Appendix 2: Policy on student sexual violence and misconduct

Introduction

1. This policy applies to all registered students of the University and underpins the Regulations on Student Conduct and Discipline, explaining how the Regulations are implemented for cases of sexual misconduct. In certain circumstances, the policy may also apply to applicants and former students of the University.

2. In accordance with the University’s Student Code of Conduct, which is articulated in the Regulations and the Dignity and respect framework, the University expects all students to contribute to ensuring that the University is a safe environment in which to study, live and work.

3. The University does not tolerate any acts of sexual misconduct and will consider any allegations of such misconduct, normally with the permission of a reporting party(s), in accordance with the Student Conduct and Discipline Regulations and associated policies and procedures, including this policy.

4. The University considers all cases of sexual misconduct to be major interpersonal non-academic misconduct.

5. Where reference in this policy is made to a ‘case’ this means a formal report made by an individual(s) about a student, which is being formally considered.

6. If, during the course of the disciplinary process another individual, for example, a witness discloses information that suggests that they may have been subject to alleged sexual misconduct by the same reported student, they will be referred to Student Support Services to discuss whether they wish to make a formal report. This will then be considered alongside any other reports on the same student and may be considered by the same Student Discipline Panel, as appropriate.

7. This policy applies to allegations by an individual(s) about a student. Where an allegation is made about a member of staff, consideration of the allegation will be handled by Human Resources through the University’s staff disciplinary process.

8. If a member of staff makes an allegation about a student, this will normally be considered through the student disciplinary process by the Student Conduct Team.

9. A report made about a student from an individual who is not a member of the University will be considered as is reasonable or practicable.

Purpose

10. The purpose of this policy is to explain:

  • expectations with respect to student behaviour;
  • definitions of what constitutes sexual misconduct;
  • how allegations of sexual misconduct will be considered and investigated;
  • the roles of staff and students in the discipline process;
  • the framework and constraints under which the University operates when considering allegations of sexual misconduct;
  • how the University works in partnership with external agencies;
  • how reporting and reported students will be supported through the discipline process.

Principles

11. This policy is governed by the principles defined in the Regulations for Student Non-Academic Misconduct.

Scope

12. This policy applies to all types of behaviour that may be considered sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment. A non-exhaustive list of examples of types of sexual misconduct is given below. The University will consider and investigate any alleged serious misconduct that is deemed to be of a sexual nature under this policy.

13. Sexual misconduct can take place between individuals who know each other, are in a relationship with one another, have previously engaged in consensual sexual activity and between individuals who do not know each other. Those of any gender identity, age, ethnicity/race and sexuality can commit sexual misconduct.

14. Sanctions applied because of the disciplinary process will be determined by the nature of the misconduct.

15. In all examples below where consent is referenced, this is taken to be the legal definition of consent, i.e. a person consents, if they agree by choice and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. (Sexual Offenses Act, 2003)

16. It is the responsibility of all parties engaged in sexual behaviours to obtain ongoing consent from all involved and to be able to later reference how this consent was provided by other parties, if needed.

Definitions

Sexual Misconduct involving physical contact

  • Sexual intercourse or engaging in sexual acts without consent Student and Academic Services
  • Penetration of the anus, vagina or mouth with any body part or other object without consent
  • Attempting to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual acts without consent
  • Kissing without consent
  • Any form of unwanted sexual touching in what may reasonably be perceived as a sexual manner without consent, for example, touching a person’s clothes, stroking their hair, touching their body or deliberately rubbing or brushing up against them or standing too close to them.

Sexual Misconduct not involving physical contact

  • Making unwanted remarks that may reasonably be perceived to be of a sexual nature, for example, making sexual remarks about a person’s body, asking questions of a sexual nature, making sexual comments or innuendo or telling sexual jokes
  • Making unwarranted and unsolicited noises to another person such as wolf-whistling or catcalling or sex-based noises such as sexual grunting or moaning
  • Repeated, unwanted and unsolicited contact of a sexual nature either in person or by telephone
  • Sharing or creating private sexual materials (i.e. those made of an individual with the understanding that they would not be shared) such as videos or photographs in physical spaces – including the creation of imagery without the individuals’ involved consenting at any stage of that creation (e.g. “deepfakes”)
  • Sharing or creating public sexual materials (i.e. those pornographic materials that are widely available via media outlets) in physical spaces with the intention to sexually harass or incite harassment or violence
  • Inappropriately showing sexual organs (e.g. penis/ external genitalia) to another person, or inappropriately allowing sexual organs to be seen, in a physical space – including masturbation in a public space

Sexual Misconduct Online or in a Virtual Space

  • Sharing or creating private sexual materials without the consent of those involved (i.e. those made of an individual with the understanding that they would not be shared) online or through digital spaces – including the creation of imagery without the individuals’ involved consenting at any stage of that creation (e.g. “deepfakes”)
  • Sharing or creating public sexual materials (i.e. pornographic materials that are widely available via media outlets) online or in digital spaces with the intention to sexually harass, abuse or incite harassment or abuse
  • Inappropriately showing sexual organs to another person, or inappropriately allowing sexual organs to be seen, online or in digital spaces – including masturbation in a public space
  • Repeated, unwanted and unsolicited contact of a sexual nature with another person by text message, e-mail, social media or in any online or digital space (Note: “ repeated contact” in an online space constitutes repeated unsolicited contact in one digital platform or multiple unwanted contacts in numerous digital platforms)
  • Storing or viewing inappropriate material on University IT equipment

Disclosing, Reporting and Reported Student/Party(s)

  • The disclosing student/party(s) refers to an individual(s) who is disclosing an allegation of sexual misconduct to another individual
  • A reporting student refers to a student who has made a formal report of alleged misconduct by another student to the University
  • A reported student refers to a student who has been reported for alleged sexual misconduct by another student or individual

Disclosure and Reporting

22. Students can make a disclosure to Student Support Services through a number of channels, normally Report and Support, or by meeting directly with relevant staff members in the Service.

23. If a student makes a disclosure to someone other than a Case Worker from Student Support Services, that person should send the disclosure to Student Support Services normally with the consent of the disclosing student, and a Case Worker will communicate with the staff member and student to offer support. If more information is required regarding the role of the Case Worker.

24. When a disclosure is made the disclosing party(s) will be offered an options conversation by a Case Worker. Where required, a risk assessment will also be carried out by relevant members of the Cause for Concern Group, and if necessary, appropriate precautionary measures recommended to the Academic Registrar or nominee.

25. Precautionary measures will also be reviewed and considered by the Major Misconduct Review Group that may determine additional measures are necessary.

26. This options conversation (point 24) will provide appropriate options to disclosing parties in relation to both support and reporting from/to internal and external specialist services.

27. Where there are multiple disclosing parties in relation to one particular incident or case, they will all be offered support and relevant options conversations at this stage.

28. If a disclosing party decides that they wish to make a formal report to the University they should submit a Non-Academic Misconduct Formal Reporting Form and the University’s Student Conduct and Discipline Regulations and associated policies and procedures would then apply.

29. Both the reporting and reported parties will be offered support through the process from their own separate designated Case Workers. Different levels of support and ongoing  Student and Academic Services contact will be provided by the Case Worker depending on whether the reporting/ disclosing party is a student or not.

30. The University’s case management protocol for managing instances of alleged interpersonal non-academic misconduct, including sexual misconduct, even if a formal report is not submitted, can be found in Appendix 1.

Investigation of Alleged Sexual Misconduct

31. On receipt of a formal report of alleged sexual misconduct, the Student Conduct Team via the Academic Registrar or nominee will refer it to Major Misconduct Review Group for consideration will refer the report.

32. This Group considers the report including a risk assessment and determines the nature of any additional precautionary action. It will then refer the case for investigation in accordance with the Student Conduct and Discipline Regulations.

33. The investigation will normally be undertaken by a Student Conduct Officer with specific training and experience in the investigation of sexual misconduct.

34. On conclusion of the investigation, if it is decided a Student Discipline Panel is required, a copy of the report of the Student Conduct Officer will be shared with the reported student for comment.

35. Once the reported student has had the opportunity to comment, the report and the student’s response will be considered by the Major Misconduct Review Group, which will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to apply appropriate sanctions, whether the case should proceed to a Student Discipline Panel, or whether due to lack of evidence the case will not be progressed. The reported student, and reporting party (where they are a student) will be advised of the decision, in liaison with the student(s) Case Workers as appropriate.

36. All cases of sexual misconduct are considered to represent major misconduct and therefore will normally proceed to a Student Discipline Panel.

Student Discipline Panels

37. On conclusion of an investigation into sexual misconduct where the decision is made that, a case should be referred for consideration by a Student Discipline Panel, the Secretary of the Senate Student Discipline Committee will convene a Student Discipline Panel.

38. All Student Discipline Panels for sexual misconduct will be chaired by members of staff who have received specific training and support to undertake the role, and sit ex-officio as members of the Senate Student Disciplinary Committee.

39. In addition to the Chair, the panel will comprise at least two other members, who have also undertaken specific training.

40. Panels will be conducted in accordance with the Regulations on Non-Academic Misconduct and the associated procedures.

41. On conclusion of the panel hearing and deliberations, an outcome will be agreed by the Panel, which will be referred to the Major Misconduct Review Group before the reported student is notified.

42. The reporting student will be notified of the outcome after the reported party is informed.

Appeals and Student Discipline Appeals Panels

43. Reported students may appeal the outcome of a Student Discipline Panel or sanctions applied, after investigation within five working days of being notified of the outcome. Appeals against the decision of a Student Discipline Panel and any sanctions imposed will be considered in accordance with the Regulations on Non-Academic Misconduct and the associated procedures.

44. Reporting party(s) will be notified whether or not the reported student was found in breach of the Regulations, but not normally the details of the sanctions applied, unless it directly involves them on a continuing basis (i.e. ongoing No-Contact Order) or if the Student is no longer a registered student at the University.

45. If the reported student appeals the outcome of the Panel in accordance with the Regulations on Non-Academic Misconduct, the reporting party(s) will be made aware of this (without being given details) and notified that communication of the final confirmed outcome from the disciplinary process will be delayed as a consequence.

46. At the conclusion of the appeal stage, the reporting party(s) will be notified whether or not the reported student was found in breach of the regulations, but not normally the details of the penalties/sanctions applied, unless it directly involves them on a continuing basis (i.e. ongoing No-Contact Order) ) or results in expulsion of the reported student from the University.

Complaints

47. If the final Student Discipline Panel outcome finds that the reported student is not in breach of the University’s Regulations, the reporting party(s) may submit a complaint to the University following the process set out in the University’ Complaints Procedure.

48. A complaint can be made on the grounds of:

  • a. Procedural irregularity;
  • b. Further information that was not available to the Panel or the Appeal Panel during its hearing(s).

49. A complaint cannot be made solely on the grounds that the reporting party(s) disagrees with the outcome of the disciplinary process.

50. The submission of a complaint will normally be deemed by the University as constituting a Stage Two Formal Complaint. A Pro Vice-Chancellor with no prior involvement and appropriate training will be appointed to consider the case, in accordance with the procedures laid out in the University’s Complaints Policy.

51. For the avoidance of doubt, a reported student cannot submit a complaint, as they will have had recourse to an internal review stage through the appeals process.

Read Appendix 1: Case management protocol