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May 8, 2012, Volume 58, No. 33

A proposed revision of Penn’s current policy on sexual violence, which was last updated in 1991, appears below. The proposed policy will continue to apply to faculty, staff, students and visitors to campus. It has been thoroughly reviewed by resource offices that are responsible for providing education and training to prevent sexual violence and to investigate concerns and complaints as well as by a number of consultative committees. We welcome additional comments and suggestions regarding this proposed policy which should be sent to Joann Mitchell, joannm@upenn.edu or Office of the President, 100 College Hall/6380 no later than June 8, 2012.

—Amy Gutmann, President

—Vincent Price, Provost

University of Pennsylvania Sexual Violence Policy

Introduction

This policy, which prohibits behaviors that are more generally addressed by the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy, applies to faculty, students, staff, and visitors to the University campus and facilities. All forms of sexual violence and attempts to commit such acts are considered to be serious misconduct and may result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or termination of employment. In addition, such acts violate federal, state and local laws, and perpetrators of such acts may be subject to criminal prosecution. Specific guidance for students is provided at [link to policy guidance to be developed]* and for faculty and staff at[link to policy guidance to be developed]*.

Definitions

Sexual violence in any form, including sexual assault and rape, are prohibited by University policy. Sexual violence includes a range of behaviors in which an act of a sexual nature is taken against another person without her or his consent or when he or she is unable to consent.

Important definitions appear below.

Sexual assault (including but not limited to rape) is defined as having committed any of the following acts:

  • Any physical sexual contact that involves the use or threat of force or violence or any other form of coercion or intimidation;
  • Any physical sexual contact with a person who is unable to consent due to incapacity or impairment, mental or physical. “Incapacity” or “impairment” includes but is not limited to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or being too young to consent.

Rape is defined as sexual assault involving an act of penetration. Sexual assault includes acquaintance rape (assailant and victim know each other).

Non-forcible sex acts include unlawful sex acts where consent is not relevant, such as sexual contact with an individual under the statutory age of consent as defined by Pennsylvania law.

Consent is an affirmative decision to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity and is given by clear words or actions.  Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance alone.  Furthermore, consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity and the existence of a current or previous dating, marital, and/or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent to additional sexual activity.  Assent shall not constitute consent if it is given by a person who because of youth, disability, intoxication or other condition is unable to lawfully give his or her consent. 
In determining whether the alleged conduct violates this policy, consideration will be given to the totality of circumstances involved in the incident, including the nature of the sexual conduct and the context in which the alleged incident occurred. 

Resources 

Information, Counseling and Support

Resource offices are available to assist members of the Penn community and visitors to the campus who have been, or know someone who has been, the victim of sexual violence. The staff of these offices are available to provide information regarding options for pursuing a complaint as well as counseling and support. The information provided generally will be held in confidence, consistent with the University’s obligation to address complaints of sexual violence, unless the person making the complaint gives his or her consent to the disclosure of that information. The commitment to confidentiality does not preclude the sharing of information among responsible University administrators as needed to address the complaint or to keep members of the University community safe.

 

Informal and Formal Complaint Resolution Resources

The University also has resources that are available to respond to informal and formal complaints of sexual violence.  The staff of these resource offices will provide information regarding the process to be used in responding to their complaint, investigate the allegations, and ensure that appropriate action is taken.

Rights of Complainants and Respondents

Persons who make a complaint and those who are responding to complaints have the following rights:

  • The option to notify law enforcement;
  • The option to have another member of the University community present during interviews that are part of a University-initiated
    investigation;
  • To be notified of counseling and support services available;
  • To be notified of options to change academic, living, or
    work arrangements.

Policy Against Retaliation

University policy expressly prohibits retaliation against faculty, staff, or students who in good faith make reports of violations of this policy.  In addition, knowingly and intentionally making a false report of a violation of this policy is prohibited. Members of the Penn community who take adverse action against someone who reports a violation of this policy, intimidates, threatens or otherwise engages in retaliation is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of their employment or expulsion from the University.

 

* Ed Note: The placeholders will be replaced once the guidance is finalized.

 

Almanac - May 8, 2012, Volume 58, No. 33