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Sexual Misconduct

Rensselaer is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy learning, living, and working environment in which no member of the Rensselaer community is, on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any Institute program or activity. Gender-based and sexual-based harassment, including Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence, are forms of illegal discrimination in that they deny or limit an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the Institute’s programs or activities.

In support of our basic principles, the following website (https://sexualviolence.rpi.edu/) is designed to provide you with education about the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures (rev. Feb 2015), resources and the ability to report incidents of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

Also, an individual can report a concern to the Department of Public Safety (available 24 hours daily), a Title IX Coordinator, a Portfolio Title IX Liaison, the Dean of Students, or the Student Health Center.

Prevention

Reducing the Risk and Coping with an Incident

A commitment to safety is a commitment to creating an environment free from all forms of exploitation and intimidation. New freedoms bring new responsibilities—responsibility to oneself and to the entire community.

Safety is Everybody’s Business

Begin by learning how to keep yourself and your friends safe, how to summon help if you need it and how to file a report. The Department of Public Safety can be contacted at (518) 276-6611, or Ext. 6611 from a campus phone.

The Public Safety Map of Campus pin-points emergency telephones all across campus—make a point of knowing where they are. You can get a copy of the map at the Visitor Information Center.

You’ll also find information here on escort and shuttle services, some tips for avoiding danger, and care and support services.

The most obvious safety device is a good lock. Exterior entrances of all residence halls are locked 24 hours a day. All major residence halls are equipped with exterior door access control, monitored by Public Safety. In addition, all rooms in residence halls are equipped with deadbolt locks and door peepholes. Access to closed academic facilities can be obtained only with an authorized key. For everyone’s sake, respect building security. Never prop doors open, and report damaged locks to Public Safety immediately.

College students are particularly vulnerable to victimization. Many are living away from home for the first time. New freedoms and peer pressures, coming at an age when sexual impulses are very strong, contribute to this vulnerability. A tragic result is that sexual assault is the most common violent crime committed on college campuses today. In fact, research suggests that sexual activity may be forced on as many as 25 percent of all college females. Most of the assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Though it is much less frequent, men can also be sexually assaulted.

Public Safety offers a free self defense program that female members of the Rensselaer community are encouraged to enroll in.

A commitment to safety is a commitment to creating an environment free from all forms of exploitation and intimidation. New freedoms bring new responsibilities—responsibility to oneself and to the entire community.

Preventing Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault

The best defense against assault of any kind is to avoid situations where you are vulnerable. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Choose settings for social activities very carefully. The proximity of other people heightens your safety, but does not guarantee it. “Gang rape” happens in spite of the presence of others because the group collaborates in the crime.
  • Do not walk alone at night. Travel with friends. Use the campus shuttle and the Personal Safety Escort Service provided 24 hours-a-day. Keep to familiar, well-traveled and well-lighted areas.
  • Do not hitchhike. By doing so you forfeit the ability to change direction and control of your movement.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Have your key in hand and ready to unlock your door. This also applies to your vehicle as well.
  • Always keep your room and vehicle door locked.
  • Do not open residence hall doors to strangers. If you notice a stranger in the building unaccompanied by a resident, call Public Safety immediately at (518) 276-6611, or Ext. 6611 from a campus phone.
  • Use only your last name on your mailbox.
  • Hang up on obscene callers, and do not give any personal information over the telephone.
  • Examine your own desires and feeling about sex, and set sexual limits.
  • Be assertive and communicate your limits clearly.
  • Alcohol and drugs can compromise your ability to make responsible decisions and are often related to date rape situations. This applies to both potential victims and potential assailants.

Actions taken by a potential victim are an important part of sexual misconduct and sexual assault prevention.

Sexual Misconduct Offenses

There are many types of sexual misconduct offences.

Sexual Misconduct means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including any conduct or act of a sexual nature perpetrated against an individual without their Consent.  Sexual Misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, as well as people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship.  Sexual Misconduct can be committed by any person (i.e., male, female, transgender), and it can occur between people of the same or different gender.  Rensselaer encourages reporting of all Sexual Misconduct.  Sexual Misconduct includes but is not limited to:

  • Intimate Partner Violence,
  • Sexual Assault,
  • Sexual Harassment, and
  • Stalking.

Sexual Assault means any actual, attempted or threatened sexual contact with another person without that person’s Consent.  Sexual Assault includes but is not limited to:  (i) rape and attempted rape; (ii) intentional and unwelcome sexual touching, however slight, using any body part or any object, by a person(s) upon another person(s), of a person’s breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals (with or without clothing), or coercing, forcing or attempting to coerce or force another to touch you, themselves, or a third party on any of these body parts or areas when such touching would be reasonably and objectively offensive; (iii) any sexual act in which there is force, violence, or use of duress or deception upon the victim; (iv) any sexual act perpetrated when the victim is unable to give Consent; (v) sexual intimidation which includes, but is not limited to, threatening (expressly or impliedly) to commit a sexual act upon another person without his or her consent, stalking or cyber-stalking, and engaging in indecent exposure.

Intimate Partner Violence, which may also be referred to as dating, domestic, or relationship violence, is the use of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or threats to control another person who is, or has been involved in, a sexual, dating, domestic or other intimate relationship with the Respondent. Intimate partner violence may encompass a broad range of behaviors including, but not limited to, threats of and actual physical violence, Sexual Misconduct, emotional violence, and economic abuse. Such behavior can be directed to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner, or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner.

Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct 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.  Stalking activity may be perpetrated through electronic or digital communications or conduct.

In addition, the concept of Affirmative Consent is defined as positive, clear, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter. Consent cannot be inferred from the absence of a “no.” Consent requires a clear “yes,” verbal or otherwise. Consent to some sexual acts does not imply consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act imply present or future consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time.

  • Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, or force. Agreement under such circumstances does not constitute consent.
  • Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. A person is mentally or physically incapacitated when that person lacks the ability to make or act on decisions to engage in sexual activity.
  • Engaging in sexual activity with a person whom you know—or reasonably should know—to be incapacitated constitutes Sexual Misconduct.

An Incident of Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Assault

Your most important action is to get away and get help. There are specially trained, sensitive people at Rensselaer who will assist you.

If you are attacked off campus, call the local police at 911.

If you are attacked on campus, call Public Safety at (518) 276-6611, or Ext. 6611 from a campus phone. An officer will immediately come to help you. Public Safety will also coordinate contacting local law enforcement and emergency medical assistance as may be necessary.

Medical Assistance and Evidence Collection

An individual is encouraged to seek medical attention immediately following an incident of Sexual Misconduct, and particularly Sexual Assault, to assess and treat any injuries, screen for pregnancy (if appropriate) and sexually transmitted infections, and to properly collect and preserve evidence, if the individual consents to do so. Collecting evidence does not obligate an individual to any particular course of action but can assist the authorities should the individual decide to pursue criminal charges now or in the future. Rensselaer will assist any community member in seeking medical services.

Physical evidence of a Sexual Assault must be collected from the victim’s person within hours of the incident, although it may be possible to obtain evidence from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time.  An individual who believes they have been sexually assaulted should go to an emergency room, before washing their body or changing clothing.  Hospitals have personnel who are specially trained to collect evidence in cases of alleged Sexual Assault; they will properly collect and preserve any evidence as well as document any injuries.  It is best not to change clothes. However, if clothes have been changed, the clothes worn at the time of the incident should be brought to the emergency room in a clean, sanitary container such as a paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless).  Bring a change of clothing to the hospital as the clothes worn at the time of the incident will likely be kept as evidence.

Student Health Service can provide after incident and follow-up medical care, however, it is not equipped to collect forensic evidence.

Rensselaer’s Response

The Department of Public Safety is the primary contact for all incidents of sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving students. The Department of Public Safety is to be notified immediately when there is an incident of sexual misconduct or sexual assault.

The Department of Public Safety will meet with the person(s) involved to gather all information pertinent to the case.

The Department of Public Safety will provide the Complainant (victim) and Respondent (accused) information about:

  • Rensselaer’s complaint investigation and resolution processes;
  • Filing a separate complaint with local law enforcement, or with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights;
  • Campus resources for counseling, medical, and academic support services;
  • Community resources for counseling, medical, and support services;
  • Title IX and Institute Policy prohibitions and protections against retaliation;
  • Interim measures during the course of and following the investigation, including measures to ensure his or her safety, as may be required.

The Department of Public Safety is available to assist students in filing complaints and reports, and assessing internal and external resources.

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