Sexual misconduct of any form is a serious violation of College and community standards, and it will not be tolerated at Kenyon. Sexual misconduct endangers the environment of mutual respect, and it is considered an act of aggression and coercion, not an expression of sexual intimacy. Persons of any sex can be subject to and can be capable of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct can occur between people of the same gender; it can occur among "couples" involved in a romantic relationship. The College policy on sexual misconduct reflects the serious intent of Kenyon to provide resources and recourse for individuals whose rights may have been violated by an act of sexual misconduct. Although a single incident of a student held responsible for sexual misconduct could well warrant dismissal from the College, the Judicial Board is advised that a second sexual-misconduct violation for a student should result in his or her dismissal.
There is no statute of limitations for sexual misconduct at Kenyon. A student can bring charges against another student as long as both are currently enrolled in the College.
There are four major categories of sexual misconduct:
- Sexual assault
- Inappropriate sexual touching
- Endangering the health of another person
- Sexual harassment
Students can be accused of or charged with one or more of these offenses for their behavior in a single incident. None of these forms of sexual misconduct will be tolerated at Kenyon.
Campus Senate will review this policy and evaluate its effectiveness every fourth year. It is scheduled for review again in the 2011-12 academic year.
1. Sexual assault
Definition: Sexual assault occurs when a student engages in sexual relations with another student without that person's verbal consent. Sexual assault includes the sexual conduct known as rape, whether forcible or nonforcible. Forcible rape is the severest form of sexual assault. Either males or females can be aggressors in sexual assault, and sexual assault can occur in same-sex relationships.
Definition of sexual relations: Sexual relations include, but are not limited to, vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, fellatio and cunnilingus, touching the genitals, or inserting any object into the vagina or anus of another person. Ultimately, the Judicial Board will decide if a particular sexual activity, not listed above, is defined as sexual relations.
Definition of verbal consent: Verbal consent is given when a student clearly indicates by spoken words his or her willingness to engage in a particular form of sexual relations.
Understanding the verbal consent requirement
Verbal consent must be given for each form of sexual relations that takes place, and this consent must be given immediately before each form of sexual relations occurs. For example, a woman who consents to vaginal intercourse and cunnilingus has approved participation in these forms of sex, but she has not consented to participation in other forms of sex, such as anal intercourse or fellatio. Both people need to be specific about the forms of sexual relations to which they are consenting. Any form of sexual activity to which both people do not verbally consent is not allowed. Silence on the part of one or both parties is not consent.
Verbal consent for any and all sexual activities may be withdrawn by either party at any time before the completion of the sexual activity (or activities) in question. To withdraw consent once it has been given, normally a clear and strong verbal statement is required. The main exception to this rule is that consent is automatically withdrawn by a person who has fallen asleep or passed into a state of unconsciousness.
Obviously, verbal consent that is gained through the use of physical violence, verbal threats, or other forms of coercion is not valid.
Both sexual participants have a responsibility to communicate their feelings and to ensure that verbal consent has been given before sexual relations occur. However, in situations where one student clearly is the initiator of sexual activity (regardless of gender) and the other student clearly is the responder, then a greater burden falls on the initiator of the sexual act(s) to ensure that verbal consent has been granted by the responding student. In situations where both students are active in initiating sexual activity, the responsibility for ensuring that verbal consent is given falls on both students equally. Verbal consent should be explicitly sought and explicitly granted. Lack of verbal objection is not consent.
If neither student sought or obtained the partner's verbal consent, but one person was very active in initiating sexual relations, and the other person was not, then the student actively initiating sexual relations would generally be subject, if a Judicial Board determines a violation has occurred, to the sanctions provided for sexual assault.
Alcohol, drugs, and verbal consent
The Kenyon College sexual misconduct policy is built on the requirement of obtaining verbal consent.
The use of alcohol and other drugs impairs judgment and undermines the ability to make good decisions, including decisions about sexual activity. Students need to realize that, when they engage in sexual activity after consuming alcohol or using other drugs, they are acting in a potentially risky and harmful manner. Moreover, the risks and dangers become more real when students engage in sexual activity after becoming intoxicated.
A level of intoxication can be reached, short of losing consciousness, where a student's judgment is so impaired he or she is not capable of giving valid verbal consent. It is the task of the Judicial Board to determine if this point of impairment had been reached before a student's verbal consent was given.
The use of alcohol or drugs does not minimize a student's responsibility for sexual assault or any form of sexual misconduct. Being under the influence of alcohol, or any other drug, does not excuse behavior. In particular, it does not mitigate or nullify a charge of sexual assault or any other form of sexual misconduct.
The use of alcohol or drugs does not, in and of itself, negate a student's ability to give verbal consent, nor does it remove a student's responsibility to communicate his or her feelings and ensure that any verbal consent given is valid.
Penalties for sexual assault
Cases where force or threats are used, or where the victim is asleep or unconscious, or when intoxicants are forcibly, deceitfully, or surreptitiously administered to the victim by the perpetrator or the perpetrator's associates are particularly severe cases of sexual assault. In such cases, the required penalty for the responsible party is dismissal (permanent removal) from the College.
For other cases of sexual assault, the usual penalty for the responsible party should be either dismissal from the College or suspension from the College for a period of at least two semesters or for as long as the victim is enrolled as a student in the College (whichever is longer).
An apparent exception to this policy would be a case where neither person gave verbal consent and where both people were clearly active in initiating and participating in all forms of sexual relations that occurred. Although each student would be in violation of Kenyon's consent policy, neither would appear to be guilty of sexual assault. If such a case appears before the Judicial Board and the Judicial Board believes a penalty is warranted, then a penalty less severe than suspension would seem to be appropriate.
2. Inappropriate or unwanted sexual touching
Definition: Inappropriate sexual touching occurs when a student intentionally touches another student's body in a sexual way and in an inappropriate context. Inappropriate sexual touching can be done "skin on skin" or through clothing. However, skin on skin touching of a person's genitals or anus without verbal consent is more than inappropriate sexual touching; it is sexual assault. Exactly what constitutes inappropriate sexual touching varies according to the context and the nature of the relationship, if any, between the people involved.
Unwanted sexual touching occurs when a student continues to touch another student in a sexual way after the student has indicated, by words or actions, that the touching is not desired and should stop.
Penalties. Because of the range of behaviors it covers, there is no recommended penalty for inappropriate or unwanted sexual touching. However, dismissal from the College should be considered as the punishment in severe cases of inappropriate or unwanted sexual touching.
3. Endangering the health of another person
Definition: If a student knows (or has reason to believe) that he or she is infected with a disease or condition that can be transmitted sexually, that student has an obligation to inform potential sexual partners of his or her condition before having sexual relations with them. If the infected student fails to do this, then he or she is guilty of endangering the health of another person.
Penalties. The recommended penalty for endangering the health of another person is suspension from the College for a period of at least two semesters. However, dismissal from Kenyon should be considered as the punishment in severe cases of endangering the health of another person.
4. Sexual harassment
A definition of sexual harassment, and the procedures for students to follow in cases of sexual harassment can be found here.
What to do if you believe you have been a victim of sexual misconduct
If a Kenyon student believes she or he has been, or may have been, a victim of sexual misconduct, the student should pursue the options listed below. These options can be pursued individually or in any combination the student chooses.
a. Seek counseling and advice.
A student can seek counseling and advice from anyone-a friend, a faculty member, or a relative. However, people in some positions have the training, knowledge, and experience to be particularly helpful sources of counseling and advice for students who believe they are, or might have been, victims of sexual misconduct.
A student can consult with people in the following positions with complete legal confidentiality. This means that people in these positions cannot be forced by legal means to reveal what has been told to them when acting in their professional capacity. While on campus, students can see persons in the following positions for advice with complete legal confidentiality:
- A member of the College's counseling staff at campus extension 5643
- A member of the Health Services staff at PBX-5525
- One of the College's sexual misconduct advisors
- A member of the clergy or board of campus ministries
The list below names other persons on campus who are good sources of advice and information for students who think they have been, or might have been, victims of sexual misconduct. The people on this list do not have positions that give them the right of legal confidentiality, but they are especially useful sources of information about the College's rules and judicial procedures regarding sexual misconduct:
- Dean of Students,Hank Toutain, campus extension 5136
- Associate Dean of Students, Tacci Smith, campus extension 5136
- Associate Dean of Students, Chris Kennerly, campus extension 5136
- Community advisors, campus extension 5142
- Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Samantha Hughes, campus extension 5140.
- Equal Opportunity Officer (EOO) Mariam El-Shamaa, campus extension 5820
b. Consult with a College counselor to confidentially report the incident.
The complainant may choose to mediate the complaint. A member of the College counseling staff will serve as the mediator. If the complainant chooses mediation the following guidelines will be observed:
- Everything discussed during every phase of the mediation process and after its completion is confidential. Details of the mediation, including any written documentation, will not be discussed with anyone unless both the complainant and the accused give written consent to the contrary.
- The purpose of mediation is not to determine if a policy or polices have been broken nor is it to issue sanctions against the accused; it is to help bring resolution to a conflict.
- A neutral College counselor, one who is not working with either the complainant or the accused, will serve as the mediating counselor.
- Both the complainant and the accused may seek an advisor from within the Kenyon community who holds legal confidentiality in the area of sexual misconduct (College counselor, medical staff, clergy, Sexual Misconduct Advisor) to be present with him/her throughout the mediation. The role of the advisor is one of support and to ask clarifying questions only.
- If both parties agree on a resolution the terms of the agreement will be documented and both the complainant and the accused will sign the agreement. A copy of the agreed upon terms will be kept by the mediating counselor and a copy given to the complainant and the accused. The terms of the mediated agreement are confidential.
- If both parties can not come to an agreeable resolution, the complainant may choose to proceed with filing a formal complaint with the College, and/or local law enforcement. The complainant always has the right to file formal charges even if formal mediation has been agreed upon should s/he feel it necessary and both parties are still currently enrolled in the College.
c. File a formal, written complaint to start college conduct review proceedings.
To make a formal written report/complaint with the College charging another student with one or more forms of sexual misconduct, students should contact the EOO, the dean of students, the associate dean of students, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or the Office of Campus Safety to bring charges of any form of sexual misconduct other than sexual harassment (which can be made only to the EOO). Students who believe they have been victims of sexual misconduct are urged to make a formal, written report/complaint, thereby starting the College's conduct review process. If the formal, written report/complaint is not made, the College conduct review process will not begin, and there will be no hearing, and no possibility of accountability. Once the written sexual misconduct report/complaint has been made, the following things will occur:
1. The written report/complaint will be shared with the EOO, the director of campus safety, the dean of students, the associate dean of students, and the director of student rights and responsibilities.
2. The judicial affairs coordinator will place the matter into the formal College conduct review process by assigning the matter to one of the student affairs staff members who serves as a conduct hearing officer.
3. The administrator to whom the case is assigned will contact the student who filed the report/complaint to discuss the College conduct review process with her or him. If the case goes to a hearing before the Conduct Review Board, the student bringing the complaint will serve as complainant, and she or he will be responsible for presenting her or his case. The administrator will work closely with the complainant to advise the student about the conduct review process and presenting the case. In general, a case cannot go forward if the complainant chooses not to testify on her or his own behalf.
d. File criminal charges in the Knox County legal system.
Students who believe they have been, or may have been, the victim of a sex crime are encouraged to consider filing charges in the Knox County criminal justice system. Robert Hooper, 5110, director of campus safety, can advise students on this process and assist any who want to make formal legal charges by contacting the appropriate persons in the local law enforcement community.
Kenyon's Sexual Misconduct Policy and Ohio's criminal laws
According to Ohio law, information about alleged felonies must be reported to civil authorities unless the information is shared with a physician, a member of the clergy, or a trained counselor, including the College's sexual misconduct advisors. Other Kenyon officers, including deans, faculty members who are not sexual misconduct advisors, and members of the security and safety staff, are obligated to report alleged felonies to the Knox County Sheriff's Department, usually through the Office of Campus Safety. This latter reporting requirement applies to all Kenyon student employees as well. As a practical matter, prosecuting attorneys typically will not bring charges against the accused in a sexual assault case unless the accuser is willing to support the case and testify against the accused.
In compliance with the applicable federal and Ohio laws, the College reserves the right to notify authorities and the local community of any threatening situation and to take appropriate action without the consent of the victim.
Kenyon reserves the right to take action regarding a student or a student group whenever an activity is viewed as threatening or injurious to the well-being or property of members of the College community or to Kenyon property or the orderly functioning of the College.
A student charged with sexual misconduct by Kenyon can be prosecuted under Ohio criminal statutes and also disciplined under the College's policies, rules, and regulations. These actions are separate, and they are not dependent upon one another. On campus, cases of sexual misconduct are resolved through the Kenyon conduct review process, and they are normally heard by the Conduct Review Board. Campus proceedings will not be unduly delayed even if legal proceedings are also in progress as these are distinct processes.
Kenyon's policy on releasing information arising from sexual misconduct cases
In conduct cases arising out of a formal sexual-misconduct complaint (including sexual assault, inappropriate or unwanted sexual touching, endangering the health of another person, or sexual harassment), the victim or complainant has the right to be notified of the final results of the conduct hearing and the results of any appeal. Such information shall be limited to the name of the accused student, the violation committed, and any sanction/penalty imposed by the College on the student.
If the student is found guilty of sexual assault through Kenyon's conduct process, the College will disclose to the public the final results of the disciplinary proceeding after any internal avenue of appeal has been exhausted. Such information shall be limited to the name of the responsible student, the violation for which the student was held responsible, and any sanction/penalty imposed by the College on the student. This information will be released unless the victim is opposed to the release of the information. In case of this opposition, all information except the name of the guilty student will be released to the public. Kenyon will not disclose the name of any other student, including a victim or witness, without the prior written consent of that other student.
Note: The Sexual Misconduct Task Force is a coalition of College offices and campus organizations that coordinate campus efforts to promote awareness of, and reduce the risk of, sexual misconduct through prevention, policy, and advocacy. The task force, whose membership includes students, faculty members, and administrators, conducts regular reviews and assessments and makes recommendations to the College and campus organizations.