Reporting Options

Remember that you have a right to report the incident officially. The College encourages students and employees to report these crimes, but the decision is up to the person who has been sexually assaulted.

Reporting to Penn College Police (570-321-5555) or local law enforcement (911) can begin a criminal investigation. However, making a report doesn't mean that you must press charges.

Reporting to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator will begin an investigation to determine if there was a violation of the College sexual misconduct policy. They investigate student allegations of sexual assault, as well as other forms of sexual misconduct (sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and stalking) involving other students, staff, or faculty.

The College's Reporting Responsibilities

There are three federal laws that establish responsibilities for employees of colleges to report certain types of crimes and incidents, especially sexual misconduct- the Clery Act, Title VII, and Title IX. Additionally, state law creates a reporting duty regarding the abuse of minors. Each of these areas of federal law has a different purpose, but generally the laws are intended to protect members of the campus community, visitors and guest from criminal and discriminatory behavior. The responsibilities established by these laws gives rise to the term “mandatory reporter.”

Title IX imposes on certain “mandatory reporters” a duty to report incidents of sexual assault about which they become aware, and whose awareness of an incident in turn puts the College “on notice” and triggers its obligation to respond. “Mandatory reporters” includes any employee with the authority to take action to redress sexual violence, who has been given the responsibility to report incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct to the Title IX coordinator or other appropriate school officials, or whom a student reasonably believes has this authority or duty. 

Certain campus officials, “Campus Security Authorities, or CSA's” have a duty to report sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking for federal statistical reporting purposes. Reporting to a CSA will result in anonymous data collection that will be included in the publication of the Annual Security Report, if the incident meets the geographic and other criteria established by the government under the federal Clery Act.  All personally identifiable information is kept confidential, but statistical information must be passed along to the Penn College Police regarding the type of incident and its general location (on or off-campus, in the surrounding area, but no addresses are given). This reporting protects the identity of the victim and may be done anonymously. This extra step is not needed if an incident has been reported to Penn College Police or the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator.

Mandatory Reporters/Campus Security Authorities

Who reports?

  • President's Council members
  • Dean's Council members
  • Student Affairs APT staff
  • Human Resources staff
  • Athletic Coaches
  • Student Organization Advisers
  • College Police APT and Service staff
  • Academic Success Center APT staff

Responsibilities/what they must do

When reporting misconduct covered under Title IX (e.g., sexual harassment, sex or gender discrimination, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual orientation discrimination, gender identity discrimination, etc.), College employees must provide full details of the incident if known, including names and personally identifying information. If a victim wishes for no action to be taken, the Title IX Coordinator must evaluate that request. The College is always guided by the goal of empowering the victim and allowing the victim to retain as much control over the process as possible. Typically, the College is compelled to act despite a survivor's wishes when an incident evidences use of weapons, violence, threat, pattern, or predation. Otherwise, a request for confidentiality or no action may be honored, with remedies offered to the survivor as appropriate.

Employees should not promise confidentiality unless their professional role is confidential, and they have received the report in that confidential capacity. If approached, it is appropriate to counsel, “I may be obligated to share what you tell me with administrative officials. If you would like, I can connect you with campus resources who can maintain the confidentiality or privacy of what you share with them.” Where an incident involves off-campus conduct involving a member or members of the campus community, the reporting expectations still apply.

About Confidentiality

The College must balance the reporting party's desire to maintain his or her confidentiality against the responsibility under Title IX to investigate all complaints of sexual misconduct, as well as their Clery Act reporting obligations. There is a strong preference for honoring a reporting party's request for confidentiality but reinforces the College's obligation to investigate the allegation nonetheless. The College must make a judgment call as to whether honoring the request for confidentiality puts the College community or the reporting party at risk, but the fact remains that honoring the reporting party's request will, in most cases, result in a less-than-thorough investigation of that particular allegation, and the reporting party must be so advised.

Privacy concerns are often at the forefront when someone has experienced sexual misconduct.  It is useful to know the degree of confidentiality that individuals can expect from each of the College resources. College officials are trained in the importance of confidentiality and the protocols for maintaining that confidentiality.

Confidential Resources

Counselors and health services providers are considered exempt from mandatory reporting, unless a survivor asks them to report or a duty to report exists under state law based on an imminently harmful situation. Confidential employees will submit timely anonymous statistical information for Clery Act purposes unless the confidential employee determines on a case-by-case basis that reporting would not be in the best interest of their client/patient.

Reporting anonymously

Anonymous reports can be made by survivors and/or third parties using the Silent Witness reporting form. Note that these anonymous reports may prompt a need for the College to investigate.

File an Anonymous Report

Reporting to Title IX Coordinators

Title IX Coordinator

Elliott Strickland
Vice President for Student Affairs, Coordinator of Title VI, IX and Section 504
Student and Administrative Services Center, Room 3009
email: estrickl@pct.edu
Phone: 570-320-5310

Title IX Coordinator Responsibilities

  • Coordinates College compliance with Title IX. 
  • Oversees campus-wide education, training, and outreach programming related to Title IX.
  • Coordinates and ensures timely response and completion of the College's investigation of Title IX concerns, including sexual violence or harassment, interpersonal/relationship violence, stalking, etc. in addition to other forms of gender-based harassment and inequity.

Deputy Coordinators

For Students

Kathy Zakarian
Director of Counseling, Deputy Coordinator & Lead Investigator of Title VI, IX and Section 504 Student Issues
Bush Campus Center, Room 204
email: kathy.zakarian@pct.edu
Phone: 570-327-4765

Responsibilities

  • Address student complaints of sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination.
  • Meet with victims to provide guidance options, outline College policy and procedure, provide referrals to campus and community resources, and discuss possible accommodations for protection and support.
  • Conduct investigations.
For Faculty/Staff

Molly Steele-Schrimp
Manager of Employment, Human Resources
Deputy Coordinator & Lead Investigator of Title VII, Title IX, and Section 504 Employee Issues
Student and Administrative Services Center, Room 2010
Email: msteeles@pct.edu
Phone: 570-320-2400 ext. 7315

Responsibilities

  • Address complaints of sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination involving College employees.

If a student submits a complaint involving a staff or faculty member, Kathy and Molly will conduct a joint investigation.

No person shall make an allegation that he or she knows to be untrue or knowingly provide false information during the course of an investigation. Making a false complaint or giving false information is a violation of College policy and may be a basis for discipline, including expulsion. 

Remedies

Interim Remedies Available During Investigation

The College reserves sole discretion and the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct in order to protect students' rights and personal safety and the College community. 
During the preliminary investigation and procedural process and prior to a determination whether the alleged violation has occurred, the Title IX Coordinator or other authorized administrators may provide interim remedies including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • Referral and facilitating access for reporting party to counseling and/or medical services.
  • Implementing contact limitations on the responding party or on all parties.
  • Referral of reporting party to victim advocacy and support services (Wise Options).
  • Referral of reporting party to academic support services (Academic Success Center) and any other services that may be beneficial to the reporting party.
  • Adjusting the courses, assignments, exam schedules of the reporting party and/or the responding party.
  • Adjusting the work schedules, work assignments, supervisory responsibilities, supervisor reporting responsibilities, or work arrangements of the reporting party and/or the responding party.
  • Altering the on-campus housing assignments, dining arrangements, or other campus services for either the reporting party and/or the responding party.
  • Altering the extracurricular activities of either the reporting party and/or the responding party.
  • Providing transportation accommodations for the reporting party.
  • Informing the reporting party of the right to notify law enforcement authorities of the alleged incident and offering to help facilitate such a report.
  • Suspending, on an interim basis, the responding party from College housing, classes, the College campus/facilities/events, and/or all other College activities or privileges for which the responding party on campus would seriously disrupt the College or constitute a danger to the health, safety, or welfare of members of the College community. The appropriate procedure to determine the status of the student will be initiated within seven business days:
    • In all cases in which an interim suspension is imposed, the responding party will be given the opportunity to meet with the appropriate administrative officer prior to such suspension being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the suspension should not be implemented.
    • At the discretion of the appropriate administrative officer, alternative coursework options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an impact as possible on the responding party.
    • The appropriate administrative officer has sole discretion to implement or stay an interim suspension and to determine its conditions and duration.
    • Violation of an interim suspension under this policy will be grounds for expulsion.

Remedies Available at Conclusion of Investigation

Once the investigation is concluded, the Title IX Coordinator or other authorized administrators may immediately provide the reporting party with appropriate remedies including, but not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • Providing escort services to assure that the reporting party can move safely between classes and activities.
  • Removing the person found responsible from classes or extracurricular activities which include the reporting party or otherwise assuring that the reporting party and the person found responsible are not required to share the same classes or extracurricular activities.
  • Moving the person found responsible to a different residence hall to assure that the reporting party and the person found responsible are not required to share the same residence hall.
  • Providing the reporting party with comprehensive victim services including medical services, counseling, and academic support services such as tutoring.
  • Arranging for the reporting party to have extra time to complete or re-take a class or withdraw from a class without an academic or financial penalty.

Student Rights

Reporting Party Statement of Rights

Rights of the reporting party when the responding party is a student or student organization:

  • To be treated with respect by College officials.
  • Access to campus support resources (such as Counseling and College Health Services).
  • To have an advisor of their choice attend all interviews, meetings, and proceedings throughout the equity resolution process.
  • To refuse to have an allegation resolved through the informal resolution process.
  • To receive amnesty for minor student misconduct that is related to the incident, at the discretion of the appropriate administrative officer.
  • To receive advance notice of the investigation and notice of a formal resolution hearing.
  • An equal opportunity, or chance to present a list of potential witnesses and provide evidence.
  • To be free from retaliation.
  • Where the reporting party is not the person who reported the incident, the reporting party has full rights to participation in any equity resolution process.
  • To be informed of the finding, rationale, and sanction (if the reporting party is sanctioned) of the allegation in writing.
  • To report the matter to law enforcement (if applicable) and to have assistance in making a report to law enforcement.
  • To request reasonable housing, living, and other accommodations and remedies.
  • To request a no contact directive/order between the parties.
  • Equal opportunity to appeal the findings and sanction.
  • During the formal resolution process the reporting party has a right:
    • To have the names of witnesses that may participate in the hearing at least two days prior to the hearing.
    • To have copies of all important and relevant documentary evidence and any investigative report at least two business days prior to the hearing.
    • To use alternative ways by which the reporting party can appear and question witnesses at a hearing (e.g., screens, Skype, questions directed through the Chair, etc.).

Responding Party Statement of Rights

Rights of the responding party when the responding party is a student or student organization:

  • To be treated with respect by College officials.
  • Access to campus support resources (such as Counseling and College Health Services), unless suspended from campus pending the completion of the process.
  • To have an advisor of their choice attend all meetings and proceedings throughout the equity resolution process.
  • To refuse to have an allegation resolved through conflict resolution procedures or using the informal resolution process and instead request the formal resolution process.
  • An equal opportunity, or chance, to present a list of potential witnesses and provide evidence.
  • To receive notice of the policies that the responding party has been charged with violating and notice of a formal resolution hearing.
  • To be informed of the finding, rationale, and sanction of the allegation in writing.
  • Equal opportunity to appeal the findings and sanction.
  • During the formal resolution process the responding party has a right:
    • To have the names of witnesses that may participate in the hearing at least two days prior to the hearing.
    • To have copies of all important and relevant documentary evidence and any investigative report at least two business days prior to the hearing.
    • To use alternative ways by which the reporting party can appear and question witnesses at a hearing (e.g., screens, Skype, questions directed through the Chair, etc.).

Procedures

Initial Review

When a report is made to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator, they will meet with the reporting party. If the reporting party does not wish for their name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place, or does not want a formal resolution to be pursued, the reporting party may make such a request to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator, who will evaluate that request in light of the duty to ensure the safety of the campus and comply with federal law.

In cases indicating pattern, predation, threat, weapons, and/or violence, the College will likely be unable to honor a request for confidentiality. In cases where the reporting party requests confidentiality and the circumstances allow the College to honor that request, the College will offer interim supports and remedies to the reporting party and the community, but will not otherwise pursue a formal action. A reporting party has the right, and can expect, to have reports taken seriously by the College when formally reported, and to have those incidents investigated and properly resolved through these procedures.
Formal reporting still affords privacy to the reporting party, and only a small group of officials who need to know will be told, including but not limited to Student Affairs, Penn College Police, and Human Resources. Information will be shared as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the responding party. The circle of people with this knowledge will be kept as tight as possible to preserve a reporting party's rights and privacy. 

Investigation

In cases involving student allegations referred by administrative action, the College will use an investigative model. This model allows much of the investigation to be completed prior to the final hearing. Trained staff investigators will interview the reporting party, responding party, and any witnesses, and allow for one or more responses from each. Investigators will prepare a summary report with a finding of whether the College's sexual misconduct policy was violated. 

Hearing Procedure

If the reporting party would like to proceed with an internal Student Conduct hearing through the College's Student Code of Conduct, the investigators can serve as witnesses and their investigation report can be read into the hearing. The reporting party and responding party may make opening and closing statements primarily to address issues raised in the report.

Standard of Evidence

Penn College considers the greater weight of the credible information as its standard in student conduct cases. Often referred to as the “preponderance of the evidence,” this standard asks decision-makers to consider whether it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.

Past History

The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be considered in hearings unless such information is determined to be highly relevant by the hearing officer. All such information sought to be admitted by a party or the College will be presumed irrelevant until a determination of relevance is made by the hearing officer and in consultation with the conduct board. Demonstration of pattern, repeated, and/or predatory behavior by the responding student, including in the form of previous findings in any legal or campus proceeding, may be relevant to the finding, not just the sanction.

Sanction Statement

Not all forms of sexual misconduct are equally serious offenses, and the College reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. The College will consider the concerns and rights of both the reporting party and the responding party.

  • Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-Consensual or Forced Sexual Contact (where no intercourse has occurred) will likely receive a sanction ranging from probation to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
  • Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-Consensual or Forced Sexual Intercourse will likely receive a sanction of suspension or expulsion.
  • Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Sexual Exploitation or Sexual Harassment (and related violations) will likely receive a sanction ranging from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
  • Any student found responsible for violating policies on Intimate Partner Violence or Stalking will likely receive a sanction from probation to expulsion.

Final Outcome

The reporting party and responding party may see the decision letters.

Appeals

All parties in a sexual misconduct hearing have the opportunity to appeal within a specific time limit. Students found responsible may appeal without concern that they will receive a harsher finding or sanction. Reporting parties may appeal the decision and the sanction. See Student Conduct procedures for further details.

Retaliation

The College will not tolerate retaliation in any form against faculty, staff, or student who files an allegation, serves as a witness, or participates in an investigation of sexual misconduct.  College policy and state and federal law prohibit retaliation against an individual for reporting discrimination, sexual violence, or harassment, or for participating in an investigation. Retaliation is a serious violation that can subject the offender to sanctions independent of the merits of the allegation.  Allegations of or questions about retaliation should be directed to the Office of Human Resources, Student Conduct, or the Title IX Coordinator.