Rights & Responsibilities  |  Resources & Definitions  |  Reporting Options  |  Other Reporting Issues

Cornell College affirms the rights of its students 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 is also committed to providing a safe environment for individuals whose capacity to provide effective consent is limited, such as minors, developmentally disabled persons, and vulnerable adults, by ensuring they are not subjected to sexual misconduct by members of the campus community. 

When sexual misconduct or inappropriate behaviors occur on campus, it affects our entire community. Because we care about the safety of our students and the climate of our community, we encourage you to communicate with us about your concerns – regardless of whether you believe any College policies have been violated. When we are well-informed about what is happening, we can make decisions to better support and protect our community. In addition, to encourage reporting, Cornell College has a Good Samaritan policy that  provides limited immunity to students who report problems involving the health and safety of other students from conduct charges for their own behaviors, such as underage drinking.

Rights and Responsibilities

In order to create a campus community that is safe for all members, you have the responsibility to:

  • Respond to campus officials in light of a report.

  • Respect the boundaries of others, including your partner, regarding sexual situations.

  • Create a community where acts of sexual misconduct are not tolerated.

All Cornell College students have the right to:

  • Have a safe community, free of sexual misconduct.

  • Have institutional support if victimized by or accused of sexual misconduct.

  • File a report alleging sexual misconduct.

Students who have experienced sexual misconduct have the right to:

  • Have their reports taken seriously.

  • Be treated with dignity.

  • Be provided with referrals to a Sexual Misconduct Liaison who can assist them in understanding and evaluating available options, both on and off campus.

  • Access counseling services, both on and off campus.

  • Assistance notifying the proper civil, criminal and administrative authorities, should they choose to do so.

  • Not be discouraged from reporting the incident.

  • Not be blamed, subtly or overtly, for what happened.

  • Reasonably feasible steps to prevent unnecessary or unwanted contact or proximity with the alleged assailant, including no-contact notices, alternate housing, rescheduling classes, and health withdrawals from classes.

  • The same rights as the accused in any campus conduct proceeding, including the right to a fair and timely hearing, to have a support person present during any hearing, to present evidence and to represent themselves.

  • Be notified promptly of the outcome of any campus conduct proceeding.

  • The same rights to appeal as the accused.

Students who have been accused of sexual misconduct have the right to:

  • To have reports taken seriously.

  • Be treated with dignity.

  • Be provided with referrals to a Student Conduct Consultant who can assist them in understanding student conduct processes and identifying available resources.

  • Access counseling services, both on and off campus.

  • Reasonably feasible steps to prevent unnecessary or unwanted contact or proximity with the student filing the report, including no-contact notices, alternate housing, rescheduling classes, and health withdrawals from classes.

  • The same rights as the student filing the report in any campus conduct proceeding, including the right to a fair and timely hearing, to have a support person present during any hearing, to present evidence and to represent themselves.

  • Be notified promptly of the outcome of any campus conduct proceeding.

  • The same rights to appeal as the student filing the report.

Resources and Definitions

Resources

If you have been the victim of sexual misconduct, please follow this link to resources provided by the Cornell College Counseling Center. The information includes both on campus and off-campus resources, as well as information about how to help a friend if who has been sexually victimized. If you need immediate assistance, please contact Campus Safety at 319-895-4299. Cornell College's Sexual Misconduct Liaison is a member of the College staff outside the Dean of Students’ office and conduct system. This person can provide support and information about resources and reporting options without initiating any formal investigation or complaint.You can also contact the Dean of Students directly for information about resources and to file a report or complaint.

Definitions

Consent: Consent is given when a fully informed, mentally capable person freely chooses to participate in a mutually agreed upon sexual activity through mutually understandable words or actions. Consent to sexual activity can be communicated in a variety of ways but one should assume that consent has not been given until both parties have clearly agreed to the sexual act. This consent can be withdrawn at any point during the sexual experience. 

Consent is not given if it results from the use of physical force, intimidation, or coercion. A person cannot give consent if incapacitated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol so as to lack the necessary judgment to give consent to sexual activity. Silence or non-communication should never be interpreted as consent.

Sex while Incapacitated: To have sex with someone whom you know to be, or should know to be, incapable of making a rational, reasonable decision due to his or her consumption of substances is a violation of policy. If you choose to drink alcohol or use other drugs, you run the risk of impaired thinking and communication, which may result in inappropriate choices about sex.

Sexual Assault: Any sexual act perpetrated against another person without his or her consent. This includes rape, attempted rape, or any kind of unwanted touching of a sexual nature. Sexual assault can be committed by strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; or other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when such conduct substantially interferes with a student’s living, studying, or working conditions or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Repeatedly following or stalking someone, either in person or via electronic means (e.g., email, text messages), can constitute sexual harassment. For a complete definition, click here.

Dating/Domestic Violence: Any violent act perpetrated against a person by someone who is a romantic/intimate relationship partner, including a current or former spouse. According to the federal Violence Against Women Act, dating and domestic violence may constitute hate crimes.

Stalking: Stalking is a form of sexual harassment and may include, but is not limited to, repeatedly following a person; persistent attempts to contact the person by phone, electronic communication, or regular mail; vandalizing the person’s property or leaving unwanted items for the person; and/or constantly appearing at the person’s classroom, residence, or workplace without permission. According to the federal Violence Against Women Act, stalking may constitute a hate crime.

Sexual Exploitation: Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes non-consensual, unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her advantage, benefit or pleasure, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited. Examples of conduct that may constitute sexual exploitation include going beyond the boundaries of consent (e.g., non-consensual video-taping of sexual activity or letting your friends surreptitiously watch you having consensual sex) and engaging in peeping tommery.

Sexual Misconduct Report: Any member of the campus community who has had an experience they believe may constitute an act of sexual misconduct or who has knowledge of such an act is encouraged to report it via one of the means outlined below. A report does not by itself trigger college conduct proceedings nor does it lead to legal proceedings. A report notifies the Dean of Students that an act of sexual misconduct may have occurred and allows the college to maintain statistical data regarding sexual misconduct. 

Sexual Misconduct Complaint: The filing of a complaint is the first step in the filing of conduct charges against a Cornell student. The process is more fully described here. Students who believe they have been victims of sexual misconduct and would like to discuss their options or get more information are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students or the Sexual Assault Liaison.  

Mandatory Reporting: Colleges and universities are expected to maintain statistical information on campus-related crimes, including incidents of sexual misconduct. Non-identifying information is compiled over the academic year for purposes of reporting crime statistics to the federal government as well as making campus safety information available to members of the campus community, prospective students, and parents. Some members of the Cornell community are required to report – using non-identifying information – incidents of sexual misconduct. These individuals include the Dean of Students, Residence Life and Student Life administrators, Resident Assistants (RAs), Peer Advocates (PAs), Campus Safety, coaches, and faculty advisors to student organizations. For more information on confidentiality related to reported sexual misconduct go to the section on Confidentiality.

Reporting Options

Students who have experienced an incident they think involves sexual misconduct – including sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or sexual exploitation – may report the incident using any one or combination of the options below.

Submit a Sexual Misconduct Report Form

You may inform the College about sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, sexual exploitation, or other form of sexual misconduct by personally submitting a Sexual Misconduct Report form or by informing a Resident Assistant, a member of the Student Affairs professional staff, a 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 the statistical information which the college is required to track and report. This does not include personally identifying information. Employees of the college (with the exception of those who offer full confidentiality) who are informed of an instance of student sexual misconduct should also complete this form.

More information about filing a sexual misconduct report is available on the Report FAQ page. To file a report click here.

Start the Complaint Process

You may choose to file a complaint for violation of Cornell’s Sexual Misconduct policy. This complaint will start the investigation and conduct process. Conduct proceedings provide a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution. Proceedings are conducted by officials who receive annual training on issues related to sexual assault, harassment, dating violence and stalking, and on how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability.

More information about the complaint process is available on the Complaint FAQ page.

Report to the Police

You may choose at any time to pursue an external complaint of sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, or sexual exploitation). This process can happen separately from the Cornell Complaint Process – and can occur simultaneously or sequentially. 

Students who may have experienced sexual misconduct and wish to file a police report are encouraged to contact 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. More information about reporting to the police can be found on the Police FAQ page.

Other Reporting Issues

Confidentiality

College staff involved in all aspects of responding to sexual misconduct reports and complaints will maintain confidentiality to the fullest extent possible. Most members of the Student Affairs staff (including Resident Assistants) are required to inform the Dean of Students of reports of sexual misconduct; however these reports will not include the names of any students involved unless those students wish to have that information shared. College staff who provide complete confidentiality are the college Chaplain and Counseling Center staff. In investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct, the college cannot guarantee the student’s complete confidentiality. For example, during an investigation it is possible that the accused person may infer the identity of the possible victim of sexual misconduct, or in a college-initiated proceeding the accused student(s) will need to know the identity of the alleged victim(s) of sexual misconduct.

College-Initiated Investigations

Individuals filing a report should recognize that, even without the cooperation of the person who files the report, College officials may have a duty to investigate an allegation of sexual misconduct to the fullest extent possible in order to maintain the safety of the Cornell campus community. Situations in which such an investigation might proceed could include cases where multiple students have reported assaults perpetrated by the same individual or other conditions indicating a high risk of further assaults occurring.

Group Infractions

When members of a student group, team or organization or individuals acting as a group act in concert in violation of the sexual misconduct policy, they may be charged as a group, and a hearing may proceed against the group as joint respondents. Sanctions would be individually determined based on each person’s involvement and level of responsibility for the incident, and may also be applied to the student group, team, or organization.

Other Policy Violations

Sometimes, students are hesitant to report sexual misconduct to college officials because they fear that they themselves may be charged with policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. The college will not pursue conduct action for underage alcohol use against an alleged victim of sexual misconduct or against another student who shares information about alleged sexual misconduct as long as the report is made in good faith. The college has developed Good Samaritan guidelines to encourage the reporting and assistance of witnesses who may have also engaged in behaviors that were in violation of college policies.

Retaliation Prohibited

Retaliation against a person who reports, is accused of, or participates in an investigation of sexual misconduct, or against their family or friends, is strictly prohibited. Retaliation may involve behaviors such as defacing someone’s property, harassing or threatening them. These actions are violations of student conduct policy and may result in additional conduct charges and sanctions. Acts of retaliation should be reported to the Dean of Students. Acts of retaliation may also violate state and federal laws.

False reporting

Cornell College will not tolerate intentional false reporting of sexual misconduct. It is a violation of college policy to make an intentionally false report of sexual misconduct, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.

Approved by Student Life Committee, May, 2011.