HWS Policies

HWS Definitions

Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature whether verbal, non-verbal, graphic, physical or other, when conditions (1) and/or (2), below, are present:

  1. submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic standing or participation in any HWS program and/or activity or used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual (quid pro quo harassment);
  2. such conduct creates a hostile environment. A hostile environment exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefitting from the Colleges’ education or employment programs and/or activities. The conduct must be deemed severe, pervasive or persistent under both a subjective and objective standard.

Read more about what constitutes a hostile environment in the full policy.

Sexual Assault is having or attempting to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another individual without Affirmative Consent.

  • Sexual intercourse is any vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with any object or by a penis, tongue, finger or other body part performed by an individual upon another individual. Sexual intercourse also includes any contact, however slight, between the mouth of one individual and the genitalia of another individual.
  • Sexual contact is any intentional sexual touching however slight, of the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals, whether clothed or unclothed, with any object or body part performed by an individual upon another individual. Sexual contact includes making an individual touch another individual with or on the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals.

Affirmative Consent is a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Affirmative Consent cannot be obtained through force, including physical force, threats, intimidation, or coercion. Threats are words or actions that would compel a reasonable person to engage in unwanted sexual activity against their will. Intimidation is an implied threat that menaces or causes reasonable fear in another individual. Coercion is the improper use of pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against that individual’s will. When a person makes clear a decision not to participate in a particular form of Sexual Contact or Sexual Intercourse, a decision to stop, or a decision not to go beyond a certain sexual interaction, continued pressure can be coercive. In evaluating whether coercion existed, the Colleges will consider: (i) the frequency of the application of the pressure, (ii) the intensity of the pressure, (iii) the degree of isolation of the person being pressured, and (iv) the duration of the pressure.

Affirmative Consent cannot be obtained by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual where the person initiating sexual activity knew or reasonably should have known that the other was incapacitated. Incapacitation is a state where an individual cannot make an informed and rational decision to engage in sexual activity. An individual is incapacitated if the individual lacks conscious knowledge of the nature of the act or is physically helpless, asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring. An individual may be incapacitated as a result of the consumption of alcohol or other drugs or due to a temporary or permanent physical or mental health condition.

Read more on how to evaluate Affirmative Consent in the full policy.

Sexual Exploitation is purposely or knowingly:

  • Observing or allowing third parties to observe an individual’s genitalia, groin, breasts or buttocks or private sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of the participants, including through a hidden location or through electronic means in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy;
  • Recording or photographing an individual’s genitalia, groin, breasts or buttocks or private sexual activity without consent;
  • Disseminating recordings or photographs of an individual’s genitalia, groin, breasts or buttocks or private sexual activity without consent;
  • Exposing genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals without Affirmative Consent;
  • Exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted infections without the other’s knowledge;
  • Causing incapacitation of another individual through alcohol, drugs, or any other means, for the purpose of compromising that individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity; or
  • Assisting or otherwise facilitating any act of Prohibited Conduct.

Intimate Partner Violence includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is, or has been involved in, a relationship of a sexual, dating, domestic, or other intimate nature with the Respondent. Intimate Partner Violence is not a distinct form of Prohibited Conduct. Intimate Partner Violence can encompass a broad range of behavior and may include Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation, Physical Assault, Stalking, and Retaliation.

Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or safety of others or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking includes cyber-stalking, a particular form of stalking in which an individual uses electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts or other similar devices or forms of contact.

  • Course of conduct means two or more acts, including but not limited to, acts in which an individual directly, indirectly or through third parties, by any action, method, device or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens or communicates to or about another individual, or interferes with another individual’s property.
  • Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish.
  • Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similarities to the victim.

Retaliation is any adverse action taken against an individual because they were involved in the reporting, investigation or resolution of a report of Prohibited Conduct. Retaliation includes threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion, violence or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging in activity protected under the policy. Retaliation may occur even where there is a finding of “not responsible” under this Policy. Good faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report of Prohibited Conduct are not Retaliation. Retaliation should be promptly reported to the Title IX Coordinator and will be investigated and resolved under this Policy and Procedures.

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HWS Policies

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are committed to fostering a welcoming, safe, non-discriminatory and harassment-free educational, living, and working environment for all members of the HWS community. The Colleges specifically prohibit Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Assault, Sexual Exploitation, Intimate Partner Violence, Physical Assault, Stalking, and Retaliation. These forms of behavior are referred to in this Policy and accompanying Procedures interchangeably as Prohibited Conduct or Sexual Misconduct. Sexual Misconduct is unlawful and unacceptable in the HWS community and the Colleges will not tolerate such behavior. The full Sexual Misconduct Policy can be found on the HWS website.

All Hobart and William Smith students have the right to:

  • Make a report (or decline to report) to local law enforcement and/or state police;
  • Have disclosures of Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, Stalking and all other forms Prohibited Conduct treated seriously;
  • Make a decision about whether or not to disclose a crime or violation and participate in the complaint resolution process and/or criminal justice process free from pressure by the institution;Participate in a process that is fair, impartial, and provides adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard;
  • Be treated with dignity and to receive from the Colleges courteous, fair, and respectful health care and counseling services, where available;
  • Be free from any suggestion that the Complainant is at fault when these crimes and violations are committed, or should have acted in a different manner to avoid such crimes or violations;
  • Describe the incident to as few HWS representatives as practicable and not be required to unnecessarily repeat a description of the incident;
  • Be protected from retaliation by the Colleges, any student, the Respondent, and/or their friends, family and acquaintances within the jurisdiction of the HWS;
  • Access to at least one level of appeal of a determination;
  • Be accompanied by an advisor of choice who may assist and advise a Complainant or a Respondent during any meetings and hearings under this Policy and procedures; and
  • Exercise civil rights and practice of religion without interference by the investigative, criminal justice, or complaint resolution process of the Colleges.

Hobart and William Smith also has an Amnesty Policy. The health and safety of every HWS student is of utmost importance. The Colleges recognize that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time that Prohibited Conduct occurs may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct or the conduct of others. The Colleges strongly encourage students to immediately report Prohibited Conduct to the Colleges or law enforcement. A bystander acting in good faith or a Complainant acting in good faith that discloses any incident of Prohibited Conduct to the Colleges or law enforcement will not be subject to disciplinary action under the HWS Community Standards for violations of alcohol and/or drug use policies based on ingestion occurring at or near the time of the reported Prohibited Conduct. Other individuals present will also not be subject to disciplinary action under the HWS Community Standards for violations of alcohol and/or drug use policies based on ingestion occurring at or near the time of the reported Prohibited Conduct.

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Your Title IX Rights

Title IX is a federal law that protects students against sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence regardless of the student’s real or perceived sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression.  If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual violence you have an additional set of rights and protections under Title IX. (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681)

If you believe your Title IX rights have been or are being violated, you can contact your Title IX Coordinator and/or report to the Department of Education at [email protected].

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