Institutional policies should support robust accommodations and personalized academic support and guidance that victims/survivors need to succeed and to avoid further victimization and decrease the negative impact of the hostile campus environment. This includes providing victims/survivors with information, assistance, and support to ensure that they can remain a student at the college/university, meet academic standards, obtain necessary health/mental health treatment, and maintain social relationships. These services should be available to victim/survivors whether or not they choose to report the offense to campus security authorities.
Examples of critical accommodations and services include:
- Reducing Proximity to Perpetrator - At the victim’s/survivor’s request, and depending on the risk and lethality of the individual situation, schools should consider removing the alleged perpetrator from victim’s/survivor’s residence hall, classes, or other shared spaces, imposing an interim suspension for the alleged perpetrator, and/or limiting the alleged perpetrator’s access to engage in school-related activities. If it is not possible to remove a particular alleged perpetrator, schools should assist the victim/survivor in seeking alternate housing (and/or lock changes), and academic and other types of assistance and support, which might include, but not be limited to:
- Arranging dining schedules
- Arranging study area schedules
- Security escorts
- Change in on-campus work schedule
- Offering No-Contact Orders - Schools should offer campus-based no-contact orders to victims/survivors when both the reporting and responding parties are students enrolled at the Institution (regardless of whether victims/survivors have obtained court-issued protection orders). This should also be available to students who request them against a faculty or staff member. Campus no-contact orders should prohibit the responding party from contacting the victim/survivor in person, via technology, or through a third-party (e.g., mutual friends). Schools should explicitly state the consequences for breaking a no-contact order (and, if there are no consequences, schools should make this clear so that victims/survivors can seek other protective measures).
- Providing Academic Accommodations – Academic assistance and support for the victim/survivor should include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Academic support and tutoring
- Change in academic schedule
- Change in course load, including reduced course load or alternative assignments
- Excused class absence for treatment, hospitalization, and medical or mental health conditions
- Retrospective withdrawal from classes
- Immediate withdrawal from a class
- An option for independent study for the victim/survivor
- Leave of absence from the institution
- Offering Access to Services/Free Transportation - Schools should ensure victims/survivors can access services 24/7 and should provide free transportation to a local hospital (e.g., for a forensic evidence exam), court (e.g., to obtain a civil protection order/restraining order), and advocacy and counseling services (e.g., if your school does not provide adequate counseling services for IPV, stalking, and sexual violence victims/survivors on campus).
- Ensuring Confidentiality/Privacy - Schools should ensure confidentiality and privacy for victims/survivors.
- Identify how the institution will protect the confidentiality of victims/survivors, including how publicly-available record-keeping will be accomplished without the inclusion of identifying information about the victim/survivor, to the extent permissible by law. There are always exceptions to confidentiality, particularly if there is risk of serious harm to self or others.
- Even when a school has determined that it can respect a victim’s/survivor’s request for privacy and therefore may not be able to respond fully to an allegation of sexual violence and initiate formal action against an alleged perpetrator, the school must take immediate action to protect the victim/survivor while keeping their identity private. These actions may include: changing living arrangements or course schedules, assignments, or tests; and considering whether increased monitoring, supervision, or security at locations or activities where the misconduct occurred would be appropriate.
- Make clear to students the differences between filing a formal report with law enforcement and submitting the paperwork to notify the institution of the abuse. Students should always be fully informed of their options when they pursue one or both of these avenues of redress. They should also be informed what actions law enforcement and/or the institution will take as a result.
- Many victims/survivors of IPV, stalking, or sexual violence live in fear of the perpetrator discovering where they live. In reviewing their student directory policies, schools should make students’ contact information private as the default option, as some students will be matriculating with past experiences of IPV. An institution should never release directory information that a student requests be kept private. Schools can also assist victims/survivors with the North Carolina Address Confidentiality Program.
- See Section E of the Office for Civil Rights Guidance Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence – (April 2014) for more detailed information on confidentiality.
- Considering Who Needs to Know - Clearly state that only individuals who have a need to know about the issue should be informed, and materials and information should be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and other relevant parties. Disclosure of such information may be made if it is determined that there is a serious and imminent threat to the community. In these events, the victim’s/survivor’s name and identifying information should not be needed.
- Handling a Request for No Action by a Victim/Survivor - While any request made by a victim/survivor that a matter not be investigated should be taken into account, appropriate steps must be taken in response to protect the victim’s/survivor’s safety as soon as the school has notice of the abuse/violence. In cases of serious and imminent threat to the community, the school should move forward with formal action to protect the safety of the victim/survivor and others. For more information on this topic, visit the Support Students Who Request No Action section under Reporting and Privacy Concerns section.
- Providing Confidential Campus and Off-Campus Resources - Inform victims/survivors of the confidential resources available on and off campus. These resources can share options and advice without any obligation to inform other college/university staff members, unless requested by the victim/survivor (for example: counseling services, health and mental health services, and ministry/religious life staff). Clearly state which college/university staff and faculty are required to inform campus authorities when they become aware of IPV, stalking, or sexual violence affecting a student.
- Addressing Retaliation - Neither the school nor any of its constituents (students, staff, etc.) may retaliate against a victim/survivor in any way following a report of IPV. When a school knows or reasonably should know of possible retaliation by other students or third parties, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.
- Retaliation is not always direct. It also includes indirect behavior that targets and harms the victim/survivor, like online harassment, maligning rumors or gossip, or third-party/proxy stalking.
- Considering that students can experience retaliation as a result of reporting an incident, schools should ensure that reporting students and their support network, if appropriate, know how to notify law enforcement and/or the institution of any subsequent problems. Schools should follow up regularly with reporting students to determine whether any retaliation or new incidents of harassment have occurred.
The following section is a direct excerpt from the April 2014 Office for Civil Rights Guidance (Questions and Answers on Title IX, 2014).
The Federal civil rights laws, including Title IX, make it unlawful to retaliate against an individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by these laws. This means that if an individual brings concerns about possible civil rights problems to a school’s attention, including publicly opposing sexual violence or filing a sexual violence complaint with the school or any State or Federal agency, it is unlawful for the school to retaliate against that individual for doing so. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual because he or she testified, or participated in any manner, in an OCR or school’s investigation or proceeding. Therefore, if a student, parent, teacher, coach, or other individual complains formally or informally about sexual violence or participates in an OCR or school’s investigation or proceedings related to sexual violence, the school is prohibited from retaliating (including intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against the individual) because of the individual’s complaint or participation.
A school should take steps to prevent retaliation against a student who filed a complaint either on his or her own behalf or on behalf of another student, or against those who provided information as witnesses.
Schools should be aware that complaints of sexual violence may be followed by retaliation against the complainant or witnesses by the alleged perpetrator or his or her associates. When a school knows or reasonably should know of possible retaliation by other students or third parties, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred. Title IX requires the school to protect the complainant* and witnesses and ensure their safety as necessary. At a minimum, this includes making sure that the complainant and his or her parents, if the complainant is in elementary or secondary school, and witnesses know how to report retaliation by school officials, other students, or third parties by making follow-up inquiries to see if there have been any new incidents or acts of retaliation, and by responding promptly and appropriately to address continuing or new problems. A school should also tell complainants and witnesses that Title IX prohibits retaliation, and that school officials will not only take steps to prevent retaliation, but will also take strong responsive action if it occurs.
* This section uses the term “complainant” as it is quoted directly from the Office for Civil Rights guidance.