Founded in 1821, Amherst College in central Massachusetts has an enrollment of roughly 1,849 students. The institution has a mission of educating those of “all backgrounds” and is “dedicated to intellectual freedom.” This mission is consistent with federal guidelines that pertain to Title IX, which is an amendment that requires educational institutions to properly address sexual discrimination.
Amherst College General Sexual Misconduct Statement
Amherst College has a Title IX Coordinator and five Deputy Title IX Coordinators. They believe that acts of sexual misconduct “corrupt the integrity” of the educational environment that they are devoted to maintaining. They emphasize how these responsibilities apply to the entire community “individually and collectively.”
How Amherst College Defines Sexual Misconduct
The administration explains that these acts extend beyond sexual harassment and violence. They seek to prevent “domestic and dating violence” and stalking activity. These are broadly considered to be acts of violence or intimidation that involve individuals that have some existing relationship.
Amherst College's Policy on Consent
The policies explain that consent to participate in sexual activity must be clearly demonstrated and willingly engaged in. Inferences may not be based on “silence, passivity, lack of resistance or active response alone.” Emphasis is placed on how consent must be demonstrated outwardly.
The Amherst Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Process (SMAP)
All parties associated with a complaint of misconduct are permitted to choose an Advisor. The school will make some reasonable effort to accommodate the schedule (availability) of this individual. The Advisor can accompany the party to meetings, inquiries, hearings, etc. These individuals are not permitted to create disruptions or “make verbal objections.”
During an investigation, the Title IX Coordinator or designated administrator may implement interim measures. The purpose is to limit the potential for subsequent acts of harassment in the interest of safety. Some of these measures include:
- Establishing a “no-contact” or “restricted proximity” type of order
- Making modifications to existing campus residential agreements or aspects of campus employment
- Assisting with and accessing resources for emotional well-being
- Imposing temporary suspensions
The college may consider various ways of investigating allegations. Interviews may be conducted with the parties and potential witnesses. When necessary, the Administrator may seek assistance from experts. Parties and witnesses may be permitted to remotely engage in a hearing via secure technology at the discretion of the Hearing Board.
Potential Voluntary Resolutions
If a Complainant and a Respondent both agree, the matter may be voluntarily resolved. Often these resolutions are the result of a form of mediation. Voluntary resolutions are considered inappropriate for complaints involving sexual violence. Statements made while trying to reach a voluntary resolution may not be used in subsequent hearings.
Hearing Board Members
Title IX matters are heard before a panel of three individuals chosen and trained according to the policy. Claims are evaluated using a preponderance of the evidence standard. The Dean of Students may either serve as a “Chair” or designate someone for this non-voting role. Hearing board members may not include students, faculty members or others employed by Amherst College.
Presenting Witnesses at a Hearing
The parties must submit a summary of witnesses they wish to call 72 hours before a hearing. A written summary must be included for any witnesses that were not previously interviewed during the investigation. This statement must contain an overview of how the witness may present relevant information. Character witnesses are not permitted.
Submission of Impact Statement
An Impact Statement is a document that is submitted before a hearing that is used exclusively when determining the sanctions that will be imposed on a Respondent. Only information deemed as relevant will be considered.
Benefits of Retaining a Student Rights Attorney
Students who are alleged to have committed acts of sexual misconduct should promptly seek assistance from an advisor or an attorney well-versed in this area of practice. Timing is critical to ensure that your attorney will have sufficient time to prepare you to deliver concise statements and responses to questions.
Your attorney will closely scrutinize the evidence and may detect weaknesses or inconsistencies. He or she may also consider opportunities to engage in negotiations on your behalf.
Title IX Attorney Representing Students at Amherst College
College and university students facing allegations of misconduct related to Title IX should promptly seek support from a lawyer familiar with this unique area of practice. Contact the Lento Law Firm office today at (888) 535-3686 to discuss your Title IX case at Amherst College.