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Sexual Misconduct Policy

Article I.                  Preamble

Section 1.01        Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) is committed to fostering a safe living and learning environment for all students. This includes freedom from any form of discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. We expect community members to engage in relationships that are characterized by mutual respect and affirmative consent.
The University’s response to sexual misconduct seeks to balance the rights, needs and privacy of victims and those of the accused, while maintaining the health and safety of the campus community. Special emphasis is placed on violence prevention, providing support for those who may have been victimized, and ensuring a vigorous enforcement of institutional policy and law.

Section 1.02        If you or someone you know may be a victim of sexual harassment, sexual violence, or any other behaviors prohibited under this policy, you are strongly encouraged to seek immediate assistance from the Office of the Dean of Students, Safety and Security, or The Counseling Center. Students will be provided counseling and medical referrals; assistance with safe housing and academic concerns related to the sexual misconduct; and information concerning victim’s rights. Individuals will also be provided information concerning University, civil and criminal complaints, including how to file such complaints.

Article II.               Title IX Notice of Non-Discrimination

Section 2.01        Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities, including in the enforcement of this Sexual Misconduct Policy.  The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies:

Zoe Gingold, Director, The Office of Student Accessibility Services

4201 Henry Avenue, Kanbar 102D

Philadelphia, PA 19144


Article III.            Goals of the Sexual Misconduct Policy

Section 3.01        To provide a safe campus environment where students can live and study free of fear, intimidation and coercion.

Section 3.02        To provide clear guidelines for students about how to file complaints and to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Section 3.03        To provide prompt and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.

Section 3.04        To provide support to both parties - the complainant and respondent - during the investigative and adjudication processes.

Section 3.05        To insure fairness and equal right to both parties, including the right to present witnesses and other evidence, and to have the same rights to appeal.

Section 3.06        To protect complainants as necessary, including interim steps prior to the final outcome of an investigation.

Section 3.07        To notify both parties of the outcomes of the complaint.

Article IV.            Confidential v. Non-Confidential Campus Resources

A.                Confidential Campus Resources

As required under Title IX, a federal law that applies to all colleges and universities, most University employees are required to report instances of sexual misconduct that they have been made them aware of.

Some University employees enjoy confidential status. Students may wish to seek these confidential resources to discuss filing a complaint and/or access support services.

The following Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) student health and counseling staff and the Coordinator of Spirituality programs, are confidential resources.

  • Director of Health Services
  • The Nurse Practitioners in Health Services
  • Director of Counseling
  • All counselors

In most circumstances these confidential resources have a professional and legal obligation not to reveal information shared in the course and scope of performing their duties.

When students talk to a confidential resource about a possible violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, that support person will not reveal or report this conversation in any identifying manner. The confidential resource will however report the incident in a non-identifying manner to be part of University reports required by state and federal laws.

Confidential support people do have a duty to report to someone when they have reasonable cause to believe that the person sharing information with them is dangerous to themselves or others. Confidential resources will review their confidentiality obligations with you when you meet with them.

Talking to a confidential resource is not a complaint under the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and consequently does not activate investigation and adjudication processes.

B.                 Non-Confidential Campus Resources

Faculty and staff, i.e. all employees, at the University who are not “confidential resources,” must report allegations of sexual misconduct to the Dean of Students Office. This includes all professors, advisors, coaches, professional and support staff and peer counselors (e.g. resident assistants). The Director of Human Resources serves as the Title IX Coordinator for the University, and in that capacity, is obligated to insure that any and all reports of sexual misconduct against students receive prompt and appropriate action. Allegations of sexual misconduct against employees are also referred to the Director of Human Resources.

Off-Campus resources:

(a)               Philadelphia Police department (911)

(b)               Special Victims Unit (215-685-3251)

(c)                Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) 24 Hour Hotline (215-985-3333)

(d)               Philadelphia Office of Civil Rights (215-861-4441)

(e)               Complainant Request for Confidentiality/Privacy

A complainant may make a request for confidentiality/privacy at any point.  This type of request means that the complainant does not want their identity known to the respondent and witnesses, or that the complainant wishes to withdraw a report.  If at any point the complainant requests privacy, the University will make all reasonable attempts to comply with this request.  In situations where a complainant requests privacy, the University’s ability to investigate and respond to the allegations may be limited.

The University is required by Title IX to weigh the complainant’s request for confidentiality/privacy with the University’s commitment to provide a reasonably safe and non-discriminatory environment.  The Title IX Coordinator will notify the complainant if the University cannot maintain the complainant’s confidentiality/privacy.  The complainant’s identity will only be revealed to those individuals who need to know the name of the complainant in order for an investigation to occur.

Article V.               Jurisdiction

This policy covers and the University will investigate alleged incidents of sexual misconduct:

(a)               that occurred on campus;

(b)               that occurred off campus, but have migrated to or have created a hostile environment on campus;

(c)               that were part of University programs (regardless of location);

(d)               where the respondent is affiliate as a current matriculated undergraduate, graduate, or professional student; or

(e)               that otherwise effects the well-being of a student of the University.

Article VI.            Certain Definitions

For the purposes of this Sexual Misconduct Policy, the following definitions have the following meanings:

Sexual Misconduct” means any sexual harassment, stalking, or sexual violence, as those terms are defined below. Sexual misconduct can be committed by or against a man, a woman, or a group of people against a person or persons of the same or opposite sex.  Perpetrators of sexual misconduct can be friends, dating partners, domestic partners, spouses, acquaintances, classmates, supervisors, co-workers, faculty members, and/or any other person.

Sexual Harassment” under this policy includes verbal, non-verbal behaviors and gestures, and physical contact including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, non-forcible sexually motivated physical contact, or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:

(a)                Submission to that conduct or communication is made a term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of obtaining employment or educational benefits or participating in academic or extracurricular activities; or

(b)               Submission to or rejection of that conduct or communication is used as a factor in employment or academic decisions affecting that person; or

(c)                That conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person’s employment or education, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment or educational environment.

Sexual harassment may often be the result of a pattern of behavior but one incident can constitute sexual harassment if it is sufficiently severe or offensive.  For purposes of this definition, communication may be oral, written, or electronically transmitted. Without limiting the foregoing, use of audio or visual equipment in violation of the University’s policy on such use may constitute sexual harassment. See the Community Standards (Section 9, The Student Handbook).

Stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety, or the safety of another, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.  Stalking includes, but is not limited to, 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 following the person or constantly appearing at the person’s classroom, residence, or workplace without permission.

Sexual Violence” means physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or without their consent. Examples of sexual violence include but are not limited to rape, sexual battery, any sexual activity induced by fear, coercion or manipulation, forcible sexual activities, and any sexual activity lacking consent, whether due to incapacity, impairment or otherwise. Although the term connotes violent physical harm, sexual violence occurs whenever a person engages in sexual activity against his or her will or without their consent, regardless of whether a violent attack or physical harm has occurred.

Consent” is permission, approval, or agreement to sexual activity through clear words or actions.  Silence or lack of resistance does not necessarily imply consent.  When a person consents to some sexual activity, this does not constitute consent to other forms of sexual activity; furthermore, the existence of a previous dating, marital, or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent to any subsequent sexual activity.  Consent must be given at the beginning of each and every sexual encounter and at each and every stage of intimacy.  Consent may be withdrawn at any time.

It is not necessary for a person to physically resist, scream, say no, or otherwise express resistance to be the victim of sexual violence.  Even if someone verbally agrees to sexual activity, he or she shall be deemed incapable of providing consent if any of the following circumstances occur:

  • A person is subject to, or threatened with, physical force
  • A person is threatened, intimidated, coerced, isolated, or confined
  • A person is incapacitated due to the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A person is a minor
  • A person is mentally disabled
  • A person is asleep, unconscious, or losing and regaining consciousness

A person’s own use of alcohol and/or alcohol does not relieve that person from obtaining proper consent.

Retaliation” means to take adverse action against, intimidate, threaten, harass, or bully, either indirectly or directly, a person who reports, or is contemplating reporting, a violation of this policy or any individual involved in an ongoing investigation or adjudication of a sexual misconduct complaint. Additionally, knowingly and intentionally making a false report of a violation of this policy is, under some circumstances, considered retaliation.

Article VII.         Reporting Sexual Misconduct

A student may report sexual misconduct to any University employee or staff person, including any member of the Student Life staff.  Any reports of sexual misconduct will be reported to the Director of Human Resources, who is the Title IX Coordinator for the University. As such she is designated coordinator for compliance with this policy.  Reports may also be made to the deputy Title IX Coordinators:

Title IX Coordinator - Zoe Gingold, Director, Office of Student Accessbility Services

Deputy Title IX Coordinator - Ali Stefanik, Asst. Director Diversity & Social Justice

Deputy Title IX Coordinator - Elizabeth Shephard-Rabadam, Associate Provost

Students should be advised that the Title IX Coordinator is obligated to act on any report of alleged misconduct. The University does not limit the timeframe for filing a report of misconduct. Reports can be submitted at any time following an incident, although the University’s ability to take any action may be negatively affected by the length of time between the alleged incident and the report.

The Title IX Coordinator will either act as the complaint coordinator or appoint a complaint coordinator. The complaint process begins when a student meets with the complaint coordinator. At this point, the student becomes the complainant. Together, the complainant and the coordinator will review information and expectations of the complaint process and select an advisor from the University staff to assist the complainant during the complaint process.

When a complaint has been filed against a student, that student becomes the respondent. The respondent will be contacted by the complaint coordinator and informed of the complaint. The respondent, together with the coordinator, will review the same information and expectations that were shared with the complainant, and will select an adviser from the University staff to assist the respondent during the complaint process.  Absent extenuating circumstances, both the complainant and respondent will be contacted within three (3) business days of the notice of a complaint/incident by either a student or a third party.

Both parties will be provided with an advisor and allowed a support person as described under “Initial Procedures for Complaints” in The Community Standards.

Both the complainant and respondent will be asked to write a statement about their participation and perspective on the incident in question. The parties will be provided with information about how to prepare a written statement and a list of questions and prompts to which they may respond as they write their statements.

The complaint coordinator will remain available to answer questions by the complainant and respondent about the complaint process.

Article VIII.      Interim Measures

Upon learning of a purported violation of this Sexual Misconduct Policy, the University may impose reasonable and appropriate interim measures designed to protect the parties involved, to eliminate a potentially hostile environment, to ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community, to uphold the integrity of the investigative and/or adjudication process, and to prevent disruption or interference with the normal operations of the University.

If the University, in its sole discretion, believes at any point that the well-being or safety of an individual or the University community is at stake, the University may impose an involuntary interim suspension or leave of any faculty, staff, or student involved in a purported violation of this Sexual Misconduct Policy.  An interim suspension may remain in effect until the grievance procedure has concluded, including any appropriate appeals process.  An interim suspension or leave shall have no bearing on the guilt or innocence of any individual.

Any individual may request, or the University may implement, other interim measures including the following:

  • Access and recommendations to counseling services both on and off campus
  • Requiring that all parties involved have no on-campus contact
  • Rescheduling exams, presentations, and other academic events so that parties have no contact
  • Allowing individuals to complete coursework in a manner different from their peers
  • Providing academic support services
  • Changing work or class schedules, including the ability to transfer course sections or withdrawal from a course without penalty
  • Reassigning individuals to different University owned or managed housing
  • Limiting an individual’s or organization’s access to certain University facilities or activities
  • Voluntary leaves of absence
  • Escorts to ensure safe movement between classes and activities
  • Any other measures that will achieve the goals of this Sexual Misconduct Policy

All individuals are encouraged to report another individual’s failure, or suspected failure, to abide by any interim measure. The University will take immediate and responsive action to enforce a previously implemented measure.

Article IX.            Investigation of a Sexual Misconduct Complaint

After both parties have submitted their statements, the Title IX Coordinator or appointed complaint coordinator will appoint an investigator to initiate the investigation. All investigations will be conducted as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible and normally shall be completed within 60 days from the initiation of the complaint, except where the appropriate or circumstances require a longer period. The scope of the investigation will not be limited to information provided by the parties or to the violations alleged in the complaint. In all cases, the investigator will conduct an adequate and impartial investigation into the allegations of the complaint. Refusal by any party or witness to cooperate with the investigator in the investigation may result in action against the person refusing to cooperate. The investigation protocols described under “Investigation/Pre-Hearing Protocols” under The Community Standards will apply to Sexual Misconduct investigations, subject to change in the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator  if he or she believes it is in the bests interests of the parties.  Once the investigative report is complete, the investigator will prepare and submit a written report to the complaint coordinator and the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will then review the report with both the complainant and respondent, and will determine how to proceed with resolution of the complaint.

Article X.               Complaint Resolution

Section 10.01    Mediation Under Certain Circumstances

Mediation is a voluntary process intended to allow the parties involved in an alleged complaint of discrimination or harassment to discuss their respective understandings of the incident with each other through the assistance of the complaint coordinator (or his/her designee) and the students’ advisors. Mediation is not appropriate for certain cases, such as alleged sexual violence, even on a voluntary basis. Mediation is designed to encourage each person to be honest and direct with the other and to accept personal responsibility where appropriate. Mediation is only offered as an option if recommended by the complaint coordinator, both the complainant and the respondent are students at the University and they both agree. (If either student is less than 18 years of age, the University may require that the minor student’s parent consent in writing to the student’s participation in the Mediation).

The mediation process is conducted by a mediator assigned to the case by the Title IX Coordinator. The mediator is responsible for managing the process of resolution. The complainant, respondent or the mediator can terminate the mediation process at any time and begin the judicial process.

Title IX Coordinator (or his/her designee) before it takes effect. Any activity or behavior, or prohibition thereof to which either party has agreed in the mediation shall be included in the agreement.

Section 10.02    The Judicial Process

In the event that mediation is not appropriate (e.g. in all cases of sexual violence) or one of the parties does not want to pursue mediation, in most cases, the matter will be referred by the complaint coordinator to the University’s judicial process. All cases of sexual misconduct are heard by the Sexual Misconduct Board. The actual hearing procedures will follow the procedures applicable to hearings and described under “Hearing Protocols” in The Community Standards. The hearing officer of the Student Conduct Committee, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, will have discretion to alter those procedures if the hearing officer believes it will be in the bests interests of the parties involved.

Article XI.            Prohibition Against Retaliation

Any retaliation or attempted retaliation by any person directed at a complainant, or a student contemplating filing a complaint of sexual misconduct, or otherwise seeking to influence the process, is strictly prohibited. Retaliation can be in the form of direct or indirect harassment, interference or intimidation of anyone involved in the process. The respondent may be held responsible for retaliation against the complainant by friends or associates acting on the respondent’s behalf.  Any incident of retaliation or attempted retaliation should be reported directly to the Title IX Coordinator.