Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the College’s sexual conduct policy and procedures.

Does a complaint remain confidential?

Reports made to counselors, health service providers, advocates, and clergy will be kept confidential. All other reports are considered private. The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct will be maintained, except insofar as it interferes with the College’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where information is shared, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. Dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure is not permitted.

In all complaints of sexual misconduct, the reporting party will be informed of the outcome. The College must statistically report the occurrence on campus of any of seven major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, and hate crimes in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.

Will my parents/guardians be told?

No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the reporting party or the responding party, the College’s primary relationship is to the student and not to the parent/guardian; however, in the event of major medical, conduct action, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents.

College officials may directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, or in a life-threatening situation, or in the case that the student is a minor.

Will I have to confront the alleged responding party?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint, but not directly. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the responding party has the right to question the reporting party; however, the College does provide options for allowing questioning without direct contact, including closed-circuit testimony, Skype, using a room divider, or using separate hearing rooms.

Do I have to name the alleged responding party?

Yes, if you want formal conduct action to be taken against the alleged responding party. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint.

What should I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

First, do not contact the reporting party. You may immediately want to contact someone who can act as your advisor; anyone may serve as your advisor. You may also contact the Office of Community Standards, who can explain the College’s procedures for dealing with sexual misconduct complaints. You may also want to talk to a confidential counselor in Counseling Services.

What should I do about legal advice for on-campus proceedings?

Both the reporting and responding parties may have an advisor/support person of their choice during the campus’ investigative and hearing processes.  Both parties may choose to use an attorney, may choose to use other non-attorney advisors, or may choose to not utilize an advisor.

What should I do about legal advice for off-campus proceedings?

Victims of criminal sexual assault need not retain a private attorney to seek prosecution because legal issues will be handled through a representative from the District Attorney’s office. You may want to retain an attorney if you are the responding party. The reporting party may also want to retain an attorney if they are considering filing a civil action against the alleged responding party.

How can the College help to remedy the effects of discrimination?

If you want to move, or have the responding party moved, you may request a room change. Room changes under these circumstances are considered emergencies. It is the College’s policy that in emergency room changes, the student is moved to the first available suitable room. Other accommodations available to you might include:

  • Assistance from College support staff in completing the relocation;
  • Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund;
  • Exam, paper or assignment rescheduling;
  • Taking an incomplete in a class;
  • Transferring class sections;
  • Temporary withdrawal; and/or
  • Alternative course completion options;
  • A no-contact directive;
  • Counseling assistance;
  • Escorts or other campus safety protections;
  • Transportation accommodations, etc.

What should I do to preserve evidence of a sexual assault?

Physical information of a sexual assault should be collected within about 120 hours of the assault for it to be useful in a criminal prosecution. If you have been sexually assaulted, you may call the Suncoast Rape Crisis 24-hour hotline (727-530-7273) to access a free forensic medical exam conducted by a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at the SAVE Center in Clearwater.  Alternatively, the SANE nurse can meet you at a local emergency room to provide the exam.  If possible, avoid washing yourself, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes until after the exam.  Obtaining the forensic exam does not obligate you to file a police report or prosecute the crime.  The exam will help to keep that option open for you should you decide later to exercise it.

The hospital staff will collect information, check for injuries, and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet. (Plastic containers do not breathe, and may render forensic information useless.) If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as information. You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want. Do not disturb the crime scene—leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear information for the police to collect.

Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be considered when reporting sexual misconduct?

No, not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.

Will a student be sanctioned when reporting an act of sexual misconduct if the student has illegally used drugs or alcohol?

No. The College offers amnesty in such situations. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the College does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.

What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?

If you believe that you have experienced non-consensual sexual contact, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the College’s sexual misconduct policy, you should contact the Counseling Center or the Office for Advocacy Services (confidential support) or the Title IX Coordinator. The College also provides Outreach staff who can help you to define and clarify the event(s), and advise you of your options.