Sexual Misconduct and Title IX

The University Sexual Misconduct Policy

Valdosta State University is committed to ensuring a safe learning environment that supports the dignity of all members of the Valdosta State University community. Valdosta State University (VSU) does not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender in any of its education or employment programs and activities.

The University prohibits specific forms of behavior that violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Valdosta State University will not tolerate sexual misconduct, which is prohibited, and which includes, but is not limited to, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and stalking.

Valdosta State University further strongly encourages members of the Valdosta State University community to report instances of sexual misconduct promptly. These policies and procedures are intended to ensure that all parties involved receive appropriate support and fair treatment, and that allegations of sexual misconduct are handled in a prompt, thorough and equitable manner. The policy on its entirety can be found here.

  • Definitions Related to Sexual Misconduct

    Definitions Related to Sexual Misconduct

    CONSENT

    DATING VIOLENCE

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    INCAPACITATION

    NONCONSENSUAL SEXUAL CONTACT

    PRIVILEGED EMPLOYEES

    RESPONDENT

    RESPONSIBLE EMPLOYEES

    SEXUAL ASSAULT

    SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

    SEXUAL HARASSMENT

    STALKING

    Consent:

    Words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary willingness to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be gained by force, intimidation or coercion, by ignoring or acting in spite of objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the respondent knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation. Consent is also absent when the activity in question exceeds the scope of consent previously given. Past consent does not imply present or future consent. Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent. Minors under the age of 16 cannot legally consent under Georgia law.

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    Dating Violence:

    Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the alleged victim.

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    Domestic Violence:

    Violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the alleged victim, by a person with whom the alleged victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the alleged victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

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    Incapacitation:

    The physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments; can result from mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from intentional or unintentional taking of alcohol and/or other drugs. Whether someone is incapacitated is to be judged from the perspective of an objectively reasonable person.

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    Nonconsensual Sexual Contact:

    An intentional sexual touching upon a person, without consent or where the person is incapacitated, and/or by force, by another person or with any object. Sexual contact includes but is not limited to, intentional contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals, or touching another with these body parts, or making another touch the alleged victim or themselves with or on any of these body parts.

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    Privileged Employees:

    Individuals employed by the institution to who a complainant or alleged victim may talk in confidence, as provided by law. Disclosure to these employees will not automatically trigger an investigation against the complainant’s or alleged victim’s wishes. Privileged Employees include those providing counseling, advocacy, health, mental health, or sexual-assault related services (e.g., sexual assault resource centers, campus health centers, pastoral counselors, and campus mental health centers) or as otherwise provided by applicable law. Exceptions to confidentiality exist where the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor (in Georgia, under the age of 18) or otherwise provided by law, such as imminent threat of serious harm. Further, Privileged Employees must still submit anonymous statistical information for Clery Act purposes.

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    Respondent:

    Individual who is accused of having engaged in conduct that violates this Policy.

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    Responsible Employees:

    Those employees who must promptly and fully report complaints of or information regarding sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. Responsible Employees include any administrator, supervisor, faculty member, or other person in a position of authority who is not a Privileged Employee. Student employees who serve in a supervisory, advisory, or managerial role are in a position of authority for purposes of this Policy (e.g., teaching assistants, residential assistants, student managers, orientation leaders, etc.). Responsible Employees are not required to report information disclosed at public awareness events (e.g., “Take Back the Night,” candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak-outs” or other public forums in which students may disclose incidents of prohibited conduct).

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    Sexual Assault:

    An umbrella term referring to a range of nonconsensual sexual contact, which can occur in many forms including but not limited to rape and sexual battery.

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    Sexual Exploitation:

    “Sexual Exploitation” occurs when an individual takes nonconsensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his or her own advantage or benefit, or to the benefit or advantage of anyone other than the one being exploited.

     Examples of sexual exploitation may include, but are not limited to, the following:

    1. Invasion of sexual privacy;

    2. Prostituting another individual;

    3. Non-consensual video or audio of sexual activity;

    4. Non-consensual distribution of video or audio of sexual activity, even if the sexual activity or video or audio taken of sexual activity was consensual;

    5. Intentional observation of non-consenting individuals who are partially undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts;

    6. Knowingly transmitting an STD or HIV to another individual;

    7. Intentionally and inappropriately exposing one’s breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals in non-consensual circumstances; and/or

    8. Sexually-based bullying.

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    Sexual Harassment:

    Unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct, based on sex or gender stereotypes, that: is implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of employment or status in a course, program, or activity; is a basis for employment/educational decisions; or has the purpose or effect of interfering with one’s work or educational performance creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment, or interfering with or limiting one’s ability to participate in or benefit from an institutional program or activity.

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    Stalking:

    Engaging in a course of conduct directed toward another person based upon sex that would cause a reasonable person; to fear for his or her safety or the safety of immediate family members or close acquaintances; or to suffer substantial emotional distress.

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  • Amnesty from Drug and Alcohol Use Conduct Charges

    Amnesty from Drug and Alcohol Use Conduct Charges

    Individuals should be encouraged to come forward and to report sexual misconduct notwithstanding their choice to consume alcohol or to use drugs. Information reported by an individual during an investigation concerning use of drugs or alcohol will not be used against the particular individual in a disciplinary proceeding or voluntarily reported to law enforcement; however, individuals may be provided with resources on drug and alcohol counseling and/or education, as appropriate.

  • Victim Bill of Rights

    Victim Bill of Rights

    Valdosta State University is committed to providing options, support and assistance to victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking to ensure that they can continue to participate in campus programs, activities, and employment. All victims/survivors of these crimes and violations, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction, have the following rights, regardless of whether the crime or violation occurs on campus, off campus, or while studying abroad:

    All students have the right to:

    1. Make a report to local law enforcement and/or state police.
    2. Have disclosures of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault treated seriously.
    3. Make a decision about whether or not to disclose a crime or violation and participate in the judicial or conduct process and/or criminal justice process free from pressure from the institution.
    4. Participate in a process that is fair, impartial, and provides adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard.
    5. Be treated with dignity and to receive from the institution courteous, fair, and respectful health care and counseling services, where available.
    6. Be free from any suggestion that the reporting individual is at fault when these crimes and violations are committed, or should have acted in a different manner to avoid such crimes or violations.
    7. Describe the incident to as few institutional representatives as practicable and not to be required to unnecessarily repeat a description of the incident.
    8. Be free from retaliation by the institution, the accused and/or the respondent, and/or their friends, family and acquaintances within the jurisdiction of the institution.
    9. Access to at least one level of appeal of a determination.
    10. Be accompanied by an advisor of choice who may assist and advise a reporting individual, accused, or respondent throughout the judicial or conduct process including during all meetings and hearings related to such process.
    11. Exercise civil rights and practice of religion without interference by the investigative, criminal justice, or judicial or conduct process of the College.
  • Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy

    Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy

    In this Policy:

    Reporting
    Support Services 
    Protections and Accommodations

     Reporting Sexual Misconduct

    A complainant of sexual misconduct can choose among several reporting options at Valdosta State University: filing a criminal complaint with law enforcement officials; filing an administrative report with the institution; or filing an anonymous report at their institution. These processes are detailed below. An individual who believes he/she is a victim of sexual misconduct is encouraged to report allegations of sexual misconduct promptly. Institutional Reports Complainants of sexual misconduct who wish to file a report with the institution should notify a Responsible Employee or the Office of the Title IX Coordinator: Dr. Maggie Viverette in the Office of Social Equity by phone via (229) 333-5463 or email via titleix@valdosta.edu. Responsible Employees informed about sexual misconduct allegations involving any student must notify the Office of Social Equity or as soon as practicable. Responsible Employees should not attempt to resolve the situation, but must notify and report all relevant information to the Title IX Coordinator. Failure to promptly and fully report complaints of or information regarding sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator may result in disciplinary action. Privileged Employees are not bound by this requirement but may, consistent with their ethical and legal obligations, be required to report limited information about incidents without revealing the identities of the individuals involved to the Office of the Title IX Coordinator. All members of the Valdosta State University community are encouraged to report incidents of sexual misconduct promptly. Valdosta State University encourages complainants to report their complaints in writing, though oral complaints should also be accepted, taken seriously, and investigated, to the extent possible. Further, while complaints should be made as quickly as possible following an alleged incident of sexual misconduct, all reports should be accepted regardless of whenComplaints should include as much information as possible – that is:

    (1) the type of sexual misconduct experienced

    (2) the name of the respondent

    (3) the date(s), time(s), and place(s) of the sexual misconduct

    (4) the name(s) of any individual(s) with knowledge of the incident

    (5) whether any tangible evidence has been preserved

    (6) whether a criminal complaint has been made.

    Information from complaints will be shared only as necessary to investigate and to resolve the alleged sexual misconduct. Complaints will be investigated and resolved as outlined below. Valdosta State University, through the Title IX Coordinator, will also assess the need for and institute interim measures as described below as appropriate and where reasonable, as well as work with the appropriate institutional department to determine the need to issue a broader warning to the community in compliance with the Clery Act or to report activity to the authorities.

    Institutional reports will be investigated and adjudicated separately from any criminal complaints.

    1.  Confidentiality: Where a complainant or alleged victim requests that his or her identity be withheld or the allegation(s) not be investigated the Title IX Coordinator will consider whether this request can be honored while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for the institution. Honoring the request may limit the institution’s ability to respond fully to the incident and may limit the institution’s ability to discipline the respondent.
    2.  Retaliation: Anyone who, in good faith, reports what she or he believes to be misconduct under this Policy, or who participates or cooperates in, or is otherwise associated with any investigation, shall not be subjected to retaliation. Anyone who believes he or she has been the target of retaliation for reporting, participating or cooperating in, or otherwise being associated with an investigation should immediately contact the Title IX Coordinator for the institution. Any person found to have engaged in retaliation in violation of this Policy shall be subject to disciplinary action.
    3.  False Complaints: Individuals are prohibited from intentionally giving false statements to an institution official. Any person found to have intentionally submitted false complaints, accusations, or statements, including during a hearing, in violation of this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action.
    4. Amnesty: Individuals should be encouraged to come forward and to report sexual misconduct notwithstanding their choice to consume alcohol or to use drugs. Information reported by an individual during an investigation concerning use of drugs or alcohol will not be used against the particular individual in a disciplinary proceeding or voluntarily reported to law enforcement; however, individuals may be provided with resources on drug and alcohol counseling and/or education, as appropriate.

    Law Enforcement Reports

    Because sexual misconduct may constitute criminal activity, a complainant also has the option, should he or she so choose, of filing a report with campus or local police, for his or her own protection and that of the surrounding community. Complainants considering filing a report of sexual misconduct with law enforcement should preserve any evidence of sexual misconduct, including, but not limited to, the following:

    1.  Clothing worn during the incident including undergarments
    2.  Sheets, bedding, and condoms, if used
    3.  Lists of witnesses with contact information
    4.  Text messages, call history, social media posts
    5.  Pictures of injuries
    6.  Videos

    Anonymous Reports

    Reports of sexual misconduct can be reported anonymously to:

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    Support services

    Support services, such as counseling, advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, disability services, health and mental services, are available to individuals who make a complaint, or receive notice that a complaint has been made against him or her.

    On-Campus:

    • Title IX Coordinator: Dr. Maggie J. Viverette - Director of the Office of Social Equity (229) 333-5463 Email: titleix@valdosta.edu
    • VSU Police (229) 333-7816 or (229) 259-5555
    • VSU Counseling Center (229) 333-5940 or after hours (229) 259-5555 (privileged and confidential resource)

    Off-Campus:

    • The Haven Rape Crisis Center 1-800-334-2836 or (229) 244-4477

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    Protections and Accommodations

    Interim Protective Measures

    The Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee may impose interim protective measures before the final outcome of an investigation and until final resolution of the allegations if failure to take the interim measures would constitute an immediate threat to the safety and well-being of the alleged victim or other members of the institution, or to ensure equal access to the institution’s education programs and activities. Before any such measures are instituted, however, the Title IX Coordinator should, where practicable, provide the respondent with an initial opportunity to respond to the allegations and to the imposition of any interim protective measures specifically. Imposing interim protective measures does not indicate that a violation of this Policy has occurred, and is designed to protect the alleged victim and community, and not to harm the respondent. To the extent interim measures are imposed, they should minimize the burden on both the alleged victim and the respondent, where feasible. Interim measures may include, but are not limited to:

    1. Change of housing assignment;
    2. Issuance of a “no contact” directive;
    3.  Restrictions or bars to entering certain institution property;
    4.  Changes to academic or employment arrangements, schedules, or supervision;
    5. Interim suspension;
    6. Other measures designed to promote the safety and well-being of the parties and the institution’s community.

    An interim suspension should only occur where necessary to maintain safety, and should be limited to those situations where the respondent poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property. In making such an assessment, VSU will consider the existence of a significant risk to the health or safety of the alleged victim or the campus community, the nature, duration, and severity of the risk, the probability of potential injury, and whether less restrictive means can be used to significantly mitigate the risk. Before an interim suspension is issued, VSU will make all reasonable efforts to give the respondent the opportunity to be heard on whether his or her presence on campus poses a danger. If an interim suspension is issued, the terms of the suspension take effect immediately.When requested by the respondent, a hearing to determine whether the intermediate suspension should continue will be held within three (3) business days of the request.

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  • Privacy versus Confidentiality

    Privacy versus Confidentiality:

    Even Valdosta State University offices and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality will maintain your privacy to the greatest extent possible. The information you provide to a non-confidential resource will be relayed only as necessary to investigate and/or seek a resolution and to notify the Title IX Coordinator or designee, who is responsible under the law for tracking patterns and spotting systemic issues. Your campus will limit the disclosure as much as possible, even if the Title IX Coordinator determines that the request for confidentiality cannot be honored.

    Privileged Employees:

    Individuals employed by the institution to who a complainant or alleged victim may talk in confidence, as provided by law. Disclosure to these employees will not automatically trigger an investigation against the complainant’s or alleged victim’s wishes. Privileged Employees include those providing counseling, advocacy, health, mental health, or sexual-assault related services (e.g., sexual assault resource centers, campus health centers, pastoral counselors, and campus mental health centers) or as otherwise provided by applicable law. Exceptions to confidentiality exist where the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor (in Georgia, under the age of 18) or otherwise provided by law, such as imminent threat of serious harm. Further, Privileged Employees must still submit anonymous statistical information for Clery Act purposes. 

    Responsible Employees:

    Those employees who must promptly and fully report complaints of or information regarding sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. Responsible Employees include any administrator, supervisor, faculty member, or other person in a position of authority who is not a Privileged Employee. Student employees who serve in a supervisory, advisory, or managerial role are in a position of authority for purposes of this Policy (e.g., teaching assistants, residential assistants, student managers, orientation leaders, etc.). Responsible Employees are not required to report information disclosed at public awareness events (e.g., “Take Back the Night,” candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak-outs” or other public forums in which students may disclose incidents of prohibited conduct). Sexual A