Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions About Goucher's Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking (PDF)
Goucher has prepared these answers to frequently asked questions so the college community, including parents of Goucher students, better understand how the college addresses concerns about sexual violence and other forms of misconduct. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to contact the Goucher's Title IX coordinator, Lucia Perfetti Clark, at 410-337-6570, and we will add your question to this website.
What do Goucher students need to know about the college's Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking?
True to its title, the policy covers a wide range of behaviors, including stalking, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation (for example, improper use of video and pictures), relationship violence, and sexual assault. An important part of the policy is the definition of consent used to explain appropriate forms of sexual behavior. When it comes to engaging in sexual behavior, consent must be given verbally, not just through actions, and it must be mutual and ongoing (consent can be withdrawn at any time). Someone who is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs cannot give consent. Although explicit verbal consent for sexual behavior is a high expectation of students, the Goucher community has decided this is the best standard to use to establish an environment where there is mutual respect in sexual relationships.
If Goucher students are the victims of sexual misconduct, how does the college handle their complaints?
The college provides students with a range of options regarding pursuing complaints under its policy. We believe the victims of sexual misconduct should retain as much control as possible over the process and how their situations are handled. For less serious conduct, students may opt to try to resolve the matter informally, with the assistance of the Title IX coordinator or other college administrator. Students may wish to file a formal complaint under the policy (with the Title IX coordinator), and the college will conduct a formal investigation of the allegation. If the accused student is found responsible for the conduct, appropriate sanctions will be imposed. In rare circumstances, the college may have to address allegations even if the victim does not want to pursue a formal complaint, especially where the circumstances present a threat of harm or injury to the victim or other members of the community.
What sanctions are imposed for sexual assault?
The college's policy provides a range of sanctions for violations of the policy, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the college. Under Goucher's policy, "sexual assault" ranges from non-consensual touching of a sexual nature to non-consensual sexual intercourse. Thus, sanctions will vary depending on the specific conduct involved, although the policy does stipulate students found responsible for sexual assault involving intercourse are likely to receive a sanction of suspension or expulsion.
In determining sanctions, the decision panel will consider 1) the accused student's prior disciplinary history; 2) the nature and violence of the conduct at issue; 3) the impact of the conduct on the complainant; 4) the impact of the conduct on the community, its members, or its property; 5) whether the accused student is likely to engage in the conduct in the future; and 6) any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances, including the college's Community Principles. Alcohol and drug use are not considered mitigating circumstances.
Why doesn't Goucher automatically report sexual assaults to the local police department?
A student who has been the victim of an assault, as defined by Goucher's policy, may not have been the victim of a crime, as defined under Maryland law. We provide Sexual Misconduct and Guidelines Information (PDF) to students about how the criminal process works and encourage them to preserve evidence and obtain appropriate medical exams if they wish to pursue that path. The college will also help students file a criminal complaint. Generally, however, the Baltimore County Police Department will not accept reports of sexual assault that are not brought forward by the victim, so Goucher cannot report the crime on the victim's behalf.
Students can file both a complaint under Goucher's policy and a criminal complaint with the police. Goucher will not stop its own processes if a criminal complaint is filed.
What is a "timely warning," and when does the college issue one?
If a crime occurs on Goucher's campus and is considered by Goucher's Office of Public Safety to represent a serious or continuing threat to students or employees, the college will issue a "timely warning" to the community. Timely warnings enable community members to protect themselves from an ongoing crime or other threat. Warnings will be issued in a variety of ways, depending on the circumstances, including by email, phone, in person, or through the college's emergency notification system. Students can sign up to receive emergency alerts at www.goucher.edu/getalerts. Goucher's timely warning protocol can be found on the website.
When issuing a timely warning with respect to a sexual assault, or any crime, Goucher will withhold as confidential the name and other personally identifying information or personal information about the victim, to the extent possible, while balancing the need to ensure the safety of the campus community.
Will a timely warning be issued every time there is a sexual assault on campus?
Because assaults range from non-consensual touching to rape, not every incident of assault necessarily creates a danger to the community. Also, reports of sexual assault are made to the college in many ways, sometimes long after the incident, and many times they do not include significant details. Thus, the college may not issue a timely warning every time it receives a report of an assault. However, every report is investigated carefully, and community members will be provided with all information necessary to ensure their safety.
I have learned there are many reported instances of sexual misconduct and even some of sexual assault on Goucher's campus. Is Goucher's campus a safe place?
Sexual misconduct and assault occur at Goucher, as they do at every other campus in the country. We know sexual assault prevalence is difficult to measure; various studies have attempted to measure prevalence, but some of them differ greatly in their outcomes due to variances in research methods and populations studied.
In the past year, Goucher has received a significantly larger number of complaints under the college policy than we have in previous years: Fifteen cases of sexual misconduct and assault were reported to the administration and closed this year, including three cases of rape and one of forcible fondling, which will be reported in the college's annual crime statistics, and other complaints of sexual touching, sexual harassment, and stalking.
We believe increased reporting is a good thing. It does not necessarily mean there are more instances of misconduct on this campus; we believe it signals students' greater willingness to come forward and report this conduct to the administration, to seek the support they need, and to participate in our conduct process. As students' trust in our process increases, and they become aware of sanctions we impose for violations of our policy, we believe the campus will become safer, and, in the long run, we can reduce the instances of this type of misconduct on our campus.
What resources are available to Goucher students who are victims of sexual misconduct?
The college has created numerous print and online materials that provide information regarding the resources that are available to students, both on and off campus. Students may need immediate help if they have just experienced an assault.
- Information about Reporting to the Police and Obtaining Medical Assistance is available.
- Students may also need emotional support and counseling. These resources are available both on campus and off campus.
- Students may want to report the incident confidentially to a support person.