Samford University strives to foster an educational environment that support students’ development of Christian character, scholarly achievement and sense of personal responsibility. To fulfill this purpose, and to protect and promote the health and welfare of its faculty, staff and students, Samford University is committed to ending all types of discrimination that could occur on campus. Students who attend the university are expected to uphold the basic principles that underlie the rights and responsibilities of the university community.
Title IX Policy
Reporting an incident of sexual misconduct is a difficult decision. It is important to understand that filing a report of sexual misconduct can be a beginning to the healing process. Reporting or pressing charges can prevent an offender from harming another person.
If a sexual assault occurs off campus, attempt to determine in which police jurisdiction the offense occurred and notify that department or call 911 for local police assistance. If the sexual assault occurs on campus, call 911 or 205-726-2020 to contact the Public Safety department. Although an assault may occur off campus, the victim may report the incident to Public Safety, which will assist the victim with contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency.
In addition to reporting to a law enforcement agency, a victim of sexual misconduct is urged to report the incident to the appropriate Title IX coordinator. An allegation of sexual misconduct can be filed, as needed, by any member of the Samford community. A member of the Samford community may file a complaint of sexual misconduct against a “Samford student” under this policy. For purposes of determining the university’s jurisdiction, a “Samford student” means any student who is registered or enrolled at the university (a) at the time of the alleged sexual misconduct (including sexual misconduct that is alleged to have occurred during any academic recess, provided that there is an expectation of such student’s continued enrollment at the university), and (b) at the time that a formal complaint against such student is received by the assistant vice president for Title IX. This policy applies to any allegation of sexual misconduct against a Samford student, regardless of where the alleged violation occurred. There is no geographical limitation to invoking this policy.
In cases involving potential criminal conduct, consistent with state and local law, the university will determine whether appropriate law enforcement or other authorities should be notified.
Questions to Consider When Making a Report
While the choice to report an incident of sexual misconduct is a difficult decision, it is important to understand that filing a report of relationship violence can be the start to the restorative process. In addition, reporting or pressing charges against a perpetrator can prevent an offender from harming another person.
Individuals who are subject to an act of violence may perceive the process as being too difficult. For that reason, knowing what to expect at each step of the process may provide comfort in making the decision to file a report or not file a report.
The following are questions/answers to provide you information about the process.
Can I get in trouble if I file a report and information indicates I violated a university code of values?
The university’s amnesty policy states: “values violations committed by a complainant may be exempt from disciplinary action in situations where the reported sexual misconduct or harassment also occurred, provided that such violations did not jeopardize the health or safety of others (student handbook p. 95).
Do I have to make a report to the police or campus police?
The decision to make any report is your choice. You are not required to file a report with the police, but you may choose to file a report and instruct the police to hold the information you provided until such time that you are ready to proceed. Police departments are not required to act upon any report of sexual misconduct except in situations where a child (person under 16 years of age) is involved.
Can I file a report with the university and not the police?
A person may file a complaint with the University Title IX Coordinator. A report filed with the Title IX Coordinator will allow the complainant to have limited control over the process, unless there is a determination the act described jeopardizes the safety of another or the well-being of members of the university community.
Can I talk with someone about the incident before I decide to file a report?
Samford University has identified individuals on the campus who are confidential resources. A confidential resource is a person who is not required to respond to a report of relationship violence unless there is a threat of safety or well-being to a person or the university. University confidential resources are: the university counselors Mr. Rich Yoakum and Ms. Lyndsay Cogdill; spiritual life staff Mr. Brian Pitts and Mrs. April Robinson; and University Health employees Dr. Mark Ticola and Mrs. Leslie Canfield (may require appointment).
What to expect after you file a sexual assault or sexual misconduct report?
Once a sexual assault report is filed, the person who filed the report will have a meeting with the university’s Title IX coordinator. Based on information provided during the meeting and the report, the Title IX coordinator will decide to conduct or not to conduct an investigation into the allegation.
What are the sanctions that can be issued for a sexual assault violation?
Sanctions for sexual assault/sexual misconduct violations range from probation to university expulsion.
How to File a Report
- Incident report may be file with any public safety officer
- Call Public Safety 205-726-2020
- Chief Wayne Pittman, University Center, Room 202
Title IX Coordinator – Dr. Garry Atkins
- University Center, Room 110
- Birmingham Crisis Center
- Rape response hotline: 205-323-7273
- Crisis hotline: 205-323-7777
- National rape hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- Homewood Police Department, 1833 29th Ave. S, Homewood Alabama, Al 35209
Phone: 205-332-6294 or 911
What Happens after a Complaint Is Filed
Steps to review allegation of sexual misconduct (these steps are provided as a general guide to the review process. Steps may be modified pursuant to unforeseen circumstances)
- Presentation of an allegation by a complainant or someone familiar with an alleged sexual misconduct situation
- Review of the allegation with the complainant (the complainant may not be the person who was assaulted; complainant is the person reporting the alleged assault)
- Inquiry with the complainant about the alleged sexual misconduct
- Inquiry with the responder – the person alleged to have committed the sexual misconduct act; in this meeting responder will be provided an opportunity to understand the allegation and an opportunity to know options available to assist them
- Interview/follow-up with the complainant and clarification of information provided by the responder – this meeting will seek to gain clarification of any discrepancies presented and provide the complainant an opportunity to review the original complaint
- Interview/follow-up with the responder – this meeting will be designed to seek specifics
- Title IX Coordinator or designate will review information and begin inquiry/investigation of the alleged incident
- Summary report – this report will provide an understanding of the allegations and responses from the complainant and the responder. Each individual will have an opportunity to review their information
- Presentation of the summary report to the Sexual Assault Review Team. At the conclusion of this review, the team may ask the Title IX Coordinator to obtain additional information before preceding to a campus hearing
- Campus Hearing to review the allegation – Hearing will be conducted by the Sexual Assault Review Team – the team is made up of faculty and staff. The hearing will include the presentation of information by the Title IX Coordinator, complainant, responder and any witnesses.
- Hearing outcome – determination of responsibility will be based on the preponderance of information presented standard. This standard indicates that based on the information presented, there is greater than 50 percent chance the information presented “indicate” responsibility or information does “not indicate” responsibility
- Possible sanctions that may be imposed if a person is determined to be responsible for a sexual misconduct act range from probation to expulsion from the university
The complete process is outlined in the university online Student Handbook.
What is Consent?
Consent means words or actions that show an active, knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be gained by force, by coercion, by ignoring or acting in spite of objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the actor knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation. Intoxication is not an excuse for failure to obtain consent. Consent is also lacking when the activity in question exceeds the scope of consent previously given.
Who are individuals who cannot consent to engage in sexual activity?
- In Alabama individuals younger than 16 years of age
- An individual who is too intoxicated to give consent or one who is under the influence of other mind altering drugs or substances
- A person whose mental capacity limits their understanding of sexual activity
- For one form of sexual activity does not mean consent for another type of sexual behavior
- Must be ongoing with an active, willing partner
- Must be obtained at the approximate time the sexual activity begins
- Can be withdrawn at any time
- Cannot be obtained by any of the following: coercion, threat, implied threat, force, violence, trickery, intimidation, guilt, agreement with another other than the sexual partner, intoxication, repeated requests, or coercion
- Must be obtained by the person who desires sexual activity
What you should do if you believe you have been violated?
- Immediately after an assault, get to a safe location. You should call a trusted friend or family member and seek medical attention immediately. While you do not have to report a violation immediately, you should consider calling the police to make a report of the assault.
- Talk with a professional counselor; trauma from an assault can be life threatening and it is important to speak with another who is capable to assist and support you as you deal with emotions which may follow the assault.
- Contact the University Title IX Coordinator to know your rights and options.
Intimate Relationship Violence
Violence or the threat of violence between those in sexual and/or comparably personal and private relationships. Violence may be sexual in nature (such as sexual assault), or it may be physical violence such as making death threats, punching, kicking, or using a weapon. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship. Example of such violence includes, but is not limited to:
- Dating violence: violence, including sexual or physical violence or the threat of such violence, committed by a person who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the reporter.
- Domestic violence: a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed:
- By a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the reporter
- By a person with whom the reporter shares a child in common
- By a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the reported as a spouse or intimate partner
- By a person similarly situated to a spouse of the reporter under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction in which the crime of violence occurred
The touching of the intimate body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age, and/or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
A hostile environment exists when sex-based harassment is sufficiently serious to deny or limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s programs or activities. A hostile environment can be created by anyone involved in a university program or activity (e.g. administrators, faculty members, students, and campus visitors).
The physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments. States of incapacitation include, without limitation, sleep, blackouts and flashbacks. Where an intoxicant is involved, incapacitation is a state of intemperance where the intoxicant consumed impairs a person’s decision making, awareness of consequences and ability to make fully informed judgements. Incapacitation may be due to a person’s mental ability or age. In the state of Alabama, a person under the age of 16 cannot agree to engage in sexual behavior.
Non-forcible sexual relationship between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
An action taken by an accused individual or an action taken by a third party against any person because that person has opposed any practices forbidden under the university Title IX policy, or because that person has filed a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation or proceeding under this policy. Action is generally deemed retaliatory if it would deter a reasonable person, in the same circumstances, from opposing practices prohibited by the Title IX policy.
Sexual assault is defined as physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to a victim’s:
- Incapacitation due to use of drugs or alcohol
- Inability to give consent due to intellectual or other disability
- Being a minor under the age of consent; Alabama age of consent is 16 years of age
Sexual coercion is defined as the act of using unreasonable pressure to gain consent for sexual activity; using alcohol and/or drugs to lower another's inhibitions; or the use of force to have sexual contact with someone against their will, or the use of a threat to make another agree with sexual activity.
The deliberate touching of a person’s intimate body parts, or using force or coercion to cause a person to touch his or her own or another person’s intimate body parts.
Sexual exploitation means taking sexual advantage of another person without consent and includes, without limitation, causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person; secretly electronically recording, photographing or transmitting intimate sounds or images of another; and/or allowing third parties to observe sexual acts without the consent of the parties engaged in the sexual acts.
Conduct, including physical contact, advances and comments in person and/or via phone, text message, email or other electronic medium that is (1) unwelcome, (2) based on sex or gender stereotypes, and (3) is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with a person’s academic performance or equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from university programs, activities, or services.
Non-forcible sexual relationship with a person who is under the statutory age of consent. In the state of Alabama, a person under the age of 16 cannot consent to sexual activity and any single person under the age of 18 is considered as a minor.
Any repeated behavior that reasonably and/or seriously alarms, torments, or terrorizes another person to be fearful or harm or danger to themselves or others close to them. Examples include spying on a person; waiting or showing up at locations; following or pursuing another person; vandalism, gathering of information about a person from others; nonconsensual communication and/or physical contact.
University Amnesty Policy
Samford’s goal is to encourage the reporting of sexual assault incidents so that those affected can receive the support and resources needed. Therefore, values violations by a complainant may be exempt from disciplinary action in a situation where the reported sexual misconduct or harassment also occurred, provided that such violation did not jeopardize the health or safety of others.