In April, a female Duke student sought a no-contact order from the University after reporting alleged nonconsensual sexual contact and stalking by a male student. Despite successfully obtaining a no-contact order from the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, she was denied a restraining order by a Durham judge during an April 19 hearing.
However, this student is far from alone. A survey conducted by Duke in spring 2018 found that 47.8% of female respondents and 13.5% of male respondents reported being sexually assaulted since matriculating to Duke. Student groups, notably the Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education (SHAPE) Initiative, are working to eradicate sexual violence on Duke’s campus.
The Chronicle has compiled a list to clarify on-campus resources for students experiencing sexual harassment.
Under the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, sexual misconduct is defined as “all forms of sex/gender-based harassment, sexual/gender violence, sexual exploitation, relationship violence (domestic violence and dating violence) and stalking.”
According to the policy, students who speak to a designated confidential member of staff will not have their information reported to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) nor to “those whom the University has designated as a confidential resource consistent with Title IX.”
On-campus confidential resources include:
- The Women’s Center Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention (GVPI) team, accessible at firstname.lastname@example.org and on-call pager at (919) 970-2108 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Counseling and Psychological Services, on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. via the phone number (919) 660-1000.
- Athletics Behavior Health through Director of Behavioral Health Shawn Zeplin at email@example.com and Alex Thompson, assistant director of behavioral health, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Clergy while acting in their role as clergy.
- Student Health, accessible Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and all other weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. via the phone number (919) 681-9355.
- Blue Devils Care’s 24/7 Talk Now service or scheduled counseling.
- The Durham Crisis Response Center, accessible 24/7 via the phone number (919) 403-9425.
However, all employees who do not work within these resources are designated as “responsible employees” and must notify the OSC of any violations of the policy.
“They are obligated to report allegations of sexual misconduct to the University so that we can send outreach outlining options for support and/or participating in the formal investigation and adjudication process or adaptable resolution process,” wrote Victoria Krebs, associate dean of students at the OSC, in an email to The Chronicle.
According to Krebs, an anonymous report is “one in which the complainant and/or reporting party does not share their identity.” An anonymous report is different than a confidential report, as an anonymous report is sent directly to the OSC.
The OSC attempts to follow up on all reported incidents of sexual misconduct, including those by anonymous reports.
“However, it may be difficult to do so—and particularly to conduct an investigation—without knowing the name(s) of the affected individual(s) or, if known, without the participation of the affected individual(s),” the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy FAQ page states.
Nevertheless, the OSC considers “a number of factors” in determining whether and how to conduct an investigation without a formal report. Factors include the nature and seriousness of the alleged misconduct, specificity and similarity between multiple reports, and previous complaints against the individual or individuals.
OSC then sends the complainant “a letter offering to meet and outlines resources for support, including the option to file a report with the appropriate law enforcement agency," according to a flowchart of the student conduct process for sexual misconduct allegations in the 2019-2020 Duke Community Standard in Practice: A Guide for Undergraduates.
A copy of the report is also sent to the office of GVPI within the Women’s Center, which contacts the student offering confidential support.
“A student who declines to meet with OSC may still meet with GVPI staff,” the flowchart states.
According to the flowchart, OSC then informs the complainant of any disciplinary action available to the student, and the student is given the option to “participate in the disciplinary action or decline to do so.”
However, even if the student has declined to participate in the disciplinary action, the University may elect to continue with disciplinary measures “if enough information is available to investigate or initiate some intervention with an accused student." During this time, Duke will “[keep] the complainant’s request for confidentiality to the extent possible” and discuss the matter with the complainant before making the decision, should the complainant elect to meet with University administration.
According to the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, the OSC attempts to resolve reports within 60 business days from the day they receive the report.
No-contact directives and additional interim measures
After filing a report, a “no-contact” directive may be enacted between the complainant and the respondent.
“‘No-contact’ directives are supportive measures that are generally issued per the request of a student when they are being repeatedly contacted by someone who continues to contact them after having been asked not to do so,” Krebs wrote. “‘No-contact’ directives are mutual, meaning that the requesting party may not contact the student with whom they have requested the ‘no-contact.’”
“A ‘no-contact’ directive instructs both parties not to have any physical contact or communication. They are to have no contact by telephone, in writing, by email, through web pages or through any other means, including third parties,” the FAQ page states. The policy extends to social media—retweeting, liking posts and viewing Snapchat stories are all barred under the directive.
While having a “no-contact” directive does not appear on a student’s disciplinary record, violating the directive “may result in immediate removal from campus and disciplinary action,” according to the FAQ page.
If someone believes a student has violated a “no-contact” directive, they may contact OSC at email@example.com or submit a report via this form. They may also contact the person who issued the directive.
Despite its on-campus ramifications, “no-contact” directives are not under the jurisdiction of local or state law enforcement.
“No-contact’ directives issued by the University are limited to Duke’s conduct processes,” Krebs wrote. “Students seeking to report to the police or obtain protective orders can work with counselors in Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention for assistance with those processes.”
According to Krebs, the limited authority of the OSC over Duke students means that if an individual in question is not a Duke student or a former Duke student, the student pursuing disciplinary action could either work with the police or be referred to another school or organization.
According to the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, other interim measures include but are not limited to “restrictions on contact between the complainant, the respondent, and/or other involved parties; exclusion from areas of campus and removal or relocation from residential areas.”
If students report harassment from students who live near them, additional interim measures may be enacted. According to Krebs, these measures may include housing accommodations, such as “the option for room changes for both parties and/or for urgent matters the option of a temporary safe room.”
Investigations and hearings
If the OSC determines that further investigation is warranted, the Office of Institutional Equity will assign the case to an investigator. The investigator will then interview both complainant and respondent, as well as any approved witnesses they would like the investigator to interview.
“No later than five business days following the hearing, [the] outcome will be conveyed individually to respondent and complainant at approximately the same time. Written notification will typically be made within 10 business days,” the flowchart states.
Any disciplinary action may result in sanctions ranging from admonition onwards to a formal warning, disciplinary probation, suspension and expulsion.
“Consideration may be given to the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation, the student’s/student group’s acceptance of responsibility, prior disciplinary violations, the impact of a sanction on the student/student group, precedent cases, university interests and any other information deemed relevant by a hearing panel/officer,” the 2021-2022 Duke Community Standard in Practice: A Guide for Undergraduates states.
While the OSC conducts educational programs about Duke policies surrounding sexual misconduct, the Women's Center's GVPI team and DuWell engage specifically in prevention work.
The University also announced in April that the Center for Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention will open in fall 2022.
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Audrey Wang is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.