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Sexual Misconduct Policy - 63.01D


College Procedure Number/Title:

Sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by state and federal laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 as amended (“Title IX”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, and also may constitute criminal activity. Sexual misconduct is an umbrella term that includes sexual and gender-based harassment or discrimination, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and stalking. Howard Community College (HCC) prohibits and will not tolerate sexual misconduct. HCC recognizes that sexual misconduct damages the integrity of the educational institution, destroys the institution’s positive work and educational atmosphere, and causes psychological and physiological damage to those involved. The college condemns such activity and is strongly committed to providing a learning and working environment free from any form of sexual misconduct.

HCC promotes a climate that is free from sexual misconduct through training, education and prevention programs. The college promotes prompt reporting, prohibits retaliation, and ensures timely, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution of reported sexual misconduct. Any employee, student, vendor, or affiliated person who engages in sexual misconduct in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action including but not limited to dismissal from a class, suspension or expulsion from the college, termination of a contract or debarment in the case of vendors, or termination in the case of employees.

All college community members are subject to this policy, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This includes all college students, faculty, and staff, as well as third parties and contractors under the college’s control. Violations of the policy may occur between individuals or groups of individuals of any sexual orientation or actual or perceived gender identity. This policy applies to sexual misconduct in connection with any college program or activity, including: (1) in any college facility or on college owned or controlled property; (2) in connection with any college sponsored, recognized or approved program, visit or activity, regardless of location; (3) that impedes equal access to any college education program or activity or adversely impacts the employment of a member of the college community; or (4) that otherwise threatens the health or safety of a member of the college community.

Any type of retaliatory or intimidating behavior against a person participating in a protected activity because of their participation in that protected activity is expressly prohibited by this policy. HCC takes strong disciplinary action against any individual or group of individuals found responsible for retaliating or intimidating, or attempting to retaliate or intimidate, another person for making a report , opposing in a reasonable manner an act or policy believed to constitute discrimination or harassment, or testifying, assisting, or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing related to a protected activity. Any concern of retaliation should be reported immediately and the college will promptly investigate.

Participation of Advisors and Attorneys in the Sexual Assault Resolution Process

Both student parties (complainant and the respondent) are entitled to no more than two advisors, one of whom can be an attorney of their choosing. The purpose of advisors is to guide and accompany students throughout the campus sexual assault resolution process. The advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney or any other supporter the students chooses for advise who are both eligible and available. People who will be called as witnesses may not serve as advisors. The parties may choose advisors outside the campus community.

The student parties are entitled to be accompanied by their advisor(s) in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present, including intake and interview(s). Advisors should help their advisees prepare for each meeting, and are expected to advise ethically, with integrity, and in good faith. All advisors are subject to the same campus rules, whether they are attorneys or not. Advisors may not present information on behalf of their advisee in a meeting or interview and should request or wait for a break in the proceeding if they wish to interact with campus officials. Advisors may confer quietly with their advisees as necessary, as long as they do not disrupt the process. For longer or more involved discussions, the student parties and their advisors should ask for breaks or step out of meetings to allow for a private conversation. Advisors will typically be given a timely opportunity to meet, in advance of any interview or meeting with the administrative officials conducting that interview or meeting. This pre-meeting will allow advisors to clarify any questions they may have, and allows the college an opportunity to clarify the role the advisor is expected to take.

Advisors are expected to refrain from interference with the college investigation and resolution. Any advisor who steps out of their role in any meeting under the campus resolution process will be warned once and only once. If the advisor continues to disrupt or otherwise fails to respect the limits of the advisor role, the advisor will be asked to leave the meeting. When an advisor is removed from a meeting, that meeting will typically continue without the advisor present. Subsequently, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the advisor may be reinstated or replaced by a different advisor, of the students choosing.

The parties must advise the Title IX Coordinator of the identity of their advisor at least two (2) business days before the date of their first meeting. The parties must provide subsequent timely notice to the investigators if they change advisors at any time. No audio or video recording of any kind other than as required by institutional procedures is permitted during meetings with campus officials.

The state of Maryland has charged the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) with the task of providing and paying for attorneys for students (respondent and reporting party) involved in sexual assault disciplinary proceedings. MHEC has developed a list of attorneys and legal services programs willing to represent students on a pro bono basis or at fees equivalent to those paid to attorneys under civil legal services established under Title 11 of the Human Services Article. That list can be accessed through MHEC’s website: https://mhec.state.md.us. It is the students responsibility to arrange for these services in advance of their meetings/interview(s).

The college encourages HCC community members who have questions about Title IX or who want to make a complaint regarding sexual misconduct to contact one of the Title IX co-coordinators: Dr. Cynthia Peterka, vice president of student services, and Mr. Joseph Pettiford, associate vice president of human resources. The deputy Title IX coordinators are Mr. Geoffrey Colbert, acting senior director of student conduct and athletics, and Ms. Christy Lee Koontz, associate director for student conduct and compliance. Dr. Peterka (cpeterka@howardcc.edu), Mr. Colbert (gcolbert@howardcc.edu) and Ms. Koontz (ckoontz@howardcc.edu) can be reached at 443-518-4809. Their offices are located in McCuan Hall, room 258 (MH 258) Mr. Pettiford (jpettiford@howardcc.edu) can be reached at 443-518-1100. His office is located in Howard Hall room 100 (HW 100). The most up to date contact information for these individuals can be found on the college website in the staff directory.

HCC community members may also direct questions to the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. Additionally, HCC community members may report incidents to any HCC non-confidential college employee because all HCC non-confidential college employees have been designated responsible employees and are required to report any information they receive regarding sexual misconduct to their supervisor and to HCC's Title IX co-coordinators or the HCC deputy Title IX coordinators. The college employees who are designated as confidential include: employees of HCC Counseling Services licensed for and acting as personal counselors and employees licensed for and acting in a medical capacity for a patient.

A student who reports an incident of sexual misconduct, either as a complainant or a third party witness, will not be held responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct if the student was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. An employee under similar circumstances would not be disciplined under college procedures if the report was in good faith. HCC does not want the fear of receiving disciplinary charges or disciplinary sanction to prevent a student or employee from reporting an incident of sexual misconduct.

Any changes to this policy must be approved by the office of the vice president of student services, the office of human resources, and the Title IX coordinator.

Effective Date: 08/01/19

President's Office Use:  VPSS/VPAF - CAT

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