Jul 24, 2024  
Student Handbook 
    
Student Handbook

Prohibition of Sexual Discrimination or Sexual Violence or Sexual Harassment



Executive Summary

It is the policy of the Howard College District (“HC” or the “College”) to maintain an environment for students, employees, and visitors that is free of all forms of discrimination and harassment, including sex-based discrimination. The College has enacted this Policy in compliance with Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 and its corresponding regulations, in addition to requirements to respond to sexual harassment under state law. This Policy also incorporates the College’s obligations under the Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SAVE Act), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Clery Act. How the institution identifies and responds to reports and complaints of sexual misconduct are also part of this Policy. The College is also committed to providing timely support and assistance to victims of sexual misconduct. Section I below is intended to provide a summary of essential information for persons who need immediate assistance.

“Sexual misconduct” is an umbrella term that refers collectively to the below offenses that are prohibited. Those offenses are the following:

  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Assault, which includes Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration and Sexual Touching
  • Intimate Partner Violence which includes Dating Violence and Domestic Violence
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Stalking
  • Gender-based harassment and discrimination that is non-sexual

Students or employees who experience an incident of sexual misconduct should consider the information and resources provided below. Full definitions of the above offenses are found later in this document.

Emergency Information for Immediate Assistance

Any HC student or employee who experiences or is affected by violations under this policy, whether as a Complainant or a Respondent, will have equal access to support and counseling services through the College, including supportive measures as outlined later in this Policy.

The College strongly encourages individuals to report Prohibited Conduct. The College recognizes, however, that the decision to report Prohibited Conduct (to the College and/or law enforcement) can be difficult. The College strongly encourages individuals who are considering whether to report Prohibited Conduct to seek the support of confidential campus and community resources, listed in this Policy, in particular the licensed professional counselors at the College available for all students, or through the College’s Employee Assistance Program for employees. These support resources are available regardless of when or where the incident occurred.

There are many resources available on campus and in the surrounding community. These resources are continually updated and provided on the HC website and in this policy or by requesting a copy from the Title IX Coordinator Office. As noted below, there are Confidential Resources which by law cannot share information without the consent of the individual seeking assistance (in most circumstances).

Immediate Assistance

HC Confidential Mental Health and Counseling Resources.  Please contact the Title IX Coordinator on your campus.

Victims  may also contact S.A.F.E. (off campus sexual assault crisis hotline) to speak with a confidential advocate 24 hours a day by calling 706.379.3000  or visiting www.safeservices.org.

Victims may also contact RAINN (national sexual assault hotline, free and confidential 24/7) at 1.800.656.hope (4673) or by visiting www.rainn.org

Reporting: Students who experience sexual misconduct are strongly encouraged to report this to College authorities and to the police in order to protect themselves and others. A victim is not required to make a formal incident report or file charges. Support and safety measures will be available regardless of whether a formal incident report is made, or charges filed. To file a report, any person can contact any of the following:

District Title IX Coordinator
Christi Mikeska, Dean of Students 
1001 Birdwell Lane
Big Spring, TX 79720
cmikeska@howardcollege.edu
432-264-5028

Campus Coordinators

Big Spring
Christi Mikeska, Dean of Students 
1001 Birdwell Lane
Big Spring, TX 79720
cmikeska@howardcollege.edu
432-264-5028

Lamesa
Monica Castro, Executive Director
mcastro@howardcollege.edu
1810 Lubbock Hwy
Lamesa, TX 79331
 432.264.5680

San Angelo
Michael Hemmeter, Director of Student Services
3501 US-67
San Angelo, TX 76905
mhemmeter@howardcollege.edu
325-481-8300

SWCD
Shannon Creswell, Director of Student & Administration
3200 Ave C
Big Spring, TX 79720
screswell@howardcollege.edu
432-242-3752
432-218-4059 VP

Campus Security

Big Spring – 432.264.5222

SWCD – 432.816.6165

San Angelo – 325.481.8300 Ext. 3262

Lamesa – Lamesa does not have a campus security.  Please contact the  campus Director at 432-264-5680 or the Lamesa Police: 806-872-7560

(Reporting to the HC Security may initiate a criminal investigation into your complaint. A Timely Warning Notice may be sent out to the Howard College community and will capture and count crime data if the offense was reported to have occurred on campus or on a property owned or controlled by the institution. The HC Security will report your complaint to the District Title IX Coordinator.)

Local Police and Sheriff

Big Spring (includes HC and SWCD)
Police:  432-264-2550
Sheriff:  432-264-2244         

Lamesa
Police:  806-872-2121
Sheriff:  806-872-7560

San Angelo
Police:  325-657-4336
Sheriff:  325-655-8111

Local police and sheriff’s departments: (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) Call 911 for emergencies. Updated contact information for local police departments near all HC campuses are included on the HC website on the Safety & Security page;  https://howardcollege.edu/safety-security/

Important note: Local police departments may not share the details of your report with HC ; however, the HC Security Department must notify the District/Campus Title IX Coordinator of a report made to their office. If you report to local or city police, you should also report to the District/Campus Title IX Coordinator so on campus supportive measures and resources may be provided.

Medical Treatment and Evidence Preservation

As of January 2009, victims of sexual assault may have a sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) without reporting it to law enforcement. A victim will not be required to pay for the cost of a sexual assault forensic exam. The Texas Department of Public Safety pays for the forensic portion of the exam if not reported to law enforcement. If law enforcement is investigating the assault, that law enforcement agency will pay for the portion of the forensic exam. The forensic exam does not include medical treatment, or costs associated with that treatment. If a report to law enforcement is made, a victim may be eligible for reimbursement of expenses through the state’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund. For information about Crime Victim’s Compensation visit www.oag.state.tx.us/victims/about_comp.shtml or call 1-800-983-9933.

HC does not have on-campus Student Health Facilities. Contact a local SAFE ready facility.  

Scenic Mountain Medical Center
1601 West 11th Place
Big Spring, TX 79720
432.263.1211

Shannon West Texas Memorial Hospital
120 East Harris Avenue
San Angelo, TX 76903
325-653-6741

University Medical Center
602 Indiana Avenue
Lubbock, TX 79415
806-775-8200

For a more extensive list please visit this website: SAFE-Ready Facility

State law allows an individual to have the sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) up to 120 hours (5 days) after the sexual assault. An individual can report to law enforcement if the person chooses to do so. In Texas, you have ten years (statute of limitations on sexual assault) to make the report. Having a sexual assault forensic exam conducted allows an individual to preserve evidence that will be lost over time before you decide how to proceed.

HC Security and local police officers encourage victims to report the sexual assault even if it is past the statute of limitations. The case cannot go forward with prosecution, but it is important to document the assault and the perpetrators who commit them in addition to allowing HC to prevent recurrence of similar crimes.

 In circumstances of sexual assault, if a victim does not opt for forensic evidence collection, health care providers still can treat injuries and take steps to address concerns of pregnancy and/or sexually-transmitted infection. It is important that a victim of sexual assault not bathe, douche, smoke, change clothing or clean the bed/linen/area where she or he was assaulted within 120 hours after the incident occurred so that evidence may be preserved.

Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking also are encouraged to preserve evidence by saving text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, other communications, and keeping pictures, logs or other copies of documents, if any exist, that may be useful to college investigator(s) or local police.

Taking the steps to gather evidence immediately does not commit an individual to any particular course of action. The decision to seek timely medical attention and gather any evidence, however, will preserve the full range of options to seek resolution under this Policy or through the pursuit of criminal prosecution, and may be helpful in obtaining protective orders and/or proving that a crime of violence occurred.

 Interin Support and Safety Measures

A victim may make a request for interim support and/or safety measures to the District Title IX Coordinator. The victim does not need to participate in an investigation or file charges in order to request such interim support and/or safety measures. The District Title IX Coordinator will work in conjunction with relevant parties to determine which measures are appropriate to ensure the victim’s safety and equal access to educational programs and activities. Interim support and/or safety measures include:

  • Support measures related to academics, transportation, and working environment. If an alleged perpetrator and alleged victim are enrolled in the same class, a request to drop the class without any academic penalty will be granted.
  • Relocation in their on-campus job if either will bring them into proximity with the alleged perpetrator. Victims may also request changes to their class schedule if they have classes in common with the alleged perpetrator.
  • A mutual “no-contact” order may be put in place between the parties or if the alleged perpetrator is a non-HC member, the institution should work with law enforcement to prohibit the party from entering campus property.

For information about loan repayment, including financial aid student success workshops and potential emergency loans, please visit: https://howardcollege.edu/students/financial-aid-and-scholarships/

Investigations

Victims/survivors who wish to pursue an investigation may choose to:

  1. Contact the local police department or sheriff’s department to pursue a criminal investigation.
  2. File a civil complaint in a civil court. (This action may require you to obtain your own attorney.)
  3. Report to the Howard College District Title IX Coordinator or a Campus Coordinator. An investigation of a campus policy violation is independent from criminal or civil investigations. The District Title IX Coordinator accepts complaints of all kinds of conduct (criminal and non-criminal) as well as conduct that occurred on and off campus.
  4. Decide not to file charges or make a report for investigation. Survivors are strongly encouraged but not required to report the incident. Survivors have the right to be free from any suggestion that victims/survivors must report the crime to be assured of any other rights or resources. Campus personnel will not pressure survivors to report a crime if the survivor does not wish to report but will assist any person in filing a report with law enforcement no matter where the misconduct occurred.
  5. Report anonymously online through a link provided on the College’s homepage.  Howard College Sexual Misconduct Online Reporting Form
  6. A victim/survivor may report to all of the above and have concurrent criminal and administrative investigations. Howard College will not wait for the completion of a criminal investigation to begin or conduct its’ administrative investigation.

Accommodations

A victim/survivor may make a request for accommodations to the District Title IX Coordinator (or their respective Campus Title IX Coordinator). The victim/survivor does not need to participate in an investigation or file charges in order to request accommodations. The District Title IX Coordinator will work in conjunction with relevant parties to determine which measures are appropriate to ensure the victim’s safety and equal access to educational programs and activities.

Accommodations include:

  • Accommodations related to academics, transportation, and working environment. If an alleged perpetrator and alleged victim/survivor are enrolled in the same class, a request to drop the class without any academic penalty will be granted.
  • Relocation in their on-campus job if either will bring them into proximity with the perpetrator. Survivors may also request changes to their class schedule if they have classes in common with the perpetrator.
  • A “no-contact” order may be put in place between the victim/survivor and the accused party or if the accused party is a non-Howard College member, the institution should work with law enforcement to prohibit the party from entering campus property.
  • Resources regarding adjustment of the work schedule or leave for employees who are victims/survivors are available through the Human Resources Department.

Policy Statement

It is the policy of Howard College (or the “college”) to maintain an environment for students, employees, and visitors that is free of all forms of discrimination and harassment, including sexual misconduct. The College has enacted this Prohibition of Sexual Discrimination or Sexual Violence or Sexual Harassment Policy (the “Sexual Misconduct Policy” or “the Policy”) to reflect and maintain its institutional values and community expectations, to provide for fair and equitable procedures for determining when this Policy has been violated, and to provide recourse for individuals and the community in response to violations of this Policy.

So that the College may continue to foster a climate of respect and security on its campuses and Howard College owned or operated sites as it relates to preventing and responding to acts of sexual misconduct, this policy has been created and serves to demonstrate the College’s commitment to:

  • Prohibiting all forms of gender and sex-based harassment and discrimination, defined as “sexual misconduct” by Howard College, to include sexual harassment, sexual assault (rape) and contact (fondling), sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence as well as gender- based harassment and discrimination that is non-sexual;
  • Disseminating clear policies and procedures for responding to sexual misconduct reported to the College;
  • Responding to and addressing reports of sexual misconduct that may not rise to the level of unlawful discrimination or harassment in order to prevent a hostile environment from occurring;
  • Delivering primary prevention and awareness programs and ongoing training and education campaigns to students and employees so they may identify what behavior constitutes sexual misconduct; understand how to report such misconduct; recognize warning signs of potentially abusive behavior and ways to reduce risks; and learn about safe and positive options for bystander intervention that may be carried out by an individual to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against a person other than such individual;
  • Engaging in investigative inquiry and resolution of reports that are prompt, fair, equitable, and independent of other investigations that may occur;
  • Supporting and protecting the rights of victims/survivors and accused parties, as well as holding persons accountable for established violations of this policy;
  • Providing a written explanation of the rights and options available to every student or employee that has been the victim/survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, regardless of whether the offense occurred on or off campus; and
  • Addressing the policy’s impact on contractors and visitors to Howard College facilities.

In addition, this policy:

  • Identifies the College’s District Title IX Coordinator and Campus Title IX Coordinators and describes their roles in compliance with guidance from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and in compliance with the Clery Act.
  • Identifies how students and employees can report sexual misconduct to the College confidentially and what resources are available both on and off campus to aid them, including employees’ and students’ rights to notify local law enforcement and their right also to decline to notify such authorities.
  • Provides information about how reports are assessed, investigated, and resolved.

Provides the College with a means to take all reasonable steps to identify harassment, prevent recurrence of any harassment, and to correct its discriminatory effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate.

Prohibition Against Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct

Howard College does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational, extracurricular, or other programs or in the context of employment. Sex discrimination – including pregnancy and related conditions – is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that provides:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

This College Policy prohibits all forms of sex and gender-based discrimination, harassment, and misconduct, including non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual sexual contact, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, and stalking. This Policy also prohibits retaliation against a person who reports, complains about, or who otherwise participates in good faith in, any matter related to this Policy. All of the foregoing sexual misconduct shall be referred to as “Prohibited Conduct.” Engaging in any Prohibited Conduct or any other misconduct can be a violation of College Policy even if the behavior does not rise to the level of unlawful conduct.

Sexual harassment is also prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Texas Penal Code, and other applicable statutes. This Policy prohibits sexual harassment against Howard College community members of any sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in the context of education or employment. This Policy also prohibits gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

HC also prohibits other forms of discrimination and harassment, including discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, age, religious belief, marital status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. Such prohibited conduct is addressed in sections of the Student Handbook prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on protected status (other than sex or gender).

Commitment to Address Sexual Misconduct

Upon receipt of a complaint or a report, the College will take prompt and equitable action to eliminate the Prohibited Conduct (if any), prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. In addition, the College will fulfill its obligations under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (“VAWA”) amendments to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”) in response to reported Prohibited Conduct. The College will also comply with state law provisions prohibiting sexual harassment, and with the Title IX regulations, in response to reports of Prohibited Conduct. The College’s process for investigating and responding to reported Prohibited Conduct is contained in the Investigation Process section of this document. Students or employees who are found to have violated this Policy may face disciplinary action up to and including expulsion (students) or termination of employment (faculty, staff, or other employees).

Scope of Policy

This Policy applies to all reports of Prohibited Conduct occurring on or after the effective date of this Policy. Where the date of the reported Prohibited Conduct precedes the effective date of this Policy, the definitions of misconduct in existence at the time of the report will be used. The Investigation Process under this Policy, however, will be used to investigate and resolve all reports made on or after the effective date of this Policy, regardless of when the incident(s) occurred.

When used in this Policy, “Complainant” refers to the individual who is identified as the subject alleging to have been harmed by the Prohibited Conduct. “Respondent” refers to the individual alleged to have engaged in Prohibited Conduct. In limited circumstances the College may serve as the Complainant, or the Title IX Coordinator may file a Formal Complaint. In the case of dual credit or early college high school students, complaints of Prohibited Conduct may be filed on behalf of minor students, except for Formal Complaints.

Persons Covered

This Policy applies to all Howard College community members, including students, faculty, administrators, staff, volunteers, vendors, contractors, visitors, and individuals regularly or temporarily employed, conducting business, studying, visiting, or having any official capacity with the College or on its property.

The College strongly encourages reports of Prohibited Conduct regardless of who engaged in the conduct. Even if the College does not have jurisdiction over the Respondent, the College will take prompt action to provide for the safety and well-being of the Complainant and the broader campus community and prevent recurrence, if possible.

Locations Covered

This Policy applies to all on-campus conduct and some off-campus conduct, described below. The College strongly encourages reports of Prohibited Conduct regardless of location. Even if the Policy does not apply to the conduct because of its location, the College will take prompt action to provide for the safety and well-being of the Complainant and the broader campus community and to prevent recurrence, if possible.

On-Campus Conduct. This Policy applies to conduct that occurs on-campus, including conduct which occurs on property owned or controlled by the College.

College Programs. This Policy applies to conduct that occurs in the context of College employment or education programs or activities.

Off-Campus Conduct. This Policy also applies to conduct that occurs off campus and has continuing adverse effects on, or creates a hostile environment for, any member of the Howard College community on-campus or in any College employment or education program or activity.

Confidentiality and Privacy: Understanding the Differences

The College is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in the investigation and resolution of reports under this Policy. The College also is committed to assisting students, employees, and Third-Parties in making informed choices. With respect to any report under this Policy, the College will make reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of participants, in accordance with applicable state and federal law, while balancing the need to gather information to provide due process, take steps to eliminate Prohibited Conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. All College employees who are involved in the College’s Title IX response receive specific instruction about respecting and safeguarding private information.

Privacy and confidentiality have distinct meanings under this Policy.

Privacy. “Privacy” generally means that information related to a report of Prohibited Conduct will only be shared with a limited circle of individuals who “need to know” in order to assist in the assessment, investigation, or resolution of the report. While not bound by confidentiality, these individuals will be discreet and respect the privacy of all individuals involved in the process.

The privacy of student education records will be protected in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), as outlined in the Student Records section of this Student Handbook.

The privacy of an individual’s medical and related records may be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), excepting health records protected by FERPA and by Texas state law. Access to an employee’s personnel records may be restricted by applicable Texas and federal law.

While balancing the need to gather information to provide due process, take steps to eliminate Prohibited Conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. Howard College’s employment policies set forth disciplinary consequences for an employee who releases confidential student information.

Howard College’s employment policies set forth disciplinary consequences for an employee who releases confidential student information.

Confidentiality. “Confidentiality” generally means that information shared by an individual with designated authority on a campus or community professionals cannot be revealed to any other individual without the express permission of the individual.

The confidentiality of information shared by an individual with designated campus or community professionals generally is governed by Texas law, including restrictions on disclosure of information by mental health providers, ordained clergy, rape crisis counselors, and attorneys, all of whom have legally protected confidentiality. These individuals are prohibited from breaking confidentiality unless there is an imminent threat of harm to self or others.

An individual who seeks confidential assistance may do so by speaking with professionals who have a legally protected confidentiality. These confidential professional resources are prohibited from breaking confidentiality unless required by law, including in response to a subpoena or court orders, or when there is an imminent threat of harm to self, others, or College property; or when the individual has given written consent to disclose his/her information; or when the confidential resource is required to notify the Department of Family Protective Services and/or local law enforcement of any report that involves suspected or known abuse or neglect of a minor under the age of 18, or an adult who by law is considered to think like a child, or a person over 65 years of age.

Disclosures Required by the Clery Act

  • Timely Warnings

A “Timely Warning” or “Crime Alert” is a District-wide notification of a Clery crime that poses a serious or continuing threat to the HC community. The Timely Warning does not include identifying information about the victim. If a report of misconduct discloses a serious or continuing threat to the HC community, the College will issue a District-wide timely warning or crime alert (which will take the form of an email and text message sent to the entire HC community) to protect the health or safety of the community.

  • Emergency Notification

An “Emergency Notification” is a District-wide notification upon the confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on the campus.

  •  Annual Reporting Responsibilities

The College receives federal funding, and therefore is obligated to issue publicly an Annual Security Report (“ASR”) which identifies the number of particular types of reported crimes on campus or campus owned or controlled property, or adjacent to campus. The ASR does not include identifying information about the Complainant or Respondent.

  • Crime Log

The College must maintain a daily crime log that includes entries for all crimes that occur within both the Clery geography and the HC jurisdiction. The crime log does not include identifying information about the Complainant or Respondent.

Employee Requirement to Report & Responsible Employees

All employees, with the exception of certain confidential employees, are designated as Responsible Employees. Pursuant to state law and College Policy, Responsible Employees who, in the course and scope of employment, witness or receive information regarding the occurrence of an incident that the employee reasonably believes constitutes discrimination, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and/or sexual exploitation and is alleged to have been committed by or against a person who was a student enrolled at or an employee of the institution at the time of the incident shall promptly report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator.

Employees who receive reports or become aware of conduct in the course and scope of their employment, are required to report such incidents described above that involve a student or an employee, regardless of when or where the incident occurred.

State law and College Policy require that all Responsible Employees share a report of sexual misconduct with the District Title IX Coordinator, even if a request for confidentiality has been made. The purpose of this requirement is to permit the College to take immediate and corrective action to respond to allegations of Prohibited Conduct.

An employee is not required to report an incident in which they were a victim, or when information is received due to a student or employee’s disclosure at a public awareness event sponsored by the College or a student organization affiliated with the institution. An exception to this is if an employee with ‘actual knowledge’ receives a report at a public awareness event. Under Title IX, employees with actual knowledge must report without exception. Administrators are employees who have been designated by the College as employees with actual knowledge.

A person may desire to report Prohibited Conduct to the College but to maintain confidentiality; if so, the District Title IX Coordinator will evaluate such requests. Where a Complainant requests that the Complainant’s name or other identifiable information not be shared with the Respondent or that no formal action be taken, the District Title IX Coordinator will balance the Complainant’s request with the College’s dual obligation to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all College community members and to remain true to principles of fundamental fairness that ordinarily provide for notice and an opportunity to respond before action is taken against a Respondent. In making this determination, the College may consider the seriousness of the conduct, the respective ages and roles of the Complainant and Respondent, whether there have been other complaints or reports of harassment or misconduct against the Respondent, and the rights of the Respondent to receive notice and relevant information before disciplinary action is sought.

The College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation, but its ability to do so may be limited based on the nature of the request by the Complainant. Where the College is unable to take action consistent with the request of the Complainant, the District Title IX Coordinator will inform the Complainant about the chosen course of action, which may include the College seeking disciplinary action against a Respondent. Alternatively, the course of action may also include steps to limit the effects of the alleged harassment and prevent its recurrence that do not involve formal disciplinary action against a Respondent or revealing the identity of the Complainant.

Reports of Prohibited Conduct vs. Filing a Formal Complaint & Requests for Confidentiality

 Any individual, even if he/she is not the alleged victim, can report Prohibited Conduct in a variety of ways including in person, by mail, telephone, through the anonymous reporting link on the College’s homepage (Howard College Sexual Misconduct Online Reporting Form), or by e-mail to the College’s District Title IX Coordinator.

Making a report also means telling a Responsible Employee what happened – in person, by telephone, in writing, or by email. At the time a report is made, a Complainant does not have to request any particular course of action, nor does a Complainant need to know how to label what happened.

Choosing to make a report, and deciding how to proceed after making the report, can be a process that unfolds over time. The College provides support that can assist each individual in making these important decisions and will respect an individual’s autonomy in deciding how to proceed to the extent legally possible. In this process, the College will balance the individual’s interest with its obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all members of the College community.

The College will investigate reports of Prohibited Conduct through one of the corresponding procedures outlined in this Policy.

A report of Prohibited Conduct is distinct from a Formal Complaint. A Formal Complaint is required in order to proceed under the College’s Policy. A Formal Complaint must be filed by a Complainant and submitted to the Title IX Coordinator using the contact information provided below. The filing may be in person, by mail, or by e-mail. At the time of filing a Formal Complaint, a Complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in the College’s education program or activity. In limited circumstances the Title IX Coordinator may file a Formal Complaint.

If a Complainant requests in writing that the College not investigate a report of Prohibited Conduct, the Title IX Coordinator must inform the Complainant of the decision whether or not to investigate.

Options for Assistance Following an Incident of Sexual Assault

Immediate Assistance

The College is committed to treating all members of the community with dignity, care, and respect. Any community member who experiences or is affected by violations under this Policy, whether as a Complainant or a Respondent, will have equal access to support and counseling services through the College.

The College strongly encourages individuals to report Prohibited Conduct. The College recognizes, however, that the decision to report Prohibited Conduct (to the College and/or law enforcement) can be difficult. The College strongly encourages individuals who are considering whether to report Prohibited Conduct to seek the support of confidential campus and community resources. These trained professionals can provide guidance in making decisions, information about available resources and procedural options, and assistance to either the Complainant or Respondent in the event that a report and/or resolution under this Policy is pursued. These resources are available regardless of when or where the incident occurred.

There are many resources available on campus and in the surrounding community. As noted below, there are Confidential Resources which by law cannot share information without the consent of the individual seeking assistance (in most circumstances). There are also a variety of College resources that will be discreet and private but are not considered confidential. These resources will maintain the privacy of an individual’s information within the limited circle of those involved in the resolution of a complaint under this Policy.

Confidential Resources (Non-Medical)

The College strongly encourages all community members to make a prompt report of any incident of Prohibited Conduct to local law enforcement and the College. For individuals who are not prepared to make a report, or who may be unsure how to proceed, but are still seeking information and support, confidential counseling services are available for students and employees. Contact the District Title IX Coordinator for assistance:

Christi Mikeska
Dean of Students/District Title IX Coordinator
1001 Birdwell Lane
Big Spring, TX  79720
cmikeska@howardcollege.edu
(432) 264-5028 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for overseeing institutional noncompliance with Title IX. To file a report directly with the U.S. Department of Education, use the contact information below.

The OCR office for Texas is located at:

Dallas Office
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620
Dallas, Texas 75201-6810
Telephone: 214-661-9600
FAX: 214-661-9587; TDD: 800-877-8339
Email: OCR.Dallas@ed.gov

The OCR National Headquarters is located at:

U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg
400 Maryland Avenue
SW Washington, DC 20202-1100
Telephone: 800-421-3481
FAX: 202-453-6012 TDD: 800-877-8339
Email: OCR@ed.gov

Additional Resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Nationwide RAINN (Sexual Assault) Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE (4679)

National Stalking Resource Center
http://www.ncvc.org

Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence
http://ncdsv.org

Texas Council on Family Violence
http://www.tcfv.org

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
http://www.ncadv.org

Texas Association Against Sexual Assault
http://www.taasa.org

2-1-1 Texas   State and local resources for life issues, food, shelter, rent assistance, childcare, counseling and more
www.211texas.org
877-541-7905

Ulifeline
www.ulifeline.org
Text “START” to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
A resource for suicide prevention, drugs and mental health.

Guide to College Student Mental Health
www.LearnPsychology.org
A comprehensive guide to help college students identify common mental health disorders, their own warning signs, when to seek treatment and how to manage them.

Howard College Security Officers and Local Law Enforcement

Howard College campuses are monitored by security personnel who may or may not be commissioned as peace officers. The college does not have a written memorandum of understanding with the local law enforcement agencies. However, the security department and college officials work closely with the local law enforcement agencies in developing policies and procedures for maintaining a safe campus environment. All disturbances, criminal activities, and suspicious activities are reported to local law enforcement authorities.

BIG SPRING

LAMESA

SAN ANGELO

SWCD

Security

432-816-9456

Campus Director

806-872-2223

Security - Day

325-481-8300 x3268

Night

325-277-1860 x3262

Security - Day

432-264-3781 OR

432-816-6794 (VTXT)

Night

432-816-6165 (text/voice)

Big Spring Police

432-264-2550

Lamesa Police

806-872-2121

San Angelo Police

325-657-4336

Big Spring Police

432-264-2550

Howard County Sheriff

432-264-2244

Dawson County Sheriff

806-872-7560

Tom Green County Sheriff

325-655-8111

Howard County Sheriff

432-264-2244

Texas Department of Public Safety

432-267-5671

Texas Department of Public Safety

432-267-5671

Texas Department of Public Safety

325-659-6529

Texas Department of Public Safety

432-267-5671

Confidential Medical Resources

Victims/survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence have medical needs regardless of if they plan to engage with the criminal justice system (or this administrative process.) A medical provider can provide emergency and/or follow-up medical services. The medical exam has two goals: first, to diagnose and treat the full extent of any injury or physical effect (including prevention of sexually transmitted illnesses and pregnancy) and second, to properly collect and preserve evidence. There is a limited window of time (within 120 hours) following an incident of sexual assault to preserve physical and other forms of evidence, although it may be possible to obtain evidence from towels, sheets, clothes, and other items for longer periods of time. Victims/survivors are encouraged to have evidence collected in the event that they want to cooperate right away with law enforcement OR have not yet made a decision regarding making a police report, but want to have the evidence collected and saved in the event they do opt to make such a report in the future. It is best to gather evidence prior to washing a person’s body or changing clothing. If clothes have been changed, the clothes worn at the time of the incident should be brought to the examination in a clean, sanitary container such as a paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe and may render evidence useless). A change of clothing should also be brought to the hospital, as the clothes worn at the time of the incident will likely be kept as evidence.

Taking the steps to gather evidence immediately does not commit an individual to any particular course of action. The decision to seek timely medical attention and gather any evidence, however, will preserve the full range of options to seek resolution under this Policy or through the pursuit of criminal prosecution, and may be helpful in obtaining protective orders and/or proving that a crime of violence occurred.

Howard College does not have on-campus Student Health facilities. Victims/survivors of any of the offenses in this policy should seek help by visiting an area hospital.

Additional On-Campus & Off-Campus Resources

Students, faculty and staff may also access resources located in the local community. These organizations can provide crisis intervention services, legal assistance victim advocacy and assistance in dealing with the criminal justice system. It may be helpful for victims/survivors to have someone who can help them explore their off-campus options and guide them through legal processes; an advocate can provide assistance in this area.

Victim Advocacy – No cost:

SAFE – Stop Abuse For Everyone
24/7 hotline. Confidential and free resources. Crisis support, safety planning, local resources, medical care, legal advocacy and counseling.
512-267-7233 (SAFE)
http://www.stopabuseforeveryone.org/

Legal Assistance

Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) – Texas Legal Services Center
Staffed by attorneys seven days a week who provide sexual assault survivors with legal information and advice about legal issues that may arise following a sexual assault including crime victim’s rights, housing, employment, immigration, education and safety planning.
1-844-303-SAFE  (7233)
www.tlsc.org/sexual-assault.html

Sexual Assault Legal Services & Assistance (SALSA) – Texas Legal Services Center
Free confidential legal hotline for victims/survivors of sexual assault. Weekdays 8–5.
888-343-4414
www.tlsc.org

Texas Advocacy Project
The Hope Line addresses legal concerns related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Staffed by attorneys M–F, 9–5. 800-374-4673
www.texasadvocacyproject.org

Other Assistance

Trevor Project
24/7 crisis hotline for LGBTQ youth between 13 and 24 years old.
866-488-7386
www.thetrevorproject.org

Ongoing Assistance

The Title IX Coordinators at each campus site are available to assist any student, employee or individual impacted by Prohibited Conduct as a Complainant or Respondent.

District Title IX Coordinator

Christi Mikeska, Dean of Students
cmikeska@howardcollege.edu
432-264-5028

Campus Title IX Coordinators

Big Spring
Christi Mikeska, Dean of Students
Email: cmikeska@howardcollege.edu
Phone: 432-264-5028

Lamesa
Monica Castro, Executive Director
Email: mcastro@howardcollege.edu
Phone: 432-264-5680

San Angelo
Michael Hemmeter, Director of Student Services
mhemmeter@howardcollege.edu
325-481-8300

SWCD
Shannon Creswell, Director of Students and Administration
Email: screswell@howardcollege.edu
432-242-3752
​432-218-4059 VP

Academic Accommodations and Interim Measures

Upon receipt of a report, the College will provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations and interim measures designed to eliminate the alleged hostile environment and protect the Parties involved. The College will make reasonable efforts to communicate with the Parties to ensure that all safety, emotional and physical well-being concerns are being addressed. Interim measures may be imposed regardless of whether formal disciplinary action is sought by the Complainant or the College, and regardless of whether the crime is reported to Howard College or local law enforcement.

A Complainant or Respondent may request a No Contact Order or other protection, or the College may choose to impose interim measures at its discretion to ensure the safety of all Parties, the broader College community, and/or the integrity of the process.

The College will maintain the privacy of any remedial and protective measures provided under this Policy to the extent practicable and will promptly address any violation of the protective measures. All individuals are encouraged to report concerns about failure of another individual to abide by any restrictions imposed by an interim measure. The College will take immediate and responsive action to enforce a previously implemented restriction if such restriction was violated.

Range of Measures

Interim measures will be implemented at the discretion of the College. Potential remedies, which may be applied include:

  • Access to counseling services and assistance in setting up an initial appointment, both on or off campus;
  • Imposition of campus “No Contact Order;”
  • Rescheduling of exams and assignments (in conjunction with the appropriate faculty);
  • Providing alternative course completion options (in conjunction with the appropriate faculty);
  • Change in class schedule, including the ability to take an “incomplete,” drop a course without penalty or transfer sections (in conjunction with the appropriate faculty);
  • Change in work schedule or job assignment;
  • Limiting an individual or organization’s access to certain College facilities or activities pending resolution of the matter;
  • Voluntary leave of absence;
  • Providing an escort to ensure safe movement between classes and activities;
  • Assisting with access to medical services;
  • Providing academic support services;
  • Interim suspension or College-imposed leave;
  • Any other remedy that can be tailored to the involved individuals to reasonably achieve the goals of this Policy.

Interim Suspension or Separation

Where the reported conduct poses a substantial and immediate threat of harm to the safety or well-being of an individual, members of the campus community, or the performance of normal College functions, the College may place a student or employee or College organization on interim suspension or impose leave for an employee. Pending resolution of the report, the individual or organization may be denied access to campus, campus facilities, and/or all other College activities or privileges for which the student or employee might otherwise be eligible, as the College determines appropriate. When interim suspension or leave is imposed, the College will make reasonable efforts to complete the investigation and resolution within an expedited time frame.

A student Respondent who has been put on interim suspension has the right to a meeting within three (3) days with the District Title IX Coordinator to appeal the interim suspension. The District Title IX Coordinator reviews the appeal to determine whether the decision to put a student on interim suspension was arbitrary or capricious. A decision is arbitrary and capricious where there is no rational connection between the facts presented and the decision made.

All employees of the College accused of Prohibited Conduct may be placed on leave at the discretion of the College.

Title IX Coordinators

Howard College is a system of campuses and other locations that are owned or controlled by the College. In order to fulfill the duties associated with this policy and resolution procedures and to ensure that students and employees impacted by Prohibited Contact have access to administrators with responsibility for this policy and resolution procedure, the District has appointed a District Title IX Coordinator to oversee compliance with Title IX, but has also appointed four Campus Title IX Coordinators who serve specific sites.

The District Title IX Coordinator is supported and assisted by the Campus Coordinators. These individuals receive appropriate and annual training as required by the Clery Act as amended by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 to discharge their responsibilities.

The District Title IX Coordinator monitors the College’s overall compliance with Title IX, ensures appropriate training and education, and oversees the College’s investigation, response, and resolution of reports made under this Policy by working closely with the Campus Title IX Coordinators. Upon receiving reports of Prohibited Conduct, the District Title IX Coordinator oversees the Campus Coordinators to ensure that appropriate action is taken to eliminate that conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. The District Title IX Coordinator is available to advise all individuals — including individuals who have experienced misconduct and individuals who are alleged to be responsible for misconduct,  — on this Policy and the Investigation Processes.

Contact information for the Title IX Coordinators is listed below. If someone is uncertain about who to contact or have a conflict or perceive bias from the Coordinator assigned to the campus, contact the District Title IX Coordinator. Any person may contact the District Title IX Coordinator in lieu of their Campus Coordinator.

District Title IX Coordinator
Christi Mikeska, Big Spring Dean of Student Services
Email: cmikeska@howardcollege.edu
Phone: 432-264-5028

Campus Coordinators

Big Spring
Christi Mikeska, Dean of Students
Email: cmikeska@howardcollege.edu
Phone: 432-264-5028

Lamesa
Monica Castro, Executive Director
Email: mcastro@howardcollege.edu
Phone: 432-264-5680

San Angelo
Michael Hemmeter, Director of Student Services
mhemmeter@howardcollege.edu
325-481-8300

SWCD
Shannon Creswell, Director of Students and Administration
Email: screswell@howardcollege.edu
432-242-3752
​432-218-4059 VP

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for overseeing institutional noncompliance with Title IX. To file a report directly with the U.S. Department of Education, use the contact information below.

The OCR office for Texas is located at:
Dallas Officd
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education 1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620 Dallas, Texas 75201-6810 Telephone: 214-661-9600
FAX: 214-661-9587; TDD: 800-877-8339
Email: OCR.Dallas@ed.gov

The OCR National Headquarters is located at:
U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg. 400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Telephone: 800-421-3481
FAX: 202-453-6012; TDD: 800-877-8339
Email: OCR@ed.gov

Definitions

A.   Sex or Gender-Based Harassment and Discrimination

   Sex or gender-based discrimination refers to the disparate treatment of a person or group because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

  1. “Sexual harassment” as defined under state law is broader than the definition of Title IX Sexual Harassment and means unwelcome, sex-based verbal or physical conduct that:
    1. In the employment context, unreasonably interferes with a person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment; or
    2. In the education context, is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that the conduct interferes with a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from educational programs or activities as the College. 1

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, physical, graphic, or otherwise. Sexual harassment that does not rise to the level of unlawful harassment may still be considered a violation of College Policy.

“Unwelcome Conduct” is conduct that was not requested or invited by the individual or others, and the conduct was regarded as undesirable or offensive.  Unwelcome sexual conduct that is mildly offensive or involves isolated incidents that are not pervasive or severe and have not deprived an individual of access to employment or educational programs, is not considered unlawful sexual harassment under Title IX. However, conduct or behavior of this nature may still be considered a violation of College Policy. The College has zero tolerance for any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature and will take appropriate corrective action if the alleged conduct is substantiated.

Administrators or supervisors should take corrective action when inappropriate incidents occur in order to address the behavior or prevent similar conduct from occurring so that the behavior does not become unlawful harassment. Reports of conduct as alleged that do not rise to the level of unlawful Prohibited Conduct may still considered a violation of College Policy. If the alleged conduct rises to the level of unlawful harassment, the conduct must be addressed through this Policy.

“Gender-Based Harassment” is harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal, physical, graphic, or otherwise. To qualify as Gender-Based Harassment, the conduct need not involve conduct of a sexual nature. Gender-based harassment that does not rise to the level of unlawful harassment under Title IX is considered a violation of College Policy.

“Unlawful Harassment” is conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile working or learning environment or that unreasonably interferes with work or academic performance based on a person’s protected status, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Unlawful harassment can be divided into two types of conduct:

Quid Pro Quo Harassment.

Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic standing, or participation in any aspect of a College program or activity or is used as the basis for the College’s decisions affecting the individual.

Hostile Environment.

A hostile environment exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual from participating in or benefiting from the College’s education or employment programs and/or activities. Whether conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent is determined both from a subjective and objective perspective.

  Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment:

  • May be blatant and intentional and involve an overt action, a threat or reprisal, or may be subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated.
  • May be committed by anyone, regardless of gender, age, position or authority. While there is often a power differential between two persons, perhaps due to differences in age, social, educational or employment relationships, harassment can occur in any context.
  • May be committed by a stranger, an acquaintance, or someone with whom the Complainant has an intimate or sexual relationship.
  • May be committed by or against an individual or may be a result of the actions of an organization or group.
  • May occur by or against an individual of any sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
  • May occur in the classroom, in the workplace, in residential settings, or in any other setting.
  • May be a one-time event or can be part of a pattern of behavior.
  • May be committed in the presence of others or when the Parties are alone.
  • May affect the Complainant and/or third Parties who witness or observe harassment and are affected by it.

Examples of conduct that may constitute Sexual Harassment as defined above may include (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:

  • Physical conduct, including unwelcome touching, sexual/physical assault, impeding, restraining, or blocking movements, or unwanted sexual advances;
  • Verbal conduct, including making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs or humor; verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations; or objectively offensive comments of a sexual nature, including persistent or pervasive sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes;
  • Visual conduct, including leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of suggestive objects, pictures, videos, cartoons, or posters in a public space or forum; or severe, persistent, or pervasive visual displays of suggestive, erotic, or degrading sexually oriented images that are not pedagogically appropriate;
  • Written conduct, including letters, notes, text messages, direct messages, emails and any other form of electronic communications containing comments, words, or images described above;
  • Quid pro quo conduct, including direct propositions of a sexual nature between those for whom a power imbalance or supervisory or other authority relationship exists; offering educational or employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors; making submission to sexual advances an actual or implied condition of employment, work status, promotion, grades, or letters of recommendation, including subtle pressure for sexual activity, an element of which may be repeated requests for private meetings with no academic or work purpose; or making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances.

Harassing conduct can take many forms. The determination of whether an environment is hostile is based on the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to: (1) the frequency of the conduct; (2) the nature and severity of the conduct; (3) whether the conduct was physically threatening; (4) the effect of the conduct on the Complainant’s mental or emotional state, with consideration of whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the Complainant’s educational or work performance and/or College programs or activities; (5) whether the conduct was directed at more than one person; (6) whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct; and (7) whether the conduct implicates concerns related to academic freedom or protected speech.

A single isolated incident may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe, particularly if the conduct is physical. A single incident of Sexual Assault, for example, may be sufficiently severe to constitute a hostile environment. In contrast, the perceived offensiveness of a single verbal or written expression is typically not sufficient to constitute a hostile environment but may still be considered Prohibited Conduct that violates College Policy.

The College is committed to academic freedom and free speech. This commitment requires that the College protect individual’s expression of ideas in their teaching and learning including topics that may be controversial, provocative, or unpopular. This protection extends to the expression of ideas, however controversial, in the classroom, and other campus-related activities.

It must be recognized, however, that this protection has its limits. College Policy define those limits and conduct which is found to be “harassing” is not consistent with the College’s commitment to academic freedom and free speech. No member of the College community may escape responsibility for engaging in harassing conduct as defined herein, merely by labeling the conduct as “speech” or other expressive activity.

Sexual Assault2

Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration (Rape).

“Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration” is having or attempting to sexually penetrate another individual:

  • By force or threat of force;
  • Without consent; or
  • Where that individual is incapacitated and could not have provided consent.

Sexual penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part (e.g., penis, tongue, finger, hand) or object, or oral penetration involving mouth to genital contact.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact (Fondling).

“Non-Consensual Sexual Contact” is having sexual contact with another individual:

  • By force or threat of force;
  • Without consent; or
  • Where that individual is incapacitated and could not have provided consent.

Sexual Contact includes intentional contact with the intimate parts of another, causing an individual to touch their own intimate body parts, or disrobing or exposure of another’s private parts without permission. Intimate body parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, groin, mouth or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner.

Examples of behavior that would constitute non-consensual sexual penetration or contact include the following:

  • Engaging in sexual activity with an unconscious or semi-conscious person;
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is asleep or passed out;
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who has said “no”;
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is not reciprocating by body movement;
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is vomiting, unable to stand without assistance, or has to be carried to bed;
  • Allowing another person to engage in sexual activity with your partner without his or her consent;
  • Requiring any person to perform any sexual activity as a condition of acceptance into any organization affiliated with the College;
  • Telling someone you will “out” them if they don’t engage in sexual activity (e.g., threatening to disclose the person’s sexual orientation without their consent);
  • Having sexual contact or penetration with someone under the statutory age of consent;
  • Telling someone you will fail them or give them a grade different from what they deserve if they don’t agree to engage in sexual activity; or
  • Facilitating or assisting in a sexual assault including purchasing or providing alcohol or drugs to further a sexual assault.

Sexual Exploitation
“Sexual Exploitation” occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited. Examples of Sexual Exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Prostituting another;
  • Surreptitiously observing another individual’s nudity or sexual activity or allowing another to observe consensual sexual activity without the knowledge and consent of all Parties involved;
  • Non-consensual sharing or streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity of the person being exploited, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all Parties involved or possession or distribution of any of the above when they depict a person under the age of 18 regardless of the Parties consent (possession or distribution of child pornography);
  • Exposing one’s genitals or inducing another to expose their own genitals in nonconsensual circumstances;
  • Knowingly exposing another individual to a sexually transmitted disease or virus without their knowledge; and
  • Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity

Non-Forcible – Unlawful, non-forcible sexual intercourse
Incest – Non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
Statutory Rape 3 – Non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Stalking

“Stalking” occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.

A course of conduct consists of two or more acts, including, but not limited to, acts in which a person directly, indirectly, or through third Parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about another person, or interferes with another person’s property.

Reasonable person means a reasonable person under similar circumstances and with similar identities to the Complainant.

Substantial emotional distress means significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Cyber-stalking is a particular form of stalking in which electronic media such as the Internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact are used.

Examples of stalking include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-consensual communication including in-person communication, telephone calls, voice messages, text messages, email messages, social networking site postings, instant messages, postings of pictures or information on web sites, written letters, gifts, or any other communications that are undesired and/or place another person in fear;
  • Following, pursuing, waiting, or showing up uninvited at a workplace, place of residence, classroom, or other locations frequented by a person;
  • Surveillance and other types of observation, whether by physical proximity or electronic means; and
  • Gathering of information about a person from family, friends, co-workers, and/or classmates.

To qualify as stalking, the conduct is not required to be sexual in nature.

Intimate Partner Violence

“Intimate Partner Violence” includes any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is, or has been involved in, a sexual, dating, spousal, domestic, or other intimate relationship with the Respondent. The College will not tolerate Intimate Partner Violence of any form.

Intimate Partner Violence is often referred to as dating violence, domestic violence, or relationship violence. Intimate Partner Violence can encompass a broad range of behavior including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual violence, psychological and/or emotional violence, and economic abuse. It may involve one act or an ongoing pattern of behavior. Intimate Partner Violence may take the form of threats, assault, property damage, violence or threat of violence to one’s self, one’s sexual or romantic partner, or to the family members or friends of the sexual or romantic partner. Intimate Partner Violence affects individuals of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, races and social and economic backgrounds.

Dating Violence5

“Dating Violence” is physical acts of assault or threats of assault, detainment, or unwanted touching committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the person subjected to such violence. Whether there was such a relationship will be determined based on, among other factors, the Complainant’s and Respondent’s statements, and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the Parties involved in the relationship.

Domestic Violence6 

“Domestic Violence” is physical acts of assault or threats of assault, detainment, or unwanted touching committed by: (1) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; (2) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (3) a person who is cohabiting with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; (4) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of Texas; or (5) any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws in the State of Texas.

Definitions of Key Terms; Other Considerations
To provide clarity to all individuals as to the kinds of behavior which constitute Sexual Misconduct, the College further defines key terms which the College will use in evaluating whether Prohibited Conduct has occurred.

Affirmative Consent. “Affirmative Consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Affirmative consent is required for any sexual activity to occur between two or more individuals. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that the person has the affirmative consent of the other(s) to engage in the sexual activity.

It shall not be a valid excuse to alleged lack of affirmative consent that the Respondent believed that the Complainant consented to the sexual activity under either of the following circumstances: (a) The Respondent’s belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the Respondent, or (b) the Respondent did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the Respondent at the time, to ascertain whether the Complainant affirmatively consented.

The following are essential elements of affirmative consent:

  • Informed and reciprocal: All Parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.
  • Freely and actively given: Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, coercion, threats, intimidation or pressuring, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual.
  • Mutually understandable: Communication regarding consent consists of mutually understandable words and/or actions that indicate a mutually unambiguous willingness to engage in sexual activity. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance, or lack of active response. An individual who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. Relying solely upon non-verbal communication can lead to a false conclusion as to whether consent was sought or given.
  • Withdrawal of Consent: Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout the activity. Consent may be withdrawn by any Party at any time. Recognizing the dynamic nature of sexual activity, individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner and communicate clearly throughout all stages of sexual activity. Withdrawal of consent can be an expressed “no” or can be based on an outward demonstration that conveys that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain, or is no longer a mutual participant. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately and all Parties must obtain mutually expressed or clearly stated consent before continuing further sexual activity.
  • Not unlimited: Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact, nor does consent to sexual activity with one person constitute consent to activity with any other person. Each participant in a sexual encounter must consent to each form of sexual contact with each participant. Even in the context of a current or previous intimate relationship, each Party must consent to each instance of sexual contact each time. The consent must be based on mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity. The mere fact that there has been prior intimacy or sexual activity does not, by itself, imply consent to future acts.
  • Age: The State of Texas considers sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17 to be unlawful. A person who engages in “unlawful” sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or indecency with a child as described in the Texas Penal Code does so without effective consent as defined by this Policy. Specifically, there is no effective consent under this Policy where one Party (the “minor”) is under the age of seventeen, and the other Party is more than three years older than the minor. Reports received that allege sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or sexual indecency with a person under the age of 17 will be reported to the local law enforcement agency as this conduct could constitute sexual abuse of children.

Force. “Force” is the use or threat of physical violence to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity or provide consent. Consent obtained by force is not valid.

For the use of force to be demonstrated, there is no requirement that a Complainant resist the sexual advance or request. However, evidence of resistance by the Complainant will be viewed as a clear demonstration of a lack of consent.

Intimidation. “Intimidation” is the use of implied threats to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity or provide consent. Consent obtained by intimidation is not valid.

Coercion. “Coercion” is the improper use of pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against that individual’s will. Consent obtained through coercion is not valid.

Coercion can include a wide range of behaviors, including intimidation, manipulation, threats, and blackmail. A person’s words or conduct are sufficient to constitute coercion if they wrongfully impair another individual’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Examples of coercion include threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and threatening to harm oneself if the other Party does not engage in the sexual activity. When someone indicates, verbally or physically, that they do not want to engage in a particular sexual activity, that they want to stop a particular activity, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued activity or pressure to continue beyond that point can be coercive. The College will evaluate the following in determining whether coercion was used: (1) the frequency of the application of pressure, (2) the intensity of the pressure, (3) the degree of isolation of the person being pressured, and (4) the duration of the pressure.

Incapacitation. “Incapacitation” is a state where an individual cannot make an informed and rational decision to engage in sexual activity because of a lack of conscious understanding of the fact, nature, or extent of the act (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of the sexual interaction) and/or is physically helpless. For example, an individual is incapacitated, and therefore unable to give consent, if the individual is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring. An individual will also be considered incapacitated if the person cannot understand the nature of the activity or communicate due to a mental or physical condition.

Incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol, drugs, or other medication. Consumption of alcohol or other drugs alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation.

The impact of alcohol and drugs varies from person to person, and evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how the consumption of alcohol and/ or drugs impacts an individual’s: (1) decision- making ability; (2) awareness of consequences; (3) ability to make informed judgments; or (4) capacity to appreciate the nature and the quality of the act.

It shall not be a valid excuse that the Respondent believed that the Complainant affirmatively consented to the sexual activity if the Respondent knew or reasonably should have known that the Complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances: (a) the Complainant was asleep or unconscious; (b) the Complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the Complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity; (c) the Complainant was unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition.

Whether the Respondent reasonably should have known that the Complainant was incapacitated will be evaluated using an objective reasonable person standard. The fact that the Respondent was actually unaware of the Complainant’s incapacity is irrelevant to this analysis, particularly where the Respondent’s failure to appreciate the Complainant’s incapacitation resulted from the Respondent’s failure to take reasonable steps to determine the Complainant’s incapacitation or where the Respondent’s own incapacitation (from alcohol or drugs) caused the Respondent to misjudge the Complainant’s incapacity.

It is the responsibility of each Party to be aware of the intoxication level of the other Party before engaging in sexual activity. In general, sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs poses a risk to all Parties. If there is any doubt as to the level or extent of the other individual’s intoxication, it is safest to forgo or cease any sexual contact or activity.

Being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is no defense to any violation of this Policy and does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.

Prohibited Relationships by Persons in Authority

Sexual, romantic, or intimate relationships in which one party engages in a supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are prohibited. In general, this includes all sexual, romantic, or intimate relationships between students and their professors, coaches, advisors, employers, supervisors, or other College employees.

Similarly, College employees (faculty and staff) who supervise or otherwise hold positions of authority over others are prohibited from having a sexual, romantic, or intimate relationship with an individual under the employee’s supervision.

Faculty, administrators, and others who educate, supervise, evaluate, employ, counsel, coach, or otherwise guide students should understand the fundamentally asymmetrical nature of the relationship they have with students, employees (as applicable), or subordinates.

Sexual, romantic, or intimate relationships where there is a differential in power or authority produce risks for every member of our community and undermine the professionalism of faculty and employees. In either context, the unequal position of the parties presents an inherent element of risk and may raise sexual harassment concerns if one person in the relationship has the actual or apparent authority to supervise, evaluate, counsel, coach, or otherwise make decisions or recommendations as to the other person in connection with their employment or education at the College.

Sexual relations between persons occupying asymmetrical positions of power, even when both consent, raise suspicions that the person in authority has violated standards of professional conduct and potentially subject the person in authority to charges of sexual harassment based on changes in the perspective of the individuals as to the consensual nature of the relationship. Similarly, these relationships may impact third-parties based on perceived or actual favoritism or special treatment based on the relationship.

Any evidence that demonstrates that a person in a position of authority over another, or in an evaluative role, is engaging in a sexual, romantic, or intimate relationship with someone whom they are teaching, mentoring, evaluating, supervising, counseling, advising, or the like shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this Policy regardless of whether the conduct is or continues to be wanted or reciprocated.

Employees who may not have the requisite supervisory or evaluative role over students, but otherwise provide guidance or direct services to a student while serving in their professional capacity are prohibited from engaging in conduct that displays a sexual, romantic, or intimate relationship with a student they serve while working, regardless of whether the conduct is, or continues to be wanted or reciprocated. Conduct such as this may be addressed through this Policy in consultation with the appropriate supervisory personnel, as needed.

Evidence that such prohibited relationships occurred in the past will also be considered prima facie evidence of a violation of this Policy.

Alleged conduct that violates this policy will be investigated under this Sexual Misconduct Investigation Procedures.

Retaliation

Retaliation for reporting Prohibited Conduct in good faith or cooperating with an investigation or disciplinary process related to this Policy is strictly prohibited.

Retaliation includes adverse action taken against a person for making a good faith complaint or report of Prohibited Conduct or participating in any proceeding under this Policy, including serving as a witness.

Adverse action includes conduct that threatens, intimidates, harasses, coerces or in any other way seeks to discourage a reasonable person from engaging in activity protected under this Policy.

Retaliation can be committed by or against any individual or group of individuals, not just a Respondent or Complainant. Retaliation does not include good faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report of Prohibited Conduct. Retaliation may be present even where there is a finding of “no responsibility” on the allegations of    Prohibited Conduct.

The College will take immediate and responsive action to any report of retaliation and will pursue disciplinary action as appropriate. An individual reporting Prohibited Conduct is entitled to protection from any form of retaliation following a report that is made in good faith, even if the report is later not proven.

Any employee may pursue any charge of discrimination or harassment with the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) or the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (“EEOC”). It is unlawful to retaliate against any employee for opposing the practices prohibited by the State of Texas or comparable federal law or for filing a complaint with, or for otherwise participating in, an investigation, proceeding, or hearing conducted by the TWC or EEOC.

The Civil Rights Division of the TWC provides programs for current and former employees (or people who applied for employment) to file a complaint if they believe they have been discriminated against in an employment transaction. TWC accepts complaints if you believe the treatment you received from the employer was because of your race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, disability, or because of retaliation for participating and/or filing another discrimination complaint and occurred within 180 days of the filing of the complaint.

Employees who believe they may have been discriminated against may get more information on filing a complaint through TWC by visiting: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/how-submit-employment-discrimination- complaint

Reporting Policies and Protocol

The College strongly encourages all individuals to seek assistance from a medical provider and/or law enforcement immediately after an incident of sexual or intimate partner violence. This is the best option to ensure preservation of evidence and to begin a timely investigative and remedial response.

The College also strongly encourages all individuals to make a report to the College and to law enforcement, although neither is required. These reporting options are not mutually exclusive. Both internal and criminal reports may be made simultaneously. Reports can also be made anonymously online through a link provided on the College’s homepage.

The College has a strong interest in supporting survivors of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence and strongly encourages all individuals or Third-Parties to report any incident to the College.

Making a report means telling a Responsible Employee what happened — in person, by telephone, in writing, or by email. At the time a report is made, a Complainant does not have to request any particular course of action, nor does a Complainant need to know how to label what happened. Choosing to make a report, and deciding how to proceed after making the report, can be a process that unfolds over time. The College provides support that can assist each individual in making these important decisions, and will respect an individual’s autonomy in deciding how to proceed to the extent legally possible. In this process, the College will balance the individual’s interest with its obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all members of the College community.

The College will investigate and resolve all reports of Prohibited Conduct in a fair and impartial manner. A Complainant, a Respondent and all individuals involved will be treated with dignity and respect. In response to all reports of Prohibited Conduct, the College will make an immediate assessment of any risk of harm to the Complainant, Respondent, or to the broader campus community and will take steps necessary to address those risks. These steps may include interim measures to provide for the safety of the individual and the campus community.

Amnesty for Alcohol or Other Drug Use or Other Conduct Violations

The College strongly encourages the reporting of Prohibited Conduct under this Policy. It is in the best interest of this community that as many Complainants as possible choose to report to college officials and that participants in the investigation process are forthright in sharing information.

To guard against discouraging reporting, a student who reports Prohibited Conduct in good faith, either as a victim or a witness, will not be subject to disciplinary action by the College for personal consumption or possession of alcohol or drugs or other violations of the student conduct policy (not including this Policy) at or near the time of the incident. The College may investigate to determine whether a report of Prohibited Conduct outlined in this policy was made in good faith.

The College may always initiate an educational discussion or pursue other educational remedies with the student regarding alcohol or other drugs. Being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is no defense to any violation of this Policy and does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.

Coordination with Law Enforcement

The College strongly encourages Complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence that may also be crimes under Texas law. The Title IX Coordinators will assist a Complainant in making a criminal report with law enforcement agencies if a Complainant decides to pursue the criminal process to the extent permitted by law.

The College’s Policy, definitions, and burden of proof differ from Texas criminal law. A Complainant may seek recourse under this Policy and/or pursue criminal action. Neither law enforcement’s determination whether or not to prosecute a Respondent, nor the outcome of any criminal prosecution, are determinative of whether a violation of this Policy has occurred. Proceedings under this Policy may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off campus.

The College may not delay conducting its own investigation unless specifically requested by law enforcement. In the event of such specific request, the College shall defer its investigation only during the time that law enforcement is conducting preliminary fact-finding, which should not exceed ten (10) days absent extenuating circumstances. The College will nevertheless communicate with the Complainant and Respondent (if appropriate) regarding Title IX rights, procedural options, and the implementation of interim measures to assure safety and well-being. The College will promptly resume fact-gathering as soon as it is informed that law enforcement has completed its initial investigation.

False Reports

The College takes the accuracy of information very seriously, as a report of Prohibited Conduct may have severe consequences. A good-faith complaint that results in a finding of not responsible is not considered a false or fabricated report of Prohibited Conduct. However, when a Complainant or Third-Party witness is found to have fabricated allegations or given false information with malicious intent or in bad faith, the Complainant may be subject to disciplinary action. It is a violation of the Standards of Student Conduct to make an intentionally false report of any Policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.

Reports Involving Minors or Suspected Child Abuse

Under Texas law, an individual must make a mandatory report of suspected child abuse and neglect, including sexual assault when that individual, in their professional capacity or within the scope of their employment, has knowledge of, or observes, a minor under the age of 18 whom the individual knows or reasonably suspects has been the subject of child abuse or neglect.

All College employees are required to immediately report any suspected child abuse and neglect to the District Title IX Coordinator. The source of abuse does not need to be known in order to file a report.

The College will report all suspected child abuse and neglect, including sexual assault, to law enforcement and/or the Department of Family and Protective Services. The College must act quickly regarding all reasonable suspicions of sexual or physical abuse. It is not the responsibility of any employee, student, or volunteer to investigate suspected child abuse. This is the role of Child Protective Services and law enforcement authorities.

In addition to notifying the District Title IX Coordinator, any individual may make a direct report as follows:

  • If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
  • If there is no immediate danger, contact the Texas Child Protective Services by calling 1-800-252-5400.

Investigation Procedures

Every student and every person against whom a complaint is made is entitled to due process. Therefore, the college’s investigation will include interviews with all relevant persons including the accuser, the accused, and other potential witnesses. The results of the investigation will determine the appropriate course of action.

Modification of Investigation Process

The College will follow the Investigation Process described herein barring exceptional circumstances. In rare instances, however, the College may be required to adapt or modify the Investigation Process (including timelines) to ensure prompt and equitable resolution of a report of Prohibited Conduct. The College reserves this right. In such instances, the College will notify both Parties of the modification of the Investigation Process and, if appropriate, the exceptional circumstances requiring the College to adapt or modify the Investigation Process.

Consolidation of Investigations

The District Title IX Coordinator has the discretion to consolidate into one Investigation multiple reports against a Respondent and/or cross-complaints between a Complainant and a Respondent, if the evidence related to each incident would be relevant and probative in reaching a determination on the other incident. Matters may be consolidated where they involve multiple Complainants, multiple Respondents, or related conduct that would regularly have been heard under the Standards of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Process.

Integrity of Proceeding

These procedures are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings, but rather procedures designed to address policy violations. Neither Party is permitted to record (via audio or video recording) the proceedings.

Procedures:

  1. Students should report violations of this rule to the College’s District Title IX Coordinator:

Christi Mikeska
Dean of Students/District Title IX Coordinator
1001 Birdwell Lane
Big Spring, TX  79720
(432) 264-5028
cmikeska@howardcollege.edu

  1. The complaint should be as specific as possible and include dates, times, places, witnesses, and specifics of what was said and done. The complaint should also list any requested interim measures and any final resolution that is acceptable to the student.
  2. Students may also report violations of this rule to any Responsible Employee, as defined in this rule, (for example, an administrator, faculty member, or supervisory staff). When a Responsible Employee is informed of an alleged violation of this rule, the Responsible Employee is required to immediately notify the Title IX Coordinator of the allegation.
  3. Once a report of prohibited conduct is received, Howard College will respond promptly and investigate the report in a fair and impartial manner. Every Complainant and Respondent is entitled to due process, and Howard College will handle reports of prohibited conduct consistently with procedural guidelines developed to ensure prompt and equitable resolution of such reports. Therefore, the College’s investigation will include interviews with all relevant persons including the complainant, the Respondent, and other potential witnesses. The results of the investigation will determine the appropriate course of action. Howard College will take steps to prevent recurrence of any prohibited conduct and to ensure the safety of the campus community. Both parties may be accompanied by an advisor of their choice but need not be an attorney. This applies to students and employees. An advisor is someone that provides the guidance and support. An advisor may be present in any meeting or disciplinary proceeding.
  4. The Title IX Coordinator shall coordinate with the appropriate Campus Title IX Coordinator and/or other administrators and review the complaint. If the situation cannot be resolved through informal means, to the satisfaction of all parties, an investigator will be appointed by the College President. All investigators shall have appropriate and ongoing training, at least annually, regarding issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual misconduct and stalking, as well as, on how to conduct an investigation that protects the safety of complainants and promotes accountability. Howard College shall ensure that all disciplinary proceedings, including investigations, final actions, and appeals, shall be administered by officials who do not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against the Complainant or Respondent.
  5. All complaints will be promptly addressed. Based upon an initial assessment of the allegations by the Title IX Coordinator and the appropriate administrator, pre-investigation measures may be temporarily taken to insure the safety and peace of mind of the student. Such measures may include, without limitation, placing the person against whom the complaint was made on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation or separating the student and the person against whom the complaint has been made. All complaints will be confidential to the extent permitted by law, and will be revealed only on a “need to know” basis (i.e. access to the information is necessary to the investigation and/or the safety of the accused and the accuser or required by law).
  6. The investigator will review the written material submitted by the student and meet with the student in a private area to discuss the complaint as soon as possible but not later than ten (10) college business days after the complaint has been received. The investigator will also meet with any witnesses and secure a witness statement from each witness. The investigator may consult with the appropriate supervisor(s) to identify alternative methods for resolving the complaint.
  7. The investigator will meet with all persons with information relevant to the complaint. If the complaint is filed against an individual, the person(s) against whom the complaint was filed should be given at least three (3) college business days to review the complaint and any relevant supporting documents and to prepare a written response to the complaint prior to meeting with the investigator. At the meeting, the investigator should provide the person against whom the complaint was filed an opportunity to respond verbally to the complaint. The person(s) may also respond to the complaint in writing, and may identify additional witnesses the investigator should interview. The investigator will determine from this meeting whether additional witness interviews are warranted and if any additional information needs to be gathered or considered.
  8. After meeting with the person(s) against whom the complaint was filed, gathering any additional information or witness statements, and concluding the investigation, the investigator will make a recommendation, in writing, to the appropriate administrator and to the Title IX Coordinator. The recommendation will set forth the following: complaint, persons interviewed, documents reviewed, findings, conclusions, and recommendations. The investigation of the complaint should be concluded within twenty (20) college business days of the receipt of the complaint.
  9. If additional time is needed, the investigator shall notify the complainant and respondent. The investigation is considered “open” until the written action report is issued.
  10. The appropriate administrator, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, will determine the final action to be taken on the complaint. The Title IX Coordinator will also sign-off on the final action document indicating approval of the action report. If the Title IX Coordinator disagrees with the action determined by the administrator, the Title IX Coordinator may submit a written position to the chair of the Appeal Panel in the event of an appeal.
  11. The person(s) against whom the complaint was filed will be advised in writing of the outcome to the extent permitted by applicable federal and state law. The investigator and/or administrator may also meet with them to discuss the outcome to the extent permitted by applicable federal and state law.
  12. The student who filed the complaint will also be notified in writing of the disposition of the complaint, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable state and federal law. The investigator and/or administrator will also meet with the student who filed the complaint to discuss the outcome to the extent permitted by applicable federal and state law.
  13. If during the investigation a student is found to be in violation of the Student Standards of Conduct, they are subject to disciplinary sanctions as outlined in the Student Handbook.
  14. Student at any time may request a live hearing with cross examination by Advisors.

Appeal Panel

All determinations, including “not responsible findings”, may be appealed, in writing, within five (5) college working days. The written appeal should be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator who will forward the appeal to the chair of the Appeal Panel. The chair of the Appeal Panel for Title IX cases is appointed by the college president. The Appeal Panel will hold a conference within seven (7) college working days of the request. The panel consists of three members, including the chair. The chair will select faculty and/or staff members according to the case. The Title IX Coordinator will assist students with this process.

The appeal should state reasons and grounds for the appeal. Appeals are not heard in person. Failure to appeal within the allotted time will render the original finding final. The Appeal Panel may request a written response from the non-appealing party to the issue raised in the written request for an appeal. Appeals shall be decided upon the record of the original report, the written request for appeal, and any response received by the Appeal Panel.

Appeals shall be granted only on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. If there was a specified procedural error (or errors) in the interpretation of the College regulations that were so substantial as to effectively deny the party appealing a fair investigation or resolution process.
  2. If new and significant evidence has become available which could not have been discovered by a properly diligent person during the original investigation; or
  3. If the sanction(s) is/are disproportionate to the offense for which the respondent was found responsible.

The fact that one of the parties disagrees with the finding or sanction does not in and of itself constitute grounds for appeal.

If the Appeal Panel finds grounds for appeal, then they shall consider the issues raised and information presented in the appeal. The Appeal Panel has authority to dismiss the case, change the sanction, modify the findings, or uphold the findings and sanctions. The appeal panel must base its decision on the information presented in the appeal and a review of the record in the case. The scope of the Appeal Panel’s review is limited to the grounds for appeal identified in the appeal letter. The chair will notify, in writing, all involved parties of the decision.

The imposition of sanctions is not normally deferred during the appeal process and sanctions may go into effect immediately if the District Title IX Coordinator deems it necessary. Interim measures will remain in place during the appeal process.

Appeal to College President

If dissatisfied with the decision of the Appeal Committee, the person against whom the complaint was filed or the student who filed the complaint has five (5) college working days to request, in writing, a review by the college President, who will render a final opinion within five (5) college working days.

While either Party may bring a legal representative or other advisor to the proceeding, the role of the lawyer or advisor is limited to providing advice and counsel to that Party. The lawyer or other advisor is not permitted to speak on behalf of the Party, to make arguments to the President, to cross-examine individuals, or otherwise to act in a representational capacity or as a proxy for the Party. If a Party intends to bring a lawyer or advisor, they are to provide notice of this decision in writing no less than 3 days before the proceeding. The process will not be delayed due to the unavailability of an advisor or lawyer. An advisor or lawyer may be dismissed from any part of this process for unnecessary disruption of a meeting or proceeding or if they are deemed to have intimidated or otherwise harassed a Party through verbal, nonverbal, or physical actions.

The College reserves the right to serve as a Complainant in any complaint and to bring complaints against a Respondent(s). This is unusual but can occur when the College feels there is sufficient information to proceed, but an actual Complainant either cannot or will not cooperate in this process.

Records

The Title IX Office will retain records of all reports, complaints, and decisions when the matter is resolved by Formal Resolution.

Affirmative findings of responsibility in matters resolved through Formal Resolution are part of a student’s conduct record and an employee’s employment file. Such records shall be used in reviewing any further conduct, or developing sanctions, and shall remain a part of a formal record.

In addition to records kept by the Title IX Office, the decisions issued to students for violations of this policy are maintained in the Dean of Students Office for at least seven (7) years from the date of the incident.

Prevention and Education

The College is committed to the prevention of Prohibited Conduct through regular and ongoing education and awareness programs. Incoming students and new employees receive primary prevention and awareness programming as part of their orientation, and returning students and current employees receive ongoing training and related education.

Training

The College provides annual training to all individuals within the community who are involved in responding to, investigating, or resolving reports of Prohibited Conduct as required by the Clery Act as amended by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. If the College retains an individual outside the community to respond to, investigate, or resolve reports of Prohibited Conduct, the College requires the retained individual has received adequate training consistent with the College’s standards.

The College provides training to students and employees to ensure they understand this Policy and the topics and issues related to maintaining an educational and employment environment free from all forms of Prohibited Conduct.


1 Office for Civil Rights, Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance (66 Fed. Reg. 5512, Jan. 19, 2001)

2Sexual assault defined under Texas Penal Code Section 22.011: “a person commits an offense if the person (1) intentionally or knowingly causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent; causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent; or causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or (2) intentionally or knowingly causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means; causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor; causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.

A sexual assault is without the consent of the other person if: the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by the use of physical force or violence; the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence against the other person, and the other person believes that the actor has the present ability to execute the threat; the other person has not consented and the actor knows the other person is unconscious or physically unable to resist; the actor knows that as a result of mental disease or defect the other person is at the time of the sexual assault incapable either of appraising the nature of the act or of resisting it; the other person has not consented and the actor knows the other person is unaware that the sexual assault is occurring; the actor has intentionally impaired the other person’s power to appraise or control the other person’s conduct by administering any substance without the other person’s knowledge; the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence against any person, and the other person believes that the actor has the ability to execute the threat; the actor is a public servant who coerces the other person to submit or participate; or the actor is a mental health services provider or a health care services provider who causes the other person, who is a patient or former patient of the actor, to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the actor. ‘Child’ means a person younger than 17 years of age. ‘Spouse’ means a person who is legally married to another.”

3Texas Penal Code Section 25.02 defines Prohibited Sexual Conduct as the following:
“(a) A person commits an offense if the person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with another person the actor knows to be, without regard to legitimacy:
the actor’s ancestor or descendant by blood or adoption;
the actor’s current or former stepchild or stepparent;
the actor’s parent’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood;
the actor’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood or by adoption;
the children of the actor’s brother or sister of the whole or half blood or by adoption; or
the son or daughter of the actor’s aunt or uncle of the whole or half blood or by adoption.
For purposes of this section:
“Deviate sexual intercourse” means any contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
“Sexual intercourse” means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.”

See footnote  for definition of sexual assault under Texas Penal Code Section 22.011.

4Definition of stalking under Texas Penal Code Section 42.072: “a person who, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that: (1) the person knows or reasonably believes the other person will regard as threatening including bodily injury or death for the other person, bodily injury or death for a member of the other person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship, or fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property, and (2) causes the other person, a member of the other person’s family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property, and (3) would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself, or bodily injury or death for a member of the person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship, or fear that an offense will be committed against the person’s property. A fact finder may find that different types of conduct described above, if engaged in on more than one occasion, constitute conduct that is engaged in pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct.”

5Definition of dating violence under Texas Family Code Section 71.0021: “an act, other than a defensive measure to protect oneself, by an individual that is committed against a victim with whom the actor has or has had a dating relationship; or because of the victim’s marriage to or dating relationship with an individual with whom the actor is or has been in a dating relationship or marriage; and is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the victim in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. ‘Dating relationship’ means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of the length of the relationship; the nature of the relationship; and the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. A casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context does not constitute a ‘dating relationship.’”

6Definition of domestic violence under Texas Family Code Section 71.004: “an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself, or abuse by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household, or dating violence.”