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About Title IX

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About Title IX


Definitions

Discrimination involves unfair treatment of a person or group based on prejudice regarding their personal characteristics. Rider University does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, handicap/disability, age, marital status, national origin, ethnicity, status as a Vietnam-era, qualified disabled veteran or other protected veteran, or status as a member of any other protected class under federal or state law, in employment or in the application, admission, operation, participation, access and treatment of employees and students, in any of the University’s programs and activities as specified by federal law and regulations. Additionally, it is the policy of Rider University to provide an environment for prospective and current students, job applicants, employees and other third parties that is free from harassment and intimidation on account of an individual’s race, creed, color, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, handicap/disability, age, marital status, national origin, ethnicity, status as a Vietnam era, qualified disabled veteran or other protected veteran, or status as a member of any other protected class under federal or state law.

Harassment occurs when an individual engages in conduct directed at an individual or group of individuals that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive, and objectively offensive to limit or deny a member of the University community the ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational or employment programs or activities. Nothing contained in this policy shall be construed either to (1) limit the legitimate exercise of free speech, including but not limited to written, graphic, electronic or verbal expression that can reasonably be demonstrated to serve legitimate education, artistic, or political purposes, or (2) infringe upon the academic freedom of any member of the University community.

Intimate Partner Violence includes dating violence, domestic violence and relationship violence and occurs when an individual(s) threatens, intimidates, harms, or commits an act of violence against a current or former intimate partner.  Dating violence means violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on the Complainant’s statement, taking into consideration, (i) the length of the relationship, (ii) the type of relationship, and (iii) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.  Domestic violence is committed by a current or former spouse, a sexual or intimate partner, a person who is living as a spouse or who lived as a spouse with the alleged victim, parents or children, other persons related by blood or marriage, or a person with whom the alleged victim shares a child in common.  For purposes of clarity, to constitute Intimate Partner Violence, the relationship must be more than just two people living together as roommates. For the purposes of this policy, violence is defined under charged 2.2. and/or 2.4 of the Student Code of Social Conduct.

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is defined as actual or attempted non-consensual, intentional sexual touching with an object or body part by a person upon another person that is without consent and/or by force. Sexual Touching means intentional contact directly or through clothing with the breasts, groin, or genitals, mouth or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you, themselves, or a third-party with or any of these body parts; or any other bodily contact with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify the actor.

Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration is defined as any sexual penetration, however slight, with any object by a person upon another person that is without consent. Penetration includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

Sexual Exploitation is any act committed by an individual(s) that violates the sexual privacy of another or takes unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another who has not provided consent, and that does not constitute sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact, or non-consensual sexual penetration. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: voyeurism, recording, photographing, transmitting, viewing, or distributing intimate or sexual image or sexual information without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved.

Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances (including, but not limited to, sexual assault and sexual misconduct), requests for sexual favors, and/or physical, verbal, electronic*, written conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, or participation in University programs or activities, or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for decisions pertaining to an individual’s employment, education, or participation in University programs or activities, or
  • Such speech or conduct is directed against another and is abusive or humiliating and persists after the objection of the person targeted by the speech or conduct, or
  • Such conduct would be regarded by a reasonable person as creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment that substantially interferes with an individual’s work, education, or participation in University programs or activities.

* Electronic refers to communication using/including the Internet, email, text messages, instant messages, photo messages, discussion boards, digital images/ video/audio, blogs or social networking sites.

In the educational setting within the University, as distinct from other work places within the University, wide latitude for professional judgment in determining the appropriate content and presentation of academic material is required. Conduct, including pedagogical techniques, that serves a legitimate educational purpose does not constitute sexual harassment. Those participating in the educational setting bear a responsibility to balance their rights of free expression with a consideration of the reasonable sensitivities of other participants.

Stalking occurs when an individual engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. “Substantial emotional distress” under this policy is defined as significant mental suffering or anguish that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling. A “course of conduct” under this policy is defined as two or more acts including, but not limited to, acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means, follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.

In addition to the conduct described in the above section, any conduct that is prohibited by the university that may be based on the perceived or actual membership of an individual or group of individuals in a protected class may be investigated under this policy. “Protected Class” under this policy includes race, creed, color, religion, handicap/disability, gender, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, ethnicity, status as a Vietnam-era qualified disabled veteran or other protected veteran, or status as a member of any other protected class under federal or state law.

Advisor is a person chosen by each of the Complainant and Responding Party who is permitted to accompany the Complainant and Responding Party respectively to any meeting or disciplinary proceeding (including, but not limited to, fact finding investigations, formal or informal meetings, hearings and/or mediation sessions).  An advisor is an individual (friend, parent, attorney or anyone else) who provides the Complainant and Responding Party respectively with support, guidance or advice. The advisor is not permitted to be an active participant in meetings or disciplinary proceedings. It is the responsibility of the Complainant and Responding Party to provide notice of meetings or disciplinary proceedings to their respective advisor. Meetings and/or disciplinary proceedings generally will not be canceled or delayed because an advisor could not be present. However, reasonable requests to reschedule based on compelling circumstances may be considered.

Consent is an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexually explicit touching or sexual penetration. Consent is active, not passive, and must be informed and freely and actively given. Coercion, force or threat of coercion or force invalidates consent.

It is incumbent upon the individuals involved in the activity to obtain consent prior to any sexual activity, and again, prior to sexual penetration. If at any time during the sexual interaction any confusion or ambiguity should arise on the issue of consent, it is incumbent upon the individuals involved in the activity to stop and clarify, verbally, the other’s willingness to continue.

  • A verbal “no,” even if it may sound indecisive or insincere, constitutes lack of consent.
  • When consent is requested verbally, absence of any explicit verbal response constitutes lack of consent.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any time. But it is expected that, after consent has been established, a person who changes their mind during the sexual activity will communicate through words or actions, their decision to no longer proceed.
  • Consent can be conditional. For example, a person may consent to sexual activity only if a safer sex product (i.e. internal or external condom) is used. If the other person removes the safer sex product and wishes to continue the sexual activity, they would need to ask before continuing since consent was only previously given for sexual activity with a safer sex product.
  • Past consent to sexual activity does not imply future ongoing consent, and the fact that two persons reside together or are in an on-going relationship does not preclude the possibility that sexual misconduct or sexual assault might occur within that relationship.
  • A person who is asleep, incapacitated, or is not reasonably capable of assessing the situation and surrounding circumstances, whether due to the effect of drugs, alcohol, or for any other reason, is not capable of giving valid consent. Consent is not valid if a reasonable person would understand that such a person is incapable of giving consent.
  • A person’s use of alcohol, other drugs, and/or other intoxicants does not diminish their responsibility to obtain informed and freely given consent.

Complainant is anyone who submits a report alleging that an individual violated the Policy and/or anyone who is alleged to have been the subject of a violation of the Policy. Oftentimes the individual submitting the report and the individual who is the subject of the violation are the same. In instances where the subject of the violation is different from the individual submitting the charge, both individuals will have the same rights afforded to the Complainant under the Policy. The University may initiate an investigation in cases where a Complainant chooses not to move forward or participate in the process, but the University decides to move forward with an investigation and/or disciplinary action because it has information that raises concerns regarding the safety and welfare of the Complainant and/or campus communities. Factors that may be considered but are not limited to, the following: the increased risk that the Responding Party will commit additional acts of sexual or other violence; whether a weapon is involved; whether the individual(s) targeted by the alleged behavior is a minor; and/or whether the Complainant’s report reveals a pattern of perpetration by the Responding Party. Both the Complainant and Responding Party will be notified of such a decision by the University.

Gender expression refers to the way an individual communicates gender identity to others through outward presentation and behavior. This includes, but is not limited to: clothing, hairstyle, voice, and body characteristics.

Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal personal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.

Hostile Environment exists when sexual harassment (including all forms of sexual violence) is sufficiently serve, or persistent, or pervasive, and objectively offensive to limit or deny a member of the University community the ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational or employment programs or activities.

Responding Party is anyone who is alleged to have violated the Policy.

Third Party is anyone who is not a student or employee of the University (e.g., vendors, alumni/ae, guests, contracted employees).


Rider University Policies


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the standard used to make a decision whether a violation of the AHND policy has occurred?
A: The standard of proof utilized to determine whether an AHND policy violation has occurred is  “preponderance of evidence”. This means that a hearing panel must find that based on the testimony and documents considered it is more likely than not that a violation has occurred.

Q: If I file a report but don’t want an investigation, how can the university assist me?
A: After reviewing the report, if the university determines that it can honor a request not to investigate, the university may take any measures it deems appropriate to assist you. These measures can include issuing  no communication/no contact order, a residence hall reassignment, academic assistance, counseling, changes to work or academic schedules, escort to classes. However it is important to note that when there is no investigation the university may be limited in the actions it take against another student. For example, the university may not be able to change the residential assignment of another student.

Q: If I file a report but don’t participate in an investigation or hearing, will the Responding Party automatically be found not responsible? or If I am the Responding Party in a report but don’t participate in an investigation or hearing, will I automatically be found responsible?
A: No. Consistent with the AHND Policy, an investigation and, if appropriate, a hearing may proceed in the absence of the participation of a Complainant or Responding Party. Investigators will proceed in their efforts to collect information available to them through interviews, documents, and university records to establish a record, and if appropriate, a hearing panel will consider the record to determine if there is a preponderance of the evidence to find a violation of the AHND Policy occurred even in the absence of the Complainant or Responding Party participating. The investigation and/or hearing will look different than if the Complainant and/or responding participates but it does not guarantee a certain outcome.

Q: I’ve received a Notice of Complaint, what does that mean?
A: An individual receives a Notice of Complaint after the university has received information (i.e. a report) that necessitates the university to launch an investigation under the AHND Policy. The Notice of Complaint is not a charge letter. The investigation is intended to collect information that will be reviewed by the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) to determine whether sufficient facts exist to warrants a formal hearing to determine if there was a violation of the AHND Policy.

Q: What is typically included in a response to an investigation report?
A: The response is up to the individual and there is no prescribed format.. The Responding Party or Complainant may consider providing any additional information that is relevant to the act or acts outlined in the report in order to clarify, correct, or supplement information contained in the report.

Q: Who can be an advisor?
A: An advisor can be a friend, family member, attorney, counselor, or anyone who agrees to be the advisor for the Complainant or Responding Party. It is recommended that a party not select someone who may be a witness to serve as an advisor as that may limit their ability to participate as in a hearing or investigation process.

Q: Do I have to have an advisor?
A: No one participating is required to have an advisor. This option exists if a Complainant or Responding Party would like to have someone assist and support them through the investigative or hearing process.

Q: If I have questions about the process or the Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy, who can I speak with?
A: Individuals are welcome to reach out to the Title IX Compliance Officer, the Title IX Coordinator, the Dean of Students, of the Director of Community Standards. While they can answer questions regarding topics such as the investigation process, they cannot serve as an advisor and may not be able to answer questions regarding how to best answer questions in an interview, or offer suggestions about what questions to ask witnesses in a hearing.

Q: How can the university assist me if I was assaulted by someone not affiliated with Rider?
A: The university can assist you by providing you access to resources on and off-campus. This includes Counseling Services and Student Health Services. The University may also take steps to restrict an individual’s access to campus. If you wish to file a police report, the university can assist you in doing so. Also, if the individual who assaulted you goes to another university the Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Compliance Officer can assist you in contacting that school about filing a report.

Q: What if the person provides false information?
A: The allegation of sexual violence may have severe consequences and therefore the University takes very seriously the validity of reported information. An individual who makes a report that is later found to have been intentionally false or made maliciously without regard for the truth may be subject to disciplinary action. An individual not being charged after an investigation or found not responsible at the end of a hearing process does not inherently mean that an individual falsified information. A report may be made in good faith and be unsubstantiated by an investigation or subsequent hearing.

Q: Can I have additional people sit in on the hearing besides my advisor?
A: A Complainant and respondent are permitted to have an advisor assist them and be present during the investigation and/or hearing. Unless the Complainant and respondent consent, no additional individuals (including family members or friends) may be permitted to sit in on the hearing. 


Education and Prevention at Rider University

Rider University offers a variety of events, workshops, and trainings throughout the academic year to help educate the university community on topics such as: sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, consent, and bystander intervention. 

To request a training, get more involved in these and other initiatives, or to to learn more please contact the Alcohol/Drug and Sexual Assault Prevention Education Coordinator, Susan Stahley, at [email protected] or [email protected].