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 9/2017, last review 8/2019

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.

Cornell College Student Sexual Misconduct Policy

Cornell College affirms the rights of its community members to live, study, and work in an environment free from all forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating/relationship violence, sexual exploitation, sexual manipulation, and/or stalking. As a community we are committed to maintaining a standard of conduct that creates an environment of trust, care, and respect. Our community prohibits sexual misconduct and treats violations of this policy as serious violations of the standards of conduct, and sexual misconduct will not be tolerated.

Cornell College defines "sexual misconduct" as including sexual violence, rape, sexual assault (any non-consensual sexual contact or behavior), domestic violence, dating/relationship violence, sexual exploitation, sexual manipulation, stalking, and sexual harassment. Sexual misconduct includes a variety of behaviors, such as unwanted sexual touching, unwanted sexual penetration, engaging in sexual acts with someone who is incapacitated, pervasive and unwelcome comments or jokes of a sexual nature, and engaging in voyeurism.

"Consent" includes mutually understandable words or actions that convey a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. There is no consent when sexual contact results from force, threat, coercion, or intimidation. There is no consent when sexual contact is with a person who is unable to give consent, say "no," or otherwise resist for any reason, including incapacitation due to alcohol or drugs, because the person is asleep or unconscious, is disabled, or has other mental or physical conditions. Silence, non-communication, or lack of resistance should never be interpreted as consent.


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

Reporting Options
You have choices for informing the College of sexual misconduct. You may personally submit a Sexual Misconduct Report form anonymously or with identifying information. Information in the Sexual Misconduct Report Form is used to gather statistical data that the college is required to track and report. This report may not automatically trigger a formal complaint or investigation.
     You may choose to inform a College employee (faculty or staff member) of sexual misconduct; College employees must report to the Dean of Students all information they receive about suspected sexual misconduct, including names.
      For more information about reporting, or to file a report, click here.

College Conduct System
You may choose to file a complaint with the Dean of Students to begin the investigation and conduct process. In cases where the respondent (i.e., accused individual) is a member of the Cornell College community, complaints will result in the respondent being notified of the allegation, and an investigation being conducted. More information can be found in the Investigation and Adjudication of Sexual Misconduct Reports and Complaints section of the full Sexual Misconduct Policy or by speaking with the Dean of Students. Both the complainant and the respondent will be informed in writing of the outcome.

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 include the Dean of Students, 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-judgmental 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 their 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, 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 others know how to help. A friend, RA, PA, Student Affairs staff member on call, TWRG advocate, Counselor, etc., may be able to help you sort through your options for support and reporting. Be aware most College employees are required to report the assault (see full policy).

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 are 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.

Medical help is important to: 1) ensure you are physically okay, 2) preserve evidence in case you want to report the crime, and 3) protect you from the possibility of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. It is ideal to get medical care immediately following a sexual assault. You have up to 72 hours after an assault to take prophylactic medication to prevent pregnancy or some infections and have physical evidence collected. Note that hospitals may alert a law enforcement agency of a reported sexual assault. An officer may ask you to file a report, which you may decline to do.

On Campus Fully Confidential Resources:
These persons are not required to report sexual misconduct to anyone.

  • Counselors at the Counseling Center, 319-895-4292
  • Chaplain of the College, 319-895-4402
  • Nurses at the Health Center, 319-895-4292 -nurses must report only if you are a minor
  • TWRG/The Cottage Advocates, 319-895-4299

Off Campus Confidential Resources:

  • Riverview Center Sexual Assault Hotline,
  • Waypoint Domestic Violence Hotline,
    319-363-2093 or 800-208-0388
  • Rape Victim Advocacy Program,
    319-335-6000 or 800-284-7821
  • Foundation II Crisis Line, 319-362-2174 or 800-332-4224
  • Emma Goldman Clinic, 319-337-2111 or 800-848-7684
  • Hospital ERs (no need to call ahead):
    • Mercy Medical Center, 319-398-6041
    • Unity Point Health St. Luke's Hospital, 319-369-7105
    • Univ. of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics,
    • VA Medical Center (Iowa City), 319-338-0581
II. Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the College

Choose this path to report sexual misconduct to the College. You have options:

1) File a complaint with the Dean of Students to begin the investigation and conduct process

2) Submit a Sexual Misconduct Report form

3) Inform an RA, PA, member of the Student Affairs professional staff, coach, or faculty member

To file a complaint, discuss your options, or ask any questions about the process, contact the Dean of Students, 319-895-4234, Old Sem.

For more information on reporting and conduct 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, 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 the College has no control over the investigative and legal processes that may result.

Mt. Vernon Police:

  • Emergency, 911 (9-911 from campus)
  • Non-emergency, 319-895-6141

Campus Safety

You can choose to call Campus Safety at x4299 (319-895-4299) for help in securing a crime scene, contacting necessary law enforcement and emergency medical aid, and/or access to a campus "safe room". Campus Safety may also contact a College administrator representing Student Affairs.