Lawrence University Sexual Misconduct Policy

Lawrence University considers sexual misconduct, whether harassment, exploitation, or assault, to be a serious violation to person and community.  Persistent unwelcome sexual talk, attention, or advances undermine the sense of community and purpose that is at the heart of liberal education.  The sharing of private messages, images, or videos without permission is an affront to our values and respect for one another.  Unwanted sexual contact is violence that harms individuals and threatens communities.  Every student, faculty or staff member has a right to live, learn, and work in an environment free from hostility based on gender or sexuality.

Sexual misconduct will not be tolerated.  The university encourages any student, faculty member, staff member, or visitor who has been sexually harassed, exploited, or assaulted to seek support and redress under this policy, whether the incident occurred on or off campus.  Anyone who reports or is accused of sexual misconduct will be offered support.  Every complaint will be acted upon, and anyone found in violation of this policy will be sanctioned.


1. Roles Identified in This Policy

Title IX Coordinator: Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.  When a complaint of sexual misconduct is received, the Title IX coordinator refers it to the proper university authority and ensures that the matter is handled in accordance with this policy.  The Title IX coordinator also maintains confidential records and provides summary reports to the university community.

University Authorities: University authorities resolve complaints and determine sanctions.  Lawrence’s university authorities are:

  • Vice President for Student Affairs, for complaints against students;
  • Provost and Dean of the Faculty, for complaints against faculty;
  • Vice President for Finance and Administration, for complaints against staff.

Confidential Sources: A confidential source is any support person who is not required to report sexual misconduct.  Confidential sources on campus include SHARE advocates, counselors, and health care workers.  Confidential sources off campus include sexual assault crisis centers, counselors, health care workers, and clergy.

Responsible Employees: Responsible employees are required to report sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator.  Responsible employees include faculty, administrators (deans), coaches, residence hall directors and residence life advisors, campus safety officers, human resources staff, and any staff who supervise employees or student employees.  Other employees are expected to notify supervisors of any misconduct, and the supervisor will report the misconduct to the Title IX coordinator.

SHARE Advocates: SHARE advocates are confidential advocates who can provide help to those who have experienced or been accused of sexual misconduct.  SHARE is an acronym for Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources & Education.  A list of SHARE advocates can be found on the SHARE website at

Investigator: The university uses an external investigator for complaints of sexual assault.  The investigator is an outside expert appointed by and responsible to the Title IX coordinator.  The investigator interviews the complainant, respondent, and others who have information about the incident in order to establish facts for the university authority to use in determining violation or setting sanctions.

Complainant: The complainant is the person who filed a complaint of sexual misconduct.

Respondent: The respondent is the person identified in a complaint or report as having committed sexual misconduct.

2. Consent to Sexual Activity

Consent to sexual activity may be given by word or action, but it must be clear, freely given, and evident throughout a sexual encounter.  Silence, passivity, or inactivity is not consent.  Consent produced by coercion, threat, or violence is not freely given.  Consent to sexual activity in the past does not constitute consent in the present.  Consent to touching does not constitute consent to sexual intercourse.  Once given, consent may be revoked at any time.

A person under the influence of alcohol or drugs or otherwise mentally impaired is deemed unable to consent if that person is too incapacitated to understand the situation and to act freely and knowingly.  Likewise, a person who is sleeping or has fallen asleep is unable to consent.  Anything other than clear, knowing, and voluntary consent is equivalent to a “no” under this policy.

In Wisconsin, no one under the age of 18 can legally consent to sexual activity.  Wisconsin law defines consent as “words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact” [Wis. Stat. 940.225(4)].

3. Types of Sexual Misconduct

A. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates a hostile environment.  A hostile environment is one that unreasonably interferes with, denies, or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s educational program or activities or to carry out the duties of employment.

Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • pervasive sex talk, jokes, rumors, e-mails, images, etc., that are perceived as offensive;
  • repeatedly subjecting a person to unwelcome sexual attention or suggestive behavior;
  • attempting to coerce a person into a sexual relationship;
  • conditioning a benefit on submitting to sexual advances, punishing a refusal to comply with a sexual request, or offering an exchange of a benefit for a sexual favor (quid pro quo);
  • verbal, physical, or social bullying based on sexual identity or gender non-conformity;
  • stalking related to gender or sexuality; and
  • intimate partner violence.

The more egregious the conduct, the fewer instances are needed to create a hostile environment.

Consensual sexual relationships between individuals of unequal status may be or become violations of this policy.  Engaging in a sexual relationship with a person over whom one has direct power or authority will be considered a potential violation of this policy.

Activities that do not constitute sexual harassment include assignment of materials or discussion of topics that are legitimately related to the subject of a course, tutorial, or other academic experience governed by the principles of academic freedom.

B. Sexual exploitation

Sexual exploitation is taking non-consensual sexual advantage of another.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • viewing or letting someone view sexual activity without consent, whether in person or through the use of technology;
  • photographing or recording nudity or sexual activity without consent;
  • showing or sharing sexual images or videos without permission;
  • possessing or transmitting sexual images of any person under age 18;
  • knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection; and
  • prostituting another person.

Consent must be given by all parties.  Acts of sexual exploitation may also constitute sexual harassment as defined above.

C. Sexual assault

Sexual assault includes non-consensual sexual contact and non-consensual sexual intercourse.  Both are sexual violence with serious consequences.

  • Non-consensual sexual contact is any intentional or forced sexual touching by one person of another person, whether with a body part or object, without consent.  Sexual touching includes contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals of either person.
  • Non-consensual sexual intercourse is vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse without consent.  Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object, and mouth-genital contact, no matter how slight.

4. Confidential Help

Any person affected by or concerned about sexual misconduct can speak with a confidential source for help or advice.  SHARE advocates, counselors, health care workers, sexual assault crisis centers, and members of the clergy are confidential sources who are not required to report sexual misconduct unless it involves minors or poses an immediate safety threat to the community.  Confidential help is available to anyone who asks for it, including both complainants and respondents in sexual misconduct cases.

Confidential sources can do any or all of the following at a person’s request:

  • provide emotional support and information;
  • arrange for a free sexual assault nurse’s exam (SANE exam) and transportation to a medical facility;
  • help contact law enforcement to report a crime;
  • contact the sexual assault crisis center to have an advocate present for a medical exam or police interview;
  • communicate with university offices to arrange short-term remedies;
  • arrange counseling for someone accused of misconduct or identified as engaging in risky behavior;
  • report misconduct to the Title IX coordinator (only with permission); or
  • help the person file a complaint with the university.

Confidentiality cannot be promised in cases involving sexual abuse of minors or an immediate or severe threat to the safety of the campus community, such as the presence of a weapon, violent offender, or sexual predator.

5. Available Support

Members of the Lawrence community who have been affected by sexual misconduct are strongly encouraged to seek assistance.  Counselors or SHARE advocates can help you with a variety of on- and off-campus services.  They can contact university offices to arrange and coordinate support.  They can be with you, act as your voice (if you want), and help minimize barriers to accessing the resources you desire.  Their aim is to make certain you feel safe and have the support you need.  They will ask you what your comfort level is and help you accordingly.

If you need immediate help, counselors or SHARE advocates can:

  • Call Campus Safety to get you escorted to a safe place.
  • Contact Counseling Services for immediate (24-hour) consultation or assistance.
  • Coordinate local hospital medical care, including a free SANE exam.  Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are specially trained and certified professionals skilled in performing these medical exams.  There is no charge for this exam, and materials collected during the exam are saved as possible evidence should you need them later.  Advocates will arrange transportation to the hospital and stay with you during this process if you so choose.
  • Contact the Appleton Police Department to arrange for police to investigate allegations of criminal activity and collect evidence for criminal proceedings.  An advocate can stay to provide emotional support during the police interview.
  • Contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Center-Fox Cities to arrange for a free advocate to be present during a SANE exam or police interview and to access other support services.

Counselors or SHARE advocates can also help those affected by or accused of misconduct to receive or coordinate services from any of the following:

  • Counseling Services for individual counseling, access to support groups, and education on appropriate conduct.
  • Office of Student Affairs to arrange protective measures such as a campus safety escort, residence hall/room change, or no-contact order.
  • Center for Academic Success (formerly Student Academic Services) to arrange for excused absences, extended deadlines, or incompletes.
  • Provost’s Office to request that a faculty member be counseled about appropriate conduct and communication.
  • Human Resources for advice on employee benefits, such as the Employee Assistance Program, or to address employee misbehavior.

With your permission, a counselor or SHARE advocate can also:

  • Report misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator, who can provide information about the sexual misconduct policy and procedures, initiate an investigation at your request, arrange for someone to be counseled about consequences for conduct, and advise the university on actions needed to improve campus safety.
  • File a complaint of sexual misconduct with the university.  Complaints are investigated to determine whether this policy has been violated and to sanction those found in violation.  Complaints help the university uncover patterns of misconduct and take action to make the campus safer for everyone.

6. Reporting Misconduct

Any person who reports sexual misconduct will be offered support and will not be subject to disciplinary action for alcohol or drug use.  Sexual misconduct may be reported in any or all of the following ways.

A. Describe the misconduct to a counselor or SHARE advocate, a responsible employee, or the Title IX coordinator.
With permission, a counselor or SHARE advocate will inform the Title IX coordinator.  A responsible employee must report sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator.  If the report indicates a pattern of misconduct, predatory actions such as intentional incapacitation, the use of threats or physical force, the presence of a weapon, or the involvement of a minor, then the Title IX Coordinator will refer the matter to the proper university authority for mandatory investigation.  Otherwise, the affected person will be offered support and asked if they would like to file a complaint with the university to have the matter investigated.

The Title IX coordinator uses reports to identify patterns and to recommend steps to improve campus safety.  Reports are kept secure, and individual information is shared only with the counselor or SHARE advocate providing assistance.  If a matter must be opened to investigation, information in the report will be provided to the university authority and investigator.

B. File a complaint with the university.
A complaint is a request for action by the university.  The Title IX coordinator will refer the complaint to the proper university authority, who will resolve the complaint using the procedures described in this policy.  A respondent may be found in violation of university policy based on a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that the misconduct occurred.  This is a lower standard of evidence than that required for a criminal conviction (see below).

The Title IX coordinator will keep a secure record of the complaint, the investigator’s report, and the authority’s findings.  Information in the complaint will be shared only as needed with the university authorities, investigator, complainant, respondent, and witnesses interviewed during the investigation.  The Title IX coordinator provides an annual summary of reports, complaints, and outcomes to the campus community.  Details of individual cases are protected by the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and employment law.

C. Report a crime to law enforcement.
Members of the Lawrence community are encouraged to report any criminal sexual activity to law enforcement.  The police will collect evidence and refer the matter to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution.  The university can help arrange for a sexual assault advocate to be present during a police interview and medical exam, and evidence collected during a medical exam can be saved for later use.  In a criminal trial, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted and subjected to fine or imprisonment.

7. Procedures for Resolving Complaints

Both the complainant and respondent may receive support from university resources throughout the process described below and after the complaint has been resolved while still a student or employee of the university.

A. Assignment to University Authority
When a complaint of sexual misconduct is received, the Title IX coordinator will assign the complaint to the proper university authority based on whether the respondent is a student, faculty, or staff member.  If the respondent is a visitor, the Title IX coordinator will assign the complaint to the authority that matches the complainant.

If the proper university authority is a complainant, respondent, or witness, the Title IX coordinator will refer the complaint to a different university authority.  If the Title IX coordinator is a complainant, respondent, or witness, the president will designate a replacement Title IX coordinator until the complaint has been resolved.

B. Initiation of Process
After referral and consultation with the university authority, the Title IX coordinator will meet individually with the complainant and respondent to: (i) discuss the nature of the complaint; (ii) review the policy and procedures that will be followed; (iii) advise both parties that the university process is private and should be treated with discretion; and (iv) explain that retaliation of any sort, whether direct or through others, will lead to disciplinary action.

C. Investigation or Mediation
Complaints of sexual harassment or exploitation may be investigated internally or externally at the discretion of the authority in consultation with the Title IX coordinator.  The authority or designee may act as a mediator where mediation is appropriate and acceptable to all parties.  A mediated agreement will be kept on file with the complaint by the Title IX coordinator, and the matter closed.  If a party does not conform to the mediated agreement, the matter will be reopened to investigation and possible disciplinary action.

Complaints of sexual assault are referred to the external investigator.  Once started, an investigation will continue with or without the cooperation of the complainant.  The investigator will interview the complainant, respondent, and others who have information pertinent to the complaint and will gather evidence from sources the investigator deems necessary to establish facts or credibility.  Any party may have a support person present during an interview, but that person may not speak on the party’s behalf. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will deliver a confidential report to the university, which will be reviewed by the authority and kept on file with the complaint by the Title IX coordinator.

Complaints that are not consistent with this policy’s definitions of sexual misconduct may be referred to other university processes at the discretion of the Title IX coordinator and university authority.  In any case, the person who filed the complaint will be offered support as described above.

D. Determination of Violation
The authority will use the findings of the investigation to determine whether the respondent has violated the sexual misconduct policy.  The authority will make this determination based on a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), the standard of evidence mandated by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.  The authority may consult with the investigator, Title IX coordinator, or university counsel for assistance in making this determination.

E. Sanctioning
Any person who violates the sexual misconduct policy will be sanctioned.  Sanctions will be determined by the university authority in accordance with the following factors:

  • the nature of the misconduct (sexual harassment, exploitation, or assault);
  • the severity of the incident;
  • the expressed wishes of the complainant;
  • other previous violations of university policies;
  • the potential ongoing risk to the complainant or campus community;
  • the impact of the violation on the campus community, its members, or its property;
  • any aggravating factors (overt bias, coercion, incapacitation, etc.);
  • any mitigating factors (disability or mental illness, admission of wrongdoing, contrition or restorative actions, etc.); and
  • sanctions imposed in similar cases by the university.

A violation of non-consensual sexual intercourse with explicit threats, physical force, or intentional incapacitation will result in expulsion or termination of employment, without regard to other factors.  Other violations of non-consensual sexual intercourse are likely to result in suspension, expulsion or termination of employment, unless mitigating factors are present.  Any repeated violation of this policy will result in suspension or expulsion.  Other violations will be sanctioned in accordance with the factors above.

Sanctions may include restrictions from accessing specific areas or buildings on campus, from living on campus, and/or from attending campus events.  Sanctions may also include a requirement to receive counseling off campus at personal expense, with a release given for the counselor to share information with the university authority and counselors at the university.

F. Review
After making a determination, the authority will confer with the other university authorities to summarize the complaint (without naming the parties involved), the findings of the investigation, the basis for deciding that a violation did or did not occur, the intended sanctions (if applicable), and any actions recommended to the university to improve campus safety.  The authorities will review the decision and sanctions for reasonableness and consistency and may recommend other steps to improve campus safety.

G. Notification
The authority will communicate the decision and any sanctions in a confidential letter to the complainant and respondent.  The letter will include a copy of the investigator’s report (if applicable).  The Title IX coordinator will keep the letter and report with the complaint in a secure file.  All parties must abide by the decision and sanctions pending the completion of any appeal.

H. Appeal
Either the complainant or respondent may appeal only if: (i) there is new information that might affect the decision or severity of the sanctions; or (ii) there was a failure to follow the procedures in this policy.  The appeal must be submitted in writing to the Title IX coordinator within two weeks of receiving the decision letter.  The Title IX coordinator will respond in writing to the complainant, respondent, and university authority.  If the appeal is successful, the Title IX coordinator will reopen the matter for reconsideration under this policy.  All parties must comply with the original decision and any sanctions until the reconsideration is complete.

8. Retaliation or Non-Adherence to Sanctions

No person may be discriminated against on the basis of having reported sexual misconduct.  Intimidation or coercion of a complainant, respondent, or witness will result in disciplinary action.  Failure to adhere to sanctions will result in disciplinary action, including likely suspension or expulsion.  Any retaliation or violation of sanctions should be reported to the university authority or Title IX coordinator.

9. Federal Compliance

A. Compliance Statement
This policy is intended to comply with the Office of Civil Rights’ “Dear Colleague” and “Dear Coordinator” letters and any other applicable laws or regulations related to Title IX.  If any term, condition, or provision of this policy is inconsistent with the requirements of these letters, laws, or regulations, the language of the policy will be modified as necessary to bring the policy into compliance.

B. Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations
Certain campus officials have a duty to report sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking for federal statistical reporting purposes (Clery Act).  All personally identifiable information is kept confidential, but statistical information must be passed along to campus law enforcement regarding the type of incident and its general location (on campus or off campus in the surrounding area, with no addresses given) for publication in the annual Campus Security Report. This report helps provide the community with a picture of the extent and nature of campus crime to ensure greater community safety.  Mandated federal reporters include: student/conduct affairs, campus law enforcement, local police, coaches, athletic directors, residence life staff, student activities staff, human resources staff, advisors to student organizations, and any other official with significant responsibility for student and campus activities.  The information to be shared includes the date, the location of the incident (using Clery location categories), and the Clery crime category. This reporting protects the identity of crime victims and may be done anonymously.

C. Federal Timely Warning Obligations
Persons who report sexual misconduct should also be aware that university administrators must issue timely warnings for incidents that pose a substantial immediate threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community.  The university will make every effort to ensure that the reporting person’s name or other identifying information is not disclosed while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger.  Mandated federal reporters for timely warning purposes are the same as those listed in the paragraph above.

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