Policy and Procedure
STUDENT AFFAIRS OP 91.118: Sexual Assault
Date: September 8, 2006
To provide a learning atmosphere which is free of the threat of sexual assault.
Mississippi State University considers the personal physical safety of students and employees to be a minimal prerequisite for the establishment of a learning environment. Every member of the university community should be aware that the university is strongly opposed to sexual assault and that such behavior is prohibited both by state law and by university policy. It is the intention of the university to take whatever action may be needed to prevent, correct, and if necessary, discipline behavior that violates this policy.
All forms of sexual assault are regarded as serious university offenses which are likely to result in suspension or expulsion, as described below. Mississippi criminal law encompasses the offenses identified above under at least the following titles: rape, statutory rape, sexual battery, and fondling. Prosecution of students for crimes they commit, whether by state or federal prosecutors, is independent of and in addition to the charges and actions taken under university regulations.
The university defines the following:
1. Sexual Assault: Mississippi State University defines sexual assault (including, but not limited to rape) as committing any of the following acts:
a. Any sexual physical contact that involves the use or threat of force or violence or any other form of coercion or intimidation.
b. Any sexual physical contact with a person who is unable to consent
2. Sexual Physical Contact: The intentional touching, whether with one's own body part, or an instrument or object of some other type, of the person of another, no matter how slight, in, or on, an area of the body generally recognized by the university community as being a private part of the body; and/or the intentional touching of another person, no matter how slight, with one's own private body part anywhere on the other person's body. The amount, or lack thereof, of clothing being worn by either person is of no consequence in determining whether a "sexual physical contact" has occurred, and the body part touched, or used to touch with, may be covered or clothed, but that will not prevent the touching from being a "sexual physical contact".
3. A Person Unable to Consent: Includes, but is not limited to:
a. An unmarried person, under the age of 17.
b. A person who is physically helpless (e.g., one who is unconscious or for any other reason is physically incapable of communicating an unwillingness to engage in an act).
c. A person who is mentally incapacitated (e.g., one rendered incapable of knowing or controlling his or her conduct, or incapable of resisting an act, due to the influence of any drug, narcotic, anesthetic, alcohol, or other substance; or one whose mind is lacking in sufficient capacity to be able to understand and appreciate the act, its implications, and consequences).
1. Response to Sexual Assault:
The Division of Student Affairs will designate one male and female staff member to coordinate a team response to sexual assault. In addition to a coordinator, the Sexual Assault Response Team will include at least the following: a counselor, a law enforcement investigator, and a medical representative. The services of the Sexual Assault Response Team will be available to any member of the university community who has experienced sexual assault, whether on or off campus. This team will coordinate a response with other community agencies and services as required. Coordination or contact, if any is required, by any Mississippi State University employee, other than the complainant, with state or federal prosecutors should be processed through the Office of the university Counsel.
2. Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinators:
a. Serve as case managers for the needs of the sexual assault complainant including emergency intervention, assessment of needs, provision of direct support services, and referral to other campus and community resources;
b. Receive information and complaints regarding sexual assault, coordinate with the University Police Department in collecting data for official crime reports, and work with other university offices to develop appropriate documentation of the incidence of sexual assault;
c. Coordinate sexual assault prevention education efforts and train presenters for outreach programming; and
d. Provide appropriate services or referrals for alleged perpetrators of sexual assault.
3. The Sexual Assault Response Team:
a. Meets with the Coordinators on a regular basis to coordinate the overall sexual assault education and prevention program of the university;
b. Meets with a Coordinator as needed to respond to allegations of sexual assault; and
c. Publicizes the general risk of sexual assault within the university community and advises a Coordinator when a specific case poses such imminent danger to the university community at large that warnings should be published.
4. Procedures for Reporting Sexual Assault
Members of the university community who believe they have been victims of sexual assault should report the assault to a Coordinator of the Sexual Assault Response Team. If the report is first made to any other employee of the university, that employee should refer the complainant to a Coordinator. In the absence of a Coordinator, the referral may be made to any member of the Sexual Assault Response Team. The Coordinator reviewing the complaint will explore with the complainant the available options for further reporting.
In responding to reports of sexual assault, the university will be guided by the following principles:
a. To provide redress for the student, faculty, or staff member who is a victim of sexual assault by a student on campus and to protect the campus community from threat of further sexual assault.
b. In all cases, the complainant will have the right to decide whether the incident will be reported further.
c. A student complainant may choose to use the university judicial process if the alleged perpetrator is a student of the university, no matter whether the assault occurred on or off campus.
5. Judicial Process
A charge of sexual assault against a university student will be handled under the normal university judicial process by the Dean of Students' Office (see OP 91.100: Code of Student Conduct). When a complainant of sexual assault gives information to the Dean of Students that a sexual assault has taken place and accuses a university student of the offense, the Dean of Students will have the discretion to suspend the accused student pending a hearing. When any necessary investigation is complete, the Dean of Students will formally notify the accused student of the charges and will set a hearing date within five class days.
6. Rights of Sexual Assault Complainants in the University Judicial Process
a. The complainant will have the right to be present whenever the accused student is present in the judicial process.
b. The complainant will have the right to be accompanied throughout the judicial process by a Sexual Response Team Coordinator.
c. The sexual reputation of the complainant will neither be used as evidence nor discussed in the judicial procedure.
d. The complainant will have the right to be present when the announcement of guilt or innocence is made to the accused.
e. The victim will have the right to make a formal Victim's Impact Statement (orally on the record or in writing) prior to consideration of any sanction being imposed.
f. The victim will be notified in writing of any sanction imposed. This notification will be sent to the victim at the same time that the assailant is notified of the sanction.
g. The victim will be notified of any appeals filed by the assailant.
(1) If the assailant appeals on the basis of new evidence, the victim will have the right to respond to that evidence.
(2) If the assailant appeals on any other basis, the victim will be informed of the appeal but the decision will be based on the record of the case as supplied by the Dean of Students.
(3) Throughout the appeal process, the victim will have the right to equal standing with the assailant: where the assailant presents information in written form, the victim will also have right to present written information; where the assailant makes an appeal in person, the victim will also have the right to respond to the appeal in person.
h. The victim will be notified in writing of the results of any appeals. This notification will be sent to the victim at the same time that the assailant is notified.
7. Rights of Accused Sexual Assailants in the University Judicial Process
A student accused of sexual assault under this policy will have all the rights of due process which are normally accorded to those accused under the university judicial process. A specific listing of those rights can be found online at http://www.msstate.edu/web/security.html.
The sanction for students found guilty of sexual assault under this policy will range from a minimum of suspension for one year to a maximum of permanent expulsion. Any student found guilty under this policy, in addition to other sanctions imposed, must submit to the Dean of Students as a condition of re-entering the university, proof of successful completion of counseling by a licensed mental health professional, and the results of a psychological evaluation.
9. Dissemination of Information Concerning Sexual Assault
The university will annually provide to all students information concerning sexual assault including at least the following:
a. The definition of sexual assault and a statement of the university's policy prohibiting it;
b. The most accurate data available about the incidence of sexual assault of university students, on and off campus;
c. Precautions which students should take to avoid becoming victims of sexual assault;
d. Procedures for reporting sexual assault;
e. Services which are available to complainants and those accused of sexual assault; and
f. Statements of the rights of sexual assault complainants and those accused of sexual assault in the university judicial process.
The Vice President for Student Affairs is responsible for the review of this operating policy every four years or as needed.
For information about this policy, contact the responsible/reviewing department hyperlinked above.