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Sexual Misconduct

More Information

 

Types of Sexual Misconduct

 

Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any non-consensual behavior of a sexual nature that is committed by force, coercion or intimidation, or that is otherwise unwelcome. Sexual misconduct can occur between members of the same or different sex, strangers or acquaintances, including persons involved in an intimate or sexual relationship.

  • rape
  • sexual assault (which includes any kind of non-consensual sexual contact),
  • sexual harassment
  • intimate partner violence
  • stalking, and
  • any other conduct of a sexual nature that is non-consensual, or has the purpose or effect of:
  • threatening
  • intimidating, or
  • coercing a person or persons 

 

The following are types of sexual misconduct behaviors prohibited by The University of Southern Mississippi, and commonly used by the Title IX Office. For more information and examples of each, refer to the University's Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment Policy:

Non-consensual sexual intercourse (or attempts to commit same) is any sexual penetration (oral, vaginal, or anal), however slight, with any object or body part, by any person upon another person without consent and/or by force. 

Non-consensual sexual contact (or attempts to commit same) is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object or body part, by any person upon another person, without consent and/or by force. 

Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another person for the purpose of personal benefit or advantage or to benefit anyone other than the person being exploited. Examples of sexual exploitation include, sexual exhibitionism (exposing one's genitals in non-consensual circumstances or inducing another person to expose their genitals), voyeurism (secretly observing a person's sexual activity or nakedness), and recording or sharing photographs, video, or other visual or auditory records of sexual activity without explicit consent, even if the activity documented was consensual.

A course of unwanted conduct (two or more instances) directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.

Intimate partner violence (often referred to as dating/relationship violence) is actual or threatened physical violence, intimidation, or other forms of sexual or physical abuse that would cause a reasonable person to fear harm to self or others, by a person who is, or has been, in a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature (e.g. requests for sexual favors, sexual advances 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.

The following represent some examples of Sexual Harassment: 

  • A professor insists that a student have sex with them in exchange for a good grade.
  • A student repeatedly sends sexually oriented jokes around on an email list the student created, even when asked to stop, causing one recipient to avoid the sender on campus and in the residence hall in which they both live.
  • A professor displays explicit sexual pictures in their office, on the exterior of a residence hall door or on a computer monitor in a public space.
  • Two supervisors frequently “rate” several employees’ bodies and sex appeal, commenting suggestively about their clothing and appearance.
  • A professor engages students in discussions in class about their past sexual experiences, yet the conversation is not in any way germane to the subject matter of the class. The professor probes for explicit details, and demands that students answer her, though they are clearly uncomfortable and hesitant.
  • An ex-girlfriend widely spreads false stories about her sex life with her former boyfriend to the clear discomfort of the boyfriend, turning him into a social pariah on campus.
  • Male students take to calling a particular brunette student “Monica” because of her resemblance to Monica Lewinski. Soon, everyone adopts this nickname for her, and she is the target of relentless remarks about cigars, the president, “sexual relations”, and Weight Watchers.
  • A student grabs another student by the hair, then grabs her breast and puts his mouth on it.


More Information on Consent, Alcohol, and Drugs

Consent is a clear, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement between the participants, communicated by clearly understandable words or actions, to engage in each form of sexual activity. The lack of informed, freely given consent to sexual contact constitutes sexual misconduct. 

  • NEVER assume that you have consent. Persons who want to engage in the sexual activity are responsible for obtaining consent
  • Consent is NOT silence, passivity, or lack of active resistance. In other words, no one can infer consent from the absence of a "no". Consent requires a clear "yes", verbal or otherwise. 
  • A current or previous dating or sexual relationship does not indicate consent. 
  • Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. 
  • Consent is ongoing throughout a sexual encounter, and anyone can withdraw consent at any time. 
  • In order to give effective consent, a person must be of legal age. 
  • There is no consent when there is a threat of force or violence, or any other form of coercion or intimidation, whether physical or psychological. 

Although someone can communicate consent in a nonverbal manner, verbal communication is the most reliable form of asking for and gauging consent. Therefore, we encourage individuals to seek and communicate consent in a verbal manner. Having a conversation with your partner may be awkward but serves as the basis for healthy relationships shaped by mutual willingness and respect. 

Alcohol and Drugs 

Research shows that alcohol use plays a significant role in most campus sexual assault incidents. Sex under the influence of alcohol is not automatically nonconsensual, but alcohol use affects decision-making, impairs judgment, and may result in increased misperceptions regarding sexual interest and consent. In addition, a person incapacitated cannot give consent. 

INCAPACITATION is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give effective consent. In other words, they lack the ability to understand the "who, what, where, when, why or how" of their sexual interaction. 

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 or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout), constitutes a violation of the University's Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment Policy. The Respondent's level of alcohol will never function as a defense to a violation of this policy. This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the taking of rape drugs. Possession, use and/or distribution of any of rape drugs, e.g. Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, Burundanga, etc. is prohibited, and administering these drugs to another person is a violation of this policy.

Other Information

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding University’s sexual misconduct policy and procedures.  Click on the plus sign to the left of the question to view the answers.

  1. To whom does it apply?

This policy applies to all students, employees, and to others, as appropriate, with respect to activities occurring on any University property and University-related activities occurring off-campus, including University programs outside the United States. This policy also applies to the activities of recognized student organizations including, but not limited to, fraternities, sororities, clubs, and cooperatives. It also applies to persons conducting business with or visiting the University, even though such persons are not directly affiliated with the University.

2. Where does it apply?  

On-Campus Violations: The campus includes the geographic confines of the University, including its 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. University housing includes all types of university residence housing such as halls and apartments. University-recognized housing includes fraternity and sorority chapter dwellings.

Off-Campus Violations:  Students and employees should be aware that off-campus violations that affect a clear and distinct interest of the University are subject to disciplinary sanctions. As examples, sexual misconduct and harassment are within the University's interests when the behavior:

  • Involves conduct directed at or by a University student or other member of the University community (e.g., private house party, outside employment);
  • Occurs during University-sponsored events (e.g., field trips, social or educational functions, University-related travel, student recruitment activities, internships and service learning experiences);
  • Occurs during the events of organizations affiliated with the University, including the events of student organizations;
  • Occurs during a Study Abroad Program or other international travel; or
  • Poses a description or threat to the University community.

  3. How do I file a complaint?

  • You must complete the complaint form here.
  • This will link to a form in PDF format that is editable.  For a free PDF reader, click  here.
  • After the form is complete, contact Dr. Rebecca N. Malley, Title IX Coordinator, via email at  rebecca.malleyFREEMississippi or by calling 601.266.6804.

  4. Does information about a complaint remain private?

The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct must be respected, except insofar as it interferes with the university’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy it not strictly kept, we will keep the information tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. We do not permit dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure. Violations of the privacy of the Reporting Party or the accused student may lead to conduct action by the university.

In all complaints of sexual misconduct, we will inform all parties of the outcome. In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief public announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, without using the name or identifiable information of the alleged victim. We inform certain university administrators of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy (e.g., the President of the university, Dean of Students).

If there is a report of an act of alleged sexual misconduct to a conduct officer of the university and there is evidence that a felony has occurred, we will notify the local police. This does not mean that any individual will automatically file charges or that a victim must speak with the police, but the institution must notify law enforcement authorities.

The institution also must statistically report the occurrence on campus of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.

5. Will someone tell my parents and/or family members?

No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the Reporting Party or the accused student, the University’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, we strongly encourage students to inform their parents. University officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, in a life-threatening situation, [or if an accused student has signed the permission form at registration which allows such communication].

  6. Will the accused know my identity?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused student has the right to know the identity of the Reporting Party/alleged victim. If there is a hearing, the university does provide options for questioning without confrontation, including closed-circuit testimony, Skype, using a room divider or using separate hearing rooms.

7. Do I have to name the perpetrator?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint (but you should consult the complete confidentiality policy above to better understand the university’s legal obligations depending on what information you share with different university officials). Victims should be aware that not identifying the perpetrator may limit the institution’s ability to respond comprehensively.

8. What do I do if someone accuses me of sexual misconduct? 

DO NOT

contact the alleged victim. Make an appointment to meet with the Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Rebecca N. Malley if she has not yet contacted you. Email Dr. Malley at rebecca.malleyFREEMississippi,

9. Will I (as a victim) have to pay for counseling/or medical care?

Not typically, if the institution provides these services already. If a victim is accessing community and non-institutional services, payment for these will be subject to state/local laws, insurance requirements, etc.

10. What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?

Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. Typically, an individual has 120 hours to collect physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault from the alleged victim’s person within 120 hours, though an individual can obtain evidence from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to the Hospital Emergency Room, before washing yourself or your clothing.

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (a specially trained nurse) at the hospital is usually on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (call the Emergency Room if you first want to speak to the nurse; ER will refer you).

If a victim goes to the hospital, they will call the local police, but they do not have to talk to the police or to pursue prosecution if they choose not to. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to a victim but will not obligation him or her to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the victim decide later to exercise it.

 For the Victim:
  • Do not disturb the crime scene—leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.
  • The hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, address pregnancy concerns and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections.
  • If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). 
  • If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence.
  • You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want.
11. Will a victim receive a sanction when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she has illegally used drugs or alcohol?

No. The severity of the infraction will determine the nature of the university’s response, but whenever possible the university will respond educationally rather than punitively to the illegal use of drugs and/or alcohol. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the university does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.

12. Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct conduct complaint?

The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused student’s responsibility. On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the Reporting Party’s memory and, therefore, may affect the outcome of the complaint.

A person bringing a complaint of sexual misconduct must either remember the alleged incident or have sufficient circumstantial evidence, physical evidence and/or witnesses to prove his/her complaint. If the Reporting Party does not remember the circumstances of the alleged incident, it may not be possible to impose sanctions on the accused without further corroborating information. Use of alcohol and/or other drugs will never excuse a violation by an accused student.

13. Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?

Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.

14. What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?

If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct, contact any of these campus university employees/offices.   

Hattiesburg campus university employees and students should contact: 

 

  • Dr. Rebecca N. Malley, Title IX Coordinator
  • Forest Co Police Department
  • University Police Department
  • University Health Center
  • Human Resources
  • Dean of Students
  • University Counseling Services
To access the contact numbers, please click the link to the Contacts & Resources page.

 

Gulf Coast based employees and students should contact: 

 

  • Dr. Rebecca N. Malley, Title IX Coordinator
  • Local Police Department
  • University Police Department
  • University Police Department
  • Human Resources
  • Director of Student Life, Ms. Christy Elias.
We have provided the following materials as resources.  Should you have any questions or  concerns about the materials, please contact the Title%20IX%20office by phone 601-266-6804 or via our website- www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct/.
 
  • Sample Syllabus Statement:
    Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting
    As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create and maintain a safe learning environment on our campus. I also have a mandatory reporting responsibility related to my role as a faculty member. I am required to share information regarding sexual misconduct or information about a crime that may have occurred on USM’s campus with certain University officials responsible for the investigation and remediation of sexual misconduct. The information will remain private and will only be shared with those officials necessary to resolve the matter. If you would like to speak in confidence, resources available to students include Confidential Advisors with the Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention, the Counseling Center, Student Health Services, and Clergy. More information on these resources and University Policies is available at https://www.usm.edu/sexual-misconduct.
  • You can find links to the Employee Handbook and the Faculty Handbook here.

The Violence Against Women Act requires that institutions provide written notice to students and employees about “existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, student financial aid, and other services available for victims, both within the institution and in the community.

The State University of New York System (SUNY) worked with immigration law to develop a two-page, plain-language resource that describes additional rights and resources available to immigrant and international student victims/survivors of violence.

Please see below translations in the languages identified as having the highest population on our campus:

If you do not see your language listed, please email compliance@usm.edu so that we can check to see if we can provide the content in the language that you need.   

Translations are the copyright of the State University of New York and are used with permission" and include a link to the SAVR page, SUNY SAVR Resources. We are grateful to the New York State Department of Health for its support of these translations.

Contact Us

Title IX Office
Hattiesburg Campus
Cook Library (LIB) Room 129
601.266.4466

Gulf Park Campus
Hardy Hall Room 332 (Monday 10 a.m. -2 p.m. or by appointment)

228.214.3363

Campus Map

Email
rebecca.malleyFREEMississippi

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