Sexual Misconduct and Harassment
An educational institution is a community of trust whose very existence depends on the recognition of each individual’s importance and value. This trust creates and nurtures the freedom of each individual to live, think, act, and speak in a manner that contributes to a wholesome and productive academic environment. It is the intent of RCC to foster and maintain a campus environment free of sexual misconduct and the fear of such behavior.
Sexual misconduct is a flagrant violation of the values and behavioral expectations for a college community. RCC does not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form. All reported violations will be investigated and, if proven, punished through the college disciplinary processes.
This policy applies to all RCC students and employees, and provides all RCC students and staff with a method for addressing complaints of sexual misconduct involving students and/or students and college employees. This policy may also apply to visitors to the campus who are patrons of the public library, or who are attending campus events.
Sexual assault is defined as sexual intercourse without consent, including rape (whether by acquaintance or stranger), sodomy, or other forms of sexual penetration. To constitute lack of consent, the acts must be committed either by force, threat of force, intimidation, or through use of victim’s mental helplessness of which the accused was aware or should have been aware.
Mental helplessness includes incapacitation by alcohol or other drugs. Sexual assault also includes intentionally touching, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks without the victim’s consent, as well as touching or fondling of the accused by the victim when the victim is forced to do so against his or her will.
Although sexual advances such as touching, patting, hugging or brushing against a person’s body are generally viewed as forms of sexual harassment, the acts are in fact legally categorized as assault, which is a misdemeanor offense. The victims of such unwanted sexual advances may take legal action.
Verbal misconduct, without accompanying physical contact as described above, is not defined as sexual assault. Verbal misconduct may constitute sexual harassment, which is also prohibited under VCCS regulations and is defined below.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct or written communication of a sexual nature which is intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Sexual harassment shall be considered to have occurred when:
- Accepting or tolerating such conduct is made a term or condition of a student’s status or an individual’s employment either explicitly or implicitly;
- Accepting or rejecting such conduct is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the student or employee; or
- Such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or objectively offensive working or learning environment that substantially interferes with an employee’s work performance or a student’s academic performance.
Sexual harassment is contrary to the values of the Virginia Community College System. It shall not be tolerated in any form. All reported instances of sexual harassment shall be investigated.
Harassment has two legal aspects:
- Quid pro quo – Harassment occurs when the unwelcome conduct is either explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s employment and/or academic performance.
- Hostile environment – Hostile environment harassment differs from ‘quid pro quo’ harassment in that no discriminatory effect on grades, wages, job assignments, or other tangible benefits is required. Instead, such unwelcome sexist or sexual conduct has at least one of these purposes or effects:
- It unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work and/or academic performance.
- It creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work and/or academic environment.
Gender-based harassment includes acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
Sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment. Sexual violence is defined as physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX.
Sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, and sexual violence are contrary to the values of RCC and will not be tolerated in any form. Sexual harassment, a form of sex discrimination, and gender-based harassment are prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This policy applies to all members of the college community including students, classified and wage employees, and members of the instructional, administrative and professional faculty.
Any employee of or student at RCC found guilty of sexual harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action which may include dismissal or expulsion. Any visitor to the campus who is reported to be involved in sexual misconduct that takes place on the RCC campus is subject to review by the college’s Threat Assessment Committee.
This policy does not preclude academically relevant discussions or presentations concerning gender or sex. The fact that such discussions or presentations may cause some students discomfort does not in itself indicate hostile environment harassment. If relevant to course content, gender and sex are legitimate areas of inquiry.
Nothing in this policy is intended to inhibit or restrict the free speech content of written or oral presentations. Academic freedom and, more generally, freedom of expression are of paramount value in an academic community.
Procedures for Reporting
Students who feel they have been subjected to sexual assault, sexual or gender-based harassment, or sexual violence by another student should submit a report to the college’s Title IX Coordinator, Lorraine Justice, 804-333-6737, firstname.lastname@example.org A link to the reporting form is provided below.
Students’ allegations involving college employees may be reported to the Human Resources Manager, telephone 804-7586728, or the Title IX Coordinator.
College employees should report instances of sexual or gender-based harassment in the workplace to the Human Resource Office.
Existing disciplinary and grievance procedures or informal proceedings, as appropriate, shall serve as the framework for resolving allegations of sexual misconduct. Students found guilty of sexual misconduct will be subject to campus disciplinary penalties ranging from probation to expulsion, (www.rappahannock.edu/catalog/student-handbook/Student-Disciplinary-Procedure/) and, in addition, criminal prosecution in the event of violations of applicable laws. College employees found guilty of sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action as specified by personnel policies.
The rights of both the accused and the complainant shall be protected, and the complainant’s sexual history will be excluded in campus proceedings. The confidentiality of proceedings will be maintained to the fullest extent possible.
The student bringing a complaint of harassment also may elect to initiate legal proceedings. Information regarding available resources and courses of action will be provided by the college. It should be stressed that seeking assistance does not obligate the student to take further action.
Courses of Action
Depending on the circumstances and the wishes of the victim, one or more of the following courses of action may be pursued: If the assault occurs on campus, the victim should contact the Title IX Officer, or if the Title IX Officer is not available contact either the dean of student development or the campus security office for assistance. This individual or office will notify the police. If the assault occurs off campus and involves another RCC student or college employee, report the assault to local police and to the Title IX Officer.
Assaults will be reported to the police by the dean of student development. Reporting an assault does not require the victim to prosecute at the time of the assault. The victim may not feel prepared to make that decision immediately following the assault. However, a delayed report could result in the loss of physical evidence that could be vital in legal proceedings. After reporting the assault to the police, the decision to continue legal proceedings is the victim’s.
The victim may choose not to report the assault to the police. If the victim chooses not to report the assault immediately, it can be reported later. Victim’s services are available through local law enforcement agencies.
An individual who has been sexually assaulted may choose a civil course of action against the assailant. If the victim wishes to explore this option, private legal counsel should be consulted.
The emergency room at the nearest hospital can provide immediate medical attention and assistance with concerns about pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.
A victim may choose to see a family doctor or gynecologist as another medical option. The victim or the victim’s personal insurance will be responsible for all medical costs if the purpose of seeking medical attention is not for collecting physical evidence.
Counselors, both on campus and in the community, are available for immediate and long-term concerns. On campus counselors are available to assist students in developing solutions to problems and issues which may interfere with their academic progress at RCC, and are trained to give individual help to students, however, this is not a substitute for professional counseling. RCC counselors do not provide mental health counseling, but will make appropriate referrals when necessary.
Rights of the Accused
Students accused of sexual assault, harassment, or sexual violence have the right to due process as described in the RCC Student Handbook.
College employees have the right to due process as described in the VCCS Policy Manual or DHRM Policy 1.60 Standards of Conduct.
Here is a list of community resources available in our service region.
This page was reviewed on June 11, 2013, updated on February 19, 2014. If you are looking for previous catalog information, please reference the 2008-2010 Catalog, 2010-2012 Catalog, or 2013-2014 Catalog.