Interim Sexual Assault Policy
Interim Sexual Assault Complaint Procedure
Sexual assault is a non-consensual sexual act involving force, manipulation, or coercion; it is an act of aggression, violence and power. The perpetrator can be a stranger, relative, acquaintance, or date. The University of Houston is committed to providing a working and learning environment free from sexual assault. A sexual assault is an illegal criminal act which can devastate victims physically, violate their sense of safety and trust, and interfere with personal and educational goals; as such, it can damage the educational atmosphere for the entire university community. Sexual assault is a serious and flagrant violation of the university rules of conduct for faculty, staff and students and will not be tolerated. The University will vigorously investigate all allegations of sexual assault; it will treat victims with respect, make their legal rights and options clear, and fully cooperate with them in their exercising of those rights. The University will continue to sponsor programs to educate faculty, staff, and students about sexual assault: myths, prevention, treatment services, legal remedies, date rape, and other forms of sexual misconduct. Procedures protecting the rights of sexual assault victims and those accused of sexual assault have been established, are readily available, and will be enforced rigorously.
A stranger or acquaintance commits sexual assault through forcible sodomy, forcible sexual penetration, however slight, of another person's mouth, anal or genital opening with any object. These acts must be committed without the victim's consent either by force, threat of force or violence, intimidation or through the use of the victim's mental or physical helplessness of which the accused was aware or should have been aware. Sexual assault also includes the touching of an unwilling person's intimate parts (defined as genitalia, groin, breast or breasts, or buttocks or clothing covering them) or forcing an unwilling person to touch another's intimate parts. These acts must be committed either by force, threat, intimidation or through the use of the victim's mental or physical helplessness of which the accused was aware or should have been aware.
Rape is a form of sexual assault involving sexual intercourse without the victim's consent. It includes being coerced through force or threats of force, or having sexual intercourse with someone who is unconscious or incapable of giving consent.
Comments and Statutory References
Sexual assault is non-consensual acts involving psychological manipulation, physical force, or coercion. It is an act of aggression and violence, and a crime punishable under the laws of the State of Texas by fines and incarceration up to 20 years of confinement. The UH definition of sexual assault captures the essence of the Texas criminal definition, found in Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code.
The perpetrator can be a stranger, relative, acquaintance, or a date. Sexual assault is not limited to non-consensual sexual intercourse, but involves touching of various body parts without consent. Under the definition sexual assault has occurred if there is not consent. Accompanying another to a dorm or bedroom is not affirmative consent, nor is voluntary hugging or kissing affirmative consent to sexual intercourse. Voluntary undressing could indicate consent, but even such consent does not deprive the person of the right to change his or her mind and halt the activity; failure to acquiesce to the expressed desire to stop would constitute a sexual assault.
Sexual misconduct without physical contacts as defined above is not deemed sexual assault but may violate university regulations and state criminal laws. Similarly, sexual misconduct which is lewd, exhibitionistic, voyeuristic, or similar such conduct which does not involve physical contact may violate university student life policies or state and university prohibitions against sexual harassment.
If you are Sexually Assaulted
• GET TO A SAFE PLACE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
• TRY TO PRESERVE ALL PHYSICAL EVIDENCE.
• SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION as soon as possible through the Student Health Center 713-743-5151. It is important to seek immediate and follow-up medical attention for several reasons:
a. to assess and treat any physical injuries you may have sustained;
b. to determine the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, Hepatitis B or pregnancy and to take appropriate medical measures; and
c. to gather evidence which would aid criminal prosecution. Physical evidence should be collected immediately, ideally within the first 24 hours. It may be collected later than this, but the quality and quantity of evidence may be diminished.
• SEEK COUNSELING by calling Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 713-743-5454, the Women's Resource Center at 832-842-6191, the Rape Crisis Center at 713-528-RAPE, 528-7373 or the Houston Area Women's Center at 713-528-6798. Whenever Counseling and Psychological Services is closed, an on-call clinician can be reached through the university police dispatcher at 713-743-3333. The clinician will help explain your options, give information, and provide emotional support.
• CONTACT THE OFFICE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION/EEO at 713-743-8835. This office has staff specially trained in how to advise victims of sexual misconduct.
• CONTACT SOMEONE YOU TRUST to be with you for support.
Counseling and Emotional Support
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has clinicians available during working hours. Call 713-743-5454. Whenever CAPS is closed, an on-call clinician can be reached through the university police dispatcher at 713-743-3333. Sexual assault can have a significant psychological and emotional impact on a survivor. (note: last sentence deleted; redundant)
Campus Academic and Residential Accommodations
Due to the trauma associated with sexual assault the student victims may need to cease or alter campus employment, withdraw from courses, change their on-campus living arrangements, and/or leave college altogether. Such changes may require exceptions to university academic and financial policies. Staff and faculty who are victims may have the same need for a leave of absence or changes in their work environment. To enhance the feeling of safety for victims, the University will try to accommodate all reasonable requests. Requests of this nature should be directed to the Office of Affirmative Action/EEO at 713-743-8835 which will assist the victims ensuring approval from the appropriate university official. Student victims may also contact the Dean of Students Office at 713-743-5470.
If you are Accused of Sexual Assault Consider the Following Options
• CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. Accusations of sexual assault can invoke criminal and administrative processes which can lead to criminal confinement, fine and administrative sanctions including expulsion from college. Thus, a person accused of sexual assault should contact his or her attorney. If the accused has no attorney, referrals can be received from the UH Law Center clinic at 713-743-2094 or the Houston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at 713-237-9429.
• DO NOT TALK TO UNIVERSITY STAFF ABOUT THE FACTS SURROUNDING THE ALLEGATIONS until you have fully considered the fact that those staff persons can all be forced to testify as to what you said should there be a criminal prosecution.
• DO LEARN ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY PROCEDURES for handling allegations of sexual assault on campus through campus disciplinary procedures. This information can be acquired from several offices, in particular, the Office of Affirmative Action/EEO at 713-743-8835.
Sexual Assault Complaint Procedures
The University of Houston provides procedures by which victims may file a complaint and seek administrative sanctions against an accused perpetrator. These procedures apply where the accused is a UH student, faculty or staff member.
Sexual assault complaints directed to the Office of Affirmative Action/EEO (OAA/EEO) will be addressed utilizing the sexual harassment procedures. The sexual harassment procedures are outlined below. Allegations of student-to-student sexual assault should be directed to the Dean of Students Office. Student-to-student sexual assault complaints will be adjudicated via the Student Disciplinary Policies and Procedures outlined on page 65. The Dean of Students Office will inform and consult with the OAA/EEO regarding student-to-student sexual assault complaints. Sexual assault complaints may defer, if necessary, to any criminal investigations.
Prevention, Educational and Awareness Programs
Date rape prevention video and workshops
Counseling and Psychological Services 713-743-5454
Substance Abuse workshops and material,
peer education and volunteer programs UH Wellness 713-743-5430 or 713-743-5430
Choices and decisions in social health
Dean of Students Orientation 713-743-5470
Safety education and brochures
UH Police Department 713-743-0610
Campus escort service
UH Police Department 713-743-0600
Risk management workshops
Campus activities and Greek organizations 713-743-5180
Campus security update (monthly)
Office of University Communication 713-743-8198
Literature and information
UH Health Center 713-743-5151
Sexual harassment awareness and prevention workshops, literature and information
Office of Affirmative Action EEO 713-743-8835
Workshops, tapes and literature
Houston Area Women's Center 713-528-6798
Sexual Harassment Policy
The President of the University of Houston has authorized an interim sexual harassment policy and procedures subject to change based on review by the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, the Student Government Association and other appropriate officials. The policy is summarized as follows:
The University of Houston is committed to providing a professional working and learning environment free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is illegal. Sexual harassment on a university campus most often exploits a relationship between individuals of unequal power and authority (as, for example, between an employee and supervisor or between a student and teacher), but may also occur between student peers or employees of equal rank. At a university, sexual harassment also constitutes unprofessional conduct which compromises the University's commitment to the integrity of the learning process.
As such, the University of Houston will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment. Failure to investigate allegations of sexual harassment or failure to take timely corrective action is considered a violation of the University's sexual harassment policy and may also violate federal and state laws.
Sexual harassment consists of the following:
1. unwelcome sexual advances,
2. requests for sexual favors,
3. verbal and written comments of a sexual nature, and/or
4. physical conduct of a sexual nature;
when such conduct:
a. Is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of instruction, employment, or participation in a university activity;
b. Is used to be a basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions affecting an individual; or
c. Has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive university environment; or has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's employment or learning.
In relation to the foregoing statements, sexually harassing behavior may include, but is not limited to, the following:
1. unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances, propositions, or leering; favoritism based on a sexual relationship (or adverse impact on other members of a group);
2. verbal remarks of a sexual nature whether directed to an individual or a group, or in the guise of humor, including sexually explicit derogatory remarks, suggestive comments, demands, or jokes found to be offensive or objectionable to the recipient;
3. use of sexually oriented photos, posters, cartoons, materials, or themes unrelated to instruction and/or the pursuit of knowledge;
4. graphic or degrading verbal, written, or electronic comments of a sexual nature about an individual or the individual's appearance;
5. any suggestive or unwelcome physical contact; any aggressiveness such as touching, pinching, or patting; or
6. actual or threatened physical assault.
Sexual harassment, it must be understood, is not limited by gender of either party, nor by superior-subordinate relationships. The fact that the parties may have had a previous consensual sexual relationship is not a defense against a complaint based on subsequent unwelcome sexually harassing behavior.
The University of Houston's Sexual Harassment Policy does not proscribe all conduct of a sexual nature on the campus; thus, it is important to clearly define sexual harassment: only unwelcome sexual conduct constitutes a violation. Conduct is unwelcome if the recipient did not solicit or incite it and regarded the conduct as undesirable or offensive. In other words, it is not the intent behind the sexual behavior that controls rather, it is the impact on the recipient, i.e., the unwelcomeness of the behavior that matters.
Reporting Sexual Harassment
If a student believes that he/she or someone else is a victim of sexual harassment, that student should inform an academic office and/or the Office of Affirmative Action/EEO immediately. The Office of Affirmative Action/EEO is located in Student Service Building II, Suite 154, 713-743-8835.
The University is prepared to take preventive and corrective action in cases of sexual harassment; individuals who engage in such misconduct and/or retaliation are subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, removal of tenure and/or expulsion from the University.
Responsibility of University Employees
University policy commits the institution to preventing and eliminating sexual harassment in the university community. University supervisors, administrators, and faculty have the responsibility of preventing and eliminating sexual harassment within the areas they oversee. In addition, the University may be legally liable if a person with supervisory responsibility knows or should have known about the alleged sexual harassment and fails to take any action to stop it. University procedures do not require a grievant to file a formal complaint in order to trigger the University's responsibility to take some kind of action.
University supervisors, administrators, and faculty must report immediately any and all incidents or complaints of sexual harassment to an administrative officer or to the Office of Affirmative Action/EEO, even if such complaints or incidents have been resolved within the department.
University employees are encouraged to report immediately any and all incidents of sexual harassment to an administrative officer or to the Office of Affirmative Action/EEO.
Harassment on the basis of sex may be discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e, and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681. In addition, sexual harassment by a public servant may be a criminal offense under Texas Penal Code Sec. 39.02, and sexual harassment by any individual may constitute assault, sexual assault, public lewdness, or indecent exposure under Chapters 21 and 22 of the Texas Penal Code or sexual assault under the University of Houston's Interim Sexual Assault Policy. For the complete Sexual Harassment Policy, please visit the Office of Affirmative Action/EEO's website at www.uh.edu/ogc/oaa/aaeeo-policies.html or call 713-743-8835.
Additional avenues for filing a complaint at any time before, during, or after use of the University Sexual Harassment Procedures, but within time limits required by law, include but are not limited to, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and, for students, the Office of Civil Rights, and the U.S. Department of Education.