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Sexual Misconduct and Interpersonal Violence

Report Sexual Misconduct and Interpersonal Violence 

Sexual misconduct of any kind or any form of violence is inconsistent with the University’s values and incompatible with the safe, healthy environment that the University of St. Thomas community expects. All members of this community share responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment which promotes the safety and dignity of each individual. The most egregious form of sexual harassment and misconduct is sexual assault, which is an affront to justice that will not be tolerated at the University of St. Thomas. Federal laws view sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and related violence as forms of sexual harassment and discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of Education Amendments of 1972, and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and related violence also violates state law as well as University policy. Employees, students, or guests found responsible for sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or related violence will ordinarily face outcomes up to and including dismissal from the University and may include criminal prosecution.

The University believes that no person should bear the effects of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or related violence alone. When sexual misconduct, sexual assault or some form of related violence occurs, the University’s paramount concern is for the safety, health and well-being of those impacted. To support and assist employees and students, the University provides a wide range of services and resources. Please see the section below on Resources for Medical, Counseling and Pastoral Care.

Sexual Misconduct and Interpersonal Violence Policy and Resolution Procedure Governing Students and Employees (full policy)

Sexual Misconduct and Other Definitions
  • Sexual Misconduct is a broad term used by the University to identify a number of forms of harassment based on sex. Sexual Misconduct includes the following specifically defined forms of behavior: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Exploitation. Other forms of conduct prohibited include all forms of Interpersonal Violence to include Intimate Partner Violence (domestic and dating violence) and stalking (regardless of if the stalking occurs in the context of an intimate relationship). All forms of gender-based harassment, complicity, and retaliation are also prohibited.   
  • Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, physical, graphic, or otherwise. 
  • Sexual Assault consists of non-consensual sexual penetration or non-consensual sexual touching / contact.
  • Sexual Exploitation occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited.  
  • Sexual Intimidation involves threatening another with a non-consensual sex act such as engaging in indecent exposure. Violence against another person can take many forms. Violence, in the context of the UST policy, includes domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
  • Dating Violence is physical acts of assault or threats of assault, detainment, or unwanted touching committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the person subjected to such violence.  
  • Domestic Violence is physical acts of assault or threats of assault, detainment, or unwanted touching committed by:  (1) a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim; (2) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (3) a person who is cohabiting with, or has cohabitated with, the victim as a spouse or intimate partner; (4) a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of Texas; or (5) any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws in the State of Texas.
  • Stalking occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.

 

Reporting Sexual Misconduct

The University has procedures in place that serve to be sensitive to those who make an institutional report of sexual misconduct.  Procedures include informing individuals about their right to file criminal charges as well as the availability of counseling, mental health, spiritual health and other services on and/or off campus, as well as additional remedies to prevent contact between a complainant and a respondent, such as housing and academic accommodations, if the complainant requests them and if they are reasonably available.

Reports can be made to:

 

What to Do if You Believe You’ve Been Assaulted

Get to a safe place immediately. Go to your apartment/ home, residence hall, or the residence of a trusted friend.  DO NOT change your clothing or shower. Preservation of physical evidence is of the utmost importance. If you change your clothes, it is important that they are kept in a bag to preserve evidence.  DO NOT apply medication to any injuries that have been sustained unless absolutely necessary. DO NOT drink or chew gum or disturb anything in the location where the assault occurred.

Get medical attention as soon as possible.  Go to a local hospital’s emergency department. Medical attention at the local hospital is required in order to preserve valuable evidence should you decide to seek prosecution through the criminal justice system; however, it should be noted that you can receive a medical forensic exam without having to file a criminal complaint. If you suspect that you were given a predatory drug, let the hospital staff know.  A urine sample can be collected within 72 hours of a sexual assault for predatory drug testing.

Seek free, confidential counseling at the Counseling and Disability Services Center.  Call 713-525-2169.  Victim’s advocates and counselors are available for both the survivor and any UST students helping the survivor of sexual assault. As licensed mental health professionals, all information shared with those in Counseling and Disability Services is kept confidential, except in certain circumstances excluded by law.

Utilize campus resources.  The Office of Student Affairs may be able to assist with changes in the survivor’s academic schedule, if reasonable adjustments are deemed appropriate.

 

Resources for Medical, Counseling and Pastoral Care

Medical Care

It is especially important for employees and students who have been sexually assaulted to seek immediate and appropriate medical treatment. Individuals who have been sexually assaulted can secure immediate help by going to a local hospital emergency room or contacting an off-campus rape crisis hotline. Texas law allows an individual to go directly to a medical facility for a sexual assault exam without police involvement.

While the University’s staff is unable to perform procedures related to the collection of evidence for the purposes of pursuing criminal prosecution, they can provide assistance and support when a student requests or requires transportation to the hospital. Major hospitals in close proximity to the University have trained sexual assault teams available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Emergency Room staff may ask if the employee or student wishes to speak to the police or other law enforcement personnel; this decision is up to the employee or student.

Counseling and Pastoral Care

In a crisis situation, Counseling and Disability Services’ professional mental health counselors can be reached after hours by contacting the University Police Department at (713) 525-3888 to request that a counselor contact him or her directly. The University is staffed by trained professionals who can provide specialized support and assistance to employees and students who have been assaulted. These services are available at any time, whether it is days, months, or years after the incident.

Confidentiality is offered by two University departments. Through the office of Counseling and Disability Services, current students may seek counseling and/or information and referral to off-campus resources; current employees may seek a counseling consultation and/or information and referral to off-campus resources. Counseling and Disability Services can be reached at (713) 525-2169 or (713) 525-6953. After regular business hours, call (713) 525-3888.

Within Campus Ministry, priests, deacons, and religious sisters and brothers are able to provide pastoral counseling support. These individuals will honor an employee’s or student’s request for confidentiality unless there is an imminent danger to the employee, student or to others. However, an employee’s or student’s disclosure during the sacrament of confession will not be revealed by the priest for any reason, which is a sacred obligation protected by law. Campus Ministry can be reached at (713) 525-3589 or at campusministry@stthom.edu.

In addition to utilizing the confidential services of Campus Ministry and Counseling and Disability Services, employees or students may directly contact the Title IX Coordinator or the Dean of Students.

Additional Houston Area Resources

Houston Police Department - Dial 911

Memorial Hermann Hospital - 713-222-2273
Operates emergency room, located at 6411 Fannin Street, Houston, Texas 77030

St. Joseph Medical Center - 713-757-1000
Operates emergency room, located at 1401 St. Joseph Parkway, Houston, Texas 77002

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

Department of Justice

Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights

 

Title IX Coordinator

The University's Title IX Coordinator is the designated agent of the University with primary oversight for coordinating the University's Title IX complaince responsibilities.  The Title IX Coordinator's responsibilities are important to the overall development, implementation, and monitoring of the University's efforts to comply with Title IX legislation and regulations.  The Title IX Coordinator works to ensure a fair and neutral process for all parties.  Students and employees are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator with questions or to discuss Title IX related matters.

The UST Title IX Coordinator for Students is Lindsey McPherson, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.  Dean McPherson can be contacted at mcpherson@stthom.edu or 713-525-3570. 

The UST Title IX Coordinator for Empoyees is Randy Graham, Associate Vice President for Human Resources.  Mr. Graham can be contacted at grahamra@stthom.edu or 713-525-3816.

Report Sexual Misconduct and Interpersonal Violence