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 1/2015
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 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 Consent can be withdrawn at any time.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 the effects of 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.
The Sexual Misconduct Liaison is a College staff member whose role is to provide support and information about resources and reporting options to students who have experienced sexual misconduct, without initiating any formal investigation or complaint. The Liaison must file reports but may do so anonymously if you prefer.
2. Reporting Sexual Misconduct to the College
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 does not automatically trigger a formal complaint or investigation.
You may choose to inform a college employee of sexual misconduct; RAs, Student Affairs professional staff, coaches, and faculty members must report all information they receive about suspected sexual misconduct, including names.
You may report to the College’s Sexual Misconduct Liaison, who may submit the report anonymously if you prefer.
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 alleged perpetrator is a member of the Cornell College community, complaints will result in conduct or disciplinary charges being filed and investigated. Information describing the conduct process 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 or the Sexual Misconduct Liaison. Both the complainant and the respondent (i.e., accused individual) will be informed in writing of the outcome of an investigation.
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-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 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.
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 Fully 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 options:
1) Submit a Sexual Misconduct Report form
3) Inform the College’s Sexual Misconduct Liaison
4) 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, 319-895-4234, Old Sem, or the Sexual Misconduct Liaison, 319-895-4162 (Sharon Grice, Peter Paul Luce Admissions Center). 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 (319-895-4299) for help in securing a crime scene, contacting necessary law enforcement, and/or contacting emergency medical aid. Campus Safety may also contact a College administrator representing Student Affairs.