|Responsible University Administrator:||President|
|Responsible Officer:||Title IX Coordinator|
|Current Revision Date:||02/13/19|
|Next Review Date:||05/02/22|
|End of Policy Date:||NA|
The University of Southern Mississippi prohibits sexual misconduct in any form, including sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and intimate partner violence. This policy describes prohibited sexual conduct, establishes procedures for responding to reports of sexual misconduct, and provides information on the resources available to the campus community.
The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to fostering and maintaining a safe and healthy academic, work, and living environment in which no member of the University community is discriminated against on the basis of sex, gender or gender identity, and sexual orientation in any University program or activity. Sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination and is inconsistent with the standards and ideals of our community. This policy is designed to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory academic, work, and living environment and to meet state and federal requirements under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and relevant sections of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
All members of the University community. This includes students, faculty, staff, vendors, independent contractors, and visitors.
|Coercion||Unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. (see section 4.3)|
|Consent||A clear, informed, and voluntary agreement/exchange between participants to engage in sexual activity. (see section 4.1)|
|Force||The use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. (see section 4.2)|
|Incapacitation||Occurs when a person cannot make rational, reasonable decisions due to alcohol, drugs, unconsciousness, or cognitive disability because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent. (see section 4.4)|
|Intimate Partner Violence||Actual or threatened physical violence, intimidation, or other forms of physical or sexual abuse in a marriage, dating relationship, or domestic partnership that would cause a reasonable person to fear harm to self or others. (see section 3.6)|
|Non-consensual intentional sexual contact (or attempts to commit same)||Any intentional sexual touching with any object, by any person upon another, without consent, and/or by force, intimidation, coercion, or incapacitation. (see section 3.3.2)|
|Non-consensual sexual intercourse (or attempts to commit same)||Any sexual intercourse, however slight, by any person or object upon another without consent, and/or by force, intimidation, coercion, or incapacitation. (see section 3.3.1)|
|Retaliation||Any adverse action or threat taken against an individual for filing a complaint of sexual misconduct, serving as a witness, or for participating in the investigation or resolution process. (see section 6.0)|
|Sexual exploitation||Behavior which occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for their own advantage or benefit or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. (see section 3.4)|
|Sexual harassment||Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (e.g. sexual advances, requests for sexual favors etc.) when: (1) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive, and objectively offensive to a reasonable person that it produces a hostile environment or (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of a person’s academic standing or employment or is used as the basis for academic or work evaluation. (see section 3.1)|
|Sexual misconduct||A broad, non-legal, umbrella term to describe any non-consensual behavior of a sexual nature. This term includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation. (see section 3.0)|
|Stalking||A course of unwanted conduct (two or more instances) directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for personal, or others’ safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress i.e. significant mental suffering/anguish. (see section 3.5)|
The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to fostering and maintaining a community environment that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every person, regardless of sex, race, religion, national origin, age, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status. All members of the University community share a responsibility to create and maintain an academic and work environment which promotes the respect, safety, and dignity of each person. The University prohibits sex and gender discrimination and sexual misconduct in any form. This includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, or intimate partner violence. Criminal, civil, and University disciplinary processes may be available to any University member with a complaint and enforced against a person found to have engaged in the prohibited behavior. The University is committed to fair and prompt procedures to investigate reports of sexual misconduct. Special emphasis is placed on the rights, needs, and privacy of the person filing a complaint, as well as the due process rights of the accused. The University remains committed in preventing and addressing all forms of sexual misconduct through education, training, clear policies and procedures, and disciplinary consequences for University violations.
1.0.1 The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for Title IX implementation and compliance with this policy with respect to sexual discrimination and sexual misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the University’s response to, and investigation of all complaints involving possible sex discrimination and sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence. For more information or to report sex or gender discrimination and sexual misconduct, contact the Title IX Office using the information listed below:Title IX Coordinator Rebecca Malley, Ph.D. Hattiesburg Campus, Cook Library, Room 129 118 College Drive # 5079 Hattiesburg, MS 39406 Telephone: 601.266.6804 or rebecca.malleyFREEMississippi
A Title IX representative is also available to consult with coastal students and employees on the Gulf Park campus at the following address:Hardy Hall 332 730 Beach Blvd E, Long Beach, MS 39560 Phone: 601.266.6804
1.0.2 The University will make this policy readily available to all members of the University community. In addition, the University provides periodic education to students and employees regarding this policy through the following offices:Title IX Office (Hattiesburg campus) Cook Library Rm. 129 118 College Drive, #5079 Hattiesburg, MS 39406 Phone: 601.266.6804 University Police Department (Hattiesburg campus) Bond Hall (ground floor) 118 College Drive, #5061 Hattiesburg, MS 39406 Phone: 601.266.4986 University Police Department (Gulf Park campus) 212 Bear Pointe Drive Long Beach, MS 39507 Phone: 601.266.4986 Human Resources McLemore Hall 307 118 College Drive, #5111 Hattiesburg, MS 39406 Phone: 601.266.4050 Compliance and Ethics Office International Center 505 118 College Drive, #5079 Hattiesburg, MS 39406 Phone: 601-266-4466 Dean of Students Office R.C. Cook University Union 118 College Drive, #5204 Hattiesburg, MS 39406 Phone: 601.266.6028
This policy applies to sexual misconduct that is committed by students, faculty, staff, or third parties, whenever the misconduct occurs:
2.0.1 On University property:
This includes geographic confines of the University, including land, institutional roads and buildings, its leased premises, common areas at leased premises, the property, facilities and leased premises of organizations affiliated with the University, such as University housing, and university-recognized housing; or
2.0.2 Off University property, if the conduct:
Occurs during University-sponsored events (e.g. field trips, social functions, including student organizations events, University-related travel, study abroad program, student recruitment activities, and service learning/internship experiences).
May have the effect of creating a hostile environment or posing a threat to the University community.
As used in this policy, sexual misconduct is a broad, non-legal, umbrella term used to refer to a wide range of non-consensual and unwelcomed behaviors of a sexual nature. Sexual misconduct varies in its nature and severity. Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, sex/gender discrimination, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and intimate partner violence. Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers, acquaintances, or persons who know each other well, including between people who are or have been involved in an intimate/sexual relationship. It can be committed by anyone, regardless of sex or gender, and can occur between people of the same or different sex or gender. This policy prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct. What follows is a description and examples of the wide range of behaviors that fall under the term “sexual misconduct.”
Sexual misconduct offenses that are prohibited include, but are not limited to:
- Sexual harassment
- Gender-based harassment
- Sexual assault (non-consensual sexual intercourse and non-consensual intentional sexual contact)
- Sexual exploitation
- Intimate partner violence
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
3.1.2 Such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive, and objectively offensive to a reasonable person that it interferes with, denies or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University education or work programs or activities (hostile environment); or
3.1.3 Is based on power differentials. This exists when submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of a person’s academic standing or employment or is used as the basis for academic or work evaluation, grades, advancement, or other employment decisions (quid pro quo).
3.1.4 Retaliatory harassment is defined as any adverse action taken against a person participating in a protected activity (e.g. Title IX process) because of the person’s participation in that protected activity. Retaliation can occur against the alleged victim by the accused or by the accused’s friends or acquaintances. Retaliation can also be directed toward third parties (e.g. witnesses) because of their participation in the process or because of their support for an involved party.
3.1.5 Some examples of prohibited sexual harassment include:
- Repeated sexual requests toward a person who has indicated the behavior is unwelcome.
- Lewd or sexually suggestive comments, gestures, jokes, or innuendos.
- Commenting about or inappropriately touching a person’s body.
- Repeatedly telling “dirty” jokes in class or in the office.
- Professors insisting that students have sex with them for a good grade.
- Explicit sexual pictures are displayed in a staff member’s office or on the exterior of a residence hall door.
- An instructor request that students share their sexual history and fantasies in class discussions, yet the conversation is not in any way germane to the subject matter of the class. The instructor probes for explicit details, and requires that students respond, though they are clearly uncomfortable.
3.1.6 Whether sexual harassment is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to violate the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy may depend on multiple factors. Not all inappropriate or unwanted sexual conduct is sexual harassment. Whether the unwanted sexual conduct rises to the level of creating a hostile environment will be determined using both a subjective and objective standard. However, a person should not be discouraged from reporting unwelcome sexual conduct simply because they are not certain whether it is severe, persistent, or pervasive, or objectively offensive enough to constitute a policy violation. That is a determination for the University’s Title IX Coordinator to make. A person reporting sexual harassment will never be disciplined or retaliated against for any report made in good faith.
Gender-based harassment includes harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. This may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature. Such conduct must be sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive, and objectively offensive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s academic or work programs. For example, gender-based harassment can occur if students are harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity. In order to constitute harassment, the conduct must be such that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with the student’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive academic or living environment.
Sexual assault includes sexual penetration or intercourse or any other intentional physical contact of a sexual nature that occurs without consent. Sexual assault also includes attempted physical sexual contact without consent, as well as attempts to induce sexual activity via direct threats of physical violence, even where no physical contact ultimately occurs. Under the University’s Sexual Misconduct policy, sexual assault offenses that are prohibited include:
3.3.1 Non-consensual sexual intercourse (or attempts to commit same):
Any sexual intercourse, however slight, by any person upon another without consent and/or by force. It includes oral, anal, and vaginal penetration, to any degree, with any object or body part (i.e. penis, finger, tongue). Intercourse includes vaginal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object; anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger; and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.
3.3.2 Non-consensual intentional sexual contact (or attempts to commit same):
Any intentional sexual touching with any object, however slight, by any person upon another, without consent and/or by force. This includes intentional contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch the offender or themselves with or on any of these body parts.
Sexual exploitation occurs when a person takes sexual advantage of another person for personal benefit or to benefit another person other than the one being exploited, but does not involve actual or attempted physical contact.
Some examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:
- Recording images, video, or audio of another person engaged in sexual activity or in a state of undress without that person’s consent, even if the sexual activity itself is consensual
- Sharing or forwarding photographs, video, or audio of another person engaged in sexual activity or in a state of undress—or threatening to distribute the same—without the person’s knowledge and consent
- Invasion of sexual privacy. Viewing another person engaged in sexual activity or in nudity in a location where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person’s consent and for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire
- Allowing others to observe consensual sex without obtaining consent of all parties
- Knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection/disease or HIV to another person
- Sexually-based stalking and/or bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation
- Exposing one’s genitals to another person without their consent
- Prostituting another person
- Administering alcohol or drugs to another person for the purpose of making that person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity
Stalking is defined as a course of conduct involving more than one instance of unwanted attention, harassment, unwanted physical or verbal contact, use of threatening words and/or conduct, or any other course of conduct directed at an individual that could cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, including physical, emotional, or psychological harm or distress. Stalking violates Title IX when it is undertaken, at least in part, based on sex or gender.
Some examples of stalking include, but are not limited to:
- Physically following or pursuing a person against their wishes
- Following the person to work, class, home, or other places where they frequently visit
- Vandalizing a person’s property
- Photographing a person without their consent; and other threatening, intimidating, or intrusive behavior
- Sending repeated, unwanted messages electronically (cyberstalking), by mail, a mutual friend, or by other means, even after the person it is directed to request that the unwanted attention and communication stop
Intimate partner violence or relationship violence is defined as actual or threatened physical violence, intimidation, or other forms of physical or sexual abuse that would cause a reasonable person to fear harm to self or others. Under this policy, the term “intimate partner” refers to marriage, domestic partnership, dating relationship, casual, or serious romantic involvement, whether the relationship is current or not.
Some examples of intimate partner violence include, but are not limited to:
- Hitting, kicking, punching, strangling, or other violence
- Property damage
- Threat of violence to one’s self, one’s partner, family members, friends, pets, or personal property of the partner
Consent is defined as a clear, informed, and voluntary agreement/exchange between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be communicated by words or actions as long as those words or actions are unambiguous and create mutually understandable permission regarding the scope of sexual contact or activity. Although consent can be communicated with actions, verbal communication is the most reliable form of asking for and gauging consent. Therefore, persons are encouraged to seek consent via verbal communication.
4.1.1 Consent is ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time by words and/or actions that clearly demonstrate that the person no longer voluntary agrees to participate. Consent is active, not passive. Silence does not imply consent. The absence of resistance does not imply that consent was freely given. In addition, past consent to sexual activity with another person does not imply future consent with that same person or same sexual activity. Lastly, in order to give consent, the person must be of legal age.
4.1.2 There is no consent when there is force, expressed or implied, or when coercion, intimidation, threats, or duress is used. Whether a person has taken advantage of a position of influence over another person may be a factor in determining consent.
Force is the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats), and coercion that overcome resistance.
Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. When someone makes it clear that they do not want to participate in sexual activity, that they want to stop participating, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive.
There is no consent if a person is mentally or physically incapacitated due to drug or alcohol consumption, voluntarily or involuntarily, or if the person is unconscious, asleep, or otherwise unaware that sexual interaction/activity is happening. It also includes instances in which a person lacks the required understanding due to medical conditions, cognitive disabilities, or other disabilities.
4.4.1 Persons who are incapacitated cannot make rational and reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent. They cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity/interaction.
4.4.2 Engaging in sexual activity with someone who one should know to be—or based on the circumstances should reasonably have known to be—mentally or physically incapacitated by alcohol/drug use, unconsciousness, or cognitive disability, constitutes a violation of this policy.
4.4.3 Possession, use, and/or distribution of date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, Burundanga etc. is prohibited, and administering any of these drugs to another is also a violation of this policy.
4.4.4 Some signs of incapacitation may include, but are not limited to:
- Shaky equilibrium (e.g. stumbling, falling down)
- Slurred speech
- The inability to speak or communicate verbally
- Lack of awareness of circumstances/surroundings
- Bloodshot eyes
- Outrageous/ unusual behavior or unconsciousness
The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to creating an environment that encourages campus community members to come forward if they have experienced any form of sexual misconduct. The University will work to safeguard the identities and privacy of those who seek help or who report sexual misconduct. However, it is important to understand the limits of confidentiality. Different people, depending on their positions at the University, have different obligations with regard to confidentiality. Generally, confidentiality applies when an individual seeks services from local rape crisis centers, including The Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention on the Hattiesburg Campus, and the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence near the Gulf Park campus or USM’s Student Counseling Services. For a more detailed description on confidentiality, refer to Section 4.0 in the University’s Procedures for The Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct.
A variety of support and counseling resources are available to those individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct. This information is provided in Appendix A in the University’s Procedures for the Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct. However, listed below is a description and contact information for a select few.
Student Counseling Services: Student Counseling Services provide quality services to students by promoting sound mental health and the coping skills necessary for successful pursuit of their educational and life goals.
Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention: A 24-hour, 7 days per week, campus and community-based center that serves all survivors of sexual violence and co-victims of violent death, including homicide and suicide through direct services, counseling, advocacy, education, and training. The Shafer Center serves the Hattiesburg Campus.
Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence: A 24-hour, 7 days per week, nonprofit organization based in South Mississippi, with a mission to support and serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and family members of homicide victims through counseling, advocacy, education, and training. This Center serves the Gulf Coast campuses.
Retaliation is defined as any adverse action or threat taken against an individual for filing a complaint of sexual misconduct, serving as a witness, or for participating in the investigation or resolution process. The University strictly prohibits retaliation. This includes any form of intimidation, threats, harassment, or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from participating in protected activity, such as reporting sexual misconduct, seeking services, or receiving interim measures and accommodations. Retaliating against a person for participating in protected activity is a basis for disciplinary action, regardless of the outcome of the underlying complaint. Complaints of retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator.
The University also prohibits an individual from knowingly filing a false complaint or making misrepresentations of sexual misconduct. Filing a deliberately false complaint or providing false information in bad faith is grounds for disciplinary action. A complaint/report is made in bad faith when the individual filing the complaint actually knew it was false. A complaint was not made in bad faith merely because the evidence does not ultimately support a policy violation. If a false complaint has been made, official disciplinary action against the individual who deliberately filed the false complaint does not constitute as retaliation.
Q. I want to report sexual misconduct to the University. Whom should I contact?
A. The University strongly encourages persons who have experienced sexual misconduct to report the incident to the University’s Title IX Coordinator. These reporting procedures are outlined in the University’s Procedures for The Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct on the Title IX website (www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct). The Title IX Coordinator oversees investigations and disciplinary proceedings for sexual misconduct cases, as well as the interim accommodations and assistance for those who report such misconduct. The easiest way to submit a formal report is to file a complaint by visiting the aforementioned website or contact one of the Title IX Coordinators directly:Rebecca Malley, Ph.D. Title IX Coordinator 601-266-6804 Rebecca.malleyFREEMississippi Cristin Reynolds Deputy Title IX Coordinator 601-266-4671 Cristin.ReynoldsFREEMississippi
Q. Is there a time limit for reporting a form of sexual misconduct?
A. There is no time limit for reporting or filing a complaint, but the University encourages prompt reporting to improve our ability to respond promptly and effectively to end harassment, prevent it from reoccurring, and address any effects. If the accused individual (Responding Party) is no longer a student or employee, the University may not be able to take disciplinary action against them, but the University will still meet its Title IX obligation by taking steps to end the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects, when appropriate. We will also connect the alleged victim to any available and helpful resources.
Q. Do I also have to report sexual misconduct to the University’s Policy Department?
A. You are not required to report to both the Title IX office and University Policy Department (UPD). However, you have the right to report to the UPD and/or file criminal charges and a Title IX complaint simultaneously. If you decide to file criminal charges, the Title IX Coordinator will assist you with notifying campus or local police.
Q. What happens if I disclose to my Resident Assistant or my Instructor?
A. Some University employees, unless designated as a confidential resource, are responsible employees. If a responsible employee becomes aware of an incident of sexual misconduct, this individual is required to report all relevant details to the Title IX Coordinator. At this University, the responsible employee designation applies to faculty, deans, resident assistants, coaches etc. For a more information on responsible employees, refer to Section 4.5 of the University’s Procedures for the Resolution of Allegations of Sexual Misconduct.
Q. Will a report automatically trigger a Title IX investigation?
A. A person may report sexual misconduct to the Title IX Office but request confidentiality or that no investigation or disciplinary action against the accused individual be taken. In these cases, the Title IX Coordinator must weigh the request against the University’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory, and harassment-free environment for the University community, including the reporting party. The Title IX Coordinator considers a range of factors when weighing a reporting party’s request for confidentiality or that no investigation and/or discipline be pursued.
Q. How should I preserve any evidence of a sexual assault?
A. For your safety and well-being, we encourage you to seek immediate medical attention after a sexual assault. In addition, preserving evidence is extremely important if you decide to report to the University or authorities. To better preserve evidence you should avoid bathing, showering, brushing your teeth, urinating, or changing clothes after a sexual assault. However, if you must change clothes, place the clothes you were wearing in a paper bag and bring the bag with you when you see medical attention. Even if you have already showered after the incident, you should still seek medical attention as some evidence may still be recoverable. Other items considered evidence include, text messages, emails, and pictures etc.
Q. If I was drinking before or during my sexual assault, will I be disciplined?
A. The University recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time a sexual misconduct incident occurs may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. The University strongly encourages students to report incidents of sexual misconduct to campus officials. A bystander reporting in good faith or an alleged victim reporting sexual misconduct to University officials or law enforcement will not be subject to campus conduct action for violations of alcohol and/or drug policies occurring at or near the time of the sexual misconduct.
Q. What are my rights if I have been accused of violating the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy?
A. All parties involved in a Title IX process will be treated equitably. If you are the responding party in a Title IX case, you have the right:
- To be treated with respect by the Title IX Coordinator, Investigators, and other University Officials.
- To participate or NOT participate in the Title IX investigation process.
- To access campus support resources.
- To an advisor to guide you through the investigation process.
- To have a support person of your choice present during all meetings and Title IX proceedings.
- To present information and/or witnesses on your behalf during the investigation process.
- To receive notice of the policies you have been charged with violating.
- To be informed of the finding, rationale and sanction of the complaint in writing.
- Equal opportunity to appeal the findings and sanction.
- To a prompt, equitable, and thorough hearing.
 In addition to Title IX, colleges and universities also have obligations under The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Campus Sexual Violence (SaVE) Act provisions.
This policy will be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel, Director of Compliance, and Title IX Coordinator every three years or as necessitated by a change in the law.
Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes
7/10/13 - Technical corrections to comply with the March 2013 reenactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) and the May 2013 Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Resolution Agreement with the University of Montana.
1/29/18 Substantial revisions to the policy to comply with the March 2013 reenactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act), and the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Interim Guidance and Questions and Answers on Campus Sexual Misconduct dated September, 2017.
2/13/19- updated address of Title IX Office.