Sexual Assault Policy

Ferris State University does not tolerate sexual assault in any form, including what is often labeled "acquaintance rape" or "date rape". Student and Employee Dignity Policies demand all University community members to act with dignity and treat each other with respect. Sexual assault is a violation of the dignity and respect policies, as well as other policies and criminal law, and the University will strongly pursue disciplinary action and sanctions against all employee and student perpetrators, up to and including termination of employment or dismissal from the University. Mediation is not an appropriate method of resolution for sexual assault complaints.

Definition of Sexual Assault

If physical sexual contact occurs and there is a lack of consent (or a person is not able to consent) or force is involved, a sexual assault most likely has occurred.  Lack of consent is a crucial factor.  Where force, threat of force, or coercion is involved, the victim has not consented.  Furthermore, persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lose their ability to consent, and persons of insufficient age and mental capacity also may not legally consent. While use of alcohol or drugs may render the victim of sexual assault legally unable to consent, use of alcohol or drugs by the perpetrator does not diminish the perpetrator’s personal responsibility or exposure to disciplinary sanctions.

The Law

Sexual assault is a violation of Michigan criminal law and may result in criminal charges and sanctions being pursued against the perpetrator, in addition to University disciplinary procedures and sanctions.

The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act (renamed the Jeanne Clery Act in 1998), among other things, requires Universities to disclose campus related crime statistics and to draft, publish, and enforce a policy regarding the institution’s campus sexual assault programs, including procedures to follow when a sex offense occurs. The University annually publishes a Campus Crime Awareness brochure, as required by the law, which is widely distributed among the University community and is available on request.

Reporting

When a sexual assault has occurred, it is essential for the safety and well being of the University community that the incident be reported immediately to the proper authorities.

The following, in addition to the University Department of Public Safety, have been designated as “Reporting Officials” for sexual assaults at the University: Student Conduct, Director of Housing and Residential Life, Vice President of Student Affairs, Director of Student Leadership and Activities, Athletic Director, Academic Affairs Administrators and Deans, and the Vice-President of Administration and Finance (see the following list of contact telephone numbers for Reporting Officials). All coaches, advisors of student organizations, student center or extra-curricular activities’ advisors or directors, all residence hall staff, and all employee supervisors are also Reporting Officials. 

Reporting Officials are designated to receive sexual assault reports and are required to relate all such reports to the Department of Public Safety. Reporting Officials will inform victims of the importance of reporting the incident to the police and will assist victims who elect to report with contacting the proper authorities.  Reporting Officials will also take steps to provide support services to the victim and preserve evidence of the assault.

In the event the victim is reluctant to report, Reporting Officials shall report the matter to the Department of Public Safety.  Local law enforcement officials should also be contacted when the assault occurs off campus.

The University Department of Public Safety (DPS) takes every report of sexual assault seriously. DPS will actively investigate the assault and make available to the victim a variety of services located both at Ferris State University and in the community. It is the goal of DPS and other reporting officials to treat victims with courtesy, sensitivity, understanding, and professionalism.

Victims who wish to speak to someone who is not required to report are encouraged to find confidential counseling available on campus through the Counseling Center.  Upon the victim’s request, the Counseling Center may report the sexual assault as a crime statistic without identifying the victim.

DPS shall report all student perpetrators to the Office of Student Conduct.  DPS shall make arrangements, to the best of their ability, to receive reports from all local law enforcement agencies regarding campus related sexual assaults.

Medical and Counseling Assistance

Assault victims may be in immediate need of crisis intervention or medical treatment.  Medical help is readily available on campus through the Birkam Health Center or near campus through the Mecosta County General Hospital, in the City of Big Rapids.  Mental health treatment, crisis intervention, or counseling is available through the Counseling Center on campus weekdays, and crisis intervention is available through the Women’s Information Service (WISE) on a 24-hour basis.  Mental health treatment and counseling are also available in the community through Mental Health Services and private agencies, clinics and counselors. Generally, professionals providing medical treatment, mental health treatment, crisis intervention, or counseling take all statements in confidence and are not required to report under this policy. Check with the professional you contact to verify confidentiality requirements.

Accommodations

Accommodations regarding alternate living, working, and class schedules will be made, as are available and appropriate, through the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Student Employment and the Office of Housing and Residence Life.

Victim’s Rights

Ferris State University has policies set up to preserve the rights of victims of sexual assaults and other crimes involved in disciplinary process. The University has established the following victim’s rights:

  1. The right of the victim to have a support person accompany him/her throughout disciplinary proceedings. A support person will not represent the victim nor will he/she speak during a hearing.  A support person may not act as legal counsel.
  2. The right of the victim to choose to be visually screened from the accused during the hearing process.
  3. The right of the victim to determine his/her level of involvement in the hearing process. The victim may be present during the hearing process. The victim may choose to be only involved as any other witness; in which case the victim may submit a list of questions prior to the hearing. If they are deemed relevant by the hearing officer or committee chair, the questions will be asked during the hearing.
  4. The right not to have irrelevant past conduct, including sexual history, discussed during the hearing.
  5. The right to make a “victim impact statement” to be submitted in writing at the time of the hearing. The impact statement will be considered by the hearing body only if the student is determined to be “in violation” of University policy.
  6. The right to be informed of the ultimate outcome of the hearing within constraints established under applicable confidentiality statutes. The accused student and the victim will be notified in writing concurrently. The victim will also be apprised that the accused may appeal the initial decision, and if applicable, the appeal decision.
  7. The right to review all case evidence that is to be admitted during the hearing process.  Evidence will be available consistently to both the victim and the accused.
  8. The right not to be discouraged from proceeding with appropriate adjudication channels including a criminal complaint.
  9. The right to be treated with dignity.
  10. The right to present relevant witnesses and other evidence.
  11. The right to have the case adjudicated promptly and equitably.
  12. The right to appeal the outcome of the original hearing. The appeal process is available consistently to the victim and the accused student.

Informational Resources

Each Reporting Official will have access to useful information for sexual assault victims, including a description of options, services, and rights to which student victims are entitled.  See the following lists for the telephone numbers of important contacts.

Sexual Harassment

Under Title IX, sexual assault is considered to be a form of sexual harassment. The University Board of Trustees’ Employee and Student Dignity Policies addresses the proper procedures for dealing with sexual harassment of, or by an employee or a student, which harassment does not rise to the level of sexual assault. Sexual harassment that does rise to the level of sexual assault should be dealt with as required in this policy.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are not tolerated by the University, and violators of the Student and Employee Dignity Policies and this Policy are subject to discipline up to and including dismissal.

Important Contacts

 
Department of Public Safety 591-5000
Mecosta County Sheriff’s Department

592-0150

Big Rapids Public Safety       796-4811
Birkam Health Center 591-2614
Counseling Center      591-5968
Housing and Residence Life

591-3745

Mecosta County General Hospital

796-8691

W.I.S.E. Women’s Information Service      796-6600
Student Conduct      

591-3619

Community Mental Health Services 592-3161
   

Reporting Officials

 
Department of Public Safety

591-5000

Student Conduct      

591-3619

Vice President of Student Affairs 591-3578
Equal Opportunity Director

591-3894

Director of Housing 591-3745
Athletic Director        591-2863
Academic Affairs      591-2300
Dean of Student Life 591-2088
Vice President of Administration & Finance 591-2150
Director of Student Leadership & Activities 591-2606