Title IX Information
Hardin-Simmons University affirms that all members of our community are created in the image of God and therefore should be treated with dignity and respect. We do not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of any status or condition protected by applicable federal or state law. Further, we respect the inherent worth of each member of the community and do not tolerate conduct which fosters any form of harassment. We follow the profound truth found in the Golden Rule, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
With a Biblical foundation of human dignity and worth, HSU approaches issues of sexual misconduct not only as acts that may be potential violations of the law, but as conduct that is antithetical to Christian scripture. Thus, sexual misconduct is harmful not only to the individuals involved, but undermines the values of the entire community.
This policy will address some of the complexities of legal requirements under Title IX, and our policy expectations in the areas of sexual misconduct, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. We hold to the expectation that sexual misconduct does not fit within our mission of Christian education. Violations of this policy are regarded as serious offenses of trust and integrity, and will result in disciplinary action. Sexual misconduct can be committed by men or women, and it can occur between people of the same or different gender. This policy will also provide resources and help for victims and their advocates.
Hardin-Simmons University expects students to abide by the Student Conduct and Regulations Statement (see Section 26).
Notice of Non-Discrimination
In compliance with federal law, including provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hardin-Simmons University does not illegally discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, genetic information, or military service in employment. Under state and federal law, the University may discriminate on the basis of religion in order to fulfill its purpose.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC §1092(f)) (“Clery Act”) which requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. This includes recent amendments to the Clery Act under the Campus SaVE Act and Violence Against Women Act, which deals with incidents of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking.
The Office of Counseling Services offers free, confidential counseling to students. While faculty and staff are mandatory reporters to the Title IX office, the Office of Counseling Services does not have to disclose reports unless the client gives permission. To make an appointment, visit Moody 2nd floor, call 325-671-2272, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current policy. HSU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy currently requires employees (previously designated as “Responsible Employees” or “mandatory reporters”) to report student sexual misconduct information.
New law. Under Senate Bill 212 effective on September 1, 2019, with penalties that apply beginning January 1, 2020, employees are now legally required to “promptly report” information concerning sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking (collectively, “SSDS information”) by either students or employees, if learned in the course and scope of their employment:
- An employee of a postsecondary educational institution who, in the course and scope of employment, witnesses or receives information regarding the occurrence of an incident that the employee reasonably believes constitutes sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking and is alleged to have been committed by or against a person who was a student enrolled at or an employee of the institution at the time of the incident shall promptly report the incident to the institution’s Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator.
- . . . the report must include all information concerning the incident known to the reporting person that is relevant to the investigation and, if applicable, redress of the incident, including whether an alleged victim has expressed a desire for confidentiality in reporting the incident.
Limited exceptions. The mandatory reporting requirement does NOT apply to student workers. Also, employees are not required to report information:
- disclosed to them at a Title IX-related public awareness event sponsored by a university or a student organization of a university;
- if the employee was the victim of the conduct required to be reported; or,
- under special circumstances generally applicable to licensed professionals and ordained clergy.
Required sanctions. The new law requires universities to terminate employees determined to have knowingly failed to make a mandatory report, including the promptness requirement, after conclusion of an investigation and appropriate disciplinary proceedings. It also imposes potential criminal sanctions for these incidents, as a Class A or B misdemeanor.
 Modifications to the mandatory reporting requirements are made for two types of employees described in the new law. The first category are persons who will be notified and trained by HSU:
- Employees designated by HSU as a person who can speak confidentially about these matters (e.g., employees working in the Counseling Center and the university chaplain); and,
- An employee who receives this information “under circumstances that render the employee’s communication confidential or privileged under other law.” If you are a licensed professional (attorney, counselor, physician, etc.) or ordained clergy, and receive information in that capacity, you must consider your professional obligations of confidentiality and privileged communications.
Employees in these categories must still report the category (sexual assault, dating violence, etc.) of the incident as long as this information would violate a student’s expectation of privacy, and should also report the date (if known), and general location. Additional training is available.
Hardin-Simmons University offers anonymous reporting of incidents of sexual assault, harassment, and violence through a program called STOPit. Anyone with knowledge of an incident can use the app or website to report the incident. You also have the ability to attach any video or photo evidence as you type your incident. We believe this will continue to help make HSU a safer community for all our students, faculty, and staff.
When reporting an incident, you will be prompted for a school code.
- For students, your code is HSUCOWBOYS
- For HSU faculty/staff, your code is HSUEMPLOYEES
Once submitting your report, you may receive a follow up message from the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator via the app or web-based platform. Please be assured that you remain anonymous unless you choose to disclose your identity.
Purpose of this policy
Pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Violence Against Women’s Reauthorization Act of 2013, HSU prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender in its programs and activities. HSU has jurisdiction over complaints or reports under Title IX. Our university will respond to, and make reasonable efforts to, investigate and address complaints or reports about prohibited conduct, or possible prohibited conduct, that staff becomes aware of, with measures designed to stop the prohibited conduct, eliminate any such discrimination, prevent the recurrence of the prohibited conduct, and remediate any adverse effects of such conduct on campus or in university related programs or activities. The procedures in this policy are designed to provide for a timely and fair investigation of sexual misconduct cases, regardless of how the information was brought to HSU’s attention or the extent to which the complainant (as defined below) wishes to participate or be involved, and to protect the rights and privacy of all parties involved.
Retaliation against anyone involved in filing an internal complaint under this policy, filing an external complaint, participating in the internal disciplinary process, or opposing in a reasonable manner an act believed to constitute a violation of this policy, is prohibited and will not be tolerated.
Scope of this policy
The policy includes investigation and disciplinary procedures that will be followed in response to allegations of sex or gender discrimination, including sexual misconduct such as sexual harassment and sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and related retaliation. In a case of alleged sex or gender discrimination or sexual misconduct, this policy supersedes policies and procedures for other forms of misconduct, unless otherwise provided in this policy.
This policy defines: the prohibited conduct; the options and resources available to individuals who experience sexual misconduct; and the complaint; investigation and disciplinary procedures that will be followed when the University receives a complaint of sexual misconduct. All allegations of sexual misconduct, including, but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and retaliation will be carefully reviewed.
This policy applies to all members of the HSU community, including administrators, students, faculty and staff, whether full-time or part-time, and any third parties (i.e. non-members of the university community, such as visitors to the campus, volunteers, vendors, and contractors). This policy applies to students regardless of location, whether on or off campuses.
This policy applies to university-sponsored programs and activities occurring both on and off campuses, as well as the university’s computing and network resources being used on and off campus. This includes, but is not limited to, field trips, mission trips, study-abroad programs, off-site courses, volunteer work or internships, and use of any electronic or media associated with HSU including email and/or social media. If an incident of sexual misconduct involving a member of the HSU community occurs at a non-university sponsored event, and when such conduct may have a significant, adverse impact on the individual or on the campus community, the procedures of this policy will apply.
When used in this policy, the term Complainant refers to the person who believes that he/she has been the subject of sexual misconduct, regardless of whether that person makes a complaint or requests an investigation. The term Respondent refers to the person(s) who has been accused of sexual misconduct. The term third party refers to an individual who is not a University student or employee. The term witness refers to any individual who may have information pertinent to the complaint or investigation. All Hardin-Simmons employees are designated as Responsible Employees which means they must report all disclosures of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. A Confidential Resource refers to designated employees at Hardin-Simmons who are not required to report disclosures of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. The Office of Counseling Services (Moody Center 2nd floor, 325-670-2272) is a designated Confidential Resource. Students who are not ready to disclose sexual misconduct to responsible employees or the Title IX Coordinator are encouraged to talk with HSU’s Office of Counseling Services.
All forms of prohibited conduct described in this policy are regarded as serious offenses. Any member of the HSU community found in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment.
Mandatory Transcript Notations
Texas law requires a notation on the transcript of any student who is “ineligible to re-enroll in the institution for a reason other than an academic or financial reason.” Therefore, this requirement applies to violations of the Prohibited Conduct Policy that result in ineligibility to enroll in HSU for any period of time, such as suspension, expulsions, and dismissals. In addition, if a student withdraws while there are “pending disciplinary charges that may result in the student becoming ineligible to re-enroll in the institution for a reason other than an academic or financial reason,” HSU will not end the disciplinary process until “a final determination of responsibility” has been made. A disciplinary charge becomes a pending matter upon the initial receipt of the complaint, whether oral or written. For further information, see the Transcript Notations section of the Registrar’s Policies.
Consent is knowing, voluntary, and permission by word or action to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity or contact. Consent is active and not passive. Silence, in and of itself, should not be interpreted as consent.
- Consent to one act does not constitute consent to another act.
- Consent on a previous occasion does not constitute consent on a later occasion.
- Consent to an act with one person does not constitute consent to an act with any other person.
- The existence of a prior or current relationship does not, in itself, constitute consent; even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutual consent.
- Consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time, and sexual contact must stop immediately once consent is withdrawn.
- Consent cannot be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance, and relying on nonverbal communication alone may result in a violation of this policy.
In evaluating consent, the University will consider the presence of any force, threat of force, or coercion; whether the complainant had the capacity to give consent; and, whether the communication (through words and/or actions) between the parties would be interpreted by a reasonable person (under similar circumstances and with similar identities) as a willingness to engage in a particular sexual act.
An individual is unable to provide consent to engage in sexual activity when the individual 1) is under age 17 and the sexual contact involves an adult (someone 18 years of age or older) who is 3 or more years older; 2) has a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability that renders her or him incapable of giving knowing consent; 3) is unconscious or physically unable to resist; or 4) is incapacitated from alcohol or other drugs, and this condition was known, or reasonably should have been known by the Respondent.
Incapacitation is the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, either voluntarily or involuntarily, or the individual is unconscious, asleep, or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. In addition, an individual is incapacitated if they demonstrate that they are unaware at the time of the incident where they are, how they got there, what is happening, or with whom they are with. Incapacitation also includes intoxication to the point that the person is incapable of exercising the judgment required to decide whether to consent.
Prohibited Sexual Misconduct
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational programs and activities or their living environment. Sexual harassment also includes gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on gender or gender-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature. This definition will be interpreted and applied in a manner consistent with the accepted standards of mature behavior, academic freedom, and the mission of the university. Harassment includes the following definitions:
- Harassment can occur in person, by phone, text message, email or any other electronic medium
- Harassment includes unwanted staring or leering at a person
- Harassment includes verbal comments of a sexual nature, including comments about an individual’s body, sexual activity, or sexual attractiveness; the use of sexually degrading language or innuendo; sexually suggestive gestures, sounds, or jokes
- Harassment includes displays of sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or written materials
Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
- A student repeatedly contacts another student to go out on a date after the student has made it clear that such contact is unwelcome.
- A male staff assistant in a biology lab repeatedly makes disparaging comments about women such as, “Science is a man’s field” and “Women don’t have the capacity to understand.”
- A student worker tells her supervisor that she is not comfortable with him massaging her shoulders, but he continues to do so on numerous occasions and also makes comments about her attractiveness.
Sexual assault is a general term that covers a broad range of inappropriate and/or unlawful conduct, including rape, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to: nonconsensual sexual intercourse or acts that involve the use or threat of force, violence, or immediate and unlawful bodily injury or threats of future retaliation and duress. Examples of sexual assault include the following nonconsensual acts: oral copulation, anal intercourse, and penetration of the anal or vaginal area with a foreign object, including a finger. Sexual battery includes the nonconsensual touching of a person’s intimate parts, or the clothing covering the immediate area of those parts, or forcing a person to touch another’s intimate parts.
Sexual coercion is defined as the act of using pressure to gain consent for sexual activity, using alcohol and drugs to lower another’s inhibitions, or the use of force to have sexual contact with someone against his or her will or with someone who has already refused. Such behavior includes but is not limited to verbal pressure, emotional pressure, threats, lying, blackmailing, use of alcohol or drugs to take advantage of another, use of guilt, or use of his/her position of authority over another.
Sexual Exploitation occurs when one person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own personal advantage or benefit, (and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses). Examples include, but are not limited to: invasion of sexual privacy; streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual activity or nudity, or distribution of such without the knowledge and consent of all parties; voyeurism; inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to nonconsensual sexual activity.
Acts of domestic violence are felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the complainant, by a person with whom the complainant shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the complainant as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction…or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
Dating violence is committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the complainant. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
- The length of the relationship
- The type of relationship
- The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship
Stalking is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: 1) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or 2) suffer substantial emotional distress. Acts can include, but are not limited to, threats to harm self, others, and property; following; non-consensual communication; unwanted gifts; and trespassing. Stalking can also include cyber-stalking such as via internet, social media, texts, and phone calls.
- Telling sexual jokes, stories, innuendos or comments
- Sending sexually explicit messages via text, e-mail, etc.
- Repeatedly asking a person out on a date who has expressed no interest
- Displaying sexually suggestive pictures or photos
- Unwanted hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking
- Requests for sexual favors
- Romantic or sexual relationships between employees and students.
- Favoritism, unfair treatment or sexual advances from any HSU employee.
If the incident(s) involve sexual assault or rape on or off campus, please immediately contact the HSU Police Department (325) 670-1461. You are also strongly encouraged to contact the campus Interim Title IX Coordinator, Tera Gibson, 325-670-1077 or Interim Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Holly Edwards, 325-670-1527.
What should I do if I believe a Friend has been assaulted or harassed?
If you experience, observe, or hear of an incident involving sexual harassment or violence in any way, you should report the facts to the interim Title IX Coordinator, Tera Gibson, or Interim Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Holly Edwards.
Hardin-Simmons University has a zero tolerance policy concerning sexual harassment or violence of its student or employees. The university will investigate all allegations of harassment.
Amnesty for Complainants
Hardin-Simmons encourages the reporting of sexual misconduct. Sometimes, complainants are hesitant to report to college officials because they fear being charged with policy violations themselves (such as a campus housing visitation rule infraction, underage drinking, or sexual activity which violates the Student Code of Conduct) at or near the time of the incident. To encourage reporting, HSU offers complainants amnesty for Student Code of Conduct violations related to reporting sexual misconduct.
Amnesty for Good Samaritans
HSU encourages students to offer assistance to other students in need, both on and off campus. When a student seeks medical assistance for a student in need, both parties will receive amnesty from disciplinary action for any related Student Code of Conduct violation. This policy exists for students who are hesitant to offer assistance to other students for fear of being disciplined for policy violations themselves.
An example of a Good Samaritan situation may include a student at an off-campus party who is drinking alcohol in violation of the law or the Student Code of Conduct. If this person learns of a sexual assault at this party and comes forward or otherwise requests assistance for a victim while at the party, the person reporting the incident, along with the victim/complainant or others who report the situation, will not be held responsible by HSU for an alcohol policy violation. HSU policy is that it is more important to seek help right away for the individual(s) in danger, than worry about the effect of potential disciplinary or Student Code of Conduct violations.
Where to report?
Students, faculty or staff are encouraged to report any sexual misconduct directly to the interim Title IX Coordinator, Tera Gibson, Sandefer 307, 325-670-1077 or Interim Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Holly Edwards, Moody 2nd floor, 325-670-1527.