Frequently Asked Questions about the Interim Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section was developed as a response to commonly asked questions about Gallaudet University's Interim Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures. If you have any question(s) about the policy that may not have been addressed in this FAQ, please contact the Title IX Coordinator, Sharrell McCaskill, via e-mail at sharrell.mccaskill@gallaudet.edu or in person at College Hall #312 or the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, Eloise Molock, via e-mail at eloise.molock@gallaudet.edu or in person at Ely Center #103 or any of the on-campus resources listed at this link.

Which University policy for students prohibits sexual assault/sexual misconduct?

The Interim Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy in the Student Code of Conduct prohibits sexual assault/sexual misconduct, intimate partner abuse, and stalking. Click here to read it in its entirety. Sexual assault and other forms of gender-based misconduct are unacceptable at Gallaudet.

What happens when a Gallaudet student is sexually assaulted?

If a sexual assault or sexual misconduct incident occurs on or off campus, the University's first priority is to ensure the safety of the complainant and the campus community and to make sure he or she receives the appropriate medical care and counseling. Students have many confidential and non-confidential options to report an assault on campus, including the Department of Public Safety, Residence Life, Health and Wellness Programs, Counseling and Psychological Services, a faculty or staff member, or the University's Title IX Coordinator/Deputy Coordinators.

What kinds of support services are available on campus?

Counseling and Psychological Services has counselors on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides students with support through individual or group counseling sessions. Residence Life is also on call 24/7 and can provide emergency housing to students who report an alleged sexual misconduct incident. 

If I make a report is my information kept confidential?

All the information about sexual misconduct complaints are kept private, with only essential personnel involved to provide the necessary support for the complainant and as needed to assist with an investigation should the complainant wish to pursue charges. Students who wish to maintain confidentiality can contact any of the confidential resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services, the Ombuds, the Office of Campus Ministries staff on campus, or any of the victim service providers off campus in the District of Columbia.  These confidential resources are not mandatory reporters, and information shared with them will not initiate further action from the University.

What interim measures can the University take to protect the complainant after a report is made?

If a sexual assault/misconduct complaint is received, the University may decide on appropriate interim measures or remedies such as:

  • No-contact orders;
  • Housing reassignments and restricted access to certain buildings;
  • Leave of absence from a paraprofessional job on campus;
  • Alternative academic arrangements if the victim and alleged perpetrator have the same classes, such as independent study with a professor or assignment to a different course section;
  • Interim suspension;
  • Persona Non Grata (PNG) status assignment, meaning the student is barred from campus;
  • and/or any other remedy or action which would stop the prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence, and redress its effects.

Interim remedies can become effective immediately and last as long as necessary to complete the investigation.

What is Title IX exactly? I thought it had to do with college athletics.

It does, but it is in addition to requiring equity in sports. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination based on gender in any University program, service or activity both on and off campus including, but not limited to, admissions, financial aid, class assignments and course offerings, academic advising and instruction, evaluation and grading, discipline, athletics, housing, health and counseling services, recreational, residential life and extracurricular activities, and employment for faculty and staff. The law requires colleges and universities receiving federal funding to combat gender-based violence and harassment, and respond to any complaints in order to ensure that all students have equal access to education. If a school knows or reasonably should know about discrimination, harassment or violence that is creating a "hostile environment" for any student, it must act to eliminate it, remedy the harm caused and prevent its recurrence.

I heard that Gallaudet had the highest number of forcible sexual assaults in the country, is that true?

According to a report analyzing college and university Clery Act data by The Washington Post, Gallaudet had the highest rate of reported forcible sex offenses per capita in 2012. In 2012, the university reported 18 sex offenses - forcible on campus. This number reflects the number of reports made. We believe it demonstrates that students are comfortable reporting and though we do not want sexual misconduct on campus we do want it reported when it happens.

What is "Clery data" and "Clery report"?

Clery data and report refers to the information mandated by the Clery Act, which requires that all colleges and universities across the United States disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The Clery Act, which is a federal law, requires colleges and universities to publish an Annual Security Report (ASR) by October 1 that documents three calendar years of selected campus crime statistics, including the number of forcible sexual assaults. Gallaudet's ASR report can be found at this link.

What does that mean - "per capita"?

That means that the rate is based on the number of incidences per, say, 1,000 students. For example, Harvard has a much higher total number of forcible sexual assaults - the second highest in the nation - but because its campus population is larger than Gallaudet's, it ranks lower than Gallaudet in per capita incidences.

What does "Sex Offenses - Forcible" mean?

The Clery Act defines sex offenses - forcible as anything between unwanted touching up to rape and other acts of sexual violence.

Why are the per capita numbers here so high?

We believe the reason why our per capita numbers measure higher than other universities, is due to the ability of students to have direct access in terms of communication and language with on-campus personnel without requiring the need for an interpreter. We also feel that students here feel more empowered to report on-campus. We think that is a result of our efforts to promote a comfortable, safe environment in which to report and we have built the confidence among our students that we will take action. Our students feel empowered to report.

Gallaudet had 11 reported forcible sexual assaults in 2011, 18 in 2012, and 17 in 2013.  Why are the numbers going up?

Many colleges and universities have seen their numbers go up since 2011, after the Office of Civil Rights released its "Dear Colleague" letter that year which spelled out steps that colleges and universities needed to implement, including an expectation that complaints are handled in a uniform way. We have seen an increase in reports as a result of our efforts to promote awareness and to provide a safe environment in which to report sexual assault.

What is Gallaudet doing to address sexual misconduct on campus?

Gallaudet is addressing this very serious issue on many levels. We currently have a successful bystander intervention program (Green Dot), three campus sexual assault resource teams, sexual assault/domestic violence programming including guest speakers, panel discussions, and workshops, and alcohol-free weekend night events. In addition, all new and transfer students participate in a mandatory online course, Haven, which increases sexual assault awareness. Employees and students are also required to complete an online training module entitled "Preventing Discrimination and Sexual Violence:  Title IX and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act," as part of the university's continued efforts toward Title IX compliance.

Can you explain more about the bystander training? How does it work?

Gallaudet is using the Green Dot curriculum, a national program on bystander intervention that has been tailored for our community. The goal of Green Dot is to increase individual willingness and ability to recognize and intervene to prevent acts of sexual misconduct on campuses. At the start of the academic year there are more than 195 students and 50 faculty and staff trained for bystander intervention. Trainings are scheduled for the rest of the academic year, and the goal is to have 500 people trained by the end of the 2015-2016 academic year.

What do your sexual assault resource teams do?

Our Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) meets regularly to discuss policies, protocol, and issues on campus. It consists of deans, directors, and other key staff members who are involved in the prevention and reporting of incidents of sexual misconduct. Since that time, two additional SART-related organizations have formed: Student SART, which meets regularly during the academic year to plan events and share news and other relevant information and Community SART, which is made up of faculty, staff, and several students.

Many people know that drinking and sexual assault can go hand in hand, what is Gallaudet doing to educate students about safety?

Gallaudet has invested in mandatory sexual assault and alcohol and drug awareness programming for incoming freshmen and transfer students, called Haven and AlcoholEdu, respectively. Both are developed by a company called EverFi and advise students on ways to stay safe and how to be socially responsible with a focus on positive behavior reinforcement. When students first arrive to campus, the New Student Orientation (NSO) includes a session entitled, "Healthy Choices on Campus" that focuses on responsible decision-making as well as a session on sexual misconduct that includes an introduction to Title IX and effective consent. In addition, several student organizations (primarily Greek organizations) and athletic teams are proactively involved in bystander intervention and involved in proactive party planning meetings with the Health and Wellness Programs prior to any campus event that includes alcohol.

What if a sexual assault occurs, but the victim has been drinking underage or using illegal drugs? Will they be charged for such violations?

The safety and well-being of the complainant is paramount. If a sexual assault occurs and the victim has been drinking, they will not get into trouble with the University. To encourage reporting, Gallaudet pursues a policy of offering students who may have violated the codee of conduct themselves leniency from alcohol and/or other drug policy violations related to the incident.