Campus Resources

Human Resources

Sexual Violence Policy

A. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to:

  • state the University’s Policy on Sexual Violence (“Policy”), which is a form of sexual harassment, and, in turn, discrimination. Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion (collectively referred to in this Policy as “Sexual Violence” and defined below);
  • identify and describe procedures and resources available to those who believe that they have experienced conduct that constitutes Sexual Violence;
  • identify the possible sanctions for violations of this Policy and the appeals procedures under the Policy; and
  • highlight educational programs and resources addressing Sexual Violence.

The Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation which addresses sexual discrimination, non-violent sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination which are not violations of this Policy can be found by clicking on the policy title above.

Saint Joseph’s University ("Saint Joseph's" or "University") is committed to providing an institutional environment where all persons may pursue their studies, careers, duties, and activities in an atmosphere free of threat of sexual violence. Sexual harassment of students, employees and any member of Saint Joseph’s University community interferes with the expectation that students and employees will learn and work in an environment that is free from discrimination. Sexual violence, as defined by the University, may also constitute a crime. 

B. Policy

The University does not tolerate Sexual Violence on its campus, at University-sponsored events, or off-campus, by any member of the Saint Joseph's community (faculty, students, administrators, staff including union members, and volunteers). Conduct that is determined to constitute Sexual Violence is not only a violation of the Policy and reprehensible in any context, but it is also a matter of particular concern in an academic community in which students, faculty, staff, volunteers and visitors are connected by strong bonds of dependence and trust.  As such, all members of the community are expected to report acts of Sexual Violence.

In addition to University action, a member of the Saint Joseph's community who has violated this Policy (the respondent) may be prosecuted under applicable criminal statutes of the location where the alleged offense occurred.  S/he will be subject to internal University investigative and/or disciplinary proceedings regardless and independent of any criminal process.

An individual who believes that s/he has been subjected to Sexual Violence (complainant) is urged to report such conduct immediately to the Office of Public Safety & Security (610-660-1111) and/or the local police (911). 

The complainant should be medically examined as soon as possible. Once the complainant contacts the Office of Public Safety & Security, s/he will receive support and information regarding options for moving forward. Evidence, including clothing, drinks, glasses, bed linens, etc., should be preserved.  In order to preserve evidence, the complainant should not shower or bathe.  Additional information on support is set forth later in this Policy under Section H.  These support services are also available for individuals who are unsure whether they have experienced conduct that might be a violation of this Policy.

Any member of the University community (complainant) may file a complaint against another member of the University community (respondent).  

All acts of Sexual Violence may be reported to the Office of Public Safety & Security. However, a report may instead be made to the Title IX Coordinator (if the respondent is a student), the Vice President for Student Life (if the respondent is a student), the Provost (if the respondent is a faculty member) or the Vice President for Human Resources (if the respondent is an employee who is not a faculty member, or is an independent contractor, volunteer, trustee and visitor).   Victims of Sexual Violence should report to public safety if they are unsure of the status of the respondent.

Furthermore, there are services available for individuals (complainants, respondents and/or witnesses) who wish to seek help confidentially.  Specifically, the only persons who do not make reports, to which names are attached, are the Counselors in the Counseling and Psychological Services Department (CAPS) and physicians (when functioning within the scope of their licenses), and priests (when serving in their pastoral capacities).

While it is clearly best to report the alleged act of Sexual Violence immediately, reports may be made at any time preferably prior to the last date of enrollment or employment of the complainant or respondent

The Title IX Coordinator will be given access to school law enforcement unit investigation notes and findings as necessary for the Title IX audit/oversight so long as it does not compromise the criminal investigation.

C. Sexual Violence

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) states that Sexual Violence includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion (Ali, Dear Colleague Letter, 2011, pp. 1-2).

 Sexual intercourse without consent is rape.

 Sexual contact without consent is sexual assault.

 The touching of a person in an intimate part of the body without consent is sexual battery. 

 Subjecting a person to sexual contact as a result of the use of physical or psychological pressure or threats, or the consumption of alcohol or drugs without consent is sexual coercion.

The key is effective consent.  Specifically, consent is informed, freely and actively given, and requires clear communication between all persons involved in the sexual encounter.  Consent is active, not passive. Consent can be communicated verbally or by actions.  Consent cannot be procured by use of physical force, compelling threats, or intimidating behavior.

In whatever way consent is communicated, it must be mutually understandable. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.  It is the responsibility of the initiator of sexual contact to make sure that s/he understands fully what the person with whom s/he is involved wants and does not want sexually.  Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Previous relationships or consent does not imply consent to future sexual acts. 

Effective consent cannot be given by minors, mentally disabled individuals or person’s incapacitated as a result of drugs or alcohol, including so called “date rape” drugs.  Incapacitation is a state where one cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because s/he lacks the ability to understand the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of their sexual interaction.

Certain conduct that may violate this Policy may also be considered a crime under Pennsylvania law (See, http://www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us/CrimeCode.aspx?dt). 

D. University Response When There is a Report of a Sexual Violence

The goal of the University’s response is to offer support services to the complainant and respondent(s), while seeking to provide a safe educational and working environment.  To this end, the University will take steps to prevent Sexual Violence from occurring through prevention and education.  However, when such conduct occurs, the University will take all necessary and reasonable steps to stop the alleged conduct and provide support to the complainant, the respondent, and, as necessary, to other members of the University community, at the time the assault is reported, during the investigation process and afterward.

  1. Immediate medical and/or psychological assistance will be made available to the complainant and respondent.  The Office of Public Safety & Security will provide transportation to a hospital that specializes in sexual assault examination and care, if appropriate.  The complainant will be offered support from the Rape Education Prevention Program (REPP), the University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff, or victim services agencies throughout the process.
  2. The Office of Public Safety & Security will provide guidance to the individuals concerning the preservation of relevant evidence, provide options for notifying law enforcement, and assist complainants with notifying law enforcement, if desired or otherwise deemed necessary.
  3. Certain academic, residential and/or employment interim remedial measures may be instituted in order to address the situation pending an investigation and ultimate resolution.   Likewise, long-term remedial measures may be implemented in order to remedy the effects of Sexual Violence.  Such measures may require changes in, or exceptions to, University services or policies.
  4. The Office of Public Safety & Security, in consultation with other offices, as necessary, will authorize contact restrictions between the complainant and respondent for the protection of either or both parties.    

E.     Procedures for Student Allegations of Conduct Involving University Students

 Reporting:

  1. Police (911).  The conduct may be reported directly to the police in the location where the alleged offense occurs.  Nine-one-one (911) may be called for both the Philadelphia and Lower Merion police.  The University may report a Sexual Violence allegation to the appropriate law enforcement agency (in most cases, the police department) depending on the circumstances presented (including any discernible threat to the safety of others). 
  2. Office of Public Safety & Security (610-660-1111).  A report of a conduct that may constitute Sexual Violence under this Policy should be made to the Office of Public Safety & Security. As discussed above, however, a report may instead be made to the Title IX Coordinator (if the respondent is a student), the Vice President for Student Life (if the respondent is a student), the Provost (if the respondent is a faculty member) or the Vice President for Human Resources (if the respondent is an employee who is not a faculty member, or is an independent contractor, volunteer, trustee and visitor).  The Office of Public Safety & Security will provide information about the option to file a criminal complaint.  If the complainant so desires, the Office of Public Safety & Security will assist him/her in contacting the local police.  This office will also provide information for contacting a member of REPP (610-733-9650; available 24 hours a day) and/or contact the CAPS Counselor on call if s/he so desires. Regardless of whether a criminal complaint is filed, the University will pursue its own internal processes to address the alleged conduct, and it expects that all those involved will participate in the process.  The fact that an individual (complainant, respondent and/or witness) refuses to participate in the process does not mean that the investigative process will not take place if the University deems it appropriate to do so.

 Investigation:

In line with the requirements of the Office of Civil Rights and at the request of the Office of Student Life, when the respondent is a student, the Office of Public Safety & Security will conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and prepare a factual report that will be conveyed to the Community Standards Office. 

 Hearing Process:

When the respondent is a student, the alleged offense will be handled under the Community Standards process as a potential violation, along with any other alleged violations of the Community Standards in connection with the incident. (This is in addition to any criminal procedures that the complainant chooses to pursue.) In most cases, allegations of Sexual Violence shall be heard by the Community Standards Board, consistent with the published Community Standards process. http://www.sju.edu/communitystandards

The appeal process is included in the Community Standards process.

Any question of interpretation regarding the Community Standards shall be referred to the Vice President for Student Life for final determination.  The University may exercise discretion by addressing other potential violations of the Community Standards which may become apparent during the investigation/hearing process in a way fair to both parties and based on the specific circumstances.  Any other potential violations will be addressed in addition to the Sexual Violence allegation.   

F. Procedures for Employee Allegations of Conduct Involving University Employees, Independent Contractors, Volunteers, Trustees or Visitors

When the respondent is a non-student, the alleged offense will be handled under the Complaint Procedure of the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation.  Mediation is not employed for allegations of Sexual Violence. 

G.  Non-Retaliation Statement

The University prohibits retaliation against any individual who makes a complaint of Sexual Violence or participates in the investigation of such a complaint.

Anyone who believes s/he has been retaliated against for invoking this Policy, opposing violations of this policy, or participating in an investigation should report the matter promptly to the Office of Public Safety & Security. Again, however, a report may instead be made to the Title IX Coordinator (if the respondent is a student), the Vice President for Student Life (if the respondent is a student), the Provost (if the respondent is a faculty member) or the Vice President for Human Resources (if the respondent is an employee who is not a faculty member, or is an independent contractor, volunteer, trustee and visitor).  

Complaints of retaliation will be investigated and dealt with as any other complaint brought under this Policy.

Complaints made in good faith under this policy will not result in any adverse action against the complainant, and no other person who participates in good faith in an investigation will be treated adversely because of that participation.  However, if an investigation results in a finding that the complainant knowingly accused another falsely of an act of Sexual Violence, then the complainant will be subject to appropriate sanctions, up to and including termination of employment or, in the case of students, permanent separation from the University.

H. Education

Sexual Violence education and prevention resources are available on the University web site at http://www.sju.edu/int/academics/cas/sociology/rapeeducation/.

The Office of Public Safety & Security annually publishes campus security reports that include statistics on campus crimes and arrests for certain specified categories of offenses.  The report also describes policies related to campus security. The reports are distributed electronically to all current students and employees and, upon request, to applicants for enrollment or employment, and they are available on the University’s web site at http://www.sju.edu/int/resources/security/annualreport.html.  The student newspaper regularly publishes “incidents of crime” on and around campus. These periodic reports are supplied by the Office of Public Safety & Security on a weekly basis during the fall and spring semesters.

In addition, the Office of Public Safety & Security conducts an annual security presentation to incoming first-year students and transfer students at Orientation.  This presentation includes information about how to develop personal protection plans, including protection against rape.

The distribution of the Student Handbook, which contains the Sexual Violence Policy and additional programming during New Student Orientation and during the first few weeks of the semester, continues this educational effort.

During the course of the academic year, Student Life sponsors or co-sponsors at least one program each semester on sexual violence, as well as targeted programming for certain populations (e.g. Athletes, First Year Students, Greeks, resident students, and other groups as needed).  

Effective: June 2013

I. References

Ali, R. (2011, April 4). Dear colleague letter. United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov