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Policy Against Sexual Misconduct

I. Statement of Philosophy

Carleton College is committed to:

  • fostering a safe environment, free of sexual misconduct in any form. We expect community members to engage in relationships and sexual interactions that are characterized by consent. Individuals who engage in behaviors that violate Carleton’s Policy Against Sexual Misconduct are held responsible for their actions.
  • responding to reports of sexual misconduct through established procedures that are comprehensive in scope, supportive in approach, and fair in execution. Support will be provided before, during, and after any adjudication, recognizing that for all parties affected by an instance of sexual misconduct—alleged or proven—the experience is emotionally, socially, and intellectually demanding. Retaliation against any person participating in the investigation or adjudication of a report of sexual misconduct is strictly prohibited.
  • taking seriously the fact that the best process to address sexual misconduct should begin before any sexual misconduct has occurred, with prevention through education, and should conclude with intentional measures to work towards healing individuals and community.

II. General Provisions and Application

Carleton College prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, intimate partner violence, and other sexually inappropriate conduct. 

Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender against a person of any gender. Sexual misconduct can be committed by friends, current or former intimate partners, acquaintances, or non-acquaintances.

The Policy Against Sexual Misconduct applies to all Carleton faculty, staff, students, and visitors.  The Policy applies in connection with any College program, whether on or off campus, including academic, educational, extra-curric­ular, athletic, residential, employment (including work-study), and other College activities and programs.

Carleton College is committed to creating a com­munity free of sexual misconduct, to providing avenues for those affected by sexual misconduct to obtain assistance, and to providing clear and fair complaint and investigation procedures. 

Carleton College encourages individuals who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct to make a prompt report to the College.  Carleton College also encourages individuals who have experienced sexual assault to pursue criminal charges.  The College will provide information about available options, including information about filing an internal complaint or pursuing criminal charges. A criminal charge and an internal complaint can be pursued at the same time. Detailed information about complaint and investigation procedures to implement this Policy can be found here.

The College will provide support to all individuals in the Carleton Community involved in reports of sexual misconduct, including the internal College complaint process and/or the criminal charge process. The College also recognizes that pursuing a complaint procedure or criminal charges may not be steps that every person who makes a report wants to take; the College recognizes an individual’s right to decline to pursue formal action. 

Carleton College has also adopted a Statement on Consensual Relations that applies to faculty and staff.  Students, faculty members, and staff members should understand that appar­ently consensual sexual relationships, particularly those between individuals of unequal status, may also violate this Policy. Anyone who engages in a sexual relationship with a person over whom they have any degree of power or authority must understand that the validity of the consent involved can and may be questioned. The College particularly recognizes the abuse potentially inherent in sexual relationships between faculty members and students and between staff supervisors and their student employees. (See Statement on Consensual Relations, Carleton College Faculty Handbook and Staff Handbook.)

III. Prohibited Conduct

This section defines conduct prohibited by the Sexual Misconduct Policy.    

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is intentional sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent.

Sexual contact includes, but is not limited to, intentional touching of the genitals, buttocks, or breasts; coercion to force someone else to touch one’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts; penetration of an orifice (anal, oral or vaginal) with the penis, finger, or other object in a sexual manner; or sexual inter­course. Sexual contact can occur over clothing.

Consent means the mutual understanding of words or actions freely and actively given by two informed people that a reasonable person would interpret as a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.

  • Consent is not effective when force, threat, or coercion is used
  • Consent is not effective if the recipient party is incapacitated, asleep, or unconscious
  • Silence or non-communication should never be interpreted as effective consent
  • Consent to one type of sexual activity does not imply consent to other types of sexual activity
  • Past consent is not future consent
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time

Incapacitation is the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments. A person is incapacitated if they lack the necessary judgment to give consent to sexual activity.   For example, a person may be incapacitated when asleep or under the influence of alcohol or drugs to an extent that the person is not capable of making a knowing decision. Knowledge of incapacity is evaluated based on a reasonable person standard.  Accordingly, if a person has sexual contact with someone whom that person knows to be, or whom a reasonable person would know to be, incapable of making a rational, reasonable decision, that contact violates this policy.

Being intoxicated or under the influence of any substance at the time of sexual contact is never an excuse for violating this Policy.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or based on someone's gender or gender expression that is:

  1. severe or pervasive, and
  2. objectively offensive, and
  3. creates a hostile educational or work environment.

The conduct must be unwelcome to the recipient, and a reasonable person in the recipient’s position must also perceive the conduct as constituting sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment includes “quid pro quo” harassment, which occurs when submission to conduct or communication is made a term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of obtaining an employment or educational benefit, or is a factor in decisions affecting an individual’s employment or education.

A hostile educational or work environment occurs when conduct or communication has the effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s employment or education.  Even a single, severe incident can create a hostile educational or work environment.  To determine whether a hostile environment has been created, a variety of factors related to the severity, persistence, or pervasiveness of the conduct will be considered. 

Unwelcome conduct is conduct that the recipient did not request or invite and considers to be undesirable or offensive.  Unwelcome conduct may take various forms, including, name-calling, graphic or written statements (including the use of cell phones or the Internet), or other conduct that may be physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating. 

  • Participation in the conduct or failure to complain does not always mean that the conduct was welcome
  • The fact that some conduct was welcome does not necessarily mean other conduct was welcome
  • The fact that conduct was requested or invited on one occasion does not mean that the conduct is welcome on a subsequent occasion

The essential importance of academic freedom is recognized in applying this policy.  But a claim of academic freedom is not a defense to actions intended to harass or actions that would be understood to be harassing by a reasonable person. Carleton College believes that ideas, creativity, and free expression thrive—and indeed can only exist for students, faculty members, and staff members—in an atmosphere free of sexual harassment or coercion. 

Stalking is a form of sexual misconduct when it is gender based or is related to an intimate partner relationship. Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person(s) that would cause a reasonable person to (a) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or (b) suffer substantial emotional distress. 

Stalking may include persistent unwanted attempts to contact the person by phone, electronic communication, or regular mail; vandalizing the person’s property or leaving unwanted items for the person; and/or repeatedly appearing at the person’s classroom, residence, or workplace without permission.

Sexual Exploitation
Sexual exploitation occurs when a person abuses or exploits another person’s sexuality, without that person’s consent.

Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to, recording images or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness without that person’s consent; distributing images or audio of another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness, if the individual distributing the images or audio knows or should have known that the person depicted did not consent to and objects to such disclosure; and viewing another person’s sexual activity, intimate body parts, or nakedness in a place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person’s consent.

Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence is the use of physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, humiliation, or other forms of emotional, psychological, sexual, or economic abuse used to control a partner in an intimate relationship.

Intimate partner relationships are defined as short or long-term relationships (current or former) between persons intended to provide some emotional/romantic and/or physical intimacy. 

Intimate partner violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior in relationships. Intimate Partner Violence is sometimes referred to as Domestic Violence or Dating Violence.

Sexually Inappropriate Conduct
Sexually inappropriate conduct includes unwelcome sexual conduct that may not rise to the level of sexual harassment. Conduct that may be considered sexually inappropriate may be isolated behavior not sufficiently serious to be sexual harass­ment under this policy.

Sexually inappropriate conduct may include, but is not limited to, crude, obscene, or sexually offensive gestures or behavior, or unwelcome sexual comments or communication. For purposes of this definition, communication may be oral, written, or electronically transmitted.

Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, abusive, coercive, violent, threatening, intimidating, discriminating or similar actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s participation in the sexual misconduct process.  Retaliation, by anyone, against a person involved in a sexual misconduct process under this Policy—including the complain­ant, the respondent, witnesses, advisers, investigators, panel members, or anyone else participating in the process—or against anyone who pursues legal action alleging sexual misconduct—is prohibited and will not be tolerated.

IV. Reporting Requirements

Faculty and Staff
All faculty and staff (other than Confidential Campus Resources) who learn of possible violations of this policy are required to report that information either directly or through a Community Concern Form to the Title IX Coor
dinator or the Title IX Deputy for Faculty and Staff.

While reporting is an obligation for all faculty and staff other than confidential resources, in responding to a report, the College will be guided by the goal of empowering the individual who has been subject to the misconduct and allowing that individual to retain as much control over the process as possible. However, no employee (other than Confidential Campus Resources) can or should promise absolute confidentiality.

Confidential Campus Resources
Carleton’s counselors and health service providers at the Student Health and Counseling Center and clergy who serve as College Chaplains are the college’s Confidential Campus Resources.  Individuals involved in sexual misconduct matters may seek confidential support from these resources, who will maintain complete confidentiality of all information shared with them. Confidential Campus Resources have a responsibility to report non-personally identifiable information about sexual misconduct for the purpose of statistical reporting, as required by federal law.

Resident assistants are required to report incidents of possible sexual misconduct through a Community Concern Form when relevant information comes to their attention through their work as resident assistants.  Resident assistants are required to include the names of involved students.

Student staff members in the Division of Student Life, other than resident assistants, are required to report incidents of possible sexual misconduct through a Community Concern Form, but may choose to omit the names of involved students.   These student staff members may choose to share more information, including names, to ensure that affected students receive appropriate support and attention.

Other students do not have an obligation to report sexual misconduct, but are encouraged to consider sharing information about sexual misconduct with the Title IX Coordinator to ensure that affected students receive appropriate support and attention.

V.  Related Information

Privacy and Confidentiality
Carleton College will maintain the privacy of all parties involved with a sexual misconduct allegation to the fullest extent possible.  Maintaining privacy means that only individuals who need to know information about a case will have access to it and that all information will be handled with sensitivity.  Publicly available records will not identify the parties in a formal or informal complaint process.

Record Retention
Records related to sexual misconduct allegations and investigations will be retained by the College for seven years.

Limited Immunity for Alcohol and Drug Violations
The College seeks to remove barriers to reporting incidents of sexual misconduct. An individual who has been drinking or using drugs at the time of an incident of sexual misconduct may be hesitant to make a report or participate in an investigation because of potential consequences for their own conduct. No student who, in good faith, reports an incident of sexual misconduct or participates in an investigation of sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action for their own personal consumption and possession of alcohol or other drugs related to that incident. The College may recommend educational intervention, assessment, or counseling for alcohol or other drug use when appropriate.

Prevention Education
In an effort to prevent and eliminate sexual misconduct, the College will maintain an infor­mative Web site about the sexual misconduct policy, procedures, prevention, and response, and will distribute information about the sexual misconduct policy and procedures to students, staff members, and faculty members annually. Peer leaders and professional staff members in advisory roles will receive additional training in preventing and responding to incidents of sexual misconduct. This training will include information to empower bystander intervention, including safe and positive options to prevent harm or intervene in risky situations.  Individuals designated as part of the Sexual Misconduct Support and Response Team will receive extensive and ongoing training, as will those involved in administration and adjudication of the sexual misconduct complaint process.

In addition to these trainings, the College community is informed about issues surrounding sexual misconduct through proactive and prevention education efforts.

Sexual Misconduct Involving Minors
Additional requirements may apply when an incident of sexual misconduct involves a minor.  A separate College policy applies to minors on campus.  See the Minors on Campus Policy (under development).

Related Legal Definitions
When sexual misconduct as defined in this Policy occurs at Carleton, the standards of the community are violated.  Depending on the type of misconduct, state and federal law may also be violated by conduct that violates College policy.  State law definitions of consent, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking can be found on the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault Web site.

For further information, please see the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Web site:

Keywords: Policy,Sexual Assault, Harassment, Inappropriate Conduct, Support Services, Complaint Processes, SHARE, CAASHA, S.H.A.R.E. Committee, SHARE Committee, education and training, support, confidential

Last Reviewed: Aug 13th, 2018

Maintained by Dean of Students