TITLE: MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE STATEMENT ON SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
- STATEMENT. The Board of Trustees approved the following on May 27, 2015.Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is committed to providing an institutional environment where all persons may pursue their studies, careers, duties, and activities in an atmosphere free of threat of unwelcome and unwanted sexual actions. It strongly condemns sexual offenses, will not tolerate sexual offenders, and supports those who have been victimized. In response to any reported sexual misconduct, this institution will take all appropriate steps to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
- INTRODUCTION. Sexual misconduct of any form is a violation of a person’s rights, dignity, and integrity. An act of sexual misconduct represents a fundamental failure by a community member to recognize and respect the intrinsic worth and dignity of another. Acts of sexual misconduct are harmful and illegal and will not be tolerated at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Such acts corrupt the integrity of the educational process, are contrary to the mission and values of the community, and are against college policy.In order to foster a climate that encourages the reporting of sexual misconduct, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will respond promptly, fairly, and decisively to all reports of sexual misconduct. Members of the college community accused of sexual misconduct will be subject to the college’s disciplinary procedures when the alleged incident has occurred on-campus or when the incident has occurred off campus and materially affects the learning environment or operations of the college.
Cases of sexual misconduct are serious violations of the college’s student judicial code, faculty standards, and college employee policies. They are crimes under state law and punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. In addition, these actions are subject to civil suit for damage. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will carefully review and/or investigate all reports with an earnest intent to understand the perspective and experiences of each individual involved, and provide for fair and impartial evaluation and resolution. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is compliant with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (The Clery Act) as amended in 1998, which requires all post-secondary institutions to publish and distribute certain information regarding campus crimes, including reports of campus sexual assault, sexual assault policies and security programming to all current students, employees, and to any applicant who so requests.
- III. PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE STATEMENT The purpose of this statement is to provide the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College community with a clear set of guidelines regarding behavioral standards, as well as a common understanding of key concepts and definitions. This statement applies equally to all members of the college community: students, faculty, administrators, staff, contract employees, and visitors, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or gender. It is intended to guide and protect members of the college community who have been impacted by sexual misconduct as a Complainant, Respondent, or Third Party.
- COLLEGE STATEMENT ON PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College makes every effort to protect students’ privacy and confidentiality. The College encourages victims of sexual violence to talk to somebody about what happened – so victims can get the support they need, and so the College can respond appropriately. Different employees on campus have different abilities to maintain a victim’s confidentiality. Some are required to maintain near complete confidentiality; talking to them is sometimes called a “privileged communication.”The College Statement on Privacy and Confidentiality is intended to make members of the college community aware of the various reporting and confidential disclosure options available to them – so they can make informed choices about where to turn should they become a victim of sexual violence. The College encourages victims to talk to someone identified in one or more of these groups:
Reporting to Privileged and Confidential Communications
Professional, licensed counselors who provide mental-health counseling to members of the school community (and including those who act in that role under the supervision of a licensed counselor) are not required to report any information about an incident to the Title IX coordinator or Dean of Student Services without a victim’s permission.
Furthermore, individuals who work or volunteer in the college’s counseling centers, including front desk staff and students, can generally talk to a victim without revealing any personally identifying information about an incident to the College. A victim can seek assistance and support from these individuals without triggering a College investigation that could reveal the victim’s identity or that the victim has disclosed the incident.
While maintaining a victim’s confidentiality, these individuals or their office should report the nature, date, time, and general location of an incident to the Title IX Coordinator. This limited report – which includes no information that would directly or indirectly identify the victim – helps keep the Title IX Coordinator and/or Dean of Student Services informed of the general extent and nature of sexual violence on and off campus so the coordinator can track patterns, evaluate the scope of the problem, and formulate appropriate campus-wide responses. Before reporting any information to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Dean of Student Services, these individuals will consult with the victim to ensure that no personally identifying details are shared with the Title IX Coordinator and/or Dean of Student Services.
A victim who speaks to a professional or non-professional counselor or advocate must understand that, if the victim wants to maintain confidentiality, the College will be unable to conduct an investigation into the particular incident or pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator.
Even so, these counselors and advocates will still assist the victim in receiving other necessary protection and support, such as victim advocacy, academic support or accommodations, disability, health or mental health services, and changes to living, working or course schedules. A victim who at first requests confidentiality may later decide to file a complaint with the school or report the incident to local law enforcement, and thus have the incident fully investigated. These counselors and advocates will provide the victim with assistance if the victim wishes to do so.
NOTE: While these professional and non-professional counselors and advocates may maintain a victim’s confidentiality vis-à-vis the College, they may have reporting or other obligations under state law.
ALSO NOTE: If the College determines that the alleged perpetrator(s) pose a serious and immediate threat to the College community a designated Campus Security Authority may be called upon to issue a timely warning to the community. Any such warning should not include any information that identifies the victim.
Reporting to “Responsible Employees”
A “responsible employee” is a College employee who has the authority to address sexual violence, who has the duty to report incidents of sexual violence or other student misconduct, or who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.
When a victim tells a responsible employee about an incident of sexual violence, the victim has the right to expect the College to take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate what happened and to resolve the matter promptly and equitably.
A responsible employee must report all relevant details about the alleged sexual violence shared by the victim and that the College will need to determine what happened – including the names of the victim and alleged perpetrator(s), any witnesses, and any other relevant facts, including the date, time and specific location of the alleged incident. To the extent possible, information reported to a responsible employee will be shared only with people responsible for handling the College’s response to the report.
Before a victim reveals any information to a responsible employee, the employee should ensure that the victim understands the employee’s reporting obligations – and, if the victim wants to maintain confidentiality, direct the victim to confidential resources.
If the victim wants to tell the responsible employee what happened but also maintain confidentiality, the employee should tell the victim that the College will consider the request, but cannot guarantee that the College will be able to honor it.
Responsible employees will not pressure a victim to request confidentiality, but will honor and support the victim’s wishes, including for the College to fully investigate an incident. By the same token, responsible employees will not pressure a victim to make a full report if the victim is not ready to.
- TITLE IX COORDINATOR The oversight and implementation of this Sexual Misconduct Statement is the responsibility of the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College can be reached at 601.528.8735. To reach the Title IX Coordinator after hours or in an emergency, please contact Campus Police on the Perkinston Campus at 601.928.6327, the Harrison County Campus at 228.896.2516, the Jackson County Campus at 228.497.7690, the George County Center at 601.766.6447, or the Keesler Center at 228.377.2450.
- DEFINITION OF TERMS Sexual misconduct can be defined as any physical act of a sexual nature perpetrated against an individual without consent or when an individual is unable to freely give consent, including but not limited to sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, cyber-stalking, bullying and cyber-bullying, aiding or facilitating the commission of a violation, and retaliation.
- Sexual Harassment
- Sexual Harassment can be defined as an unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, instruction, or participation in other college activities, or
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for making academic, employment, or personnel decisions affecting that individual, or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance by creating an intimidating or hostile educational or working environment.
- Quid pro quo harassment or “this for that” type harassment occurs when specific academic or employment benefits are withheld as a means of coercing sexual favors. The harasser uses his or her actual or apparent authority to make academic or employment decisions based on whether or not the victim complies with the harasser’s sexual advances, requests, or conduct. Examples include, but are not limited to: threat of punishment, such as dismissal from a job or a lower grade in a course for refusal to comply with sexual advances; indicating that sexual favors could lead to a raise or better grades; extorting sexual favor from an employee or student in exchange for academic or employment benefits.
- Environmental sexual harassment occurs when a faculty member or employer creates or permits an intimidating, hostile, or offensive atmosphere. Generally incidents of sexual harassment must be repeated and pervasive to qualify as environmental harassment. Examples include, but are not limited to: unwanted sexual attention or advances; sexual propositions; placing a Playboy centerfold in the workplace or using a Playboy centerfold as an example in anatomy class.
- Sexual Assault Sexual assault is defined as sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another person by forcible compulsion (such as coercion) and/or without consent. Absence of protest is not consent. Acts of sexual assault include any sexual penetration (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object or sexual intercourse without effective consent. Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and oral copulation by mouth-to-genital contact or genital-to-mouth contact.
- Consent Consent is defined as a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent. Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another. Effective consent is informed, freely, and actively given mutually understandable words or actions which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent may never be given by minors (in Mississippi, those not (16) years of age), mentally disabled persons and those who are incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary or involuntary), or those who are unconscious, unaware, or otherwise physically helpless. Consent as a result of coercion, intimidation, threat of force or force is not effective consent.
- Incapacitation Incapacitation (such as due to the use of drugs or alcohol, when a person is asleep or unconscious, or because of an intellectual or other disability that prevents the student from having the capacity to give consent). It is a violation of this Statement if the initiator has sex with someone the initiator knows, or reasonably should know, to be incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, sleep, or illness. An incapacitated person is not able to make rational, reasonable judgments and therefore is incapable of giving effective consent. Someone is incapacitated when they cannot understand who, what, when, where, why, or how, in regards to sexual interaction.
- Sexual Exploitation Sexual exploitation is an act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage or any other non-legitimate purpose. This includes, but is not limited to, non-consensual video or audio taping of sexual activity, stalking with a sexual component, and voyeurism for personal sexual pleasure.
- Intimidation Sexual intimidation involves stalking, indecent exposure, and/or threatening another person that you will commit a sex act against them.
- Stalking Stalking is defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or other’s safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.
- Domestic Violence Domestic violence includes asserted violent misdemeanor and felony offenses committed by the victim’s current or former spouse, current or former cohabitant, person similarly situated under domestic or family violence law, or anyone else protected under domestic or family violence law.
- Dating Violence Dating violence is defined as violence by a person who has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim. Whether there was such relationship will be gauged by its length, type, and frequency of interaction.
- Retaliation Retaliation is defined as acts or attempts to retaliate or seek retribution against the Complainant, Respondent, or any individual or group of individuals involved in the investigation and/or resolution of an allegation of sexual misconduct.
- Sexual Harassment
- VII. RESOURCES AND SUPPORT Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College encourages all members of the campus community to report any incident of sexual misconduct. Because of the sensitive nature surrounding sexual misconduct allegations, the college offers many confidential and non-confidential resources of support.
- Confidential Campus Resources of Support For those individuals who are not prepared to make a report, there are several confidential resources available for students, staff and faculty. Individuals seeking to talk to someone about an incident of sexual misconduct in a confidential manner without making a report to the College or triggering any investigation or action by the College may utilize the following confidential resources. These resources hold a statutorily protected confidentiality that prohibits the release of an individual’s information without that individual’s express consent (except under limited circumstances that pose an imminent danger to the individual or to others.) The following college resources are confidential: Jackson County Campus Counseling Services can be reached at 228.497.7752. Harrison County Campus Counseling Services can be reached at 228.896.2504. Perkinston Campus Counseling Services can be reached at 601.928.6268.
- Non-Confidential Resources of Support
In addition to the confidential resources listed above, all members of the college community have access to a variety of resources provided by the College that can provide crisis intervention services, counseling, and academic support. All of the staff and faculty listed below are trained to support individuals affected by sexual misconduct and to coordinate with the Title IX Coordinator consistent with the College’s commitment to a safe and healthy educational environment. While not bound by confidentiality, these resources will nevertheless maintain the privacy of an individual’s information within the limited circle of those involved in the Title IX resolution process: Title IX Coordinator: 601.528.8735, Jackson County Campus Dean of Students: 228.497.7647, Harrison County Campus Dean of Students: 228.897.3832, Perkinston Campus Dean of Students: 601.928.6267, Jackson County Campus Police: 228.497.7690, Harrison County Campus Police: 228.896.2516, Perkinston Campus Police: 601.928.6327, George County Center Police: 601.766.6447, Keesler AFB Security: 228.377.2450
- Academic and Housing Accommodations A student who believes he or she has been the victim of sexual misconduct, as well as a student who has been accused of sexual misconduct, may contact the Title IX Coordinator at 601.528.8735 or the Dean of Student Services at the campus in which the victim is enrolled in to request any of the following interim actions, when related to the incident or accusation of sexual misconduct:
- a change of the student’s on-campus housing location to a different on-campus location if alternate on-campus housing is available
- assistance in exploring alternative housing off campus
- assistance in securing a transfer of class sections
- assistance in arranging incompletes, leaves, or withdrawal
- issuance of a no-contact directive if the College determines that continued contact between a student who has made a complaint, a student who has been accused of sexual misconduct, and/or a witness would be detrimental to any of the parties’ welfare
- other interim actions, when necessary to protect student welfare, such as interim suspensions.
- VIII. REPORTING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College encourages all members of the campus community to report any incident of sexual misconduct. The College has adopted procedures to promptly and fairly address concerns and complaints about sexual misconduct. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College encourages the reporting of sexual misconduct as it may be necessary to give the College opportunity to take action. Complaints may be submitted informally or formally. The standard of proof as recommended by the Office of Civil Rights used in sexual misconduct hearings will be Preponderance of Evidence or “more likely than not” that the violation did/did not occur. There are two options in which students can pursue to make a formal complaint of sexual misconduct.
- Making a Complaint to College Administration Students may make a complaint of sexual misconduct by another student or college employee by contacting the Title IX Coordinator at 601.528.8735, or the Dean of Student Services at the campus in which the student is enrolled. Although there is no time limit on making a complaint to College Administration, students are highly encouraged to report incidents of, or share information about, sexual misconduct as soon as possible after the incident occurred. The College may ultimately be unable to adequately investigate if too much time has passed or if an accused individual has left the institution. Other factors that could negatively affect the College’s ability to investigate include the loss of physical evidence, the potential departure of witnesses, or loss of memory.
- Making a Report to Law Enforcement In the case of an emergency, victims should call 911 from wherever they are, and a law enforcement official will respond to assist them. In non-emergency situations, allegations of misconduct should be reported to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the location where the assault or abuse occurred. Non-emergency reports to law enforcement may be made as follows:
- Contact Campus Police at 228.497.7690 if the incident occurred on the Jackson County Campus and/or property.
- Contact Gautier Police Department at 228.497.2846 if the incident occurred in Gautier.
- Contact Campus Police at 228.896.2516 if the incident occurred on the Harrison County Campus and/or property.
- Contact Gulfport Police Department at 228.868.5900 if the incident occurred in Gulfport.
- Contact Biloxi Police Department at 228.392.0641 if the incident occurred in Biloxi.
- Contact Campus Police at 601.928.6327 if the incident occurred on the Perkinston Campus and/or property.
- Contact Stone County Sheriff’s Department at 228.928.7251 if the incident occurred in Stone County.
- Contact Campus Police at 601.766.6447 if the incident occurred at the George County Center and/or property.
- Contact Lucedale Police Department at 601.947.3261 if the incident occurred in Lucedale.
- Contact Keesler AFB Security at 228.377.2450 if the incident occurred at the MGCCC-Keesler Center.
- INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINTS The lead investigator for student-on-student sexual misconduct issues will typically be the college’s Title IX Coordinator or the Dean of Student Services. If circumstances arise where it is inappropriate for this person to serve as the lead investigator, the responsibility will be assigned to another campus official trained in issues of sexual misconduct. If sufficient cause has been established to proceed with the complaint, a Disciplinary Conference or a Student Conduct Hearing is conducted. Please refer to Student Rights and Responsibilities (Statement NO-717) from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Student Handbook.
- STUDENT RIGHTS Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College takes all claims of sexual misconduct seriously and will afford certain rights to individuals involved in such conduct, whether they are a complainant or the accused.Complainant and Accused Rights
- The right to investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible complaints of sexual misconduct made in good faith to college administrators;
- The right to have complaints of sexual misconduct responded to quickly and with sensitivity
- The right to be treated with respect by college officials;
- The right to preservation of confidentiality, to the extent possible and allowed by law;
- The right to a conduct hearing closed to the public;
- The right to petition that any member of the Conduct Committee be removed on the basis of demonstrated bias;
- The right to a conduct committee comprised of representatives of both genders;
- The right to have complaints heard by accountability officers who have received annual sexual misconduct adjudication training;
- The right to be fully informed of Student Code of Conduct and Conduct Committee policies and procedures as well as the nature and extent of all alleged violations contained within the complaint;
- The right to bring an advocate or advisor (of choice) to all phases of the investigation and campus accountability proceeding. The advisor may not take part directly in the hearing itself, though they may communicate with the student as necessary;
- The right to present relevant witnesses to the campus Conduct Committee,
- The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history admitted as evidence in a campus hearing;
- The right to be informed (simultaneously for the complainant and accused) in writing of the outcome and sanction (if the accused is found responsible) of the proceeding; appeal procedures; any changes to the result before it comes final; and when the result becomes final.
- Sanctions The decision of the conduct committee shall be transmitted in a reasonable time, in writing, to the Title IX Coordinator or designee who may approve, disapprove, reduce sanction or remand the decision to the committee for Further study and give written notice to the student. Examples of sanctions include but are not limited to:(1) Expulsion from the College: Permanent separation of the student from the College and all College functions or activities.
(2) Suspension from the College for a definite period of time. Temporary separation of the student from the College and all College functions or activities.
(3) Disciplinary probation with or without loss of designated privileges for a definite period of time. The violation of the terms of disciplinary probation may be grounds for suspension or expulsion from the College.
(4) Loss of such privileges as may be consistent with the offense committed and the rehabilitation of the student. Examples include but are not limited to, removal from the residence hall, suspension from campus activities, i.e. athletic contests, intramurals, other extra-curricular activities.
(5) Fines where appropriate.