Statement of Non-Discrimination:
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination based on gender in educational programs which receive federal financial assistance. Programs and activities which may be included are: admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, athletics, housing, and employment. Title IX also protects male and female students from unlawful sexual harassment in college programs and activities.
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance"
Northampton Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, religion, national origin, veteran status, disability, genetic information or any other basis of prohibited discrimination in its programs and activities. This policy extends to employment, programs and admission to the College.
Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) and disability (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
Complaint Resolution Process
The College will respond to every alleged violation of this policy received by the Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinators. This section outlines ways in which offenses can be reported by individuals choosing to pursue complaint options.
A) Confidentiality and Reporting of Offenses
Northampton Community College will make every effort to safeguard the identities of individuals who seek help and/or report discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. While steps are taken to protect the privacy of victims, the College may need to investigate an incident and take action once an allegation is known, whether or not the reporting individual chooses to pursue a complaint.
When a report is made, personally identifiable information (name of victim, name of respondent, etc.) may be initially withheld in cases where the victim is hesitant to come forward. Subsequently, campus officials may need additional information. The College Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinator will conduct an initial inquiry, looking for any sign of pattern, predation, violence, or threat. When such exists, institutional action may be required in an effort to ensure campus safety. No employee should ever promise absolute confidentiality except those as described in the section on Confidential Reporting. Reports may be private, but not confidential, as described below in the section on Confidential Reporting. Reports to police and/or Title IX officials do not obligate the complainant to file any criminal or College conduct charges.
The College will not pursue disciplinary action for improper use of alcohol or other drugs against an alleged victim of sexual misconduct or against another student who shares information as either a witness to or as a reporter of sexual misconduct as long as the report is made in good faith.
Deliberately false and/or malicious accusations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, as opposed to complaints which, even if erroneous, are made in good faith, are just as serious an offense as discrimination, harassment, or retaliation and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
Complaints and reports should be made as soon as possible after an incident. If the incident is an assault seek immediate medical attention. Do not change clothing, shower, bathe, brush teeth or douche. Delay the above and going to the bathroom (if possible) until you are examined as this preserves evidence of the assault. Medical attention should be accessed at a local hospital.
- Easton Hospital: 610.250.4000
- Muhlenberg Hospital/LVH: 610.861.2200
- St. Luke's Hospital: 610.954.4000
- Stroud Area Regional Police: 570.421.4200
- Pocono Medical Center: 570.476.3351
Seek emotional support. It is important that you talk about this issue and that you tell someone you trust.
On campus you may contact:
- Counseling staff: 610.861.5342
- Health and Wellness Center staff: 610.861.5365
- Residence Life staff: 610.861.5324
Off-campus you may contact:
- Crime Victims Council/ Sexual Assault 24-hour hotline (Bethlehem): 610.437.6611
- Women's Resources Hotline (Monroe): 570.421.4200
- North Penn Legal Services: 610.317.5317
Options for filing a report include:
- Anonymous and Third Party Reporting
The Title IX Officer and Deputy Coordinators accept anonymous and third-party reports of conduct alleged to violate this policy and will follow up on such reports. The individual making the report is encouraged to provide as much detailed information as possible to allow the Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinators to investigate and respond as appropriate. The College may be limited in its ability to investigate an anonymous or third party report unless sufficient information is provided. (See See it. Report It)
- Confidential Reporting
If a reporting party would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, the reporting party may speak with counselors, health service providers, victim services advocates, domestic violence resources, local or state assistance agencies, or members of the clergy who are permitted by law to maintain confidentiality (except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or abuse of a minor). These sources will submit anonymous statistical information for timely warning and Clery Act purposes. If a reporting party is unsure of a resource's ability to maintain confidentiality, the reporting party is advised to ask them before talking to them. NCC counselors for students and/or the Employee Assistance Program for employees are available to help free of charge and can be seen on an emergency basis.
- Private Reporting
Reports to College employees who are not confidential resources listed above in the section on Confidential Reporting should be treated with the maximum possible privacy. If a reporting party is unsure of a resource's ability to maintain privacy, the reporting party is advised to ask them before talking to them. The resource will be able to explain the resource's reporting obligations and help a reporting party make decisions about who is in the best position to help. If personally identifiable information is shared, it will be shared with as few people as possible under the circumstances and efforts will be made to protect privacy to the greatest extent reasonably possible.
- Formal Reporting
Complainants are encouraged to speak to College officials, such as the Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinators or NCC Security, to make formal reports. Complainants have the right, and can expect, to have complaints taken seriously by the College when formally reported and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through these procedures. Formal reporting still affords privacy to the reporter and only a small group of officials who need to know will be told. Information will be shared as necessary with investigator(s), witnesses, and the respondent. The number of people with this knowledge will be kept as few as reasonably possible to preserve a complainant's rights and privacy.
- Criminal Reporting
If someone is in immediate danger or is a victim of a crime, call 9-1-1. Some acts of discrimination and harassment may also be crimes, such as sexual assault or stalking. Allegations of criminal conduct should be reported to law enforcement even when it is not clear whether the conduct rises to the level of a crime. Regardless, law enforcement can assist with obtaining medical care, getting immediate law enforcement response and protection, connecting with victim advocate services and counseling support, initiating a criminal investigation as appropriate and answering questions about the criminal process.
B) Informal Resolution Process
Informal resolution is an alternative to the formal complaint resolution process. The Title IX Officer will determine if informal resolution is appropriate, based on the willingness of the parties and the nature of the alleged conduct. Sanctions are generally not pursued as the result of an informal resolution process, though the parties may agree to appropriate remedies. The Title IX Officer will keep records of any resolution that is reached. The College reserves the right to cancel informal resolution if sufficient evidence suggests a formal investigation or other sanctions or remedies may be necessary and appropriate.
It is not necessary to pursue informal resolution first in order to make a formal complaint, and anyone participating in informal resolution can stop that process at any time and request to continue through the formal process.
Except in cases involving criminal activity and/or sexual assault, an employee or student alleging discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation against an employee under this policy is encouraged to consider an informal resolution. If it is appropriate, an attempt to facilitate an informal resolution of the matter will be made. In the event that an informal resolution is not reached, is not appropriate, or is not pursued, the student or employee who is alleging the discrimination, harassment, or retaliation may initiate a formal investigation.
C) Formal Resolution Process
- Filing a Complaint
Any individual who believes that this policy has been violated should contact the Title IX Officer or any Title IX Deputy Coordinator.
- Complaint Intake
Following receipt of notice or a complaint, the Title IX Officer or Deputy Coordinator will normally, within five college days, make an initial determination as to whether the information has merit to reasonably indicate there may have been a violation of College policy. If it appears a violation may have occurred, an investigation will begin. If the complaint does not appear to allege a policy violation or if conflict resolution is desired by the complainant and appears appropriate given the nature of the alleged behavior, then the complaint does not proceed to investigation. An investigation will be pursued if there is sufficient information to suggest a policy violation may exist, a pattern of misconduct, and/or a perceived threat of further harm to the community or any of its members.
- Interim Action
The College will implement interim and/or protective actions upon notice of alleged discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation and will take additional prompt remedial and/or disciplinary action with respect to any member of the community, guest, or visitor who has violated this policy.
Interim actions include but are not limited to: no contact orders, no trespass notices, providing counseling and/or medical services, academic support, living arrangement adjustments, providing a campus escort, academic or work schedule and assignment accommodations, safety planning, and referral to campus and community resources.
The College may suspend, on an interim basis, a student or student organization or place an employee on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation and procedures. In cases in which an interim suspension or administrative leave is imposed, the student, employee, or student organization will be given the opportunity to meet with an appropriate administrator prior to such action being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the action should not be implemented. Violation of interim provisions will be grounds for disciplinary action.
During an interim suspension or administrative leave, a student or employee may be denied access to College housing and/or the College campus, facilities, or events, either entirely or with specific application. As determined by the appropriate administrative officer, this restriction includes classes and/or all other College activities or privileges for which the individual might otherwise be eligible. At the discretion of the appropriate administrative officer, alternative coursework options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an impact as possible on the respondent student. At the discretion of the appropriate administrative officer, alternative employment/work options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an impact as possible on the respondent employee.
- Complaint Intake
- Notice of Charges
Once an investigator has been assigned, written notice of the allegations will be provided to the parties involved. If the respondent is an employee, the written notice will be copied to the employee's department head/director, dean, vice president, and president.
If a complainant wishes to pursue a formal complaint or if the College determines an investigation is necessary, the Title IX Officer will assign an investigator, usually within five college days of determining that a complaint should proceed. Investigations will be thorough and impartial and will entail interviews with relevant parties and witnesses, and obtaining available evidence. The College aims to complete investigations within 60 days, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX Officer with notice to the parties. Investigation may take longer when initial complaints fail to provide direct first-hand information. The College may undertake a short delay (usually 3-10 days, to allow evidence collection) when criminal charges are being investigated. College action will continue regardless of the status of civil or criminal charges involving the same incident.
- Student Withdrawal While Charges Pending
Should a responding student decide to withdraw from the College and/or not participate in the investigation and/or hearing, the process will nonetheless proceed in the student's absence to a reasonable resolution and that student will not be permitted to return to the College unless any and all sanctions have been satisfied. The Title IX Officer will continue to act to promptly and effectively remedy the effects of the conduct upon the victim and the community.
- Student Withdrawal While Charges Pending
- Investigation Findings For Students
Upon receipt of the investigative report, the Title IX Officer will forward it to the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services or designee for an appropriate hearing per the Student Code of Conduct procedures. During a hearing:
- Both the complainant and the respondent will receive equivalent notice of the process. The complainant will have the opportunity to be present throughout the entire Hearing.
- The complainant will be entitled to the same opportunity to have others present during a Hearing as is provided to the respondent, including residence hall staff and/or a College Support Person;
- Both the complainant and the respondent will have the opportunity to present witnesses with information pertinent to the alleged sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or sexual assault, and any relevant information to the Hearing panel during the conduct process;
- The complainant will be provided options for reasonable alternative arrangements if he or she does not want to be present in the same room as the respondent during the Hearing;
- Testimony regarding any party's past sexual conduct will ordinarily not be permitted, except in those instances where there was a prior sexual relationship between the parties and the testimony may be relevant to the issue of consent. If the respondent is found responsible for the conduct alleged in the complaint, his or her past sexual misconduct, if any, may be considered in determining the appropriate outcome.
Following the hearing, the decision of whether a policy violation has occurred will be determined by using a preponderance of the evidence standard. A finding of a policy violation by a preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that the policy violation occurred. If, following the hearing, the decision is that no policy violation has occurred the process will end. Regardless of the outcome, the complainant, the respondent, and the Title IX Officer will be notified of the finding in writing.
If, following a hearing, the student is found to have violated College policy, appropriate disciplinary sanctions will be determined after consultation with the Title IX Officer. The Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs (or designee) will notify the respondent, the complainant, and the Title IX Officer in writing of the decision. This written decision must be issued within fifteen college days of the date of receipt of the investigative report from the Title IX Officer.
Sanctions will be recommended by the Title IX Officer and forwarded to the decision-making authority as noted above section on Investigation Findings. Factors considered when determining a sanction may include:
- The nature of, severity of, and circumstances surrounding the violation
- The respondent's disciplinary history
- Previously founded complaints or allegations against the respondent involving similar conduct
- Any other information deemed relevant by the Title IX Officer
- The need to bring an end to the discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation
- The need to prevent the future recurrence of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation
- The need to remedy the effects of the discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation on the victim and the community
For examples of the range of potential disciplinary sanctions against students, see the section of the Student Handbook entitled Disciplinary Actions.
Appeals of the decision of the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs (for students) or the Vice President/President (for employees) may be filed by the complainant or the respondent or both. All requests for appeal considerations must be submitted in writing to the Title IX Officer within five college days of the date of the final written notice. Appeals are limited to allegations of the following:
- A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome.
- There is new evidence, unknown or unavailable during the investigation, that could substantially impact the finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact upon the investigation must be included in the appeal.
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.
The original finding and sanction/responsive actions will stand if the appeal is not timely or is not based on the grounds listed above, and such a finding and sanction/responsive action(s) are final. When a party requests an appeal, the other party (parties) will be notified and given an opportunity to respond.
For students: In cases involving student conduct, a person designated by the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs will review the appeal request(s).
Where the designee finds that at least one of the grounds is met, and proceeds with the appeal, additional principles governing the hearing of appeals include the following:
- The original decision will only be changed when there is a compelling justification to do so.
- Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the complaint. Appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal.
- Sanctions will not be imposed pending the outcome of the appeal. Interim and/or protective actions may be imposed and/or continued as appropriate.
- The designee will render a decision within ten college days to the Title IX Officer who will normally provide written notice of the appeal to all parties within three college days from the date of the appeal review.
- All parties will be informed of whether the grounds for an appeal are accepted and the results of the appeal decision.
- Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final: further appeals are not permitted under this policy.
- Failure to Complete Sanctions
All respondents are expected to comply with conduct sanctions within the time frame specified in their written notice. Failure to follow through on conduct sanctions by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect, or any other reason, may result in additional sanctions and/or suspension, expulsion, and/or termination from the College. For students, failure to comply may result in transcript notation and/or a hold to prevent future registration.
Do you believe you have been a victim of sexual misconduct? Whether or not you reported the incident to the college, we'd like your opinion on how we can improve the effectiveness of our campus policies and procedures that address sexual misconduct. Please share your suggestions and/or feedback by making an appointment with or sending your feedback via email to one of the coordinators listed above.