Williams College Employee Handbook
Sexual Misconduct Policy
Williams College is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment that is free from sexual assault, sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct, remedying the effects of such misconduct when it occurs, and preventing its re-occurrence. The term “sexual misconduct” includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence, all of which have more complete definitions.
The College also prohibits and has established procedures to address sexual discrimination that – does not involve sexual misconduct. These issues are addressed in the College’s Non-Discrimination Policy, – and Discrimination Grievance Procedures.
This Statement describes the resources and options that are available to all members of the Williams community who have been subjected to sexual misconduct by another member of the community. These resources include, for example, medical treatment, psychological counseling or other support, no-contact orders, and changes to academic, living or work arrangements. The options available to persons who have experienced sexual misconduct include pursuing a complaint within the College or with local law enforcement, or both.
In determining which resources to access and which options to pursue, it is important to consider the related issues of confidentiality and privacy. As discussed below, some resources, both on and off campus, are able with very limited exceptions to maintain complete confidentiality with respect to reports of sexual misconduct, whereas other resources are required to report incidents of sexual misconduct, including the names of the persons involved, to the College’s Title IX Coordinator.
This policy also describes the College’s procedures concerning the investigation and adjudication of reports of sexual misconduct, including the circumstances in which the College may decide to investigate and take action notwithstanding that the person who was subjected to the misconduct requests otherwise. The processes that the College will follow in investigating and adjudicating reports of sexual misconduct can vary depending on whether the respondent is a student, faculty member, staff member or other member of the College community.
As discussed below, the College will provide measures for safety, support and accommodation regardless of whether a person decides to make a formal complaint. These measures can include, for example, no-contact orders and changes to academic, living or work arrangements.
In addition to prohibiting all forms of sexual misconduct, the College also prohibits retaliation against any person who in good faith reports or otherwise participates in an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct. The College also prohibits the making of a false report of sexual misconduct, as distinct from a report made in good faith but which is ultimately not substantiated. The College’s prohibitions against retaliation and false reporting are discussed in the printable full policy below.
The term “Title IX,” as used in this context, refers to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance. Discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual harassment, one form of which can be sexual violence or other sexual misconduct.
The College’s Title IX Coordinator is Toya Comacho, who is Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity (597-4376). The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the College’s compliance with Title IX.
The College also has three Deputy Title IX Coordinators, who serve as key resources for faculty, staff and students who have experienced sexual misconduct or other forms of harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex:
- Denise Buell, Dean of the Faculty (597-4351)
- Martha Tetrault, Director of Human Resources (597-2058)
- Sarah Bolton, Dean of the College (597-4261)
Potentially Coercive Relationships Between Students and Faculty or Staff
All faculty and many staff are potentially in a position of power with regard to students; hence, sexual relationships between employees and students are in almost all cases inappropriate. A sexual relationship between them, however, is altogether unacceptable, when a faculty or staff member actually does have teaching, evaluative, advising, or supervisory responsibilities for a student, even if the parties involved view the relation as consensual. Sexual relationships in the instructional context are likely to put claims of consent in question. It is often difficult for a student to be certain of the motives of a member of the faculty or staff. It is also difficult for a person in a position of authority to be certain that the student's consent is genuine, rather than motivated by an unspoken fear of the consequences of not consenting. In addition, a sexual relationship with a student for whom one has professional responsibilities may raise questions of unfair academic advantage or of unwarranted negative evaluation, which can adversely affect the educational environment for other students, as well as for the person directly involved. Should any of these questions arise, sexual discrimination is at issue.
To protect the integrity of the educational process, the College requires a faculty or staff member (a) to refrain, except under unusual circumstances and with the permission of the appropriate executive officer, from taking on any teaching, evaluative, counseling, or supervisory roles involving a student with whom he or she has had a sexual relationship in the past. The College also requires a faculty or staff member (b) to remove himself or herself from any teaching, evaluative, counseling, or supervisory role involving a student with whom he or she is currently having a sexual relationship, even if it is considered consensual. Since the absence of the faculty or staff member may deprive the student of educational, counseling, or career opportunities, both parties should be mindful of the potential costs to the student before entering into a sexual relationship. If they nonetheless choose to do so, and the faculty or staff member currently has professional responsibilities for the student, the parties involved should consult with either party's executive officer or department chair/director about how best to implement the removal, abiding by the administrator's decision. A faculty or staff person who does not abide by rules (a) and (b) is at substantial risk under College policy to complaints of coercion, or of preferential or prejudicial treatment. Should the complaint be found valid, the faculty or staff member will also be subject to disciplinary action.
Potentially Coercive Relationships Involving Faculty and/or Staff
A sexual relationship with a member of the faculty or staff for whom one has professional responsibilities may similarly put claims of consent into question or raise questions of unfair evaluation. To protect the integrity of the working relationships among employees, the College requires anyone in a position of authority a) to refrain from any supervisory, evaluative or counseling role involving a subordinate with whom he or she has had a sexual relationship in the past, unless the circumstances warrant a waiver. The College also requires a faculty or staff person b) to remove him or herself from any supervisory, evaluative, or counseling role involving a subordinate employee with whom he or she currently has a sexual relationship. The parties involved should consult with either party's executive officer or department chair/director concerning the need for a waiver or a removal. That person shall grant or deny the waiver or arrange for the removal, and the parties involved shall abide by the administrator's decision. A faculty or staff person who does not abide by rules (a) and (b) is at substantial risk under College policy to complaints of coercion, or of preferential or prejudicial treatment. Should the complaint be found valid, the faculty or staff member will also be subject to disciplinary action.
Williams College takes seriously any allegation of sexual harassment and will investigate all such charges promptly. In deciding whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, and in determining the degree of seriousness of the harassment, the College will look at the record as a whole and at the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual conduct and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. The College's actions, which are designed primarily to remedy any harm done to those who have been subjected to sexual harassment and to protect other members of the community, may range from a warning to suspension or expulsion, when the offender is a student. When the offender is a faculty or staff member, the disciplinary action may range from a reprimand to non-reappointment or the initiation of proceedings for dismissal for cause. They may also include warnings regarding the consequences of future misconduct, removal from certain teaching, advising, or supervisory roles, and other restrictions on the person's professional role at the College. Students and employees who believe they have been sexually harassed may use the discrimination grievance procedures in the Student Handbook and these Employee Handbooks. Questions of confidentiality are addressed in the Discrimination Grievance Procedures.
For a printable version of the complete policies on this site please click Sexual Misconduct Policies.