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Sexual misconduct policy updated; Project Safe’s limited confidential status takes effect

Aug. 22, 2016, 8:00 AM

Vanderbilt University’s Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response will now operate as a limited confidential resource for students. (Vanderbilt University)
Vanderbilt University’s Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response will now operate as a limited confidential resource for students. (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University has updated its policy on sexual misconduct and intimate partner violence. As reflected in the 2016-17 policy, the university’s Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response will now operate as a limited confidential resource for students. The policy incorporates feedback from the Provost’s Task Force on Sexual Assault based on an analysis of the results of Vanderbilt’s 2015 campus climate survey, as well as feedback from individual students and the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Committee of the Vanderbilt Student Government.

The updated policy also includes a revised description of resource and support options – including the levels of confidentiality that can be expected from these options – as well as updated names and definitions for offenses covered by the policy. The revised policy clarifies the processes the university follows when conduct that may violate the policy is reported.

The Project Safe Center’s new status now allows those who seek support and services from a Project Safe staff member to do so with limited confidentiality, meaning that in most cases only statistical, but not identifying, information about what they report will be shared with Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Disability Services. EAD is the university office charged with investigating sexual misconduct. EAD Director Anita Jenious serves as the university’s Title IX coordinator.

Without disclosing personally identifying information about the victim, the Project Safe Center will notify EAD of the nature, date, time and general location of an incident so that the Title IX coordinator is kept informed of the general extent and nature of sexual violence on and off campus, and can track patterns, evaluate the scope of the problem, and formulate appropriate campuswide responses.

There will be some limitations to confidentiality in order to allow, for example, the statistical reporting of sexual assaults under the federal Clery Act, addressing immediate threats to the safety of campus and students, issues involving minors, and pattern or trend information. The Project Safe Center staff will discuss these exceptions in detail as needed with those considering using their services.

With the exception of the limited confidentiality offered by the Project Safe Center and the confidential resources outlined in the sexual misconduct policy, a university employee to whom a community member reports an incident of sexual misconduct or intimate partner violence is considered a mandatory reporter.

Mandatory reporters must report all known information about an incident to the university’s Title IX coordinator. Incidents reported to the Title IX coordinator are reviewed by EAD and may lead to an investigation by EAD. A student found to be responsible for violating the university’s sexual misconduct policy will face sanctions imposed by the director of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity.

Students may also call the Vanderbilt University Police Department or the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department to report sexual misconduct or intimate partner violence incidents. Whether or not a police report has been filed, EAD may investigate sexual misconduct and intimate partner violence reports it receives and determine whether the policy has been violated.

Other campus resources for students with concerns about sexual misconduct or intimate partner violence include the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Housing and Residential Education, the Center for Student Wellbeing, the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and the K.C. Potter Center.

Vanderbilt is committed to the principles of equal opportunity and seeks to establish and maintain a safe and healthy environment that is free of sexual misconduct and intimate partner violence. All members of the university community are encouraged to read the updated policy, which may be found in the Student Handbook. Questions and comments about the policy should be directed to the Title IX coordinator.

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