What To Do After Sexual Misconduct Occurs:
A Guide for the Cornell College Community
Published as a service to the Cornell College community by the
Cornell Counseling Center, Ebersole Building, 895-4292, 9/2003, last update 8/2013
The information contained in this website is accurate as of the publication date. This information is intended for use as an overview of issues related to sexual misconduct and resources available to those affected by sexual misconduct. See the Cornell College Sexual Misconduct Policy for the complete policy.
Student Sexual Misconduct Policy
Cornell College affirms the rights of its students, faculty, and staff to live, work, and study in an environment free from sexual misconduct (sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating/domestic violence, and sexual exploitation). As a community we need to maintain a standard of conduct that creates an environment of trust, care, and respect. Our community treats acts of sexual misconduct as serious violations of the standards of conduct that will not be tolerated.
Cornell College defines "sexual misconduct" as including sexual assault (any non-consensual sexual contact), sexual harassment, stalking, dating/domestic violence, and sexual exploitation. Sexual misconduct includes a variety of behaviors, such as unwanted sexual touching, unwanted sexual intercourse, having sex with someone who is incapacitated, pervasive and unwelcome comments or jokes of a sexual nature, and engaging in peeping Tommery.
"Consent" includes actions or words that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. There is no consent when sexual contact or intercourse results from force, threat, coercion, or intimidation. There is no consent when sexual contact or intercourse is with a person who is unable to give consent, say "no," or otherwise resist for any reason, including the effects of alcohol or drugs, because the person is asleep or unconscious, is disabled, or has other mental or physical conditions.
1. Obtaining Support
Confidential Resources On and Off Campus
There are people available to help you if you have been affected by an incident of sexual misconduct within or outside of the Cornell community.
Cornell College counselors provide free counseling for survivors of sexual misconduct. Additional resources in the area are also available. The flow chart at the end of this brochure outlines how to reach these confidential support persons.
2. Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the College
You may inform the College about sexual misconduct by personally submitting a Sexual Misconduct Report form or by informing an RA, member of the Student Affairs professional staff, coach, faculty advisor to a student organization, or the College’s Sexual Misconduct Liaison. Information contained in the Sexual Misconduct Report Form is used to gather statistical data that the college is required to track and report. This does not include personally identifying information. This report does not automatically trigger a formal complaint or investigation. Click here for more information about reporting, or to file a report.
College Conduct System
You may choose to file a complaint with the Dean of Students to begin the investigation and conduct process. To file a complaint, discuss your options, or ask any questions about the process, contact the Dean of Students or the Sexual Misconduct Liaison. These conversations may require these individuals to file a non-identifying report of sexual misconduct (for federally-mandated record-keeping), but will not obligate you to begin the complaint process.
In cases where the alleged perpetrator is another Cornell student, student complaints will result in conduct charges being filed and investigated. Information describing the conduct process can be found in the Student Conduct Procedures section of the Compass, or by speaking with the Dean of Students, Sexual Misconduct Liaison, or one of the Conduct Process Consultants. Both the complainant and the accused will be informed of the outcome of any conduct action.
3. Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the Police
Criminal Justice System
You may choose to report sexual misconduct to the police as well as seek internal College support and/or conduct action. Staff who can assist with arranging an initial police contact in a neutral location include the Dean of Students, Sexual Misconduct Liaison, Residence Life staff, and on-call staff. While the College has no control over any police investigation and legal processes that may follow, College staff will continue to work with students to provide support.
Students who may have experienced sexual misconduct are encouraged to file a report or complaint with the College and/or the Police as soon after the incident as possible in order to facilitate gathering full reports and evidence, and to best ensure that witnesses are available for interviews.
How Family, Friends, Faculty, and Staff Can Help Survivors of Sexual Assault
Hearing about a sexual assault, especially of someone close to you, brings up many intense, uncomfortable feelings. The following guidelines could help you provide support:
- Listen non-judgmentally and give emotional support. Many sexual assault survivors blame themselves in some way. Assure the survivor that no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
- Maintain confidentiality unless you are required by a Cornell policy to report the information. If you are required to report it, tell the survivor of your requirement.
- Do not pressure or make unwanted decisions for the person who was assaulted.
- Separate your needs and how you think you would feel in this situation from what the person before you is needing and feeling.
- Don't ask questions that could be interpreted as blaming (e.g., "Why didn't you fight back?").
- Don't press for details. Let the survivor talk at his or her own pace.
- Make an appropriate referral to one of the resources listed in this brochure!
You Have Options
(What to do if you believe you have been affected by an incident of sexual assault or other sexual misconduct)
First and Foremost
Go to a safe place, with safe people (e.g., best friend's room, RA's or ADRL's room, Campus "safe room"). If you have been sexually assaulted, do not change clothes, bathe, shower, douche, urinate, defecate, or brush your teeth. It's understandable you may want to cleanse yourself, but first, think about reporting the assault.
Talk with someone you trust; talking will help you begin healing, and let people in your life know how to help you. A friend or trained professional (e.g., RA, Student Affairs staff member on call, Counselor) may be able to help you sort through your thoughts about reporting to the authorities. Also, members of TWRG are trained as sexual assault advocates and can be a private, safe peer resource (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The following flow chart outlines the three paths you may follow in seeking counseling and medical support, pursuing College conduct sanctions against a student, and/or reporting the incident to the police. None of the paths is mutually exclusive; you may pursue any or all forms of recourse.
If you believe you have been affected by sexual misconduct.
I. Obtaining Support
Choose this path when you would like to focus on emotional and physical healing related to your experience. Talking to one of the resource persons below does not constitute reporting sexual misconduct. However, support persons can help you explore options in case you choose to pursue conduct or criminal complaints.
On Campus Confidential Resources:
Off Campus Confidential Resources:
II. Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the College
Choose this path to report sexual misconduct to the College. You have two options:
1) Submit a Sexual Misconduct Report form or inform an RA, member of the Student Affairs professional staff, coach, faculty advisor to a student organization, or the College’s Sexual Misconduct Liaison.
2) File a complaint with the Dean of Students to begin the investigation and conduct process.
To file a complaint, discuss your options, or ask any questions about the process, contact the Dean of Students, x4234, Old Sem or the Sexual Misconduct Liaison, x4595 (Becki Elkins, Old Sem 1st Floor).
For more information on reporting and judicial procedures, see the complete Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Prompt reporting is crucial to help ensure full investigation of complaints.
III. Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the Police
Choose this path if you wish to report an assault and, possibly, pursue criminal prosecution. Again, this path is not exclusive; that is, you may seek support and file a College conduct complaint in addition to reporting to the police. The Dean of Students, Sexual Misconduct Liaison, Residence life staff, and on-call staff can help you arrange initial contact between you and the police. Once you report a crime to the police, however, the College has no control over the investigative and legal process that may result.
Mt. Vernon Police:
You can choose to call Campus Safety at x4299 for help in securing a crime scene, contacting necessary law enforcement, and/or contacting emergency medical aid. Calling Campus Safety will involve further contact with a College administrator representing Student Affairs.