Title IX: Frequently Asked Questions
This page has 15 frequently asked questions and answers related to sexual misconduct.
Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to a person's age or use of drugs or alcohol or because an intellectual or other disability prevents him or her from having the capacity to give consent). A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, abusive sexual contact (i.e., unwanted sexual touching) and sexual coercion.
Consent is knowing, voluntary and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Since individuals may experience the same interaction in different ways, it is the responsibility of each party to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid, there must be a clear expression in words or actions that the other individual consented to that specific sexual conduct.
A person cannot consent if he or she is unable to understand what is happening or is disoriented, helpless, asleep or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs. An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is physically or mentally incapacitated has violated this policy.
It is not an excuse that accused party of sexual misconduct was intoxicated and, therefore, did not realize the incapacity of the other.
Yes. Anyone, of any sex or age, can be raped or assaulted.
Alcohol and many recreational drugs can be potential "date rape" drugs. There are also drugs commonly administered by a potential assailant. Both categories of drugs can put a victim into a helpless state and permit an assailant to take advantage of the victim. Common examples of date rape drugs are alcohol, GHB, Pohypnol, Ectasy and Ketamine.
5. I know someone who has been sexually assaulted. What should I say to this person? Where can this person get help?
Think of a SMART response:
- Safety: Determine if the victim is safe. Ask if he or she would like you to call 911 or contact University police.
- Medical Attention: Encourage the victim to obtain medical treatment.
- Ask: What you can do to help. Listen with empathy and support the individual's decisions. Assure the victim that rape is not his or her fault and that he/she is not alone.
- Report: Talk to the individual about options - reporting to the police or to the University. He or she may choose to report the incident now or days, weeks, months later.
- Talk: Encourage the victim to talk to trained counselors, either on- or off-campus.
The Student Counseling Center is the only completely confidential resource on campus. Counselors at Pittsburgh Action Against Rape and at the Center for Victims are off-campus confidential resources.
7. I had an uncomfortable sexual experience. I am confused about what I experienced and I'm not sure if I want to make a complaint. What should I do?
You can obtain support from the Student Counseling Center. This will provide an opportunity to confidentially share your experience and help sort through your feelings so that you may make decisions that are right for you.
You can also contact a support advocate to learn about the complaint process and possible remedies available from the University. Although this is not a confidential resource, it is private and your information will be shared with only a few University officials.
8. Can I get academic accommodations if this is impacting my ability to do school work? Can I change my housing because I do not feel safe?
All members of the Point Park community have the right to appropriate accommodations. This could include altering school or work schedules and changing housing arrangements. Please contact a support advocate to identify the needed accommodations and begin the process.
First of all, the processes are not mutually exclusive. Point Park strongly encourages those who have been the victim of a crime to report the crime to the police. The University's process, however, is internal and while the internal process can and will address crimes, it will also address violations that may not be a violation of the law, but are a violation of institutional community standards.
Because the University is not bound by the constitutional protections afforded to an individual accused of a crime, there is a different standard of proof. At Department of Education has mandated a preponderance of the evidence standard (i.e., more likely than not) for a university's adjudication of a respondent accused of sexual misconduct.
Point Park students involved in a complaint, whether as the complainant or a respondent, will be provided support and assistance through assignment of a support advocate. Individuals may also choose an alternate advocate, such as a parent, friend or other trusted advisor. The investigation will be an internal investigation to determine whether a University policy was violated.
Another difference is that in the campus process, there is no trial or hearing. An investigation is conducted and the adjudicator receives the investigative report and any related factual material.
Complaints may be filed concurrently with both Point Park and the appropriate police agency and both investigations can proceed at the same time.
The term ''stalking'' means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to:
(A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or
(B) suffer substantial emotional distress.
Stalking may include persistent attempts to contact a person by phone, email or text messages. It may include vandalizing a person's property or leaving unwanted items for the person and/or repeatedly appearing at the person's classroom, residence or workplace without permission. A person who feels he or she is a victim of stalking may file a complaint with the University under its Sexual Misconduct Policy.
There is no time limit on filing a complaint. If you have any questions, please contact the assistant director, Title IX compliance, at 412-392-3980.
The University aims to complete a full investigation and provide a resolution to the complaint within 60 days. At times, the process may take longer due to the complexity of the case or uncontrolled circumstances that make certain witnesses or parties unavailable, such as a criminal investigation or University holiday or summer break. All parties to the incident will be kept abreast of the progress of any investigation or decision making and offered an estimate on the timeline of the process if it is expected to extend beyond 60 days.
Point Park takes violations of its Sexual Misconduct Policy very seriously. If a student or employee is found in violation of the University's policy, the sanctions imposed will vary depending on the facts of the case. The sanctions may range from a no contact order to expulsion or dismissal from the University.
Parents and guardians can contact the Title IX coordinator with questions or concerns about the reporting, investigative and appeal process at 412-392-3980. The University is bound by federal privacy laws that govern student records, and consequently, may not be able to share specific information about the complaint; however, we certainly can share all information about the process. The Universitycan also provide information to you about support resources available to your student.
Point Park generally offers amnesty to students who engaged in illegal behavior (such as underage drinking) during an assault. This also extends to witnesses who may offer testimony in the case.