduct and be subject to disciplinary charges.
Legally, minors, mentally disabled persons, or physically incapacitated persons may never give consent.
- "Minors" are those individuals under the age of 17 years of age who legally cannot give someone over the legal age consent to engage in sexual activity (absent of a legally valid marriage or court order). Individuals who engage in sexual activity with minors can be criminally charged with statutory rape. Students under the age of 17 cannot legally give consent to engage in sexual activity.
- "Mentally disabled persons" are individuals that are mentally incapacitated (or developmentally delayed). They cannot give consent if they cannot appreciate the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation in which they find themselves. The mental disability of the party must be known or reasonably knowable to the non-disabled sexual partner, in order to hold them responsible for the violation.
- "Physically incapacitated persons" are individuals who are physically incapacitated as a result of the consumption (voluntary or involuntary) of alcohol or other drug, or who are unconscious, unaware, or otherwise physically helpless, is incapable of giving consent. One may not engage in sexual activity with another who one knows or should reasonably have known is physically incapacitated. Physically incapacitated persons may not give consent when they lack the capacity to appreciate the fact that the situation is sexual, and/or cannot rationally and reasonably appreciate the nature and extent of the situation. It is important to note that when one is "physically incapacitated" that is different from what some individuals might describe as "having a few drinks" and then engaging in "regrettable sex". Regrettable sex is unfortunate but in itself does not constitute being physically incapacitated.
Silence, previous relationships, and/or current relationship with the complainant (or anyone else) may not in themselves be taken to imply consent.
Additional Clarifying Rules for Sexual Misconduct
Finally, there are other rules that students, victims, and disciplinary panels must take into consideration in regard to incidents of sexual misconduct.
- The victim of sexual aggression is not required to physically or otherwise resist a sexual aggressor.
- Silence, previous sexual relationships, and/or current relationship with the respondent (or anyone else) may not, in themselves, be taken to imply consent.
- Consent cannot be implied by attire, or inferred from the buying of dinner, or the spending of money on a date.
- Intentional use of alcohol/drugs by the respondent is not an excuse for violation of sexual misconduct.
- A student who deliberately drugs or attempts to push another with alcohol for the purpose of rendering that person incapacitated or sexually submissive/passive commits a violation of sexual misconduct.
- Effective consent to sexual activity may be withdrawn at any time, as long as the withdrawal is communicated clearly because you cannot be expected to read the mind of your sexual partner(s).
- "Intent to rape" is not required under sexual misconduct. Unlike murder, for which there must be intent to kill, rape is not an intent-based concept. The requisite intent for rape is demonstrated by engaging in the act of intercourse.
- Effective consent has an expiration date. Effective consent lasts for a reasonable time, depending on the circumstances. Effective consent must be contemporaneous with the sexual activity involved.
The following are definitions of sanctions noted above in the previous sub section regarding definitions of sexual misconduct.
- Disciplinary Probation – is the highest sanction imposed without removing the student from the college and in sexual misconduct cases, the respondent is banned from living or entering complainant’s residence hall. In no instance, can the panel or the appellate officer allow the respondent to return to the living unit of the complainant. This ban on residency cannot be removed under any circumstance.
- Suspension – the respondent can no longer attend classes and is banned from the college property and college sponsored events and this sanction will continue no less than the time required for the complainant to finish their current degree at the college (if applicable). A permanent notation of suspension will appear on the transcript.
- Expulsion (Permanent) – the respondent has no opportunity to return to the college and is banned from college property and college sponsored events. A permanent notation of expulsion will appear on the transcript.
- Revocation of Degree – applied when the degree had been awarded at the time the complaint was heard although the incident occurred prior to the awarding of the degree. This decision can only be implemented by the SUNY Board of Trustees and if enacted, it allows the college to revoke the degree as well as prohibit the respondent from enrolling in classes in the future (equivalent of the permanency of Expulsion). A notation of revocation of degree will appear on the transcript.
The college community encourages the reporting of sexual misconduct. Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report to college officials because they fear that they themselves may be charged with other college policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to college officials. To encourage reporting incidents of sexual misconduct, the college pursues a procedure of offering victims of sexual misconduct limited immunity from being charged for policy violations related to the sexual misconduct incident. Thus, although the college may not impose disciplinary charges, the college may mandate educational options (such as alcohol and other drug assessments and attendance to alcohol education programs) in such cases.
When members of groups, individuals acting collusively, or members of an organization act in concert in violation of sexual misconduct, they will be charged individually and the group may be charged as a student organization. Sanctions against an organization can range from organizational probation to organizational expulsion (and permanent loss of recognition at the college). Both organizational cases and individual cases of sexual misconduct are heard only by administrative hearing panels as outlined in these procedures under sexual misconduct.
Dissemination of Procedures
The Clery Act requires that these procedures be disseminated to students and staff annually and in addition, a listing of educational programs offered at Alfred State also is included in this dissemination activity.
VINE, a victim notification network