Will information about my complaint remain confidential?
The privacy of all parties to a complaint of gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct must be respected, except insofar as it interferes with the University’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy is not strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. In cases of indicating a pattern, predation, threat, weapons, or violence, the University will likely be unable to honor a request for confidentiality. Dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure is not permitted. Violations of the privacy of the complainant or the accused individual may lead to conduct action by the University.
In all complaints of gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct, all parties will be informed of the outcome. In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief public announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, without using the name or identifiable information of the alleged victim. Certain University officials are informed of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy. This includes, though is not limited to, the President of the University, Vice Provost for Student Life & Dean of Students, Director of Equal Opportunity and Title IX, Director of Campus Safety, and General Counsel. If a report of an act of alleged gender-based discrimination or sexual misconduct is submitted to a campus security authority and there is evidence that a felony has occurred, local police will be notified. This does not mean charges will be automatically filed or that a victim must speak with the police, but the University is legally required to notify law enforcement authorities. The University also must statistically report the occurrence of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.
Will my parents be informed?
Whether you are the complainant or the respondent, the University’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent. University officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, in a life-threatening situation, or when required to do so by law. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents.
Will the accused know my identity?
Yes, if you file a complaint and identify the assailant. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused student has the right to know the identity of the complainant. If there is a hearing, the University can provide reasonable accommodations for the complainant and respondent so they do not come into contact with one another.
Do I have to name the perpetrator?
No, if you are reporting the misconduct for the purpose of accessing resources, to learn about your options, or for statistical crime and campus reporting purposes, then you do not have to name the perpetrator.
Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator.
No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint (but you should consult the complete confidentiality policy above to better understand the University’s legal obligations depending on what information you share with different University officials). Victims should be aware that not identifying the perpetrator might limit the institution’s ability to respond comprehensively.
What about legal advice?
Victims of criminal sexual assault need not retain a private attorney to pursue prosecution because representation will be handled by the District Attorney’s office. You may want to retain an attorney if you are the accused student or are considering filing a civil action. Any student may retain counsel at his or her own expense if they determine they need legal advice about criminal prosecution and/or the campus conduct proceeding. Both the accused and the victim may also use an attorney as their advisor during the campus’ investigation and judicial processes. In the University investigation and judicial process, a student who is represented by legal counsel may have the legal counsel be his/her advisor. The role of the advisor is limited to support and consultation. The advisor is permitted to speak privately with the party being advised. The advisor is not permitted to speak on the behalf of the individual, comment, or ask questions. In addition to this, during the disciplinary proceedings, the advisor is not permitted to question or address any party involved in the proceedings.
What about changing residence halls and other interim measures?
If you want to move, you may request a room change. Room changes under these circumstances are considered emergencies. It is typically University policy that in emergency room changes, the student is moved to the first available suitable room. If you want the accused student to move, and believe that you have been the victim of sexual misconduct, you must be willing to file a formal report. No contact orders can be imposed and room changes for the accused can usually be arranged quickly. The accused may be sanctioned to be moved as a result of the judicial process.
Other accommodations available to the victim may include:
- Assistance from University staff in completing a relocation;
- Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund;
- Assistance with or rescheduling an academic assignment (paper, exams, etc.);
- Taking an incomplete in a class;
- Assistance with transferring sections;
- Temporary withdrawal without penalty;
- Assistance with alternative course completion options;
- Other accommodations for safety as necessary.
What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?
Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the alleged victim’s person within 120 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center located at 751 S. Bascom Avenue in San Jose, California (this is the forensic medical facility for Santa Clara County), before washing yourself or your clothing.
At the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, the Forensic Nurse Examiner (a nurse who is specially trained in collecting physical evidence) is usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center operator at (408) 885-5000 if you first want to speak to the Forensic Nurse Examiner). A victim advocate from the YWCA Rape Crisis Center will be contacted to meet you at the hospital. Law enforcement or Campus Safety Services can provide transportation. If a victim goes to the hospital, local police will be called, but s/he is not obligated to talk to the police or to pursue prosecution. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to a victim, but will not obligate her or him to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the victim decide later to pursue them.
The hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns, and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. The hospital also offers clean, donated clothing if you do not have a change of clothes with you. You have the option to bring a support person with you to the hospital who can accompany you through the exam. Do not disturb the crime scene—leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.
Will a victim be sanctioned when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used drugs or alcohol?
No. The severity of the infraction will determine the nature of the University’s response, but whenever possible the University will respond educationally rather than punitively to the illegal use of drugs and/or alcohol. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the University does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.
Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct conduct complaint?
The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused student’s responsibility. On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the complainant’s memory and, therefore, may affect the outcome of the complaint. A person bringing a complaint of sexual and gender-based misconduct must either remember the alleged incident or have sufficient circumstantial evidence, physical evidence, and/or witnesses to prove his/her complaint. If the complainant does not remember the circumstances of the alleged incident, it may not be possible to impose sanctions on the accused without further corroborating information. Use of alcohol and/or other drugs will never excuse a violation by an accused student.
Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?
Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint. Complainants who have engaged in alcohol or other drug use at the time of the misconduct will not be subject to disciplinary action for such use.
What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?
If you believe that you have experienced sexual and gender-based misconduct, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the University’s policy, you should contact the Office of Student Life or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX.