(Learn more from the NCCADV’s Model Policy and Guidance documents, page 17).
Institutions should create as safe and comfortable spaces as possible so that any victims/survivors who want to report to campus officials feel comfortable and safe doing so. Sometimes, victims/survivors and witnesses are hesitant to report to university officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as drug use or underage drinking at the time of the incident.
An amnesty policy offers victims/survivors and witnesses amnesty whenever possible from other policy violations related to the incident. Sometimes policy violations cannot be overlooked, so it is therefore recommended that institutions provide educational options, rather than punishment, for violations identified when students have experienced and/or reported IPV, stalking or sexual violence.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) suggests that “schools should consider whether their disciplinary policies have a chilling effect on victims* or other students’ reporting of sexual violence offenses” (Russlyn, 2011). The OCR provides the example that “schools inform students that the schools’ primary concern is student safety, that any other rules violations will be addressed separately from the sexual violence allegation, and that use of alcohol or drugs never makes the victim* at fault for sexual violence” (Russlyn, 2011).
* This section uses the term “victim” as it is quoted directly from the Office for Civil Rights guidance.