Small Seal

Sexual Assault Policy and Procedures

Recommended By: ad hoc Sexual Assault Policy Committee
Approved: Ruben Armiñana, President
Date of Issue: September 1, 1993
Effective Date: September 1, 1993
Contact Office: Office of Vice President for Student Affairs

Policy #1993-4

  1. Introduction. Sonoma State University will not tolerate sexual assault in any form, including acquaintance rape. Where there is probable cause to believe that a student, faculty, or staff member has violated the University's regulations prohibiting sexual assault, and with the consent of the victim, the University will actively pursue disciplinary action through its own channels as well as appropriate legal channels. Even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the University can pursue disciplinary action.
    If the incident involves someone under 18, the appropriate legal guidelines will be followed. Incidents involving non-members of the University community will be processed according to local and state laws.
  2. Definition and Legal Background
    1. The California Penal Code Sections 261 and 243.4, and Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 46 (Resolution Chapter 105, passed into law on September 14, 1987) define sexual assault in the following manner:
      1. "Sexual assault" is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced, or forced to comply against her/his will.
      2. "Rape" is forced sexual intercourse that is either perpetrated against the will of the victim or occurs when she/he is unable to give consent (for example, unconscious, asleep, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs) and may involve physical violence, coercion, or the threat of harm to the victim.
      3. "Acquaintance rape" involves rape by a non-stranger which could include a friend, acquaintance, family member, neighbor, or co-worker.
      4. "Date rape" involves rape by someone the victim has been or is dating.
      5. "Acquaintance gang rape" is a rape by more than one person, at least one of whom is known to the victim.
      6. "Sexual battery" is any unwanted touching of intimate body parts.
    2. For the purposes of this policy the term "sexual assault" shall be used to include any involuntary sexual act defined above.
    3. The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 41301(e), Code of Student Conduct, specifically prohibits "...physical abuse on or off campus of the person or property of any member of the campus community or members of his or her family or the threat of such physical abuse." This section of Title 5 applies only to students; other persons are covered, for the most part, in University-related settings only.
    4. As directed in Assembly Concurrent Resolution 46 (Resolution Chapter 105), the wording "stranger or acquaintance rape, or any attempted sexual act or forced sexual contact" has been added to California Administrative Code, Title 5, Section 41301(e). Any violation of this section of the Code of Student Conduct by a student or recognized student organization will be investigated for possible disciplinary and legal action regardless of whether the incident occurs on or off campus. Furthermore, any violation of faculty or other employee codes of conduct with regard to sexual assault will be investigated for possible disciplinary action.
    5. Sonoma State University encourages all members of the campus community who believe they are victims of sexual assault to immediately report the incident to the police agency of jurisdiction. Timely reporting to the police is an important factor in successful investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases. Victims are not required to pursue prosecution just because they report a crime to a police agency. The reporting of sexual assault to the police agency may prevent others from being victims.
  3. Complaint Procedures. Sonoma State University recognizes that sexual assault is a difficult subject to address with sensitivity and objectivity. The institution is concerned with the rights of all members of its community. All parties to a complaint are entitled to due process in the handling of the complaint. Individuals are encouraged to formally report any incidents of sexual assault to the Office of Human Services/Public Safety immediately, and to obtain the support and assistance of friends and staff in presenting their concerns.
    1. Informal Advice
      1. Students who believe that they are victims of sexual assault should discuss the matter with at least one of the following University staff members:
        1. the University Sexual Assault Education Coordinator;
        2. a counselor in the Counseling Center;
        3. the Housing Sexual Assault Coordinator (for students residing in the residence halls);
        4. Student Health Center professional staff (a doctor or nurse); or
        5. a Public Safety Officer.
      2. University employees should contact the University Sexual Assault Education Coordinator.
      3. The role of the staff member initially contacted for informal advice (as listed above) is:
        1. Encourage victims to report the occurrence to the Office of Human Services/Public Safety for investigation and/or prosecution. Victims should be advised not to reveal the alleged assailant's name unless they are willing to pursue disciplinary and/or legal action.
        2. If victims choose not to report the occurrence to the Office of Human Services/Public Safety, refer victims who are students to the SSU Student Health Center and/or Santa Community Hospital for medical care.
        3. Refer victims to the University Sexual Assault Education Coordinator who will serve as a mentor for them as they utilize the support services available from the University. Victims who reside on campus may be referred to the Housing Sexual Assault Coordinator.
        4. If victims prefer or need services not readily available on campus, recommend that they contact Sonoma County Women Against Rape.
        5. Refer victims to the Advising/Counseling Center to meet with a counselor who will provide additional emotional support and assist them in sorting out feelings associated with the assault. Call the Counseling Center to arrange for an immediate appointment.
        6. If the victims choose to do nothing more than share the fact that the incident occurred, a report is required to be forwarded to the University Sexual Assault Education Coordinator (names are not required) in order that legal reporting requirements for SSU may be met.
        7. Make every effort to contact victims the following day; and, while respecting whatever decision they have made, encourage them to get some type of assistance.
          B. Formal Reporting of Incident. Incidents of sexual assault should be reported to the following individuals and offices:
          1. If sexual assault occurs on the University campus, the police agency of jurisdiction is the Office of Human Services/Public Safety. If the sexual assault is reported to the Office of Human Services/Public Safety, the investigating officer shall advise the victim of services available on campus and in the community.
          2. If the accused is a student or student organization, a report should be made to the Coordinator of Student Discipline, who will arrange for investigation of the complaint in accordance with established Student Disciplinary Procedures. The investigation will be conducted independent of any criminal investigation.
          3. If the accused is an employee of the University, the incident should be reported to either the Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs (if the employee is a faculty member), or the Director of Human Services/Personnel (for staff/administrators). The Associate Vice President or Director will investigate the complaint, initiate any formal hearing process, and recommend any corrective or disciplinary action to the President. The investigation will be conducted independent of any criminal investigation.
          4. If the accused is not a member of the Sonoma State University community and the assault did not take place in a University-related setting, SSU has no authority to take disciplinary action. The Office of Human Services/Public Safety will assist the victim in contacting the appropriate police agency of jurisdiction.
  4. Role of University Sexual Assault Education Coordinator
    1. The role of the University Sexual Assault Education Coordinator is:
      1. To ensure that appropriate medical referral has been provided.
      2. To ensure that appropriate University staff are notified promptly, including the Director of Affirmative Action if the alleged assailant is a University employee.
      3. To advise on procedures for the student disciplinary process, internal complaint procedures, faculty and staff disciplinary procedures, civil prosecutions, criminal prosecutions, the availability of mediation, alternative housing assignments, and academic assistance alternatives.
      4. To serve as a resource to the victim during any formal complaint process, if such a process is initiated.
    2. In addition to duties involving a specific incident, the Coordinator:
      1. Coordinates the process of reporting incidents of sexual assault.
      2. Coordinates resources and campus prevention and educational efforts.
      3. Maintains a comprehensive data collection system to provide campus and community members with information on the incidence of campus-related sexual assault. To the extent data are available, they shall include but not be limited to: the number of reported assaults, whether the assailant was a stranger or an acquaintance, whether the rape was a gang rape, and whether the crime occurred on campus or at a campus-related event. Statistical reports shall be forwarded to the Vice President for Student Affairs on an annual basis.
    3. The Coordinator will neither investigate nor adjudicate complaints of sexual assault.
    4. Discussions at the informal-advice level are confidential, with the exception of the mandated statistical summaries outlined in this policy statement.
  5. University Disciplinary Procedures and Disciplinary Sanctions
    1. Hearing Procedures
      1. Disciplinary hearings within the University will provide due process, including the right to be represented by legal counsel.
      2. The hearing will take place within a reasonable time, subject to the availability of both the victim and the accused.
      3. If the alleged assailant is a student, the disciplinary hearing will be conducted by a Hearing Officer in accordance with procedures set forth in the Student Disciplinary Procedures for the CSU. Any disciplinary action shall be imposed in accordance with guidelines and sanctions outlined by the Trustees in Sections 41301 and 41302 of Title 5, California Code of Regulations; and the Student Disciplinary Procedures for the CSU. The alleged victim will be notified by the Coordinator of Student Discipline of any disciplinary action taken within three days of the decision or any subsequent appeal, and also will be notified of the confidential nature of the outcome.
      4. If both the alleged victim and the alleged assailant reside in the campus housing complex, the Housing staff will conduct an initial hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to believe that an assault was committed. If there are sufficient grounds to initiate a disciplinary investigation, Housing may temporarily relocate the alleged assailant pending the outcome of a complete Housing administrative hearing. The Housing administrative hearing is completed independently of the University's disciplinary hearing. Housing's disciplinary sanctions shall be imposed in accordance with the sanctions outlined in the "Housing License Agreement: Facility Regulations." An alleged assailant who is a non-resident student will immediately be declared an unapproved guest in the campus housing complex, pending the outcome of the University disciplinary hearing. An alleged assailant not affiliated with the University will immediately be declared an unapproved guest. Unapproved guests are subject to additional University disciplinary action or arrest if found in the campus housing complex.
      5. If the alleged assailant is an employee of the University, the process will be conducted in accordance with established CSU procedures and procedures in appropriate collective bargaining agreements.
      6. If the accused is a student organization, the disciplinary review will be conducted by the Associate Dean of Student Life. Individual members of the organization will be held responsible for their action.
      7. Conduct which violates sections 41301 or 41302 of Title 5, California Code of Regulations, or other codes of conduct, may also violate provisions of the criminal/civil law of the state. In such cases, it may be necessary for the University to proceed with disciplinary action despite the fact that criminal/civil prosecution may be pending in court. The imposition of University disciplinary action is independent of any action which may be taken in the criminal or civil courts and may, in fact, occur prior to a court's action.
    2. Disciplinary Sanctions
      1. Individual Student Sanctions. Any of the sanctions listed below may be applied against students found guilty of sexual assault or complicity in sexual assault. The type and number of sanctions applied will depend on the severity of the offense. Possible sanctions include but are not limited to:
        1. Expulsion from the University.
        2. Suspension for a specified time.
        3. Probation for a specified time.
        4. Psychological counseling and/or assessment.
        5. Performance of community service.
        6. Revocation of residence hall license.
          A recommendation will be made to the President by the Hearing Officer. The President will then inform the student, in writing, of the sanction(s) imposed. A student may be suspended immediately for an interim period pending a hearing whenever the President determines that such action is required to protect lives or property and ensure the maintenance of order. The student so suspended shall be afforded an opportunity for a hearing with respect to the immediate suspension, in accordance with the provisions of the Student Disciplinary Procedures for the CSU.
      2. Recognized Student Organization. As a rule, organizations found to condone, promote, or be involved in such activities may have their University recognition withdrawn. Other possible sanctions may include:
        1. Informing the national or regional office of the organization about the activity.
        2. Disbanding of the local chapter by the national organization.
        3. Prohibiting participation in campus activities, events, and programs.
        4. Requiring relevant community service and/or participation in sexual assault awareness programs (could be required of all members).
        5. Loss of all University privileges (use of equipment, meeting rooms, advertising space, on-campus fund raising).
          A recommendation will be made to the Vice President for Student Affairs by the Associate Dean of Student Life. The Vice President will then inform the student organization, in writing, of the sanction(s) imposed. The Vice President may suspend any student organization's charter, pending a full review.
      3. Employees of the University. Sanctions up to and including dismissal from employment may be imposed on employees, following the utilization of established California State University procedures and procedures in applicable collective bargaining agreements.
    3. Confidentiality
      1. Alleged incidents of sexual assault generate a high degree of concern from the campus community, the local press, parents, and others. The student disciplinary procedures are confidential; every effort will be made by the University officials who are members of the sexual assault response team to maintain confidentiality in responding to inquiries regarding the investigation, the disciplinary process, and the final outcome of the proceedings.
      2. The victim will be made aware of the need to identify both the victim and the assailant in the investigation and hearing of a student discipline action and criminal prosecution.
      3. Victims who are under age 18 will be made aware of mandatory reporting requirements (Section 11166 of the Penal Code).
      4. Accused students or employees will also be made aware that the victim will be informed of any student disciplinary sanctions invoked as a result of the disciplinary proceedings and apprised of the confidential nature of this information.
      5. The victim should also be assured of the confidentiality of campus medical communications and resultant records which may be released only upon the patient's written consent or in response to a valid subpoena.

Updated August 18, 1998 by SSU.policies@sonoma.edu