Members of the Amarillo College’s community, guests, and visitors have the right to be free from sexual violence. All members of the campus community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. Amarillo College believes in zero tolerance regarding sexual or gender-based misconduct. When an allegation of misconduct is brought to an appropriate administrator’s attention, and a respondent is found to have violated this plan, serious sanctions will be imposed to reasonably ensure that such actions are never repeated.
This plan has been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for those individuals whose rights have been violated. This plan is intended to define community expectations and to establish a mechanism for determining when those expectations have been violated.
The college reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct in order to protect students’ rights and personal safety. Such measures include, but are not limited to; modification of class schedule, interim suspension from campus pending a hearing, and reporting the matter to the local police. Not all forms of sexual misconduct will be deemed to be equally serious offenses and the college reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. The college will consider the concerns and rights of both the complainant and the person accused of sexual misconduct.
In campus hearings, legal terms like “guilt”, “innocence”, and “burden of proof’ are not applicable, but the College never assumes a student is in violation of college policy. Campus hearings are conducted to take into account the totality of all evidence available, from all relevant sources.
The expectations of our community regarding sexual misconduct can be summarized as follows: In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with each other, there must be clear, knowing and voluntary consent prior to and during sexual activity. Consent is sexual permission. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is not as clear as talking about what you do and do not want sexually. Consent to one form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity. Silence--without actions demonstrating permission- -cannot be assumed to show consent.
Additionally, there is a difference between seduction and coercion. Coercing someone into sexual activity is a violation of this plan in the same manner as physically forcing someone into sex. Coercion happens when someone is pressured unreasonably for sex.
Because alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to consent in question, sober sex is less likely to raise such questions. When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to give valid consent. They cannot fully understand the details of a sexual interaction (“who, what, when, where, why, and how’) because they lack the capacity to reasonably understand the situation. Individuals who consent to sex must be able to understand what they are doing. Under this plan, ‘No” always means “No” and “Yes” may not always mean “Yes’. Anything less than a clear, knowing and voluntary consent to any sexual activity is equivalent to a “No”.
Romantic or sexual relationships between individuals in unequal positions (such as teacher and student, supervisor and employee) may be less consensual than perceived by the individual whose position confers power. The relationship also may be viewed in different ways by each of the parties, particularly in retrospect. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual involvement, this past consent may not remove grounds for a later charge of a violation of applicable sections of the faculty/staff handbooks.
Below is a list of suggestions to help avoid and reduce the risk of experiencing a non-consensual sexual act:
Take care of your friends and ask that they take care of you. A real friend will challenge you if you are about to make a mistake. Respect them when they do.
Sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, is defined as deliberate contact of a sexual nature without the other person’s consent. Sexual misconduct may vary in its severity and consists of a range of behaviors or attempted behaviors that may be grounds for student conduct action under college policy. These behaviors, all of which constitute sexual misconduct include:
Sex discrimination includes all forms of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence by employees, students, or third parties against employees, students, or others on campus. Sex discrimination also includes stalking, dating violence and domestic violence. Students, College employees, and third parties are prohibited from harassing other students and/or employees whether or not the incidents of harassment occur on the college campus and whether or not the incidents occur during working hours.
Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly, as a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic status; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or education decisions affecting the individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a student’s or employee’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, educational, or living environment. While sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of conduct, some examples of specifically prohibited conduct include:
Gender-based harassment is also prohibited. It includes, but is not limited to; acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
Sexual harassment can involve males or females being harassed by members of either sex. Although sexual harassment sometimes involves a person in a greater position of authority as the harasser, individuals in positions of lesser or equal authority also can be found responsible for engaging in prohibited harassment. Sexual harassment can be physical and/or psychological in nature. An aggregation of a series of incidents can constitute sexual harassment even if one of the incidents considered separately would not rise to the level of harassment.
Coercing someone into sexual activity violates this policy as much as physically forcing someone into sex. Coercion exists when a sexual initiator engages in sexually pressuring and/or oppressive behavior that violates the norms of the community and that application of pressure or oppression causes another individual to engage in unwanted sexual behavior. Coercion may be differentiated from seduction by the repetition of the coercive activity beyond what is reasonable, the degree of pressure applied, environmental factors such as isolation and the initiator’s knowledge that the pressure is unwanted.
Effective consent is the basis of the analysis applied to unwelcome sexual contact. Lack of consent is the critical factor in any incident of sexual misconduct and sexual violence.
If you find yourself in the position of being the initiator of sexual behavior, you owe sexual respect to your potential partner. These suggestions may help you to reduce your risk for being accused of sexual misconduct:
The college strictly prohibits retaliation against any person for reporting, testifying, assisting or participating, in any manner, in any investigation or proceeding involving allegations of discrimination or harassment. Any person who violates this policy will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination if they are an employee, and/or expulsion if they are a student.
Retaliation is any action by any person that is perceived as: intimidating, hostile, harassing, a form of retribution, or violence that occurs in connection to the making and follow-up of the report.
The term “dating violence” means violence committed by a person (a) who is or has been in a social relationship of romantic or intimate nature with the complainant; and (b) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following: the length of relationship, the type of relationship and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes committed by the current or former spouse of the complainant, by a person whom the complainant has a child with, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from the person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
The term “stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.
A student who believes he or she has been or is being subjected to any form of sexual harassment shall bring the matter to the attention of the Vice President of Student Affairs or the Vice President’s designee in accordance with the procedures in the College’s complaints policy. However, no procedure or step in that policy shall have the effect of requiring the student alleging harassment to present the matter to a person who is the subject of the complaint. Nor shall a sexual harassment complaint be dismissed because it is not filed within the time lines set out.
In determining whether alleged behavior constitutes sexual harassment, Amarillo College will examine the record as a whole and all aspects of the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.
If the allegation of sexual harassment involves an administrator, faculty member or classified employee of the College, provisions of the “Discrimination” policy stated above will be followed. If the allegation involves a student or students, it will be handled in keeping with the “Student Conduct/Disciplinary Procedures” as stated in this publication. If a student has questions concerning these policies or procedures, he/she should contact the Vice President of Student Affairs.