VHCC will not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form. Sexual misconduct is a flagrant violation of the values and behavioral expectations of a college community. All reported violations within the jurisdiction of the college, including sexual assault and harassment, will be investigated and, as warranted, will be resolved through appropriate college disciplinary processes and/or criminal proceedings in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.
An educational institution is a community of trust whose very existence depends on the recognition of each individual’s importance and value. This trust creates the freedom for each individual to live, think, act, and speak without fear of physical harm. Sexual misconduct shatters the bond of trust within a college community.
A. Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is defined as sexual intercourse without consent, including rape (whether by acquaintance or stranger), sodomy, or other forms of sexual penetration. To constitute lack of consent, the acts must be committed either by force, threat of force, intimidation, or through use of victim’s mental helplessness of which the accused was aware or should have been aware. Mental helplessness includes incapacitation by alcohol or other drugs. Sexual assault also includes intentionally touching, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks without the victim’s consent, as well as touching or fondling of the accused by the victim when the victim is forced to do so against his or her will.
Verbal misconduct, without accompanying physical contact as described above, is not defined a sexual assault. Verbal misconduct may constitute sexual harassment, which is also prohibited under VHCC regulations and is specifically addressed in the following section.
B. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct or written communication of a sexual nature which is intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Sexual harassment shall be considered to have occurred when:
Accepting or tolerating such conduct is made a term or condition of a student’s status or an individual’s employment either explicitly or implicitly;
Accepting or rejecting such conduct is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the student or employee; or
Such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment, or substantially interferes with an employee’s work performance or a student’s academic performance.
Sexual harassment is contrary to the values of VHCC. It will not be tolerated in any form, as outlined in Part 1604.11, Discrimination Because of Sexual Harassment of Title VII, Section 703, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. All reported instances of sexual harassment will be investigated.
Sexual assault and harassment are subject to College disciplinary action as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, personnel policies, and applicable state and federal laws. Complaints are handled through established grievance procedures or by the Office of Campus Police.
Anyone convicted of sexual misconduct will be subject to appropriate disciplinary actions which may include dismissal or expulsion. Further, these policies shall include provisions to safeguard the identity of the complainant outside the confidential proceedings of the College’s disciplinary process, unless consent is secured from the complainant to reveal her or his identify. No part of a complainant’s sexual history shall be included as a part of any campus proceedings.
C. Reporting Procedures
Where there is probable cause to believe that campus regulations prohibiting sexual misconduct have been violated by a student or employee of the college, these reported violations will be aggressively investigated. Violations of this policy should be reported to the Vice-President of Instruction and Student Services.
A student or employee charged with sexual misconduct can be prosecuted under Virginia criminal statues and disciplined under the VHCC code of conduct. Even if the criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the campus can pursue disciplinary action. This disciplinary action could result in dismissal from the college.
VHCC has an obligation to uphold the laws of the community of which it is a part. While the activities covered by the laws of the community and those covered by VHCC’s rules may overlap, the community’s laws and VHCC’s rules operate independently and do not substitute for each other. VHCC may pursue enforcement of its own rules whether or not legal proceedings are underway or in prospect, and may use information from third party sources, such as law enforcement agencies and the courts, to determine whether college rules have been broken. VHCC will make no attempt to shield members in the college community from the law, nor does it intervene in legal proceedings against a member of the community. Membership in the VHCC community does not exempt anyone from local, state or federal laws, but rather imposes the additional obligation to abide by all of VHCC’s regulations.
In order to fall within the jurisdiction of the college, the alleged assailant must be a VHCC student or employee, and the alleged assault must have been committed against a person on college-owned, or leased property or at a college-sponsored or supervised function.
Procedure for reporting and resolving sexual misconduct complaints are established and in place for all students and employees of VHCC.
Complaints may be
A. handled through established grievance procedures;
B. discussed or filed in writing with the college’s equal employment opportunity (EEO) officer;
C. discussed or filed in writing with the Vice-President of Instruction and Student Services.
Existing disciplinary and grievance procedures will serve as the framework for resolving allegations of sexual misconduct. Students found guilty of sexual misconduct will be subject to campus disciplinary penalties found in the Student Handbook. College employees found guilty of sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action as specified by personnel policies. In addition, employees and students may face criminal prosecution in the event of violations of applicable laws. The College also reserves the right to refer a complaint to a law enforcement agency if it appears that a crime may have been committed.
The rights of both the accused and the complainant shall be protected, and the confidentiality of proceedings will be maintained to the fullest extent possible. The rights of the individual filing the grievance to pursue legal remedies through criminal or civil courts will not be infringed by use of College disciplinary or grievance procedures. Similarly, College disciplinary or grievance procedures will not be prejudiced by the initiation of such action.