Dean of Student Affairs

Student Handbook

Contact Us

For further information, contact:

The Dean of Student Affairs Office
Bard College
PO Box 5000
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504

Phone: 845-758-7454

Sexual Assault

Please be aware that this policy is currently under review & revision to reflect changes and requirements being put forward by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice Violence Against Women Campus SaVE Act.

If you are assaulted:

1. Call someone—either a friend, the BRAVE counselor or program director, the Dean of Student Affairs Office, the Counseling Center, Health Services, Safety and Security, or the police.

2. Seek immediate medical attention to check any injuries and to discuss concerns about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Do not shower or bathe. Go to an emergency room, a local doctor, or Health Services.

3. If the assault occurred within the last 72 hours, collect evidence for possible prosecution. If you have questions regarding evidence collection, call BRAVE and a member will guide you through the process. Evidence collection can be done at an area hospital. In New York State, hospitals are required to obtain consent to collect (or not collect) evidence. In order to allow time to decide whether or not to involve the police, the hospital must hold the collected evidence for 30 days. Police notification is by choice. Do not shower, bathe, or douche prior to going to the emergency room for evidence collection. If you have washed or douched, let the doctor know. Clothing, including shoes, worn at the time of the assault will be kept as part of the evidence collection. These will be returned if no charges are pressed or at the conclusion of any legal proceeding. Bring a change of clothing to the hospital or place each piece of evidence clothing in a separate paper bag and bring them to the hospital. Specially trained medical personnel, called the SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) team, are available to conduct examinations 24 hours a day. When you arrive at the emergency room, request that a member of the SAFE team be contacted. BRAVE members may accompany the survivor to the hospital if the survivor requests.

4. If you are unable to attend classes due to harassment or assault, or if you share a class with the alleged perpetrator, see a member of the Dean of Student Affairs Office staff to make alternate arrangements, such as completing work outside the classroom.

It is important the survivor understands all options available. Depending on the training of the staff or faculty member to whom the victim discloses will influence how much information regarding options is provided; however, every effort will be made to ensure all services will be explained and offered. Survivors should not be encouraged or persuaded to do anything (or not do anything) after they are given their options.

If a friend is sexually assaulted, listen; be supportive and nonjudgmental; emphasize that the assault was not the survivor’s fault, regardless of the circumstance. To help the survivor regain feelings of control, let the survivor decide what actions to take, but offer options such as seeking medical care, calling Security or the police, and contacting BRAVE, the Dean of Student Affairs Office, or the Counseling Center. Be aware that sexual assault often has an impact on people close to the survivor. Survivors of rape and other forms of sexual assault experience many different feelings over an extended period of time, including embarrassment, fear, anger, shock, denial, confusion, and self-blame. If you are worried about a friend, confidential support services are available.

Sexual Assault Policy
Survivors of sexual assault, should refer to the Sexual Assault section regarding services available.

Bard College expects that sexual activity among members of the college community and its guests, both on and off campus, will involve only consenting, mutually interested individuals. Absent of consent, sexual activity that is exploitative, coercive, and/or violent constitutes harassment, sexual abuse, or rape. Any behavior on the part of a member of the college community, its guests or its visitors that constitutes a sexual offense is in violation of college regulations and will not be tolerated.

Definition of Terms: The following definitions are applicable to the College Regulations governing sexual offenses. Except where noted, definitions parallel, but should not be construed as exactly duplicating, the definitions used in New York State law.

1.       “Sexual contact” means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of any involved party. It includes the touching of an actor by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by an actor, whether directly or through clothing.

2.       “Sexual intercourse*” means any sexual contact between the penis and vagina, penis and the anus, the mouth and penis or the mouth and the vulva.

3.       “Mentally disabled**” means that a person suffers from a mental disease or disability that renders him or her persistently incapable of appraising the nature of his or her conduct.

4.       “Mentally incapacitated” means that a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his or her conduct due to the influence of a narcotic or intoxicating substance, or due to any act committed upon him or her without consent.

5.       “Physically helpless” means that a person is unconscious or is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act for any reason.

6.       “Forcible compulsion” means compulsion by the threat or the use of physical force, either expressed or implied, which places a person in fear of immediate death, physical injury to himself, herself or another person, places a person in fear that he, she or another person will immediately be kidnapped or places a person in fear of personal, emotional, social, economic or academic harm.

7.       “Retaliation” consists of any kind of reprisal, or adverse or negative action, taken against an individual because he or she has (1) complained about alleged discrimination or harassment as defined above, (2) participated as a party or witness in an investigation relating to such allegations, or (3) participated as a party or witness in a court proceeding or administrative investigation regarding such allegations. An individual is considered to have engaged in retaliation even when the complaint issued is ultimately found to lack merit, as long as the complaint was made in good faith.

*This definition combines those of “sexual intercourse” and “sodomy” in NYS law
**NYS law: “Mentally Defective”

Lack of consent. Whether or not specifically stated, it is an element of every sexual offense covered here that the sexual act was committed without consent of the victim. Lack of consent results from: forcible compulsion, incapacity to consent, or any circumstances in which the victim does not expressly or by implication acquiesce in the actor’s conduct. A person is deemed incapable of consent when according to the definitions above s/he is: less than seventeen years old, mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

Introduction to Offense. The following three sections constitute the Sexual Offenses that may be charged and adjudicated under the College Regulations.

Sexual Abuse occurs when one person has sexual contact with another person without the latter’s consent. The severity of offense is elevated by the use of forcible compulsion or when the latter person is unable to consent due to physical helplessness. The minimum sanction for any student found responsible for sexual abuse will be immediate suspension for the remainder of the current semester. More serious sanctions may include, but are not limited to immediate expulsion from the college.

Aggravated Sexual Abuse occurs when a person inserts a finger or foreign object in the vagina, urethra, penis or rectum of another person by forcible compulsion, or when the latter person is incapable of consent by reason of physical helplessness, or when the latter person is under the age of consent. The severity of offense is elevated when the insertion causes physical injury to the latter person. Any charge of Aggravated Sexual Abuse requires a concurrent charge of Sexual Abuse. The minimum sanction for Aggravated Sexual Abuse will be suspension for the remainder of the current semester and the entirety of the following semester. More serious sanctions may include, but are not limited to, immediate expulsion from the college.

Rape occurs when a person has sexual intercourse with another person without the latter’s consent. The severity of the offense is elevated by the use of forcible compulsion or when the latter person is unable to consent by reason of physical helplessness. Any charge of Rape requires concurrent charges of Sexual Abuse and Aggravated Sexual Abuse. The minimum sanction for Rape is immediate suspension for the remainder of the current semester and the entirety of the following semester. More serious sanctions may include, but are not limited to, immediate expulsion from the college. It is important to note that actions leading to a charge of Rape under the College Regulations may lead either to a charge of Rape (NYS 130.25/.30/.35) or to a charge of Sodomy (NYS 130.40/.45/.50) under New York State penal code depending on the circumstance of the offices.

Procedures for Formal Investigation and Resolution of Sexual Assaults

Complaint Process: When a student, or any other member of the College community, believes that he or she has been discriminated against, harassed, sexually harassed, retaliated against or been the victim of a sexual offense by a member of the community (including faculty, staff and students), the complainant should notify the Dean of Student Affairs Office (in the case of students) or Human Resources (in cases involving faculty/staff). All members of the College community have an obligation to make sure that complaints about discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, or retaliation are directed to the appropriate administrative office for investigation and evaluation.

Complaints should be filed as soon as possible after the date of the alleged misconduct. Complains should be made in writing.  Accommodations can be made in circumstances where this is not possible. The accused or actor will be notified of the substance of the complaint and the identity of the individual submitting the complaint.

Complaints about Students: Upon receipt of complaint against a student, the student submitting the complaint will meet with the Dean of Campus Life or another member of the Dean of Student Affairs staff. The Dean of Campus Life will initiate a preliminary investigation and will meet with both the student initiating the investigation and the accused. The complainant and the accused will not be required to meet together with the dean. In appropriate circumstances, the Dean of Campus Life may, in consultation with the Vice President for Administration, employ the services of the ombuds office, who will conduct a thorough investigation. The Dean of Campus Life organizes logistical components of the investigation and acts as a resource to answer questions regarding the investigation process. The Ombudsperson will meet separately, but in person with both the individual initiating the complaint and the accused. Follow up meetings may take place either in person or over the phone to clarify information received. During the investigation designated staff members will serve as personal support through the investigation process for all students involved in the investigation. At the end of the investigation by the Ombudsperson, a report is generated that (a) reviews the facts of the case, (b) determines whether the ombudsperson believes a disciplinary violation has occurred, and (c) recommends sanction for any such violation. This report is shared directly with the President of the College. Designated members of the Dean of Student Affairs Office will meet individually with the accused and accuser to discuss the results of the investigation, and implement any application sanction as recommended; sanctions vary and are determined by the severity of the violation. As in all cases appeals for administrative decisions may be directed to the Student Judiciary Board; however, in cases of ombuds investigations, appeals will go directly to the president. If the accuser is not satisfied with the decision, there is no further option for appeal, beyond a meeting with the president. However, students do have the right to pursue any such cases through the legal system.

Complaints about Faculty or Staff: Complaints of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or retaliation by a faculty or staff member shall be investigated according to the Bard College Employee Handbook found on the Human Resources website

Confidentiality:  The College has an independent obligation to investigate potential misconduct, even if a complainant does not want to initiate an official process. Therefore, absolute confidentiality cannot be promised with respect to a complaint of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct or retaliation. The College wishes, however, to create an environment in which legitimate complaints are encouraged, while also protecting the privacy of all involved in an investigation. Complaints about violations of these policies will therefore be handled in strict confidence, with facts made available only to those who need to know in order for the College to promptly and thoroughly investigate and resolve the matter.

Academic Freedom: Bard College is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression. The College’s policy against discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct or retaliation is not intended to stile this freedom, nor will it be permitted to do so. Prohibited discrimination, harassment, or retaliations, however, are neither legally protected expression nor the proper exercise of academic freedom, and such conduct is incompatible with the values of this College. To ensure that academic freedom considerations are properly considered in any investigation and resolution of a complaint, the Office of the Dean of the College will be consulted and appoint a designee to be added to any investigative body for any complaint that appears to raise questions about academic freedom or appropriate pedagogy.

External Remedies: Members of the Bard College community are always subject to local, state, and federal laws, and nothing in these procedures is intended to limit or postpone the right of an individual to file a complaint or charge with appropriate federal, state or local departments or agencies. An individual is not required to ensue the complaint resolution procedure before pursuing other remedies, and should not be discouraged from or punished for pursuing whatever remedy they choose.