Sexual Misconduct Policy
Updated July 31, 2018
This policy addresses the expectations Pacific Lutheran University (“PLU”) has for its students under Title IX and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (“VAWA”). Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (gender) in education programs and activities; and, programs that receive federal assistance. PLU has procedures in place to respond to matters of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. These laws are completely consistent with PLU’s Nondiscrimination Policy, its prohibition against sex discrimination (including sexual misconduct) and its philosophy of providing an environment in which students can live, work and study free from all types of discrimination including gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or sex discrimination.
This policy covers student to lstudent-related concerns of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence or Domestic Violence (“Relationship Violence”) and Stalking. This conduct will be referred to collectively as “Prohibited Conduct,” and PLU may assume jurisdiction of such Prohibited Conduct involving PLU students regardless of whether the alleged Prohibited Conduct occurred on or off campus. This policy should be used if both the Impacted Party (who may also be referred to as the Complainant), and the student against whom the allegations are made (the Respondent) are students. If the Impacted Party is a student and the Respondent is a member of the faculty or staff, the Impacted Party should use the PLU Human Resources Sexual Misconduct Policy. In cases where the Complainant or the Respondent are not PLU students, faculty members, or staff members, PLU will determine, in its sole discretion, the best remedies for the Impacted Party and the community.
This policy and the Student Conduct procedures set forth the process used by PLU to assess a concern, investigate allegations of Prohibited Conduct, and determine whether a Respondent has violated this policy. When a determination is made that a violation has occurred, PLU will issue sanctions and take such other actions commensurate with the violation and which reflect PLU’s determination to end such conduct, prevent its recurrence and redress its effects.
It is a violation of PLU policy for any PLU student to engage in any conduct defined in this policy as Prohibited Conduct, including without limitation Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence or Domestic Violence (“Relationship Violence”) and Stalking, whether or not it occurs on campus. This policy is intended to meet the requirements of applicable federal and state laws. If this policy is inconsistent with any applicable law, it is the University’s intent to follow applicable laws.
PLU, by its mission and by its legal responsibilities, is committed to providing an environment in which students can work, live, and study free from all types of prohibited conduct. Consistent with its Equal Educational Opportunity Policy, PLU prohibits any discrimination in education and employment on the basis of gender (see also PLU Human Resources Sexual Misconduct Policy). Prohibited conduct, as listed above, has a serious negative impact on the quality of the education experience. All members of the community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others, whether on or off campus. The Sexual Misconduct Policy has been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for those individuals who believe they may have experienced or witnessed Prohibited Conduct. This policy and the Student Conduct Procedures also provide the standards and process for the University to determine, after the fact, if behaviors violate the PLU Student Code of Conduct. The University will work to prevent and eliminate Prohibited Conduct by providing a multi-faceted educational program to promote awareness of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. All members of the PLU community are encouraged to play a role in making their community a safe, educational, and just community.
Consistent with other provisions of PLU’s Student Code of Conduct, this policy and procedures apply to all students enrolled in courses at Pacific Lutheran University. Individuals involved in incidents prior to or during a break between successive terms of enrollment may be subject to action in the Student Rights and Responsibilities system.
The University reserves the right to follow the procedures outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities system if a student’s behavior violates the Student Code of Conduct, regardless of where the behavior occurs. The University will generally, but not exclusively, respond to off-campus behavior if an alleged violation occurs while a student is engaged in a PLU-sponsored or sanctioned event (i.e. study away, alternative spring break, athletics, music performance, outdoor recreation), the behavior raises concern for the safety of those on-campus, or the behavior jeopardizes the university’s interests in the community.
In addition, the university may follow the procedures outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities system whenever a student is accused of a criminal act, regardless of the location of its occurrence.
A. How to Report
Any PLU student who believes they have been subjected to or witnessed Prohibited Conduct is an Impacted Party, and is encouraged to report such a concern. Students may report Prohibited Conduct in several ways:
- Submit an Incident Report via the Student Rights and Responsibilities office. Students are able to electronically submit a report via the online Incident Reporting Form. Impacted Parties can remain anonymous; however, the SRR office will only be able to act on as much information as is given. Any information provided anonymously, including any personally identifying information, may serve as notice to the University for the purpose of starting to investigate the report.
- Contacting Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinators
- The Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinators work to enforce compliance with Title IX, including responding to any complaint or report. See https://www.plu.edu/title-ix/title-ix-coordinator/ for more information on the University’s Title IX Coordinator
- All faculty, staff, administration, Residence Assistants and Campus Safety student employees at PLU are considered responsible employees, and have an obligation to report to the appropriate individuals all incidents related to prohibited conduct that they become aware of. Students are encouraged to disclose information to a PLU faculty, staff, administrator, Resident Assistant, or Campus Safety student employee if they feel safe doing so.
- Students may make a report directly to local law enforcement officials by calling 911.
There is no time limit on making a complaint, but prompt reporting is encouraged in order to obtain evidence and information in a timely manner. As time passes, memories fade and some memories change as students reflect on their own conduct and that of others. As a result, PLU encourages students to make prompt reports.
Any person with knowledge of alleged Prohibited Conduct is encouraged to report concerns or information to any of the above individuals.
All of the above individuals are considered private sources. This means the offices will keep the information as private as possible, but certain procedures will need to be followed once reported, so confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. See below for more information on private vs. confidential resources.
B. Confidentiality and Confidential Resources
The University will make reasonable and appropriate efforts to preserve an Impacted Party’s and Respondent’s privacy and to protect the confidentiality of information. Should an Impacted Party request confidentiality, the Title IX Coordinator and/or their designee will inform the Impacted Party that the University’s ability to respond may therefore be limited – but that where feasible, the University will take reasonable steps to prevent Prohibited Conduct and limit its effects.
The Title IX Coordinator and/or their designee will further inform the Impacted Party that it is not possible to provide confidentiality in all cases and that the University’s decision to share information with others is subject to the balancing test described below in Section VII. In summary, although the University’s goal is to limit the number of individuals who may learn about an allegation of Prohibited Conduct or an investigation, the University cannot guarantee confidentiality in all matters.
1. Confidential Resources
Should an individual not be prepared to make a report, but is seeking information and wanting a confidential resource, there are several options available to the student. The offices below can explore different options with the Impacted Party and/or the Reporter without initiating further action from the University. The University encourages pastoral counselors and professional counselors, if and when they deem it appropriate, to inform the persons they are counseling of any procedures to report crimes on a voluntary, confidential basis for inclusion in the annual disclosure of crime statistics. These individuals/offices cannot and will not report the matter further, and reporting to any of these individuals/offices does not put the University on notice that Prohibited Conduct may have occurred.
Pacific Lutheran University Victim Advocate within the Center for Gender Equity
Office: Center for Gender Equity, 801 121st Street
Pacific Lutheran University Counseling Center
Office: University Center 300
Pacific Lutheran University Student Health Center
Office: 121st and Park Avenue
Pacific Lutheran University Campus Ministry
Office: University Center 190
Pierce County Sexual Assault Center
Telephone: 253-474-7273 or 800-756-7273
Pierce County Domestic Violence Helpline
Telephone: 253-798-4166 or 800-764-2420
2. Private Resources
A report to the University may be made to any of the following offices or individuals. These are trained individuals who will initiate the University’s responsive action to a sexual misconduct complaint. While not bound by confidentiality, these resources will maintain the privacy of an individual’s information within the confines of the Title IX resolution process.
Pacific Lutheran University Campus Safety
Telephone: 253-535-7441, emergencies: 253-535-7911
Office: Basement of Harstad Hall
Pacific Lutheran University Title IX Coordinator
Office: Garfield Station
Pacific Lutheran University Student Rights and Responsibilities
Office: Lee House (House at corner of Park Ave. and 121st Street)
Pacific Lutheran University Residential Life
Office: University Center 161
Additional contacts include Resident Assistants and Community Director
3. Reports to Law Enforcement
The University encourages anyone who believes they have experienced a violation of this Sexual Misconduct policy to make a report through the Police Department. PLU Campus Safety is willing and able to assist with referring students to this resource. The University also encourages Impacted Parties to be aware of the importance of preserving evidence that may assist in proving that an alleged criminal offense occurred or may be helpful in obtaining a protection order. An Impacted Party may also, in their discretion, decline to notify law enforcement officials.
Impacted Parties also have the right to seek other forms of relief from civil authorities, such as no contact orders, restraining orders, or similar. As set out in Section VI: A below, the University also may enter no contact orders and take other Interim Measures to assist the Impacted Party.
4. Anonymous Reports
The University welcomes students to submit anonymous reports of Prohibited Conduct, however, the University may not be able to fully address anonymous reports unless sufficient information is furnished to enable the University to conduct a meaningful and fair investigation. The University takes anonymous reports seriously, and will address the concern in whatever steps it deems appropriate, in the University’s sole discretion, in the best interest of the overall University community.
The University will take steps to protect the confidentiality of the Impacted Party and others involved in the reporting process. Publicly available recordkeeping, including Clery Act reporting and disclosures will be done without personal identifying information about the Impacted Party. Additionally, the University will maintain as confidential any accommodations or protective measures provided to the Impacted Party, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the institution to provide the accommodations or protective measures.
5. Special Considerations in regards to Confidentiality
Public awareness events, such as “Take Back the Night,” the Clothesline Project, or any other event or forum in which students may disclose incidents of sexual violence are not considered a report for PLU to act upon. However, usually education and resources are available for students at such events
6. Timely Warnings
In the case that PLU determines that an alleged Respondent poses a threat to the PLU community or a part of the PLU community, Campus Safety in conjunction with the Title IX Coordinator, will issue a timely warning to the community. Timely Warnings will not include identifying information of the reporting party or Impacted Party. Timely Warnings will be sent via email to the PLU community as deemed necessary.
7. Support Persons
The resources identified at B.1.a and b. can be utilized by both the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s) for cases involving allegations of Sexual Misconduct. Additionally, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities will provide a Support Person to serve as a resource during the Student Conduct process for the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s). These trained Support Persons are able to provide the following: emotional support, assistance in navigating the Sexual Misconduct process, acts as a liaison for academic and campus services, and provides referrals to counseling and support groups.
8. Respect for Amnesty Provisions
It is in the best interest of the PLU community for students to report cases of Sexual Misconduct; because of that, an individual who reports Sexual Misconduct, either as a Complainant or a Reporter, will have the focus of the investigation on the Prohibited Conduct and no other policy violations. While other potential policy violations cannot be overlooked, the University will work to address these situations by focusing on educational resources for the individuals.
Upon receipt of a report, PLU will take immediate steps to ensure that services have been offered to the Impacted Party, and Interim Measures have been taken for the safety and security of the Impacted Party and the PLU community. Then PLU will usually proceed as described below. Since PLU cannot reasonably anticipate every situation, however, PLU, in its sole discretion, will determine appropriate measures based on each individual incident, so the steps below are not promised or guaranteed to any student in any given situation.
A. Initial Title IX Assessment
Upon notice of any report regarding Prohibited Conduct, the Title IX Coordinator or a designee will assess whether a formal Title IX investigation will be conducted under this policy; that is whether the allegation, if true, would rise to the level of a policy violation and, if so, whether a formal investigation is appropriate under the circumstances. The Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with other PLU parties, determines whether an investigation should be commenced based on a variety of factors including but not limited to the Impacted Party’s wish to pursue disciplinary action, the risk posed to any individual or the campus community by not proceeding, and the nature of the allegation.
Before deciding whether an investigation will commence, the Title IX Coordinator, or their designee, will meet with the Impacted Party. At this meeting, the Title IX Coordinator or their designee will discuss support for the Impacted Party, the rights of the Impacted Party, attempt to obtain information related to the alleged incident, and discuss different PLU processes and options for the Impacted Party. The Impacted Party will have the opportunity to state their desired wish for disciplinary action at this meeting.
In circumstances in which the Title IX Coordinator or their designee determines that there is no ongoing risk of harm to the community and that Interim Measures, such as a No Contact Order from PLU, have addressed the concerns, the Title IX Coordinator may forgo a formal investigation. If the determination is that no further action is necessary or that the Interim Measures will remain in place on an ongoing basis, the Impacted Party will be provided written information regarding the decision as well as resources for support. To the extent appropriate under this Policy and if involved in the assessment, the Respondent will also be provided an Outcome Letter. To the extent that the Outcome Letter states that the University will not investigate the report of Prohibited Conduct, that determination may be appealed under Section XI.
B. Prohibited Conduct
If the Title IX Coordinator or their designee determines that an investigation will be initiated, the Impacted Party will be contacted by a staff member in the Student Rights and Responsibilities office who will explain options and will schedule a formal report meeting with a trained investigator. If the Impacted Party is willing to participate in the Student Rights and Responsibilities process, the Impacted Party may be designated as the Complainant. (In some cases, the University may act as the Complainant, in its sole discretion.) The individual alleged to have engaged in the Prohibited Conduct and who must respond to the allegations is designated as the Respondent.
C. Interim Measures
Interim measures are services, accommodations, or other assistance that PLU puts in place for Complainants after receiving notice of alleged sexual misconduct, but before any final outcomes – investigatory, disciplinary, or remedial – have been determined. The university is committed to ensuring that students receive appropriate medical attention, have the support necessary for healing, and continue to access their learning opportunities fully and equitably. Included in this commitment is an investment in ensuring that students understand their reporting options and how to access available interim measures.
Upon receiving a report of sexual misconduct the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or the Gender Based Violence Advocate will provide the Complainant with a written explanation of the interim measures available on campus and through local community resources and will confirm which interim measures are important to the Complainant’s safety, support, and educational access while proceeding through the conduct process. Some possible interim measures are listed below. Appropriate interim measures are determined in consultation with the Complainant or their advocate based on the specific variables inherent to their situation. In those instances where interim measures unavoidably affect both the Complainant and the Respondent, the Respondent may experience interim measures that ensure the integrity of those interim measures in place for the Complainant. Interim measures may be modified during the course of a conduct process based on the unfolding of the case and greater clarity about the Complainant’s needs.
A Complainant or the Violence Advocate supporting the Complainant may request, the interim measures below as they are and become relevant to the student’s safety, support, and equitable educational access.
- A “no contact” order, pending the outcome of an investigation. A no contact order serves as notice to parties involved in a sexual misconduct case that they may not have verbal, electronic, written, in person, or third party communication or contact with one another.
- Academic accommodations, including transfer to another section of a course; rescheduling an assignment or test; accessing academic support; arranging for incompletes, a leave of absence, or withdrawal from campus; preserving eligibility for scholarships; athletics, internships, study away, or student visas
- Medical and mental health services, including counseling
- Change in campus housing and dining locations
- Assistance in finding alternative housing
- Assistance in arranging for alternative student employment arrangements and/or changing work schedules
- Providing an escort to ensure that the Complainant can move safely between PLU’s educational programs and activities
- Transportation accommodations, such as shuttle service, a cab voucher, or parking arrangements to ensure safety and access to services
- Other interim measures as the university deems appropriate
A Respondent’s compliance with interim measures will be considered in sanctioning, if applicable.
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities will designate an un-biased, trained investigator to investigate each allegation of Sexual Misconduct. The investigator will conduct a thorough, fact-finding investigation, which will typically include interviews with the Complainant(s), the Respondent(s), and witnesses. The interviews will be supplemented by the gathering of any physical, documentary, or other evidence. As part of the investigation, PLU will allow all parties to provide witnesses and other evidence as appropriate. The investigation is designed to be thorough, impartial and fair, and all individuals will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect. The investigation will be conducted in a manner that is respectful of individual privacy concerns.
Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) will have the ability to read through the initial and final report, compiled by the Investigator. Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) will have the ability to respond to any part of the initial report, and submit questions to be asked of other parties throughout the investigation. All documentation submitted by the Complainant(s), Respondent(s) and witnesses will be in the initial and final report, with personal information redacted for privacy.
Throughout the process, any person participating in the process may have a Support Person present at any meeting related to the review of the reported Sexual Misconduct. However, the Complainant(s), Respondent(s) and witnesses are expected to speak for themselves and Support Persons must not be disruptive to the interview or process. The Complainant and/or the Respondent may be represented by legal counsel during the investigation process, but lawyers are subject to the same rules as other Support Persons. See the definition of Support Person for additional detail.
E. Investigation Findings and Outcomes
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will prepare a written report synthesizing the facts and the conclusions of the investigation. The report will be sent to the Title IX Coordinator, who will review that the report and investigation were valid and thorough. The report will be passed on to the Review Officers. The Review Officers are two faculty/staff/administrators who have been trained in conduct and Title IX procedures, and are designated by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The Review Officers will make a determination if a policy (policies) have been violated, and determine sanctions, if applicable.
Both Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) will be notified at or near the same time when the decision is made, in writing.
F. Standard of Proof
The Review Officers will make a decision regarding the alleged violation(s) based on the Preponderance of Evidence standard. This standard requires that the information supporting a finding of responsible be more convincing than the information in opposition to it. Under this standard, individuals are presumed not to have engaged in a policy violation of sexual misconduct unless it is “more likely than not” based on the information provided, that a violation did occur.
G. Timeline of Process
A Title IX Investigation should normally be completed within 60 calendar days after the University has notification of the complaint. If the timeline is extended for any reasonable reason, the SRR Office will communicate with all affected parties.
H. Normative Sanctioning
In this context, the operational definition for normative sanctioning is grounded in the framing provided by the learning organization literature. Normative sanctioning is a source of organizational influence utilized to communicate and to uphold in clear ways the values of the community. At PLU, normative sanctions serve to communicate expectations about community standards for behavior and the seriousness with which PLU takes issues of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault. Because normative sanctions are situated within the community, they do take into account case specific variables which may affect individuals and the whole and should not be viewed as absolute.
The university process is educational in nature, and is different from, but may occur at the same time as, a civil or criminal legal process. In the educational context, the university is making a determination as to whether the Respondent violated university policy, and not whether the Respondent is “guilty” or “innocent.” In making this determination, the university uses a “preponderance of evidence” (or more likely than not) standard. If a Respondent is found responsible for a violation of the sexual misconduct policy, the University will initiate a sanctioning process designed to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its reoccurrence, and remedy its effects on the complainant and the community. Sanctions also are designed to facilitate safety for individuals and the community and to deter individuals from participating in similar future behavior. This approach to sanctioning aligns with the Pacific Lutheran University educational mission and its focus on care and fulfills the University’s Title IX obligations.
Just as there is a range of behaviors that violate this policy (e.g. sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual and gender-based stalking, interpersonal violence – including dating and domestic partner violence, non-consensual sexual contact, and non-consensual sexual intercourse), there is a range of sanctions that may be imposed. General categories of sanctions include educational intervention, evaluation and/or treatment, warning, probation, suspension, and expulsion from the university.
The variables affecting each case are unique and inform the determination of sanctions when a Respondent(s) is found responsible. Factors that may influence the severity of sanctions include, but are not limited to: use of force or coercion; use of alcohol or other drugs, active communication regarding consent throughout the interaction, supporting evidence, corroboration of evidence, and impact on community.
The following represent guidelines for sanctions in cases where a student has been found responsible for sexual misconduct. These guidelines demonstrate the seriousness with which Pacific Lutheran University considers and responds to issues of gender-based violence and sexual misconduct.
Sanctioning Guidelines When a Respondent Has Been Found Responsible
When a Respondent is found responsible for a sexual misconduct violation, the following questions will guide the assignment of sanctions that are aligned in consequence to each infraction.
Question 1: Was there a sexual misconduct violation?
- If yes, possibility of a minimum of 1 calendar year1 suspension*.
Question 2: Was there physical and/or sexual contact?
- If yes, possibility of a minimum of suspension until Complainant graduates.
Question 3: Was there penetration of any form?
- If yes, possibility of expulsion**.
1 Example: January 2018-January 2019, with reentry date of Spring 2019 semester.
*Suspension is defined at PLU as the separation of the student from the university for a specified minimum period of time, with conditions imposed for the student’s reinstatement to PLU. Suspended students are not in Good Standing with respect to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and will not return in Good Standing with respect to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities until they have met the conditions of their suspension.
**Expulsion is defined as the permanent and total withdrawal of the privilege of attending PLU or participating in the PLU community. Expulsion may be recommended as a result of very serious violations, multiple or compounding violations associated with the same case, or for repeated violations. Only the Dean of Students or the Vice President for Student Life (or their approved designee) may impose expulsion. Expulsion is a normative, not a prescriptive, sanction in the case of Sexual Misconduct and will be reviewed and determined whether applicable for individual respondents based on the specific variables associated with each individual sexual misconduct case.
Additional variables that may be considered by Review Officers in sanctioning decisions are reflected in, but are not limited to, the following questions:
- Was active consent obtained at every point during the interaction?
- Was the capacity to give consent available (Involvement of alcohol/other drugs/sleep)?
- Was force or threat of force used?
- Has the Respondent been found responsible for multiple infractions of the code of conduct for this incident and/or in the past?
- Is the Respondent found responsible invested in learning and committed to following through on relevant learning opportunities (e.g., conditions for return, such as evaluation or treatment that are directly aligned with expected learning outcomes)
Some of the additional sanctions that may be assigned at the discretion of the Review Officer may include, but are not limited to:
- Removal from leadership positions
- Removal from co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, including those that may carry academic credit or be connected to academic programs
- Removal from residence halls
- Hold on transcripts until completion of sanctions
- Parental notification
- Ineligibility for PLU-sponsored study away programs
- Completion of appropriate psychological evaluation and treatment
- On-going no contact order
Reasons Normative Sanctions May Not be Met
In cases of sexual misconduct, each case is nuanced and specific, with no two cases being alike. Therefore, normative sanctions are the guide, but not always the prescriptive measure of any given case. The below examples, while not an exhaustive list, may be some reasons why the sanctions above may not apply in a given case.
- Complainant requests: a Complainant in a sexual misconduct process may request a specific sanction, in which Review Officers will consider the request and balance that request out with specifics from the incident
- Student Withdrawal from PLU: If a Complainant and/or Respondent withdraws from the University before or during a sexual misconduct process, PLU will determine appropriate actions for the individual and the community
- Egregiousness of Incident: Each violation of sexual misconduct has a spectrum; while all complaints are taken seriously, complaints may fall in different ranges. Example: a sexual harassment incident that was a one time, low-impact situation in which intent was not meant to harm could be an educational sanction rather than suspension
I. Appeal Process
In the case of a Sexual Misconduct investigation, the Respondent and the Complainant have the right to appeal a determination. Grounds for Appeal are:
- Procedural error that substantially impacted the outcome of the investigation process
- Bias unknown at the beginning of the investigation that substantially impacted the outcome of the investigation
- New Information, previously unavailable, which would substantially impact the outcome of the investigation
- Severity of sanction
All appeals must be received in writing by the deadline indicated in the written outcome letter, with the deadline (typically 72 hours) after the outcome was given. The student should complete the Online Appeal Form (link in the determination letter) and submit it to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
Appeals will go to the Vice President of Student Life, who will make a determination based on all materials provided, including the Investigative Report, supplemental documentation, audio interviews, and the appeal form. Appeal decisions will generally be completed within 5 business days of the Appeal Form submission, and all parties will be notified of the status of the appeal by the SRR Office.
Either the Complainant or Respondent may appeal a determination. As the university appellate officer, the Vice President for Student Life decides the appeal. Typically, they will decide from among the following options, but this list provides only some of the options available to the appellate officer, and each case will be determined on its own merits.
- Upholding the original case determination and sanctioning decisions made by the Review Officers;
- Identifying a need for a continuation of the investigative process;
- Revising the sanctions assigned by the Review Officers based on severity and /or alignment of the sanctions with associated conduct violations;
- Revising the determination made by the review officers based on new information
J. Coordination with Concurrent Legal Proceedings
Students may engage criminal prosecution procedures and/or civil litigation in connection with the same behavior that forms the basis of a sexual misconduct report under this policy. In such cases, the University will cooperate and assist with coordination with local law enforcement and may, if requested and appropriate, share information with those agencies as FERPA allows. The University will fulfill its legal and ethical obligation to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate possible violations of this policy, even if there are external processes or procedures pending in connection with that same report of Prohibited Conduct.
Standards for criminal investigations are different than the standards for a violation of this policy, and therefore the University will not base its decisions under this policy solely on law enforcement reports and/or action. Accordingly, the University will not normally wait for the conclusion of a criminal investigation or other proceedings before implementing its review of reported sexual misconduct under this policy.
If legal counsel is being used in the PLU Investigative process by any party, the SRR Office will notify all parties as soon as SRR is made aware of this.
K. Reporting Prohibited Conduct to Law Enforcement and for Statistical Disclosure
Students who believe any Prohibited Conduct they have experienced may be criminal in nature will receive support and assistance in contacting law enforcement and/or reporting the conduct for statistical disclosure under the Clery Act. PLU encourages accurate and prompt reporting of all crimes to Campus Safety and the appropriate police agencies.
As a part of its prevention and awareness programs for incoming students and new employees, and its ongoing prevention and awareness programs for students and employees, PLU includes the definitions of sexual misconduct, the definition of consent in reference to sexual activity, and the definitions of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking that are used by the criminal laws in applicable jurisdictions. The criminal law definitions used in Washington State are described in Appendix A for the sake of information only. However, PLU utilizes its own definitions of these prohibited behaviors for purposes of this policy that are consistent with the Clery Act, as amended effective 2014 (and expand upon the Clery Act as noted above), and determines responsibility for violations of PLU policy through its own procedures and standards of proof (that is, by preponderance of the evidence standard), not through the procedures or standards of proof employed in the criminal justice system.
If you believe you or someone you know has been impacted by Sexual Misconduct, you are urged to immediately notify the police and/or seek medical attention.
A. Confidential Health and Safety
Medical Treatment: Students who believe they have been sexually assaulted may seek medical attention without reporting the crime to police. The hospital emergency room will assist in treatment of injuries, prevention of sexual transmitted infections and pregnancy, and crisis intervention and emotional support services. Physical evidence can also be collected at this time.
Tacoma General Hospital
315 Martin Luther King Way, Tacoma 98405
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County emergency hotline
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
St. Clare Hospital
11315 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood, WA 98499
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Pacific Lutheran University Student Health Center
121st. Street and Park Avenue, Tacoma
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm
Emotional Support: Students who believe they have been sexually assaulted may seek emotional support without reporting the crime to the police or PLU.
Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County
Location: 101 E. 26th Street, Suite 200, Tacoma, WA 98421
Telephone: 253-597-6424, or emergency hotline: 800-756-7273
Pacific Lutheran University Center for Gender Equity, Gender Based Violence Advocate
801 121st Street, Tacoma WA 98447
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Pacific Lutheran University Counseling Center
University Center 300
Pacific Lutheran University Campus Pastor
University Center 191
Pacific Lutheran University takes all allegations of Sexual Misconduct very seriously and will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statues and civil defamation laws. Any false reports will be addressed using the Student Rights and Responsibilities Procedures.
Federal law requires Pacific Lutheran University to afford the Complainant and the Respondent rights throughout the Sexual Misconduct Investigation process. Additionally, Pacific Lutheran University has a commitment to all students, and is committed to creating an environment that still serves the student’s educational rights during the Sexual Misconduct Investigation Process. Basic rights include:
A. Respect for Privacy
Information regarding sexual misconduct reports, and any investigation or review of these reports, including sanctioning determinations, will be shared among University employees on a “need to know” basis only, and only under applicable law. See other sections on Confidentiality and Privacy in this policy.
B. Choice to Participate
All Complainants, Respondents, Reporters, or witnesses may choose to participate or decline to participate in the Title IX Investigation process. However, even if the Complainant or Respondent decline to participate, the University, in its sole discretion, may continue to investigate the matter and make sanctioning decisions based on the incident and information gathered.
C. Confidential Assistance and Resources
All Complainants, Respondents, Reporters, and witnesses have the right to seek additional, confidential resources if needed. Confidential services include the Health Center, Counseling Center, Victim Advocate, and Campus Ministry. All information shared with these offices and individuals will remain confidential to the extent permitted by law and University policy. Discussions with these individuals will not be considered a report to the University as it relates to the investigation.
D. A Fair Process
The University will take appropriate steps to ensure that the Respondent and the Complainant are treated fairly throughout the process, without bias.
Pacific Lutheran University, for the purposes of this policy, defines the following terms as follows. Please note that some of these terms may also be used in other contexts, and that they may have different meanings in those contexts.
Complainant: The individual complaining of Sexual Misconduct. See also Respondent.
Respondent: The individual accused of Sexual Misconduct. See also Complainant.
Sexual Activity: Intentional contact with the breast, buttock, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making someone touch another person with or on any of these body parts; any other intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner. Intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object. In the context of this policy, Sexual Activity may also include the conduct preliminary to or involved in Sexual Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, and Sexual Intimidation.
Consent: Consent is permission explicitly granted by an individual who is physically and mentally capable of providing it. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in Sexual Activity to insure that they have the valid Consent of the other to engage in the activity. PLU further defines Consent to include the following:
- Consent is informed, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as Consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear and mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of sexual activity.
- Consent to one form of Sexual Activity cannot imply Consent to other forms of Sexual Activity, even within the same intimate situation. Previous relationships or Consent cannot imply Consent to future Sexual Activity.
- Consent cannot be procured by use of force, threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion.
- Some individuals are unable to give Consent by reason of Incapacity or Physical Helplessness (defined below). It is a violation of this policy to engage in Sexual Activity with someone you know to be, or should have known to be, Incapacitated or Physically Helpless.
Incapacity: For the purpose of this policy, Incapacity is a condition existing at the time of the incident which prevents a person from understanding the nature or consequences of the Sexual Activity whether that condition is produced by the influence of a substance, or from some other cause. Incapacity is a state where one cannot make a rational, reasonable decision because that individual lacks the ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why or how of the sexual interaction.
The use of alcohol or drugs can prevent an individual from giving valid Consent, even if the person appears to agree to Sexual Activity in the moment. Incapacity may also result from the influence of substances commonly known as “date rape” drugs. Possession, use, and/or distribution of any “date rape” substances, including, without limitation, Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, Burundanga, etc. is prohibited, and administering one of these drugs to another student is a violation of PLU policy. Incapacity may also result from, without limitation, developmental disability, mental disorder, chemical dependency, and/or age.
Physical Helplessness: Physical Helplessness refers to a person who is asleep, unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate, verbally or non-verbally, valid Consent.
Coercion: Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to obtain Consent from another. When someone makes it clear that they do not want to engage in Sexual Activity, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive if Consent is not voluntarily or freely given, or if the individual giving it is not capable of doing so.
Investigator: An appropriately trained individual, who may be a PLU employee, who reviews and investigates reports of Prohibited Conduct under this policy.
Reporter: An individual who reports to the University a concern regarding possible Prohibited Conduct. A Reporter does not need to be a Complainant.
Support Person: An individual or individuals chosen by the Complainant, Respondent, Reporter, or witness to provide support during the investigation of a report of possible Prohibited Conduct under this policy. The Support Person chosen may not already be directly involved in the investigative process (Example – cannot be a witness, or Reporter), and may not speak on behalf of the person they are supporting, but instead may be present only to provide assistance or advice to the individual they are supporting. A Support Person must be part of the PLU community.
Legal Counsel: Either or both a Complainant or Respondent may work with legal counsel at their own expense during the process. Like Support Persons, Lawyers may not speak on behalf of the person they are supporting, but instead may be present only to provide assistance or advice to the individual they are representing. A lawyer need not be a member of the PLU community.
Responsible Employee/Mandatory Reporter: An individual who is a PLU employee who has the authority to redress sexual violence, who has the duty to report incidents of sexual violence or other student misconduct, or who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty. A responsible employee must report any information about Prohibited Conduct, a Title IX complaint or incident to the Title IX Coordinator on-campus. Responsible Employees on the PLU campus include all faculty/staff/administrators, including Campus Safety student employees and Residential Life student employees.
Title IX: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination. This includes sexual harassment and sexual assault, and applies to all programs that receive federal financial aid.
Title IX Coordinator: The University official charged with ensuring PLU’s overall compliance with Title IX and related University Policy.
Violations of Sexual Misconduct under the PLU policy include, but are not limited to the following prohibited behaviors:
Dating Violence: Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Domestic Violence: A pattern of abusive behavior that is used by an intimate partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, inure, or wound someone.
Washington State additionally defines domestic violence as physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or stalking of one family or household member by another family or household member.
Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse: Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is any sexual intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a person upon another regardless of gender, without consent.
Non-Consensual Sexual Contact: Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a person upon another regardless of gender, without consent.
Relationship Violence: Dating Violence and/or Domestic Violence
Sexual Assault: Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs by force or without consent of the recipient of the unwanted sexual activity. Falling under the definition of sexual assault is sexual activity such as forced sexual intercourse, sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape. It includes sexual acts against people who are unable to give consent either due to age or lack of capacity.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual Harassment is gender-based verbal or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with or deprives someone of educational access, benefits or opportunities. There are three types of Sexual Harassment:
- Hostile Environment: This includes any situation in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive/persistent and patently/objectively offensive that it alters the conditions of education, employment, or residence from both a subjective (the Complainant’s) and an objective (reasonable person’s) viewpoint.
- Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: This exists when there are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; and submission to or rejection of such conduct results in adverse educational or employment action.
- Retaliatory Harassment: This includes any adverse employment or educational action taken against a person because of the person’s participation in a complaint or investigation of discrimination or Sexual Misconduct.
Sexual Exploitation: A form of Sexual Harassment: Sexual Exploitation occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for their own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other Sexual Misconduct offenses. Examples of behavior that could rise to the level of sexual exploitation include:
- Prostituting another person
- Recording images (e.g. video, photography) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness without that person’s consent.
- Distributing images (e.g. video, photography) or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness, if the individual distributing the images or audio knows or should have known that the person depicted in the images or audio did not Consent to such disclosure and objects to such disclosure.
- Viewing another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the person’s consent, and for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.
Sexual Intimidation: A Form of Sexual Harassment: Sexual Intimidation involves, without limitation, threating another person with a sex act against them, stalking, (including cyber-stalking), and/or engaging in indecent exposure.
Sexual Misconduct: Sexual Misconduct includes Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence or Domestic Violence (“Relationship Violence”), and Stalking.
Stalking: A pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
Pacific Lutheran University prohibits retaliation against any person who reports a Sexual Misconduct violation, any witness who participates in an investigation related to allegations of Sexual Misconduct, or anyone who engages in any similarly protected activity. Retaliation is an adverse action taken against another for reporting a complaint or supporting another’s complaint. Anyone who believes they are experiencing retaliation is strongly encouraged to report that concern to SRR.
When a report of Prohibited Conduct is received, PLU will provide written notification to Impacted students and employees about services listed in this policy, and about possible legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, student financial aid, and other services available for Impacted Parties, both within the University and in the community. While the Investigation is in progress, all students involved will be supported in continuing their educational endeavors at PLU to the best of their abilities.
The University will provide written notification to Impacted Parties about options for, available assistance in, and how to request changes to academic, living, transportation, and working situations or protective measures. The University will make such accommodations or provide such protective measures if an Impacted Party requests them and if they are reasonably available, regardless of whether the Impacted Party chooses to go through the Student Conduct Process, the legal process with local law enforcement or neither of the two.
If you feel you are the victim of a sexual misconduct violation, some of the following steps may be taken, depending on the severity of the incident and the time elapsed since the incident. Additionally, anyone who observes or suspects a potential sexual misconduct is encouraged to take these steps as well. While these are options for any student, each student is encouraged to do what is best for them and what they feel most comfortable with.
- Seek Safety: If a student is in need of immediate safety, get to safety. This can include calling Campus Safety or local law enforcement at 9-1-1 for emergency situations.
- Get Medical Attention: Students have the option of seeking medical attention for any injuries sustained, preventative treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy screenings, and other services related to health and wellness. Students are encouraged to either go to local hospitals for this service, or the PLU Health Center for non-emergency cases. Local hospitals, listed in the Resource section of this policy, are able to perform a Forensic Exam if desired.
- Preserve Evidence: Regardless of whether a student thinks they would like to pursue a process through local law enforcement or PLU, students are encouraged to preserve evidence to the best of their ability. The following are suggestions of ways to preserve evidence. While some will not apply to every situation, these are suggestions and not inclusive of ways to preserve evidence.
- Do not shower, bath, douche, smoke, brush teeth, eat, drink, or change clothes before going to the hospital for medical attention. Go to the Emergency Room for a Sexual Assault Forensics Exam if sexual violence occurred within a reasonable timeframe.
- Campus Safety or local law enforcement can help with transportation to local hospitals
- If a student feels they were drugged, it is important to mention this to the medical provider and/or law enforcement as soon as possible.
- For any case of sexual misconduct, keep all texts, messages, emails, and other social media documentation. Take screen shots as necessary.
- For cases of stalking, keeping logs of information, letters, voicemails, or any other tangible item.
- Do not shower, bath, douche, smoke, brush teeth, eat, drink, or change clothes before going to the hospital for medical attention. Go to the Emergency Room for a Sexual Assault Forensics Exam if sexual violence occurred within a reasonable timeframe.
- Seek Support: Students have a variety of options of seeking support, listed in the resource section above. Confidential resources are available if students are not interested in pursuing any conduct or criminal processes.
- Consider Reporting: There are several different ways to report a claim of sexual misconduct. Students who report a complaint will have input on how the claim is handled within PLU. Additionally, students have the option to file a report with local law enforcement.
Pacific Lutheran University believes in a community approach to keeping the campus community safe. Within that, PLU works to educate faculty, staff, and students about issues of sexual misconduct including definitions, reporting options, resources, and intervention information.
All incoming students to PLU will receive training on sexual misconduct, healthy relationships, consent, and bystander intervention through an online module and orientation. Student groups including athletics will receive yearly training on bystander information. All of the PLU community will receive yearly reminders of the PLU Sexual Misconduct policy, in addition to passive and active programming put on within the residence halls, and through the Center for Gender Equity. For more information on available programs, please see www.plu.edu/gender-equity
The University provides training for all mandatory reporters on sexual misconduct and avenues of reporting. In addition, the Title IX Coordinator, Review Officers, and Investigators receive yearly training to stay up-to-date on Title IX, best practices, and continued education.