I’ve Been Accused.
What is sex-based discrimination?
Prohibited sex-based discrimination and harassment includes, without limitation, discrimination or harassment based on gender, pregnancy or childbirth. As mandated by Title IX and its implementing regulations, the University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational programs or activities, admissions, or employment. Educational decisions that cannot be based on sex include, without limitation, decisions relating to: admission; financial aid; academic advising and instruction; class assignments; evaluation and grading; discipline; housing; athletics; health and counseling services; recreational, residential, or extracurricular services or programs; and participation and status in any University program or activity, whether on or off campus.
Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex that effectively denies an individual access to an educational program or activity of the University. Both men and women are protected from sex-based discrimination and sex-based harassment.
What is sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, and sexual misconduct?
Pursuant to Title IX and University policy, sexual harassment encompasses a broad range of conduct, and means either: (1) an employee of the University conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the University on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; (2) unwelcome sexual conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to an educational program or activity of the University; or (3) sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking.
This definition of sexual harassment includes certain forms of interpersonal violence and sexual misconduct.
Under the University policy, interpersonal violence refers to dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
- Dating violence means violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: (i) the length of the relationship, (ii) the type of relationship, and (iii) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
- Domestic violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the 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 victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the applicable 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.
- Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: (i) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (ii) suffer substantial emotional distress.
Under the University policy, sexual misconduct refers to rape, sodomy, sexual assault with an object, fondling, incest, statutory rape, and sexual exploitation.
- Rape is the carnal knowledge of a person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity. Carnal knowledge exists if there is the slightest penetration of the sexual organ of the female (vagina) by the sexual organ of the male (penis).
- Sodomy is oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
- Sexual assault with an object is the use of an object or instrument to penetrate, without the consent of the victim, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical disability. An “object” or “instrument” is anything used by the offender other than the offender’s genitalia, e.g. a finger, bottle, stick.
- Fondling is the touching of the private body part of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical disability.
- Incest is sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
- Statutory rape is intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
- Sexual Exploitation includes but is not limited to:
- Non-consensual videotaping, audiotaping, or photographing of sexual activity even if the sexual act is consensual
- Non-consensual posting, publishing, sharing, or displaying photo, audio, or video of sexual activity even if the activity was originally recorded with effective consent
- Voyeurism, which is a form of sexual exploitation in which one individual engages in secretive observation or non-consensual video or audio taping of another for personal sexual pleasure
- Any disrobing of another or exposure to another without effective consent
See the University of Mississippi’s complete Title IX Policy and its Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy for more information.
How does the University define consent?
At the University of Mississippi, consent between two or more people is defined as an affirmative agreement – through clear actions or words – to engage in sexual activity. The person giving the consent must act knowingly, freely, voluntarily, and with an understanding of his or her actions when giving the consent. This definition of consent is premised on the idea that all persons in our University community have the right to feel respected, acknowledged, and safe during sexual activity.
Nonconsensual sexual activity is prohibited under the University’s Title IX Policy and its Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy, and requires a showing that a participant knew or reasonably should have known that the other party did not consent to the sexual activity.
Important Things to Remember About Consent
- A person who willingly participates in sexual activity is responsible for obtaining consent for that sexual activity.
- Consent must be present throughout the sexual activity.
- Consent can be withdrawn by any participant at any time during the sexual activity.
- A participant to sexual activity can revoke consent through actions, conduct, or behavior that communicates that he or she no longer wishes to continue the existing sexual activity.
- Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately.
More information about the University’s definition of consent can be found here, or in the University’s Title IX Policy or its Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
What if I’ve been accused of sexual misconduct?
A formal complaint has been filed.
If a student has been formally accused of sexual misconduct, that means that a formal complaint has been filed with the Assistant Director of Equal Opportunity & Regulatory Compliance (EORC)/Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a respondent and requesting that the University investigate the allegation of sexual harassment.
You will receive a notice of allegations.
The EORC Office will also provide written notice to the parties of the allegations contained in the complaint, along with notice of the University’s grievance procedures. The notice of allegations will include sufficient details about the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment under University policy and will provide the parties sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview. These details will include, to the extent known, the identities of the parties involved in the incident, the conduct allegedly constituting a policy violation, and the date and location of the alleged incident.
The notice of allegations will also specify that the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process. The notice will additionally inform the parties that they may have an advisor of their choice who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, and that the parties may inspect and review evidence as provided under University policy.
The EORC Office will conduct an investigation into the allegations.
The University will promptly conduct an investigation of the allegations contained in a formal complaint, and such complaints are investigated by an EORC Investigator.
If, after the initial notice is disseminated, the University decides to investigate allegations about the complainant or the respondent that are not included in the initial notice of allegations, or if new details pertaining to the allegations are discovered, all known parties will be given notice of the additional allegations or the newly discovered details.
The Investigator will attempt to interview the complainant and the respondent of the alleged incident. Additionally, the Investigator will request from both parties any information and evidence that is directly related to the allegations under investigation, including the names of potential witnesses to interview. The complainant and respondent will also be given equal opportunity to present witnesses during the investigation process. Both parties will also have the ability to discuss the allegations under investigation with the Investigator and to gather and present relevant evidence.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will make an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence. The report will not contain findings of fact as to whether a University policy violation did or did not occur but will instead contain a summary of the investigation and all relevant documents submitted by the parties and potential witnesses.
Resolution of a formal complaint.
The parties to a Title IX or Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct case may be able to reach a resolution through an informal resolution process, called mediation. If the parties are unable reach an agreement through mediation, the matter will be resolved by the University’s designated Independent Decision-Maker through a live hearing. After the live hearing, the Independent Decision-Maker will create a written determination regarding the respondent’s responsibility.
More information about what happens after a formal complaint has been filed can be found in the Title IX Policy or the Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Will I be in trouble with the University?
The University has a presumption that the respondent is not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination regarding responsibility has been made at the conclusion of the grievance process.
Depending upon the facts and circumstances of a particular Title IX Policy or Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy violation, sanctions resulting from a finding of responsibility may range from a verbal reprimand to expulsion from the University. Sanctions are enforced immediately upon determination of the violation.
Will I get in trouble for telling my side of the story if I had been drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs?
You will not get in trouble for voluntary, personal use of drugs or alcohol. The University has an amnesty policy that prohibits someone participating in a sexual discrimination investigation from getting in trouble for voluntary, personal use of drugs or alcohol.
What if I don’t remember?
The EORC Investigator will investigate the allegations contained in a formal complaint and will collect evidence to enable the University’s Independent Decision-Maker to reach a determination regarding responsibility. This may include speaking to witnesses and reviewing physical evidence, including text messages, videos, photos, etc.
Do I have to discuss what happened with the University?
No. However, the Title IX or Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct grievance process may still continue without your participation.
Who will find out that I have been accused?
The University respects the sensitive nature of incidents involving alleged sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, or sexual misconduct and takes particular care to protect the privacy of all parties involved in such an incident, to the extent possible by University policies and procedures and the law. Because of the nature of an investigation, those individuals who are interviewed may learn about the allegations and the identities of the individuals involved. In addition, if an investigation results in a hearing, those individuals who are involved in the hearing (the Independent Decision-Maker, staff members, individuals selected as advisers by the complainant or the respondent, and witnesses) also may learn more about the incident. However, these individuals receive explicit instructions regarding confidentiality and know not to share information about an incident outside the University grievance process.
Will the University tell my parents?
In most cases, no. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects information about you and your access of university services.
Will I be in trouble with the police?
This depends on the circumstances. There are different avenues for reporting incidents of sexual harassment, and the criminal avenue is one that is available to complainants, in addition to filing a formal complaint with the University. The police may be notified about an incident of sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, or sexual misconduct, even if the University is not notified. If criminal charges are filed, the accused student is likely to be interviewed by the police, and a grand jury will determine whether enough information is present to proceed. In cases where a grand jury determines a court case is warranted, the accused student will be indicted.
Should I get a lawyer?
Each student who is accused of sexual misconduct must determine for her/himself whether to retain an attorney. Both parties to either a Title IX case or an Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct case have the right to have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, present throughout the entire grievance process. At any time during the grievance process, both parties may choose their own advisors or may request that the University provide them an advisor at no cost or fee.
What resources are available to me on campus?
Both parties to either a Title IX case or an Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct case have the right to have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, present throughout the entire grievance process. At any time during the grievance process, both parties may choose their own advisors or may request that the University provide them an advisor at no cost or fee.
In addition to requesting an advisors, the following are some of the on-campus resources available:
- UMatter: Student Support & Advocacy offers assistance to individuals who have been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment. Call (662) 915-7248 or email email@example.com to request services or make an appointment.
- The University Counseling Center has a team of dedicated professionals who strive to offer the best care possible in an atmosphere of respect to individuals of the University community. Call (662) 915-3784 to make an appointment.
- The University Psychological Services Center offers a unique and comprehensive approach to the educational, psychological, and spiritual well-being of our community. Call (662) 915-7385 to make an appointment.
Will it cost me money to access these services?
All University of Mississippi resources are free with the exception of the Psychological Services Center.
Will I get expelled?
There is no predetermined sanction for a Title IX or Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy violation. Expulsion is a possibility depending on the circumstances of an alleged incident.
I received a No Contact order. What does that mean?
No Contact orders typically give specific instructions regarding who the student should not contact. Contact includes phone calls, emails, text messages, interaction through social media, in-person encounters, and communication through third parties. Having another individual contact the person named in the No Contact order also can be a violation of the order. Students who receive No Contact orders from the University must comply with the instructions in the order to avoid further action. A No Contact order does not necessarily mean that an investigation has commenced.
Someone is threatening me. What constitutes retaliation?
Retaliation against an individual who initiates a report or formal complaint, participates in an investigation, or pursues legal action, is prohibited. Accordingly, the University nor any person may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or University policy, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under University policy.
Intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination, including charges against an individual for code of conduct violations that do not involve sex discrimination or sexual harassment, but arise out of the same facts or circumstances as a report or complaint of sex discrimination, or a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX or University policy, constitutes retaliation.
All University of Mississippi resources are free with the exception of Psychological Services.
University Police Department
911 for emergencies
Contact UPD to request university assistance in reporting a crime or for information about university resources.
Student Health Center (Confidential*)
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for walk-ins
Offers forensic examinations, testing for STIs, HIV and pregnancy; provides emergency medications and follow-up health care.
Office of the Dean of Students
Student Union, Suite 422
University, MS 38677
Student Case Manager
Provides support and advocacy for students; serves as a liaison between university departments and local resources.
Department of Student Housing
Provides students with resources and support on and off campus including but not limited to their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Safe residence hall rooms and/or permanent room changes are provided as a means of support.
Campus Ministers (private*)
See additional information for campus ministries.
*Depending on the provider, some costs may be incurred.
Communicare of Oxford
Baptist Memorial Hospital
Oxford Police Department
Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office
Religious Community Resources: Clergy at individual churches
RAINN : Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Student by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties (2001).