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Valdosta State University is committed to a safe and respectful environment for living, work, and study. To that end, and in accordance with Federal and State law, the University does not condone interpersonal violence of any kind, including sexual and relationship violence. Every member of the University community should be aware that such behavior is prohibited by University policy and be familiar with the University protocol for responding to reported violations.  The University will take appropriate action to respond to and invoke sanctions for behavior that is found to violate this policy.

Definitions

Sexual violence is any unwanted or non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual violence can be committed by acquaintances, casual or long-term dating partners, spouses or strangers. The use of alcohol and/or any other substance, by either party, in conjunction with an incident of sexual violence, does not mitigate responsibility or diminish the seriousness of the offense. Examples of sexual violence include, but are not limited to:

  • non-consensual contact with intimate body parts
  • non-consensual penetration with a foreign object
  • non-consensual penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ
  • non-consensual oral or anal sexual acts
  • lewd exposure of sexual organs in public
  • non-consensual kissing

Consent is defined as clearly communicating agreement or permission to participate in sexual activity. The individuals consenting must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved. Such consent may be withdrawn at any time, without regard to activity preceding the withdrawal of consent. A current or previous intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent. Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity alone. Intoxication, drug use or other reasons for incapacity are obstacles to consent. A person cannot freely, voluntarily, and with knowledge of the act, be deemed to have consented if she or he is incapacitated or in a drug-induced or alcohol state. Non-consent occurs when the complaining party is prevented from resisting or giving consent as a result of intoxication, or is unconscious at the time of the act. It is a violation of this policy to engage in any form of sexual activity without the consent of the other person.

Coercion is defined as the act of forcing (or attempting to force) another individual through violence, threats, verbal insistence, or deception, to engage in sexual acts against his or her will.  The use of coercion in a sexual encounter constitutes a lack of consent.

Relationship Violence is defined as physically, sexually, psychologically abusive and/or intimidating behaviors used by one individual to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Intimate partners may be dating, cohabitating, married, separated or divorced. Relationship violence can occur can occur regardless of sexual orientation of those in the relationship. Examples of relationship violence include, but are not limited to:

  • attempting or committing an act that causes fear of injury
  • assaulting with a deadly weapon or with intent to murder, rape or rob
  • intentionally causing substantial physical harm
  • following, placing under surveillance or contacting without direct or indirect consent for the purpose of harassing and intimidating
  • in violation of a restraining or protective order, condition of probation, bond, etc.
  • threatening to commit a crime of violence or to damage property  

Student Options

Seeking Medical Care
A physical exam should be done in all cases of sexual assault, regardless of the length of time that has elapsed since the violence. Medically related concerns may include pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and physical injuries. If the violence occurred within the past 120 hours, an individual has the option of having an evidence collection exam.  Consider seeking medical attention for any physical abuse experienced.

HB1297: If You Chose Not To Report But Want A Medical Exam
HB1297 (effective May 28, 2008) allows GA to be in compliance with the VAWA reauthorization of 2005 that requires all states to prove in policy and practice that all individuals (ages 12 and up) have access to a forensic exam regardless of whether or not they choose to speak with law enforcement or further the case and that the results of a polygraph or other truth telling device of an individual cannot be the basis for ending an investigation.

If the individual calls 911 dispatch requesting a Sexual Assault Kit, but does not want to make a report to Law Enforcement, dispatch is to contact The Haven Rape Crisis Advocate and a SANE Nurse will be contacted. Evidence will be collected and labeled with the individual’s information by the SANE Nurse. Law Enforcement, within the jurisdiction of the rape or sexual assault, is responsible for paying for and storing the forensic exams for 12 months, regardless of whether or not the individual wants to talk with Law Enforcement or move forward in their case.

If the individual comes to the hospital wanting a Sexual Assault Kit, but does not want to make a report to Law Enforcement, the hospital is to contact The Haven Rape Crisis Advocate and a SANE Nurse will be contacted.  If needed, The Haven Rape Crisis Advocate will transport the individual to the Rape Crisis Center for the exam after the individual has signed a confidentiality agreement. Evidence will be collected and labeled with the individual’s information by the SANE Nurse. Law Enforcement, within the jurisdiction of the rape or sexual assault, is responsible for paying for and storing the forensic exams for 12 months, regardless of whether or not the individual wants to talk with Law Enforcement or move forward in their case.

Counseling
Talking with a counselor can be an important step in the recovery process. Students are able to receive services on-campus at the VSU Counseling Center.  In addition, community based organizations can often provide direct counseling services and/or referrals to appropriate counseling resources.

Reporting to Officials
An individual who experiences violence has several reporting options to consider. It is always the individual’s choice as to whether to report. An incident may be reported to the Student Conduct Office (if alleged offender is a University student) or to the appropriate law enforcement agency, or both. The criminal investigation and the campus investigation regarding violation of the Student Code of Conduct are conducted independently, occurring simultaneously or sequentially, on a case-by-case basis.

Reporting to the Police
Time is of the essence when sexual violence has occurred. The sooner violence is reported, the easier it is to collect valuable evidence. If reported to the police within 120 hours, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner can conduct a Rape Protocol Exam (rape kit). In order to preserve physical evidence of sexual violence, it is advised not to urinate, shower/bathe, douche, brush teeth, or wash clothing (unless they are certain they do not intend to report the incident to police). Any clothing worn at the time of the incident should be stored in a paper bag and taken to the hospital. If the use of rape drugs is suspected, ask that a urine sample be collected and preserved as evidence. Physical evidence for a criminal prosecution cannot be collected without a report being made to the police. After 120 hours, the Rape Protocol Exam cannot be conducted, but a police report can be filed.  If physical violence has occurred, contact the police to file a report. Documenting incidents of relationship violence is very important when working within the legal system.

Reporting to University Officials

To file a complaint regarding a student, contact the Student Conduct Office/Dean of Students’ Office (Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students) at (229) 333-5941. Reporting violence to the Student Conduct Office can begin the University’s investigation of the issue and serves as a form of official documentation of the incident. The Conduct Office will then explain the disciplinary process and options as described in Appendix A & B of the Student Code of Conduct. A finding of responsibility regarding sexual violence by this process will be considered a code violation. Disciplinary sanctions for violations of this policy include but are not limited to, the following measures: expulsion, disciplinary suspension, disciplinary probation, reprimand, and restrictions. See the “Disciplinary Process” section the Student Code of Conduct: http://www.valdosta.edu/studentaffairs/documents/SAF_Student_Handbook_02122010revision.pdf

Any violation of this policy should be reported to one of the following locations:

  • VSU Police (229) 333-7816 or (229) 259-5555
  • VSU Counseling Center (229) 333-5940 or after hours (229) 259-5555
  • The Haven Rape Crisis Center 1-800-334-2836 or (229) 244-4477

Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights

The following rights shall be accorded, by all campus officers, administrators, and employees of (insert institution name here), to victims of campus-related sexual assaults:

Crime Victims Bill of Rights - §17-17-1 thru 17-17-16.

Under the crime victims‟ bill of rights victims have the right to:

Reasonable, accurate and timely notice of any scheduled court proceedings or any changes to such proceedings

Reasonable, accurate and timely notice of the arrest, release or escape of the accused

Not to be excluded from any scheduled court proceedings involving the accused, except as otherwise provided by law

Be heard at any scheduled court proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused

File a written objection in any parole proceedings involving the accused

Confer with the prosecuting attorney in any criminal prosecution related to the victim

Restitution as provided by law

Proceedings free from unreasonable delay

Be treated fairly and with dignity by all criminal justice agencies involved in the case

Under certain conditions, to be notified of the accused being on an electronic release and monitoring program

Notified of an arrest warrant being issued for the accused

Notified of the accused being prohibited from contacting the victim