How to report incidents & reporting options

Importance of Reporting Sexual Misconduct 

The University strongly encourages students who have knowledge of, who have witnessed, or who have experienced sexual misconduct firsthand to report what occurred—both in order to get the support they need and to enable the University to respond appropriately. Under Title IX, once an institution has notice of an act of sexual misconduct, it is required to (1) take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate what occurred; and (2) take prompt and effective action to (a) end any misconduct that occurred; (b) remedy its effects; and (c) prevent its recurrence. Although there is no time limit for the filing of a report of sexual misconduct, the University’s ability to respond effectively may be compromised by the passage of time between the occurrence of an incident and the filing of a report.

Reports can be submitted electronically or in person. Electronic submissions are sent to the Dean of Students Office and copied to the Title IX Coordinator and Sewanee Police Department. In person reports can be made to the Title IX coordinator, deans of students, and/or deans at the School of Theology. Students studying abroad can report to any of the above; however, such reports should also be made to the study abroad program leader.

The Title IX Coordinator at the University of the South is Dr. Sylvia Gray (931.598.1420, Woods Lab 138, smgray@sewanee.edu or titleix@sewanee.edu). Dr. Gray is charged with monitoring compliance with these laws and regulations. Questions regarding Title IX, as well as concerns and reports of non-compliance, may be directed to her.

Important Notices Aimed to Improve Reporting

  1. Alcohol and other drug violations disclosed in a report of sexual misconduct: The University community supports and encourages the reporting of University policy violations, especially sexual misconduct. Sometimes reporters or witnesses are hesitant to report to University officials or participate in grievance processes because they fear that they themselves may be charged with policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interest of this community that as many reporters as possible choose to report to University officials and that witnesses come forward to share what they know. To encourage reporting, the University pursues a policy of offering reporters of sexual misconduct and witnesses reasonable immunity from being charged for policy violations related to the sexual misconduct incident.

  2. Other forms of amnesty: Similarly, the University encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help a friend make a sexual misconduct report to a Dean or the Sewanee Police for fear of being charged with a policy or legal violation). The University pursues a policy of amnesty for students who offer help to others in need.

  3. Protection from Retaliation. As noted above, retaliationagainst any person or another student for any reason is a violation considered under the University’s “failure to comply” policy. In cases of sexual misconduct, “retaliation” includes intimidation, threats, harassment, and other adverse action threatened or taken against any reporter, respondent, or other persons participating in the conduct process. Retaliation should be reported promptly to the Dean of Students or can be reported to the Title IX Coordinator in cases of sexual misconduct.

Reporting to Police in the Aftermath of Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct may constitute a criminal offense as well as a violation of this policy. Students are urged to report sexual violence immediately to the police, in addition to the University. The police have legal power to issue search warrants to collect forensic evidence, and are also able to assist students in obtaining a court order of protection. Students may contact the police in one of two ways: (1) they can dial 911 for immediate emergency assistance or report directly to the Sewanee Police Department, by calling x1111, or (2) if they seek medical attention at any of the emergency or crisis contact numbers, by asking an employee to call the police on their behalf. The Dean of Students’ staff can arrange and/or attend a meeting between students and the police for purposes of filing a report.

Incidents that occur on-campus fall within the jurisdiction of the Sewanee Police Department.

Criminal investigations are separate and independent from University investigations. If a student has filed a University report, the University will attempt to coordinate its investigation with that of the police to the extent possible. The University may delay its investigation temporarily while a law enforcement agency is gathering evidence so as not to interfere with their investigation, but the University will not wait for the conclusion of a criminal investigation or criminal proceedings before commencing (or completing) its own investigation. It is also important to remember that the definition of sexual misconduct under this policy and under the related criminal statutes are not the same, and that the burden of proof for a finding of responsibility under University policy—a “preponderance of the evidence”—is lower than the burden of proof for a finding of guilt under criminal law—“beyond a reasonable doubt.” For these reasons, the outcome of any criminal investigation will not determine the outcome of any proceedings under this policy or vice versa.

Protective Orders. If an alleged perpetrator represents an ongoing threat to the health or safety of a reporter of sexual misconduct, it may be possible for the reporter to obtain a court-ordered emergency or preliminary protective order. These orders are temporary, and they may be issued if the judge believes that there is an immediate threat to health or safety. Later, after a full hearing, the court may agree to issue a “permanent” protective order in appropriate cases.  Protective orders are separate and distinct from no-contact orders. Protective orders may be obtained only from a court of law, and their violation may result in criminal charges. No-contact orders may be obtained directly from Dean of Students and are enforceable through the University code of conduct.

Reporting Options

The University supports two types of reportsanonymous and identifiable.

  1. Anonymous Reports: Reporters (other than University employees required to report) may report alleged sexual misconduct anonymously online by omitting their name and contact information. In the case of anonymous reporting, the University will not be able to contact reporters to obtain further information about the incident or to offer information, support, and/or interim measures. In addition, the University’s ability to respond to the report will be limited to the information provided. The University nevertheless encourages reporting of sexual misconduct, even anonymous reporting, and will make such use of the reported information as circumstances may allow.

  2. Identifiable Reports: The University will preliminarily investigate all identifiable reports of sexual misconduct. Representatives from the Dean of Students office and the Sewanee Police Department will promptly reach outto the reporter (or the involved student, if the reporter is not the student directly affected by the conduct) to advise them as to their University and legal options. They will obtain additional information about the reported incident, if available, and offer support, assistance and, where appropriate, interim measures to address any immediate concerns for the safety of involved persons and/or the University community.

Requests for Confidentiality
If the reporter requests confidentiality—e.g., requests that the information contained in the report be maintained confidentially, that no investigation be conducted, and/or that no disciplinary action be taken—the Dean will consult with the Title IX Coordinator for further evaluation.

  1. The University will attempt to honor the reporter’s request if it can do so without compromising the safety of the reporter, third parties identified in the report, or the broader University community. In order to make this determination, the University will weigh the request for confidentiality against the University’s obligation to provide a safe, nondiscriminatory environment for the entire University community.

  2. When evaluating a request for confidentiality, the investigator and Title IX Coordinator will meet to consider a range of factors listed below that could provide evidence of increased risk that the alleged perpetrator will commit additional acts of sexual misconduct or other misconduct. The presence of one or more of these factors could lead the University to determine that it should investigate the incident and, if appropriate, pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator by means of an Administrative Report initiated by the Dean. Factors include but are not limited to:

    • whether there have been other sexual misconduct reports about the same alleged perpetrator;

    • whether the alleged perpetrator has a history of arrests or records from a prior school indicating a history of engaging in sexual misconduct;

    • whether the alleged perpetrator threatened further sexual misconduct or other misconduct against the reporter or others;

    • whether the sexual misconduct was committed by multiple perpetrators;

    • whether the sexual misconduct was perpetrated with a weapon;

    • whether the reporter is a minor (under the age of legal consent);

    • whether the University possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence of the alleged sexual misconduct (e.g., security cameras or personnel, physical evidence);

    • whether the report reveals a pattern of perpetration (e.g., via illicit use of drugs or alcohol) at a given location or by a particular group; and/or

    • whether there is any other evidence suggesting predatory behavior by the alleged perpetrator(s).

  3. If the University honors a request for confidentiality the reporter should understand that the University’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator may be severely compromised. The University may nevertheless take steps to limit the effects of the alleged sexual misconduct and prevent its recurrence without undermining the request for confidentiality by, for example, increasing monitoring, supervision and/or security at locations or activities where the sexual misconduct was alleged to have occurred; providing training and education for students and employees; and revising and publicizing the University’s policy on sexual misconduct.

  4. If the University cannot honor a request for confidentiality, the University will share the reported information only with (1) those individuals who are charged with handling the University’s response, and (2) those individuals with whom the University must share information in order to conduct an effective investigation and/or implement an effective response so as to address any threat to the safety of the University community. In any case, the University will inform the reporter, in advance, how the University intends to proceed, with whom the reported information will be shared, and whether and to what extent the reporter’s identity can be protected.

Note on False Reports: The University will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of the Honor Code to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.