Whitworth University strives to ensure an educational environment conducive to equity and fairness for all students and employees. Our mission – to provide our students with an education of mind and heart, equipping them to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity – denotes a commitment to equality that we wholeheartedly embrace.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681) is an all-encompassing federal law that prohibits discrimination based on the gender of students and employees of educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance. It states:
"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..."
20 U.S.C. § 1681
Our willing compliance with this law is managed by Rhosetta Rhodes, Title IX coordinator and chief of staff. The Title IX coordinator may be reached at 509.777.4238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The reporting process for Title IX violations is as follows:
If you are a student who believes you have been subjected to (1) sexual harassment by university faculty or staff; or (2) any other form of gender discrimination under Title IX, you may report such misconduct or file a formal complaint with the Title IX coordinator in the human resource services office. The entire complaint procedure can be found at www.whitworth.edu/studenthandbook.
If you are a student who believes you have been or are the victim of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, sexual violence or other sexual misconduct, by another university student, you may report such conduct or file a complaint under Title IX with the associate dean of students. Complaints of student sexual misconduct are also addressed in the Student Handbook, which may be found at www.whitworth.edu/studenthandbook.
If you are an employee who believes you have been subjected to discrimination under Title IX, including sexual harassment, or who wishes to file a complaint under Title IX, you may do so with the Title IX coordinator in the human resource services office. The entire complaint procedure can be found in the Employee Handbook for Faculty & Staff.
Federal and state laws prohibit the taking of retaliatory measures against any individual who files a complaint in good faith.
Sexual Misconduct Policy
The following information serves to elaborate upon and clarify the process Whitworth University will use to investigate and resolve reports of sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking.
Students who wish to report a concern or complaint may speak with the university’s Title IX coordinator or her designees or to any RD or faculty member.
Individuals with complaints of this nature also have the right to file a formal compliant with the U.S. Department of Education:
Confidential Reporting Options
For absolute confidentiality, you should speak with an on-campus or off-campus mental health counselor or call off-campus rape crisis resources – the Lutheran Social Services 24-Hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line (509.624.7273); or the 24-Hour Crime Victim Crisis Line (866.751.7119) – for assistance. In addition, you may speak with campus clergy or health center staff, who will also keep your report confidential upon request. Whitworth University employs a sexual assault advocate who can be accessed through the health & counseling center at 509.777.4655. To track statistics of incidents, on-campus personnel will report numbers of incidents but not details of specific situations. The conduct process will protect, to the extent possible, the identity of the victim in accordance with the victim’s request, with the understanding that the university may need to take certain steps even if a victim requests that his or her identity be protected.
Students may also submit an incident report without including personal identifying information (name, etc.). Anonymous reports limit the ability of the university to investigate and respond, but they will be tracked and investigated to the extent possible based on the information provided.
When a report is made, only people who need to know will be told, and information will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses and the accused individual. The university will act, to the extent possible, to protect the complainant once a complaint has been filed.
Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations
Those who report incidents of misconduct should also be aware that university administrators must issue immediate, timely warnings for reported incidents that are confirmed to pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The university will make every effort to ensure that identifying information, including the reporter’s name, is not disclosed. Whitworth will, however, provide enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.
If a student reports an incident of harassment or assault (including sexual harassment or assault), the university will investigate whether the incident occurred on or off campus. This differs from the process used in many other areas of investigation and conduct process, in which the university typically focuses solely on behavior occurring on campus or in connection with a program or activity sponsored by the university.
Whitworth will complete its investigation as soon as is reasonably possible under the
circumstances, typically within no more than 60 days.
Guidelines for steps the investigator is likely to take (s/he may combine or eliminate steps
depending on the specifics of the situation):
- Determine the identity and contact information of the complainant (whether s/he is the initiator, the alleged complainant, or a university proxy or representative).
- Identify the policies allegedly violated.
- Conduct an initial investigation to determine whether there is reasonable information to charge the accused individual, and determine which policy violations should be alleged as part of the complaint.
- If there is insufficient information to support a policy violation, the grievance may be closed with no further action.
- Meet with the complainant to finalize the complaint.
- Inform the respondent (accused individual) of the investigation (and provide a notice of charges, if appropriate, on the basis of the initial investigation).
- Commence a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation by developing strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended time frame, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the accused individual, who may be given notice of charges prior to or at the time of the interview.
- Make a finding, based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not to have taken place).
- Present the findings to the accused individual, who may accept the findings, accept the findings in part or reject all findings.
- Share the findings and update the complainant on the status of the investigation and the outcome.
Where a respondent is found not responsible for an alleged violation or violations, the investigation should be closed. Where the respondent accepts the finding that s/he violated university policy, the associate dean of students will determine appropriate sanctions for the violation. If the respondent rejects part or all of the findings, s/he can request a review of the findings by the vice president for student life or her/his designee. The vice president or her/his designee’s decision is the final institutional decision for the case.
Past Sexual History/Character
The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be used in an investigation or conduct meeting unless such information is determined by the investigator to be highly relevant. All such information will be presumed irrelevant, and any request to overcome this presumption by the parties must be included in the complaint/response or a subsequent written request that must be reviewed by the investigator. While previous conduct violations by the accused individual are not generally used as information about the present situation, the investigator or associate dean may supply previous complaint information, or may consider it him/herself if s/he is hearing the complaint, only if the following criteria are met:
- The respondent was previously found responsible.
- The previous incident was substantially similar to the present situation.
- Information indicates a pattern of behavior by the respondent.
Definitions that Inform Whitworth Policies
- Discrimination is defined as unequal, adverse treatment of an individual because of his or her protected legal status, such as race, age or gender. For instance, different treatment of two similar individuals with respect to pay, opportunity for advancement, or educational opportunity constitutes discrimination if the reason for the different treatment is the protected status of one of the individuals.
- Harassment is defined as unwelcome, hostile or inappropriate conduct directed toward an individual because of his or her protected status (for instance, persistent comments or jokes about an individual’s religion, race, age or gender). Such conduct violates university policy if it has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, living environment or studying environment for the individual or if it substantially interferes with that individual’s employment, living or educational environment.
- Retaliation is defined as adverse or negative action against an individual who has (1) complained about alleged discrimination, harassment or retaliation; (2) participated as a party or witness in an investigation relating to such allegations; or (3) participated as a party or witness in a court proceeding or administrative investigation relating to such allegations.
- Sexual harassment is one type of harassment. It includes any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favor, or conduct of a sexual nature when …
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or obtaining an education; or
- submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual affect that individual’s employment or education; or
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s employment or education, or of creating an intimidating, demoralizing, threatening or hostile employment, living or educational environment.
- Sexual Assault, or nonconsensual sexual contact, occurs when a sexual act is intentional and (a) is committed by physical force, threat or intimidation; (b) ignores the objections of another person; or (c) takes advantage of another person’s incapacitation, state of intimidation, helplessness or other inability to consent.
- Sexual exploitation occurs when a student takes nonconsensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to the benefit or advantage of anyone other than the one being exploited. This behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Invasion of sexual privacy
- Prostituting of another student
- Nonconsensual viewing, videoing or audio-taping of sexual activity
- Knowingly transmitting an STD or HIV to another student
- Exposing one’s genitals in nonconsensual circumstances; inducing another person to expose his or her genitals
- Sexually based stalking and/or bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation
- Domestic violence (as defined by the Violence Against Women Act) is the use of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or threats to control another person who is a current or former spouse or other intimate partner, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend. It includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse to the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child, 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 victim 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 that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction. Examples of domestic violence include but are not limited to the following:
- Causing or attempting to cause physical or mental harm to a family or household member
- Placing a family or household member in fear of physical or mental harm
- Causing or attempting to cause a family or household member to engage in involuntary sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress
- Engaging in activity toward a family or household member that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested
- Dating violence (as defined by the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Woman Act of 1994) is violence committed …
- by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and
- in a situation where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of (1) the length of the relationship, (2) the type of the relationship, and (3) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power and control in the relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation and humiliation to control the other person. Forms of abuse can be physical, verbal, sexual, emotional and/or psychological.
Examples include but are not limited to trying to cut off the victim’s relationship with family and friends, humiliating the victim in front of friends, making the victim fearful by using threatening behavior, threatening to find someone else if the dating partner doesn’t comply with the abuser’s wishes or demands, using or threatening to use physically assaultive behaviors such as hitting, shoving, grabbing, slapping, beating, kicking and touching, or forcing the victim to engage in unwanted sexual activity
- Stalking (as defined by the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994) is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or that might induce substantial emotional distress.
Acts of stalking include but are not limited to harassing another person by telephone, following that person, sending unwanted gifts and other similar forms of intrusive behavior.
- Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive, Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. In terms of sexual activity, consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable, clear permission regarding the willingness of both parties to engage in, and to agree on the conditions of, sexual activity.
Consent to any one form of sexual activity does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity.
Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.
Consent can be withdrawn. Thus, even if a person agreed to sexual interaction or continued sexual interaction, that person has the right to change his or her mind, irrespective of how much sexual interaction may have already taken place. Consent cannot be given if the person is incapacitated.
- Force is the use of physical violence and/or physical imposition to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent (“Have sex with me, or I’ll hit you.” “OK, don’t hit me; I’ll do what you want”).
- Coercion is pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When someone makes clear to you that s/he does not want sex, that s/he wants to stop, or that s/he does not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point can be coercive. NOTE: There is no requirement that a party resist a sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition nonconsensual, but nonconsensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.
In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age.
Sexual activity with someone whom one should know to be mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use leading to unconsciousness or blackout) is considered to be forced.
- Incapacitation is a state in which a person cannot make reasonable decisions because s/he lacks the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, why or how” of his/her sexual interaction). Consumption of alcohol or drugs alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation. The question of incapacitation is determined on a case-by-case basis. It will include an analysis of whether the responding party knew, or should have known, that the complaining party was incapacitated, or if the responding party played a role in creating the circumstance of incapacitation.
This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from ingesting rape drugs if the responding party knew, or should have known, of the incapacitating condition or was the cause thereof. More information about drugs that cause incapacitation can be found at www.911rape.org. NOTE: Though resistance is a clear demonstration of non-consent, the presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition nonconsensual, but nonconsensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.
Use of alcohol or other drugs will never function as a defense for behavior that violates a Whitworth policy.