Home » Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence
Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence
- Prevention, Education, and Training
- Immediate Assistance
- Ongoing Assistance
- Offenses and Definitions
- Reporting An Incident
- Additional Information for Students
- Procedures for Faculty
- Procedures for Staff
- Procedures for House Staff
- Procedures for Postdoctoral Fellows and Trainees
- Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations
- Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations
- Appendix: List off Responsible Employees
Vanderbilt University is committed to the principles of equal opportunity and seeks to establish and maintain a safe and healthy environment for all members of the University community, guests, and visitors. The University provides programs, activities, and a campus environment that foster courtesy and respect. The University seeks to eliminate and, by this policy, prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, and other forms of power-based personal violence, which includes dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Under federal law, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), Vanderbilt has a duty to prevent and redress sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence. Such conduct is contrary to Vanderbilt’s values, represents socially irresponsible behavior, and will not be tolerated. This policy addresses Vanderbilt’s obligations under Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
This policy outlines the procedures that apply to allegations of sexual discrimination, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and power-based personal violence involving students. It is applicable to all members of the Vanderbilt community with respect to conduct that (1) occurs on campus; (2) occurs in connection with University programs and activities; or (3) otherwise interferes with or limits the ability of a member of the community to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities from the University’s programs or activities. The policy sets forth the specific types of conduct that are prohibited, as well as the resources and support services available to those in the Vanderbilt community who have been impacted by sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence. Vanderbilt encourages reporting of violations of this policy. The University will take prompt and effective action to address allegations of sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence, and will resolve complaints in a timely and fair manner.
Questions about the policy may be directed to Vanderbilt’s Title IX Coordinator, who oversees compliance with applicable non-discrimination policies, including this policy:
Title IX Coordinator and Director,
Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services (EAD)
110 21st Avenue South, Suite 808, Nashville, TN 37203
Prevention, Education, and Training
Vanderbilt provides numerous programs that address sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence issues, including the related issue of drug and alcohol abuse. Vanderbilt’s programs include VU Personal Empowerment Through Self Awareness (PETSA), True Life at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Visions, AlcoholEdu, and Green Dot. A number of individual departments and offices, including EAD, and student organizations also provide regular and ongoing programming on these important issues.
Vanderbilt also provides regular and ongoing training to faculty and staff, beginning at the start of their association with the University. This training includes:
- New staff and faculty orientation includes a discussion of non-discrimination laws and policies.
- The Office of Student Health and Wellness maintains a Students in Distress reference guide for faculty and staff.
- EAD provides an Alphabet Soup seminar for managers and supervisors with hiring responsibilities.
- EAD, the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity (Student Accountability) and the Project Safe Center also provide training to faculty, staff, and students on sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence and the University’s policies that address these issues.
The Title IX Coordinator, EAD staff, University law enforcement personnel, responsible employees, Project Safe staff, the Director of Student Accountability, and others involved in responding to, investigating, or adjudicating sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence cases receive additional training in these areas.
Any member of the Vanderbilt community who has experienced sexual misconduct or power-based personal violence may seek immediate assistance from one or more of the following resources. As discussed in the “Reporting an Incident” section below, some of these resources are subject to mandatory reporting requirements. This policy indicates the level of confidentiality offered by each of the listed on-campus resources.
- On Campus
- Vanderbilt University Police Department (VUPD): 615-322-2745Emergency: 911 or 615-421-1911(Not confidential—required to notify EAD and local law enforcement in most circumstances)
- Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD): 615-862-7400Emergency: 911
Medical Service Providers
- On Campus
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center Emergency Services: 615-322-0160(Required to notify law enforcement when violent crime victims present for treatment of injuries)
- For Students:
- Student Health Center: 615-322-2427(Required to notify law enforcement when violent crime victims present for treatment of injuries)
- Psychological and Counseling Center: 615-322-2571(Confidential—not required to notify EAD or law enforcement in most cases)
- For Faculty and Staff:
- Work/Life Connections – Employee Assistance Program: 615-936-1327(Confidential—not required to notify EAD or law enforcement in most cases)
- Faculty and Physician Wellness Program: 615-936-1327(Confidential—not required to notify EAD or law enforcement in most cases)
- Nurse Wellness Program: 615-936-1327(Confidential—not required to notify EAD or law enforcement in most cases)
- Occupational Health Clinic: 615-936-0955(Required to notify law enforcement when violent crime victims present for treatment of injuries)
- St. Thomas Midtown Hospital Emergency Department: 615-284-5555
- Nashville General Hospital at Meharry Emergency Department: 615-341-4000
- TriStar Centennial Medical Center Emergency Department: 615-342-1000
Resources and Support
- On Campus
- Project Safe Support Line (24/7/365): 615-322-SAFE (7233)(Not confidential—required to notify EAD of reports)
- Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-800-787-3224
- Sexual Assault Center Hotline: 1-800-879-1999
- YWCA Crisis and Information Line: 615-242-1199
The law enforcement agencies listed above are available for emergency response, facilitating medical transport, investigating incidents of a criminal nature, referrals, and preserving evidence. VUPD’s Office of Victim Services also provides a support person for crime victims. As discussed below, VUPD is required to report potential violations of this policy to the Title IX Coordinator and to report incidents of sexual assault and other criminal acts of a serious nature to Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD).
The medical service providers listed above are available for treatment of injuries, preventative treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, other health services, and consultations. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is available to come to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Emergency Department upon request. Medical treatment and a forensic examination may aid in the preservation of relevant evidence. Tennessee law requires all medical personnel to report to law enforcement when a victim seeks treatment for injuries related to a violent crime, including sexual assault. Medical personnel are also required to report to law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services when a minor presents for treatment for any injury or condition that reasonably indicates it was caused by violence or abuse, including physical or sexual abuse. Medical personnel are also required to report to law enforcement and/or Adult Protective Services when certain vulnerable adults present and there is reasonable belief that they are victims of adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Students can request that a Victim Resource Specialist from Project Safe meet the student at a medical service provider, law enforcement agency, or other location for assistance or consultation. A Victim Resource Specialist is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Project Safe, Work/Life Connections – Employee Assistance Program, the Faculty and Physician Wellness Program, the Nurse Wellness Program, and the community resources listed above are also available to assist members of the Vanderbilt community.
Immediate Priority—Preserving Evidence: To help preserve evidence, it is important for the victim not to change clothes or bedding and not take a shower, douche, or clean up until police have had a chance to gather evidence. If a victim has already changed clothes or cleaned up/showered, evidence may still be collected. Leave any clothes or bedding unfolded and undisturbed, if possible. If clothing or bedding must be moved, try to keep each item separate to prevent transfer of body fluids or other trace evidence. Do not delete or destroy any text messages, emails, voicemails, written notes, or any other documents that may be relevant.
The following resources are available for ongoing assistance, regardless of whether the victim chooses to make an official report or participate in an investigation or criminal process. As discussed in the “Reporting an Incident” section below, some of these resources are subject to mandatory reporting requirements. This policy indicates the level of confidentiality offered by each of the listed on-campus resources.
- For Students:
- Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life: 615-322-2457(Confidential—not required to notify EAD or law enforcement when acting as clergy)
- For Faculty and Staff:
- VUPD Office of Victim Services: 615-322-2745(Not confidential—required to notify EAD and law enforcement of many reports)
- For Students:(All of the below resources are not confidential—required to notify EAD of reports)
- Project Safe Center: 615-322-7233
- Office of Housing and Residential Education: 615-322-2591
- Office of the Dean of Students: 615-322-6400
- Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center: 615-322-4843
- Office of LGBTQI Life: 615-322-3330
- For Faculty and Staff:
- See resources listed above.
Interim Measures, Accommodations, and Sanctions
Where appropriate, Vanderbilt will implement interim measures on its own initiative or in response to a request from a complainant (the alleged victim of sexual misconduct or power-based personal violence) or respondent (the alleged perpetrator of sexual misconduct or power-based personal violence).
Interim measures for students may include, but are not limited to:
- access to on-campus counseling services and assistance in setting up an initial appointment;
- “no-contact directives” (also known as stay away orders or directives to desist) issued by Student Accountability;
- rescheduling of exams and assignments;
- providing alternative course completion options;
- changing class schedules, including the ability to transfer course sections or withdraw from a course without penalty;
- changing work schedules, job assignments, or job locations for University employment;
- changing residence hall assignments;
- providing an escort to ensure safe movement between classes and activities;
- providing academic support services, such as tutoring;
- limiting or barring an individual’s or organization’s access to certain Vanderbilt-owned facilities or activities;
- interim residential expulsion of the respondent;
- interim suspension of the respondent;
- student-requested leaves of absence.
Interim measures for faculty and staff may include, but are not limited to:
- access to on-campus counseling services and assistance in setting up an initial appointment;
- changing work schedules, job assignments, or job locations;
- limiting or barring an individual’s or organization’s access to certain Vanderbilt-owned facilities or activities;
- providing an escort to ensure safe movement on campus;
- administrative leave;
- Vanderbilt-imposed leave or physical separation from individuals or locations.
Offenses and Definitions
The following conduct is prohibited:
- Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse
- Non-Consensual Sexual Contact
- Sexual Harassment
- Sexual Harassment – Hostile Environment
- Sexual Exploitation
- Actions that fall within the broader range of sexual misconduct, as described in “Other forms of sexual misconduct” below
- Dating Violence
- Domestic Violence
Definitions of Specific Offenses
- Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is any vaginal and/or anal penetration – however slight – by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and/or oral copulation (mouth to genital contact), by any person upon another without effective consent.
- Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any contact of a sexual nature – however slight – with the breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth, or body part of another, by any person upon another without effective consent. Sexual touching also includes an individual causing someone else to touch him or her with, or on, any of these body parts.
- Sexual Harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, and may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or nonverbal conduct of a sexual nature. It may be based on or result from power differentials, the creation of a hostile environment (defined below), or retaliation.
- Sexual Harassment – Hostile Environment is harassing conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent that it interferes with or limits the ability of a member of the community to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities from the University’s programs or activities. One instance that is sufficiently severe, such as a sexual assault or rape, can create a hostile environment.
- Sexual Exploitation. Non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other improper purpose.
- Other forms of sexual misconduct include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Invasion of privacy of a sexual nature;
- Procuring, offering, or promoting prostitution;
- Intentional transmission of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or another sexually transmitted disease;
- Attempts to commit sexual misconduct; and
- Facilitating, aiding, encouraging, and/or assisting a violation of this policy.
- Stalking is engaging 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. Course of conduct means 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 with or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
- Dating Violence is sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the person against whom the violence is perpetrated. The existence of a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature may be determined by the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, the frequency of the interactions between the persons involved in the relationship, and other relevant contextual factors. Dating violence does not include acts covered under the definition of domestic violence.
- Domestic Violence is sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse committed by
- a person who is the current or former spouse or domestic partner of the person against whom the violence is perpetrated;
- a person who shares a child in common with the person against whom the violence is perpetrated;
- a person who is cohabitating or has cohabitated as a spouse or in the context of a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the person against whom the violence is perpetrated; or
- a person who has another type of intimate relationship, including as a parent, guardian, or other status defined by Tennessee law or University policy, with the person against whom the violence is perpetrated.
- Retaliation against any person who makes a complaint or has participated in the investigation or resolution of a complaint involving a violation of this policy is prohibited. The University will take prompt and responsible action to address any reports of retaliation.
Force includes physical force (such as pushing, hitting, pinning down), threats (direct or indirect expressions of intent to inflict harm to self or others), intimidation (implied or indirect threats), and/or other forms of coercion.
To coerce is to attempt to cause another person to act or think in a certain way by use of force, pressure, threats, or intimidation; to compel is to coerce.
Blacking out is an amnesia-like state that may be brought on by drugs, heavy drinking, or intoxication; blacking out is not necessarily incompatible with the ability to engage in simple or even complex behavior. Afterwards the person has no recollection of all or part of the events that occurred during the blackout. There is a distinction between passing out (falling asleep or becoming unconscious) due to drug or alcohol use and blacking out in that a person in a blackout remains conscious and operative.
Incapacitation includes the inability to make a rational, reasonable decision. Incapacitation can result from the taking of GHB, Rohypnol, Burundang, Ketamine, or other sedatives or “date-rape” drugs, or excessive use of alcohol or other drugs. Evidence of incapacitation may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
- slurred speech
- bloodshot eyes
- the smell of alcohol on the breath
- shaky equilibrium
- outrageous or unusual behavior
- elevated blood alcohol level
- blacking out
A person wishing to engage in sexual activity with another must specifically determine the capacity of that potential sexual partner to provide “Effective Consent,” as explained below.
Intoxication refers to a state of stupefaction, exhilaration or euphoria resulting from the ingestion of alcohol or other chemical substances.
Blacking out, incapacitation, and intoxication do not provide a valid explanation or excuse for violation of this policy.
Effective Consent is consent that is informed and freely and actively given. Effective consent requires mutually understandable words or actions indicating a willingness to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.
- The person who wishes to engage in sexual activity with another bears the burden of specifically asking/obtaining permission if effective consent is in question or ambiguous.
- Effective consent must be maintained by both parties throughout the sexual interaction.
- Effective consent to sexual activity may be revoked at any time, at which point sexual activity must cease immediately.
- A person who is the object of sexual aggression is not required to physically or otherwise resist a sexual aggressor in order to convey or demonstrate a lack of effective consent.
- This policy is predicated upon the requirement to obtain effective consent (communicating “yes” by word or action) rather than denial (saying “no”).
- Previous sexual relationships of the complainant and the respondent with others are irrelevant, but a previous and/or current sexual relationship between the complainant and the respondent may or may not be relevant depending on the facts and circumstances, as to whether effective consent was sought or obtained.
- Effective consent expires. Effective consent lasts for a reasonable time, depending on the circumstances. For example, effective consent on one occasion, whether on the same day or another day, may not carry over to another time.
- Effective consent cannot be implied by attire, nor can it be inferred from the buying of dinner, the spending of money on a date, being invited or accepting an invitation to a person’s residence, or engaging in kissing or other foreplay.
- One who is incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary and/or involuntary), or who is unconscious, unaware, asleep, or otherwise physically helpless, is incapable of giving effective consent. Because effective consent must be informed, an individual may not engage in sexual activity with another whom the individual knows, or should reasonably know, is incapacitated.
- Because effective consent can never be provided by an incapacitated person, effective consent is deemed withdrawn when an individual becomes incapacitated at any point during sexual activity.
- Agreement or acquiescence obtained through the use of fraud or force (actual or implied), whether that force be physical force, threats, intimidation, or other forms of coercion, is not effective consent.
- A person’s age may be a factor in determining the ability to give effective consent.
- Agreement or acquiescence is not effective consent when given by the following:
- individuals with a cognitive disability or other conditions that significantly limit their ability to understand the nature or extent of the action for which effective consent was requested;
- incapacitated persons. (See “Incapacitation” above.)
Depending on the facts and circumstances, proof of intent may or may not be required to find a violation of this policy. For example, engaging in intercourse without obtaining effective consent constitutes a violation of the policy regardless of intent. On the other hand, intent may be an appropriate consideration in some complaints (such as when one person brushes up against another person in a crowded room).
Reporting An Incident
Vanderbilt takes reports of sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence seriously. How the University responds depends upon a variety of factors, including the wishes of the victim, the facts and circumstances of the specific incident, to whom it was reported, and the University’s obligations under applicable federal and state laws.
This section explains the various reporting and confidential disclosure options available to members of the University community to enable them to make informed choices about where to turn should they experience sexual misconduct or power-based personal violence.
Some resources are confidential. Confidential resources include licensed professional counselors/mental health providers, such as those at the Psychological and Counseling Center and the Work/Life Connections – Employee Assistance Program; pastoral counselors acting in that capacity; and medical professionals, such as those at the Student Health Center, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Emergency Department, or other clinics or hospitals. These resources do not report any information about an incident to the Title IX Coordinator without a victim’s permission. Off-campus counselors and health care providers will also generally maintain confidentiality and not share information with the University unless the victim requests the disclosure and signs a consent or waiver form. However, these resources may have reporting obligations under state or federal law. For example, healthcare providers and certain other individuals are required to notify law enforcement when a victim seeks treatment for injuries related to a violent crime, including sexual assault. Similarly, all persons are required to notify law enforcement when they receive a report of sexual abuse of a minor.
Responsible Employees for Title IX Reporting
Responsible employees are not confidential resources. A responsible employee is a Vanderbilt employee who has the authority to address sexual misconduct, who has the duty to report incidents of sexual misconduct, or who a member of the University community could reasonably believe has such authority or duty. A non-exhaustive list of responsible employees is contained in the Appendix that follows this policy. Generally, with the exception of the confidential resources discussed above, most employees to whom community members might reasonably report an incident of misconduct will be responsible employees.
Responsible employees are required to report possible violations of this policy to the Title IX Coordinator, including all relevant details about the alleged sexual misconduct, so that the University can take steps to investigate the matter promptly and resolve it fairly. Conversations with responsible employees are otherwise kept private to the extent possible and are only disclosed to those with a need or right to know.
Before a responsible employee receives any information from a victim, the employee will seek to confirm that the victim understands the employee’s reporting obligations and, if the victim wants to maintain confidentiality, will direct the victim to one of the confidential resources outlined above.
If the victim wants to tell a responsible employee what happened but does not want the complaint investigated or the victim’s name disclosed, the employee will tell the victim that the University will consider the request, but cannot guarantee that the University will be able to honor it. In reporting the details of an incident to the Title IX Coordinator, the responsible employee will also inform the Title IX Coordinator of the victim’s request for confidentiality.
Responsible employees will not pressure a victim to request confidentiality or make a full report.
NOTE: All allegations involving the abuse of minors (as explained below) must be reported to law enforcement and the University.
Anonymous and Third-Party Reporting
The University encourages victims of sexual misconduct or power-based personal violence to talk to someone. The University provides several resources for anonymous reporting for victims who do not wish to be identified. Vanderbilt has established a hotline for anonymous reporting through The Network, an independently-operated compliance hotline that may be used to report incidents of apparent wrongdoing on campus. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-866-783-2287 or at https://www.tnwgrc.com/Vanderbilt. Anonymous reports may also be made to Project Safe at 615-322-7233. Students have the ability to report anonymously to the Community Standards hotline at 615-343-7867. NOTE: These resources, aside from Project Safe, should not be used for immediate assistance.
Vanderbilt encourages third parties to report incidents of sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence to VUPD and/or EAD. Third parties may also report incidents to any responsible employee or through the anonymous reporting resources. The University may not be able to move forward with third-party reports if the victim does not wish to cooperate with an investigation. After providing a report, third parties are not entitled to information about the University’s investigation and response due to privacy concerns and applicable federal and state laws.
Vanderbilt encourages anyone who witnesses, experiences, or has information about possible sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct to take reasonable actions to prevent or stop such actions. This may include reporting the behavior (in accordance with the reporting options outlined above), directly intervening when it is safe and reasonable to do so, contacting law enforcement, or other means. A person who has been subjected to sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct need not confront the other party; the appropriate process to address the conduct is through this policy.
Public Awareness Events
Public awareness events such as “Take Back the Night,” the Clothesline Project, candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak outs,” or other forums in which students disclose incidents of sexual violence, are not considered notice to the University of sexual misconduct for purposes of triggering its obligation to investigate any particular incident. Such events may, however, inform the need for campus-wide education and prevention efforts, and the University may provide information about students’ Title IX rights at these events.
Protection of Minors on Campus
Vanderbilt University is dedicated to the welfare and safety of minors who visit Vanderbilt’s campus, who participate in Vanderbilt’s programs, or who are entrusted to Vanderbilt’s care. Every member of the University community (not limited to individuals who interact with minors) is required by law to report known or suspected instances of the abuse of, neglect of, or inappropriate interactions with minors. Members making a report in good faith are protected from criminal and civil liability for making the report. Everyone is required by Tennessee law to report any type of suspected abuse, neglect, or inadequate care, in addition to suspected child sexual abuse.
Two reports, one external and one internal, must be made:
- External Report—Tennessee law requires every person who suspects sexual or physical abuse or neglect of a minor to report it. Failure to report is a Class A misdemeanor. The required report may be made to the State of Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline at 877-237-0004, online at https://reportabuse.state.tn.us/ or to a Tennessee sheriff’s office or police department, including VUPD at 615-322-2745. If the situation is a life-threatening emergency, contact 911.
- Internal Report—Every member of the University community has a further obligation to immediately report to Vanderbilt University known or suspected abuse or neglect of a minor on campus or in a Vanderbilt program. The preferred method is to contact the Director, Protection of Minors, in the Office of Risk and Insurance Management at 615-936-0660. Alternatively, known or suspected abuse or neglect of a minor on campus or in a Vanderbilt program shall be reported to the Vanderbilt confidential reporting hotline at 866-783-2287 or the hotline website at https://www.tnwgrc.com/Vanderbilt.
The University recommends that complaints of sexual misconduct or power-based personal violence be made to EAD, but if a person chooses to make an initial complaint to any other responsible employee of the University, that person will refer the matter to EAD. EAD has responsibility for investigating reports pertaining to alleged sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and power-based personal violence. The EAD staff is trained annually and on an ongoing basis on issues related to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and other power-based personal violence, and in conducting investigations in a manner that protects the well-being and safety of the complainant and the University community. Retaliation against any person who files a complaint, participates in an investigation, encourages the filing of a complaint, or opposes sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence is prohibited.
Complaints may be filed at any time, but the University encourages community members to report violations as soon as possible after the incident. If EAD determines that the complaint should be filed with another department, EAD will direct the complainant to the appropriate department. EAD will also investigate incidents that have been reported to other University officials and referred to EAD.
To file a complaint pertaining to this policy, please contact Anita Jenious, the University’s Title IX Coordinator and Director of EAD. Call EAD at 615-322-4705, visit the office, or write.
Baker Building, Suite 808
110 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-1809
Complainants who write to EAD should provide as much of the following information as possible: what happened, where, and when; names of all parties involved, including witnesses (if any); supporting documentation (if any); and contact information. Everyone is encouraged to report sexual misconduct or power-based personal violence even if some or all information is unavailable or cannot be provided.
If a complainant calls or visits EAD, a staff person will explain the role of EAD, the options for reporting an incident, and the available resources for assistance. In addition, EAD will explain how any request for confidentiality will be evaluated and how confidentiality may limit the University’s ability to investigate the incident.
Requests for Confidentiality
All requests for confidentiality will be evaluated by the Title IX Coordinator. In doing so, the Title IX Coordinator will consider the interests of the complainant and the University’s commitment to a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all members of the University community. In weighing a request that a complainant’s name not be disclosed to the respondent or that no investigatory or disciplinary action be taken, the Title IX Coordinator will consider a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the complainant’s desire for confidentiality, the circumstances surrounding the alleged misconduct, information concerning any previous allegations involving the respondent, the likelihood of repeated offenses, evidence that the alleged misconduct is part of a pattern of misconduct, and the University’s ability to ensure that the alleged misconduct does not contribute to the creation of a hostile environment for any students.
If a complainant’s request for confidentiality is granted, Vanderbilt’s ability to investigate the incident may be limited. In such situations, the University may, to the extent possible, take steps to mitigate the effects of the alleged sexual misconduct and prevent its recurrence without initiating formal action against the alleged offender or revealing the identity of the complainant. Such actions include, but are not limited to, increased monitoring, supervision, or security at locations or activities where the alleged misconduct occurred; providing training and education for students and employees; revising and publicizing the University’s policies on sexual misconduct, and conducting climate surveys regarding sexual misconduct.
If the University determines that it must proceed with a formal investigation, it will inform the complainant prior to notifying the respondent of the investigation; the University will also implement interim measures, as necessary, to protect the complainant and ensure the safety of the University community. In the event the complainant requests that the University inform the respondent that the complainant asked the University not to investigate or seek discipline, the University will honor this request and inform the respondent that the University made the decision to go forward.
A complainant who initially requests confidentiality is not precluded from later requesting that a full investigation be conducted.
Intake, Charging, and the Investigative Process
An EAD staff person will assess the nature of the complaint through an intake process. The EAD staff person will submit the complaint to the Title IX Coordinator or refer the complainant to the appropriate department if the allegations do not involve a violation of this policy or other anti-discrimination/retaliation policies. If the complaint falls within EAD’s purview, an investigator will contact the complainant.
EAD will first ask the complainant for information about the incident. Supporting documents, such as emails, photos, or text messages, and any other evidence should be preserved. If witnesses were present or have relevant knowledge, it is important to identify them, state what they may know, and inform EAD how they can be contacted. If the complainant chooses not to participate, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether to conduct an investigation.
In no circumstances will mediation be used to resolve cases of sexual assault or power-based personal violence.
The EAD investigator will confer with the appropriate offices (Student Accountability, Human Resources, the appropriate Dean’s office, and other departments, as necessary) as to any appropriate interim measures.
NOTE: If the Title IX Coordinator determines that an investigation should be conducted and the complainant chooses not to participate, EAD will move forward and make its determination based upon the information available to it.
Upon a determination by the Title IX Coordinator that an investigation will be conducted with a student respondent, the EAD investigator will normally provide a copy of the complaint, any additional statements or information provided by the complainant, and any other information gathered during the course of the filing of an incident or police report to the Director of Student Accountability (or designee), who will determine the charge(s) to be brought, if any, and present the charge(s) to the respondent. After the presentation of the charge(s), the respondent will have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the charge(s). The matter will be referred to EAD for further investigation and a determination.
The EAD investigator will inform the respondent of the allegations, the initiation of an investigation, and the possibility of sanctions, and will provide the respondent with an opportunity to ask questions, provide information, and offer names of witnesses or other people with relevant information. The investigator will interview the respondent and other individuals who may have pertinent knowledge. Supporting documentation and information may be collected from the complainant, respondent, and witnesses. EAD may request access to premises, records, and documents it deems relevant to the complaint. As the investigation progresses, the investigator may seek clarification from any person participating in the investigation regarding the incident or their statement. If the complainant learns or remembers any additional information, the complainant should notify the EAD investigator immediately.
Retaliation against a person who files a complaint, participates in an investigation, encourages one to file, or opposes discrimination is prohibited. In addition, respondents must not interfere with an investigation.
Both the complainant and the respondent will be permitted to ask an adviser of their choosing to be present during all relevant meetings related to alleged violations of this policy. The adviser may accompany the complainant or respondent and may confer privately with them, but the adviser may not speak on behalf of the complainant or respondent or otherwise participate in any meeting. An adviser’s failure to comply with these guidelines may result in the termination of the meeting or the adviser no longer being permitted to be present. University personnel employed in the offices responsible for the disciplinary proceedings described in this policy, along with those in the chain of command above them, personnel employed by the Office of the General Counsel, and others whose participation could create a conflict of interest with their University duties are not eligible to serve as advisers. If there is a question or concern about a possible adviser, please consult with EAD.
Recordings and Evidence
The recording of any meeting conducted as part of an investigation under this policy is prohibited. In addition, given the nature of the University’s process, the testimony of, and information derived from, experts, such as reports of handwriting experts, will not be considered, except in rare circumstances. In those rare cases, determinations as to the appropriateness of testimony of or information derived from an expert will be made in the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator. Under no circumstances, however, will the use of polygraph examinations be permitted.
Past Relationships and Conduct
Previous sexual relationships of the complainant and respondent with others are irrelevant. A past sexual relationship between the parties may or may not be deemed relevant by EAD. For example, past sexual encounters between the parties may provide insight on communication patterns for purposes of determining if effective consent was granted. However, other allegations of sexual misconduct may be considered only if determined relevant by EAD based on all relevant facts and circumstances.
Standard of Proof
Vanderbilt uses the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof. This standard looks at whether it is “more likely than not” that the policy was violated.
At the conclusion of the investigation, EAD will determine, based on the preponderance of the evidence, whether the alleged acts occurred and violated the Sexual Misconduct and Power-Based Personal Violence policy. EAD will provide its determination, including the basis for the determination, in writing to the complainant and the respondent simultaneously. When the respondent is not determined to have violated the policy, the matter will be closed with no action taken. When the respondent is determined to have violated the policy, the determination will also be forwarded to the appropriate person for sanctioning, referral, or follow-up (Director of Student Accountability for students, Dean of the appropriate School for faculty, appropriate supervisor/manager and Human Resources consultant for staff, etc.).
The investigative process will typically be completed within 60 calendar days from the time the Title IX Coordinator determines that an investigation will go forward. Given the many variables and factors that may arise in such cases, additional time may be needed in some cases. Any deviation from the 60-day time frame will be communicated in writing or by email to both the complainant and the respondent simultaneously, along with a new timeline and explanation of the reason for the extension of time.
Preservation of Investigative Materials
Materials obtained during the EAD investigation will be maintained by EAD.
Parallel Investigations with Law Enforcement
Complaints also may be filed with either VUPD or the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD).
Vanderbilt University Police Department
2800 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37212
Emergency – 911 or 615-42(1-1911)
Metro Nashville Police Department Headquarters
200 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37201
Emergency – 911
The filing of a police report or the pendency of civil or criminal proceedings does not preclude EAD or any other department of Vanderbilt University from proceeding with its investigation and determination. The investigation and determination may be delayed until the police have finished gathering evidence but generally will not wait for the conclusion of any criminal proceeding. Vanderbilt encourages its students, faculty, and staff to report crimes to law enforcement.
NOTE: Civil or criminal proceedings are separate and distinct from internal University proceedings and they may or may not run parallel to one another. However, the University may be required by law to provide information in civil or criminal proceedings.
When VUPD is contacted about sexual assault and other criminal acts of a serious nature, it is required to contact MNPD. Typically, VUPD and MNPD detectives work together to assist victims. In most sexual assault cases, VUPD will provide assistance and MNPD will be the primary investigating agency. For all other offenses, VUPD will typically conduct the investigation and keep MNPD informed. Regardless of who conducts the primary investigation, VUPD detectives and VUPD’s Office of Victim Services are available to victims.
Additional Information for Students
Limited Disciplinary Immunity for Complainants and Witnesses
Individuals with information about sexual misconduct or other power-based personal violence may hesitate to come forward out of fear that their own violations of University policy would be revealed. Students are advised that the University does not condone infractions of policy, but considers reporting incidents of sexual misconduct and other power-based personal violence to be of paramount importance. Therefore, the University will generally extend immunity for alcohol or substance abuse violations to victims and potential witnesses in order to facilitate reporting and resolution of sexual misconduct or other power-based personal violence complaints. Complainants or witnesses may be referred for an alcohol or drug assessment and any recommended counseling.
Directives to Desist and Other Accommodations
Given the nature of cases involving sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence, a student may request use of a “directive to desist,” also known as a no-contact directive or stay away order, or other accommodation. For more detailed information about interim accommodations, please refer to the “Interim Measures, Accommodations, and Sanction” section above. Directives to desist often require that the complainant and respondent have no contact with each other during the course of the investigation and/or thereafter. The University may also employ such directives and other interim actions on its own initiative, as it deems appropriate. Additional information about directives to desist may be found in Chapter 3 of the Student Handbook under the section, “Threat, Harassment, Intimidation: Directives to Desist.”
NOTE: Students may also seek orders of protection, restraining orders, or other similar orders issued by a court of law and may be assisted in doing so by representatives from University offices, including, for example, the Project Safe Center, the Office of Housing and Residential Education, and the VUPD Victim Services Coordinator.
The Director of Student Accountability (or designee) will review EAD’s investigative report. If EAD determines this policy has been violated by the respondent, the Director of Student Accountability will render an appropriate sanction. If, upon reviewing the materials, the Director of Student Accountability requires clarification or additional information from EAD before rendering a decision as to sanction, the Director may request such clarification or additional information from EAD. The Director of Student Accountability will notify the complainant and the respondent simultaneously and in writing of the sanction imposed. The Director of Student Accountability is trained annually and on an ongoing basis on issues related to sexual misconduct and other power-based personal violence.
The guidelines for sanctions in sexual misconduct and power-based personal violence cases are set forth below. See also the “Sanctions” section of Chapter 3 of the Student Handbook. The Director of Student Accountability may deviate from the range of recommended sanctions when appropriate based on all the facts and circumstances.
- The minimum sanction for any student found responsible for Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is suspension; a student found responsible for this offense may be expelled, depending on all of the relevant facts and circumstances, including any previous conduct infractions.
- Any student found responsible for Non-Consensual Sexual Contact, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Harassment – Hostile Environment, Sexual Exploitation, Stalking, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Retaliation, or the other delineated forms of sexual misconduct, may face a sanction ranging from disciplinary probation to expulsion, depending on all relevant facts and circumstances.
- Inappropriate behavior that does not create a hostile environment may be addressed through other corrective action, or remediation, consistent with the Student Handbook, depending on all relevant facts and circumstances.
- In some cases of misconduct, participation in an evaluation and/or treatment program by an approved counseling service may be required as a part of a corrective action plan or sanction. Such treatment may also be a condition of readmission to the University or a condition for remaining in the University. In addition to this condition, in cases of suspension, the Director of Student Accountability may set other conditions for readmission to Vanderbilt.
The complainant and respondent have the right to appeal the determination by EAD and the sanction (if any) rendered by the Director of Student Accountability. The complainant and respondent will be notified of this right and the procedures for appeal simultaneously in writing.
Such appeals will be decided by an Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct and Power-Based Personal Violence (Appellate Officer). Appellate Officers will be faculty or academic administrators appointed by the Chancellor (or the Chancellor’s designee) for two-or-three year terms, who will receive annual training on issues involved in sexual misconduct and other forms of power-based personal violence. Assignment to cases will be on a rotating basis.
A petition for appeal, signed by the petitioning student, must be submitted in writing to the Appellate Officer, either by hand delivery to 310 Sarratt, or by email attachment to email@example.com, by no later than 5pm on the tenth (10th) calendar day following the date the complainant is notified of the determination by EAD (when the respondent is found not to have violated the policy), or following the date the complainant and respondent are notified of the sanction.
Requests for extensions must be submitted prior to the expiration of the ten-day period. The petition must include the following: a statement of the grounds for appeal, supporting explanation, and copies of, or reference to, all evidence the petitioner wishes the Appellate Officer to consider. Except as explicitly provided below, no documents or other evidence may be included with an appeal unless previously submitted to EAD.
Grounds for Appeal
The grounds for appeal are as follows:
- Procedural irregularities sufficient to affect the determination by EAD and/or the sanction imposed by of the Director of Student Accountability.
- EAD and the Director of Student Accountability are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with their policies and procedures. Deviation from those policies and procedures which render their actions fundamentally unfair constitutes a sufficient basis for an appeal to the Appellate Officer. Procedural irregularities that are considered by the Appellate Officer to be harmless and that did not, in the judgment of the Appellate Officer, adversely affect the process are not a basis for upsetting the determination by EAD and/or the sanction imposed by the Director of Student Accountability.
- Insufficient information to support the determination by EAD.
- It is not the role of Appellate Officers to substitute their judgment for the judgment of EAD if there is a reasonable basis for EAD’s determination. Deference must be given to EAD’s determination since EAD had the opportunity to hear the witnesses and to assess their credibility and demeanor. The Appellate Officer may not alter EAD’s determination unless the determination is clearly erroneous and cannot be reasonably supported by the information considered.
- New information that was not reasonably available for presentation to EAD, the introduction of which could reasonably be expected to affect EAD’s determination.
- All available information, including testimony of witnesses, is expected to be presented to EAD. Only on that basis can EAD render fair and reasonable findings. A student who seeks to introduce new information has the burden of demonstrating that the information was not reasonably available for presentation to EAD, and that the introduction of such new information can be reasonably expected to affect EAD’s determination. If the Appellate Officer determines that the student has satisfied this burden, the Appellate Officer remands the case to EAD with instructions to reconsider the case in light of the new information.
- Harshness of the sanction imposed by the Director of Student Accountability sufficient to show an abuse of discretion.
- Deference should be given by the Appellate Officer to the sanctions imposed by the Director of Student Accountability. At the same time, the Appellate Officer should recognize that the Director of Student Accountability can make errors in judgment sufficient to show an abuse of discretion. Abuse of discretion does not necessarily imply an intentional wrong or bad faith, but simply the failure to exercise reasonable judgment under the circumstances.
Consideration of Petition and Determination of Appeal
- When the Appellate Officer receives a petition, the Appellate Officer instructs the Director of Student Accountability to notify all persons who were sent formal notification of EAD’s determination and the sanction (if any) that a petition for appeal has been filed and that the sanction (if any) should not be implemented pending the result of the appeal. This does not preclude the University from taking interim measures to ensure the safety and security of the complainant, respondent, or campus community.
- Upon receipt of the petition, the Appellate Officer will also request from EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability the entire record of the case.
- The Appellate Officer will then proceed to review the petition and the record with all deliberate speed to determine whether the petition, when considered in the light most favorable to the petitioner, presents sufficient grounds for an appeal.
- If the Appellate Officer determines that the petition does not set forth sufficient grounds for the appeal, the petition is dismissed. The Appellate Officer’s decision is final.
- If the Appellate Officer determines that sufficient grounds for appeal are presented in the petition, the Appellate Officer forwards a copy of the petition to EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability as well as the non-petitioning student with instructions to respond to it (or such parts of the petition that the Appellate Officer has determined present sufficient grounds for appeal). EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability as well as the non-petitioning student must provide any responses to the Appellate Officer within ten (10) calendar days of receiving the Appellate Officer’s notification. Upon receiving any responses from EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability as well as the non-petitioning student, the Appellate Officer sends the responses to the petitioner, offering the petitioner an opportunity to reply. Replies must be submitted within five (5) calendar days. The Officer forwards a copy of the responses to EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability for informational purposes.
- The Appellate Officer then proceeds to consideration of the appeal. The Appellate Officer’s consideration of the appeal must be based only on the original records created by or provided to EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability and the petition, any new information the Appellate Officer determines should be considered, and all responses submitted.
- After reviewing the record, the Appellate Officer decides whether to affirm, modify, or reverse the determination by EAD and/or the sanction imposed by the Director of Student Accountability or to remand the case to EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability with instructions.
- In cases where there has been a procedural error on the part of EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, the Appellate Officer remands the case with instructions.
- In cases where the Appellate Officer deems that new evidence should be considered, the Appellate Officer remands the case to EAD with instructions.
- The Appellate Officer notifies the complainant, the respondent, EAD, and the Director of Student Accountability (who, in turn, notifies all persons who received notice of the determination or sanction) of the Appellate Officer’s decision and the reasons for their decision.
- While a case is pending, policy changes that might affect the case cannot be considered in the appeal.
- If the Appellate Officer has a question about the meaning or application of a University policy or procedure, the Appellate Officer may consult with the Dean of Students and Office of General Counsel to determine how best to proceed. At no time may Appellate Officers substitute their opinions or values for University policy.
- An Appellate Officer may not consider an appeal if the Appellate Officer has a conflict of interest. Each Appellate Officer is responsible for determining whether or not a conflict of interest exists and may consult with the University Compliance Office, if necessary. If a conflict does exist, the case is assigned to the next panelist in the rotation.
- Once a final determination has been made, all records of EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability are returned to that authority.
Additional Petition for Penalty of Expulsion
Students who have been expelled from Vanderbilt University may, upon completion of the appeals process, submit a written petition within ten (10) calendar days to the Provost or the Provost’s designee, requesting reconsideration. The decision of the Provost or the Provost’s designee is final.
Procedures for Faculty
If, after receiving information from or consulting with EAD, a Dean determines that the disciplinary process should be initiated, the Dean will follow the process for violations of the faculty standards of conduct set out in the Faculty Manual.
Procedures for Staff
If, after receiving information from or consulting with EAD, the staff member’s department, in consultation with Human Resources, determines that the disciplinary process should be initiated, the process for violations of Human Resources policies will be followed.
Procedures for House Staff
If, after receiving information from or consulting with EAD, the Program Director, in consultation with the Office of Graduate Medical Education, determines that corrective action should be initiated, the process set out in the House Staff Manual will be followed.
Procedures for Postdoctoral Fellows and Trainees
If, after receiving information from or consulting with EAD, the fellow or trainee’s department, in consultation with the appropriate Dean’s office, determines that the disciplinary process should be initiated, the process for similar conduct violations will be followed.
Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations
Under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, certain University officials have a duty to report statistical information regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking occurring on campus or on non-campus property controlled or utilized by the University or students. Personally identifiable information is not included, but information must be provided to VUPD regarding the nature of the incident, the date it occurred, and its general location (e.g., on or off-campus, in residential housing, or in the surrounding area) for publication in the Annual Security Report. This report helps to provide the community with a clear picture of the extent and nature of campus crime and security measures on campus, to ensure greater community safety.
Mandated federal reporters, known as Campus Security Authorities, include: campus law enforcement; the Office of Student Accountability; the Title IX Coordinator and EAD staff; Residential Education staff (including Residential Advisers); advisers to student organizations; designated staff within the Dean of Students offices; coaches and other designated staff within the Department of Athletics; and anyone else with significant responsibility for student and campus activities.
Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations
Under the Clery Act, VUPD must also issue timely warnings with respect to crimes that pose a serious or continuing threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The victim’s name will never be disclosed and the University will make every effort to ensure that any other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.
Appendix: List off Responsible Employees
The University’s responsible employees include, but are not limited to, the following employees or categories of employees:
- Senior leadership (e.g., Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellors, and Deans, including Associates and Assistants)
- Title IX Coordinator and Staff in Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services (EAD)
- Staff in the Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response
- Staff in the Vanderbilt University Police Department
- Staff in the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity
- Professional Staff and Graduate Assistants in the Office of the Dean of the Students
- Professional Staff and Resident Advisers in the Office of Housing and Residential Education
- Professional Staff and Graduate Assistants in the Office of the Dean of the Ingram Commons and Heads of House
- Other Professional Staff working within the Provost’s areas
- Professional Staff and coaches in the Department of Athletics
- Designated Staff in Human Resources
- Designated Staff in the University Administrative Compliance Office and the Office of Healthcare Compliance
- Senior Staff in the Office of Risk and Insurance Management; and
- Faculty members and teaching assistants (except for guest lecturers and visiting professors).