Dean of Students
Policies

Sexual Offense Policy and Procedures

  • Section 4.15: Sexual Offense Policy And Procedures

    Policy Statement

    Seattle University affirms respect, responsibility, and care between all persons. Conduct constituting a sexual offense, such as non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation or sexual assault, will not be tolerated. Behavior of this nature is inconsistent with Seattle University values, and is a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, University policy and state and federal law. Students committing a sexual offense in any form can be prosecuted under the Washington State Criminal Code (RCW 9A) and/or disciplined under the Code of Student Conduct. 26

    Consent

    A central concept to understanding what constitutes a sexual offense under this policy is consent.

    Consent is the equal approval, given freely, willingly, and knowingly of each participant to desired sexual involvement in accordance with age of consent laws. A person compelled to engage in sexual contact by force, threat of force, or coercion has not consented to contact. Lack of mutual consent is the crucial factor in sexual offenses. Consent cannot be given if a person's ability to resist or consent is impaired because of a mental or physical condition or if there is incapacitation due to drugs or alcohol or if there is a perceived power differential. Providing alcohol or drugs to facilitate sexual activity is a violation of this policy. Use of alcohol or other drugs will not excuse behavior that violates this policy.

    The University will not recognize consent if the complainant is:

    • unconscious,
    • frightened,
    • physically or psychologically pressured or forced,
    • intimidated,
    • impaired because of a psychological condition,
    • intoxicated and/or impaired by use of drugs or alcohol.

    Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Similarly, previous relationships or consent does not imply consent to future sexual activity. The requirements of this policy apply regardless of the sexual orientation and/or gender expression or identity of individuals engaging in sexual activity.

    Prevention through Education

    The University's goal is to prevent sexual offenses through education and deterrence, and through the creation of an atmosphere of improved understanding and communication. Educational opportunities on sexual assault awareness, prevention and safety are presented during new student orientation and throughout the year. Offices and programs providing such information include Office of Wellness and Health Promotion, Integrity Formation, Public Safety, and Housing and Residence Life. The Counseling and Psychological Services Office also offers counseling, referral information and support.

    • No one asks or deserves to be the victim of a sexual offense. While there is no absolute protection against a sexual offense, there are actions you can take to help reduce your exposure to the risk of a sexual offense. Some suggestions include: 
    • Be aware that excessive use of alcohol and/or other drugs interferes with the ability to think clearly and communicate effectively.
    • Keep your doors and windows locked whether in the office, at home, or in the car. 
    • Wear clothes and shoes that allow you to move quickly. 
    • Walk on lighted pedestrian pathways; do not take short cuts. 
    • Walk with a purpose and project an assertive image. 
    • Be conscious of your surroundings and anticipate potentially dangerous situations. 
    • Prohibit a stranger(s) from entering your room unless properly identified. 
    • Never hitchhike. 
    • Avoid walking or jogging alone at night.  
    • When on campus, particularly at night, call Safety and Security at 296-5990 for security escort services.   
    •  Know your sexual desires and limits, exercise your right to set those limits, and clearly communicate those limits. 
    • Be assertive. 
    • If you are going to leave a party with a person you do not know well, tell another person where you are going and with whom you are going. 
    • When out with someone, be sure you have money for a taxi, your bus pass, and the phone number of a friend, so you are not dependent on your companion for a ride home.

    Acquaintance and date rape are familiar terms to students, but they are not legal terms. They are often used to differentiate between rape committed by someone the victim knows and rape by a stranger. The same criminal laws, penalties, and University sanctions apply in cases of acquaintance rape as in cases of stranger rape. 

    What You Can Do If A Sexual Offense Occurs

    A victim of a sexual offense can experience varying degrees of trauma and anxiety. Emotional and physical symptoms such as fear, anxiety, anger, shock, depression, insomnia, headaches and/or nausea are common.

    Many victims also feel guilt and self-blame, especially if the suspect is an acquaintance. Regardless of the symptoms you experience, if you are a victim of a sexual offense:

    • Find a safe place: Stay with a friend or someone who can give you emotional support. Call a rape crisis line.
    • Go to a hospital for immediate medical care: The medical staff provides medical assistance for injuries, tests for medical evidence, and resources for emotional help. Do not wash or change clothes before calling or going for help as this may destroy important evidence. The collection of medical evidence does not presume that you will press charges against the assailant. However, if you later choose to press charges, the evidence will be available. 
    •  Report the sexual offense: You are strongly encouraged to immediately report the sexual offense to Public Safety at 206-296-5911 or local law enforcement officials at 911. Public Safety personnel are prepared to help you understand your options and their consequences, as well as to refer you to other campus and community resources for additional assistance.
    • Get professional counseling: A sexual offense is a serious personal violation which renders any of a variety of physical, emotional and psychological symptoms. A counselor will help you deal with these problems and any related issues. Information about counselors and support resources are available through Public Safety, Housing and Residence Life, the Wismer Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of Student Development, and Human Resources.  
    • Changes to classroom or residence hall assignments: In some circumstances, victims of a sexual offense seek to change their classroom or residence hall assignments. Students wishing to discuss reasonably available options should contact the Associate Dean of Students.

    Reporting Procedures

    On-campus

    A victim of a sexual offense on campus is strongly encouraged to notify the Crimes Against Persons Officer in Public Safety (USB 102, 206.296.5990, 206.296.5911 for emergency). Once the sexual offense is reported, Public Safety will notify appropriate University officials or third parties who are identified as having a need to know. The primary role of Public Safety in a sexual offense incident is to collect information in an impartial manner and preserve all relevant evidence. Public Safety notification procedures may vary depending on certain factors such as whether the alleged assailant is a member of the University community, whether the incident took place on or off campus, and whether the victim wishes to remain anonymous.

    Generally, Public Safety staff will report the incident to the campus Director of Public Safety and the Title IX Coordinator. In addition, if the alleged assailant is a student, the Office of Integrity Formation is notified; if the alleged assailant is a faculty member, the Office of the Provost is notified; if the alleged assailant is a staff member, the Vice President for Human Resources is notified.

    Anonymous Report

    If a victim of a sexual offense wishes to remain anonymous, Public Safety will take a "third person" report. This report allows a person to provide a detailed report about the offense without the obligation of pursuing an investigation and/or pressing charges. The University cannot fully investigate or initiate disciplinary action against the alleged offender based on a third person report. However, reporting is still encouraged as it may provide important information for protecting the community-at-large.

    Off Campus

    When a sexual offense occurs off campus, the investigative authority of Public Safety is limited. However, Public Safety does work in close cooperation with the Seattle Police Department in investigating the complaint. The same reporting and notification procedures as for an on campus incident will occur. If the assailant is a Seattle University student, faculty, or staff member, the University may, at its discretion, suspend disciplinary action or related proceedings until the SPD investigation and/or court action is complete.

    Confidentiality

    Information received as part of the University reporting procedure is expected to remain confidential. Whenever possible, the name of the victim will be withheld if the victim so desires. Action requiring disclosure of the victim's identity or identifying the victim in some manner will generally not take place without the victim's consent. In some cases the University may not be able to honor a request of confidentiality if doing so would endanger the safety or well-being of the victim or other members of the University community.

    University Response to Incidents of Sexual Offense

    The University will respond to all reports of sexual offense in a timely, effective, and consistent manner. Factors the University may consider in determining which response procedure(s) to follow include when the report is filed and how the respondent chooses to proceed. All students are encouraged to report violations of this policy to the University. A student who believes s/he or any student is a victim of sexual offense is encouraged to promptly report the incident to Public Safety, Residence Hall Staff, the Office of Student Development or Student Health Services. Students may also consider a direct report to the Seattle Police Department or contacting the Harborview's Center for Sexual Assault & Traumatic Stress.

    If a complainant requests measures such as a change in academic or living arrangements, options will be discussed and reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate the request. The complainant and respondent will be informed of the various support services available through the University, including counseling and medical assistance.

    Seattle University reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual offense in order to protect individuals' rights and personal safety. Such measures include, but are not limited to, modification of living arrangements, and interim suspension from campus pending a hearing.

    Overview of Student Conduct Process

    Seattle University's integrity formation conduct process for sexual offense complaints will be prompt and equitable and conducted in consultation with Public Safety. Informal Resolution is not appropriate for sexual offense cases. The University will investigate all complaints of sexual offense in a prompt, adequate, reliable and impartial manner. The investigation will include a review of statements obtained from the complainant and the respondent, interviews with both parties, interviews with witnesses as appropriate, and review of relevant documentation and physical evidence. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the University will conclude its investigation and conduct process within sixty (60) calendar days following receipt of a complaint. The University will provide both the complainant and the respondent a thorough explanation of the procedures to be followed during the course of the conduct process. The procedures will follow those that are set forth in Sections 5.2 and 5.3 of the Redhawk Commitment and Code of Conduct, but to the extent that anything set out in those sections is inconsistent with this policy, the process set out in this policy shall apply. These procedures include:

    A. Both parties will be advised that the resources listed in this policy are available.

    B. The Associate Dean of Students or his/her designee will issue a written "no contact order" order to all parties involved in an alleged sexual offense.

    C. The University will utilize a pool of conduct officers trained to hear sexual offense cases (referred to herein as the "Sexual Offense Review Board"). Every effort is made to ensure that the members selected to sit on the Sexual Offense Review Board represent the diverse campus community.

    D. All sexual offense cases will go before the University Sexual Offense Review Board (SORB).

    E. All Sexual Offense Review Board members will receive training specific to sexual offense cases, with appropriate training conducted prior to the beginning of each academic year and refresher training prior to a hearing. 30

    F. The Title IX Coordinator will be informed of and provided all information regarding a sexual offense complaint and investigation and any subsequent conduct process.  

    G. The Sexual Offense Review Board will determine responsibility using a preponderance of the evidence standard, i.e., more likely than not a sexual offense did or did not occur.

    H. All parties will be treated equitably during the hearing process, including having the right to an advisor, witnesses, and the right to appeal.

    I. The importance of physical presence at a Sexual Offense Review Board will be discussed with the complainant.

    J. The hearing location will have separate waiting rooms available for the complainant and the Respondent.

    K. All parties will be informed of the Sexual Offense Review Board's findings and sanctions. Either party may appeal the decision and all appeals are shared with the other party. Appeals must be made in writing and submitted to the Office of Integrity Formation within 3 business days following receipt of the official notification of the findings and sanctions. Except in extraordinary circumstances, appeals will be resolved within thirty (30) calendar days following receipt of the request for appeal.

    Not all forms of sexual offense will be deemed to be equally serious offenses. The University reserves the right to impose differing sanctions, ranging from written warning to suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. The University will consider the concerns and rights of both the complainant and the respondent of the sexual offense.

    Resources

    On Campus

    • Campus Public Safety 206.296.5911
    • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 206.296.6090
    • Student Health Center 206.296.6300
    • Office for Wellness and Health Promotion 206.296.2593 (Peer Health Action Team)
    • Campus Ministry 206.296.6075
    • Office Integrity Formation 206.296.6066

    Off Campus

    • Harborview Center for Sexual Assault & Traumatic Stress 206.744.1600
    • 401 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98104
    • King County Sexual Assault Resource Center 1.888.99.VOICE