Frequently Asked Questions
Sexual Misconduct/Title IX
Sexual misconduct is one or more acts of sex discrimination which includes sexual harassment, sexual violence (rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse), dating violence, domestic violence, stalking or gender-based harassment or discrimination. Sexual misconduct can occur among, between or to heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
Yes. Title IX protects all students at NIU from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual violence (rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse), dating violence, domestic violence, stalking or gender-based harassment or discrimination, regardless of their race, gender, gender identity, sex, national origin, disability and/or employment status.
Amnesty aims to remove the barriers that may prevent an individual (student or employee) from reporting an incident of sexual misconduct. If an individual reports an incident of sexual misconduct, in good faith, the reporting party will not receive disciplinary action for a separate university policy violation (such as underage drinking) that is revealed in the course of the report.
However, if the separate violation was egregious, including, but not limited to an action that places the health or safety of any other person at risk, amnesty may be not afforded.
Regardless of who the person is, (student, professor and/or staff member), all complaints of sexual misconduct are taken seriously and will be addressed appropriately by Ethics and Compliance Office.
The appropriate response will differ depending on the level of control the university has over the alleged offender. For example, if an athlete or band member from a visiting school sexually assaults a student at NIU, then NIU may not be able to discipline or take other direct action against the visiting athlete or band member. However, (and subject to confidentiality provisions) NIU may conduct an inquiry into what occurred and may report the incident to the visiting school and encourage the visiting school to take appropriate action to prevent further sexual violence.
NIU will also notify the student of any right to file a complaint with the alleged offender's school or local law enforcement. NIU may also decide not to invite the visiting school back to its campus. Even though NIU's ability to take direct action against a particular offender may be limited, the university will take steps, to the extent possible, to provide appropriate remedies for the victim and, where appropriate, the broader university community.
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination from occurring in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Because NIU receives federal financial assistance, they must comply with Title IX. Sex discrimination includes all forms of sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
When the university knows or reasonably should know of possible sexual misconduct, it must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred. If an investigation reveals that sexual misconduct created a hostile environment, the university must then take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual misconduct, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence and, as appropriate remedy its effects.
Title IX requires the university to protect the victim/survivor and ensure their safety as necessary, including taking interim protective measures before the final outcome of any investigation. The university should take steps promptly once it has notice of a sexual misconduct allegation and should provide the victim/survivor with periodic updates on the status of the investigation.
If the university determines that the sexual misconduct occurred, the university must continue to take these steps to protect the victim/survivor and ensure their safety, as necessary. The university should also ensure that the victim/survivor is aware of any available resources, such as victim advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, health and mental health services and legal assistance and the right to report a crime to campus or local law enforcement.
Yes. The Federal civil rights laws, including Title IX make it unlawful to retaliate against an individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by these laws. This means that if an individual brings concerns about possible sexual misconduct to the university's attention or files a Title IX complaint, it is unlawful for the university to retaliate against that individual for doing so. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual because they testified, or participated in any manner, in an investigation or proceeding.
Therefore, if a student, parent, teacher, coach of other individual complains formally or informally about sexual misconduct or participates in an investigation or proceeding related to sexual misconduct, the university is prohibited from retaliating (including intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against the individual) because of the individual's complaint or participation.
A Title IX Coordinator's core responsibilities include overseeing the univeristy's response to Title IX reports and complaints and identifying and addressing any patters or systemic problems revealed by such reports and complaints. NIU's Title IX Coordinator is:
Sarah Garner, Title IX Coordinator
Ethics and Compliance Office
Altgeld Hall 238A
Get more information about the Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinators.
The university reserves the right to take whatever interim protective measures to protect the rights and personal safety of the victim, offender, and/or community members. Such measures include, but are not limited to:
- Changing class schedules
- Providing and escort between classes/work
- Modifying living, dining or work environment
- Transportation accommodations
- Obtaining or enforcing campus/State order of protections/no-contact orders.
Sexual Violence (rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse)
Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (i.e. due to person's age or use of drugs or alcohol.) A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse and sexual coercion.
Get more information about sexual violence.
Rape is the act of penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. Rape is also known as sexual assault or sexual violence.
Rape is the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.Sexual Assault is:
- any nonconsensual sexual act when the victim lacks capacity to consent. Sexual assault also meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape; or
- an act of sexual penetration by the use of force or threat of force; or
- an act of sexual penetration and the respondent knew that the claimant was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent; or
- an act of sexual penetration with a claimant who was under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the respondent was a family member; or
- an act of sexual penetration with a claimant who was at least 13 years of age but less than 18 years of age when the act was committed and the respondent was 17 years of age or over and held a position of trust, authority or supervision in relation to the claimant.
If you are think that you have been raped or sexually assaulted or are not sure, a NIU Confidential Advisor can assist with accessing and navigating available health, counseling and advocacy services. A Confidential Advisor can also assist with speaking with law enforcement or filing a Title IX complaint.
Get more information about Sexual Violence (rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse.)
If you have been raped or think you have been raped, it is best to think about the following things:
- Are you in danger?
- Do you need medical attention?
- Do you want a rape kit?
- Do you want to report it?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, it is best to call 911 or seek medical attention.
If you want to speak to someone confidentially about a rape or sexual assault that occurred, contact NIU's Advocacy Coordinator at (815) 753-1206 or Safe Passage (DeKalb County 24-hour Rape Crisis Center) at (815) 756-5228.
Believe them. Nothing can be more devastating to a victim/survivor of sexual violence than knowing that their friends don't believe what they are saying.
Ask "How can I be helpful to you"? If the survivor is contemplating some decision (i.e., getting a medical exam, reporting to the police, moving), help them explore their options and then let them have control over the decision.
Encourage the survivor to seek help. NIU's Confidential Advisor or Safe Passage (DeKalb County 24-hour Rape Crisis Center) are confidential resources where they can get information or help. If they aren't interested in these resources, don't force these options on them. You may contact these resources for guidance on how to help your friend.
Get help for yourself. Having a friend who has been victimized can be a scary and confusing experience. NIU's Counseling and Consultation Services can help you process what has happened. Additionally, you can contact the NIU Confidential Advisor to learn more about how you can understand this experience, how to help, and how you can get involved in awareness and prevention activities.
If you report that you were raped to law enforcement, you can expect the offender (alleged rapist) to meet with law enforcement to discuss what happened on the date in question. After an initial inquiry into the incident has been conducted, the State's Attorney's Office will make a decision whether to prosecute the case in court. If the offender is found guilty of criminal sexual assault (rape), then he or she may face serious consequences, including incarceration.
If you report that you were raped to a university employee (responsible employee), including a Community Advisor or professor, you can expect the offender (alleged rapist) to meet with a Title IX Investigator to discuss what happened. After an investigation has been concluded, a decision will be made whether the offender violated the university Title IX/Sexual Misconduct policy prohibiting sexual violence (sexual assault). If he or she is found "responsible" for sexual assault/violence he or she may face serious consequences with the university, including up to suspension or expulsion.
You might be stalked if someone has done two or more of the following actions to you causing you to fear for your or someone else's safety or caused you great emotional distress:
- Communicated to or about you, or
- Has interfered with your personal property.
Stalking can be done directly, indirectly, through another person (such as a friend or roommate), through electronic devices (such as cell phones, computer, laptops, etc.), or through social media. Get more information about stalking.
The university has the ability to take interim protective measures to protect the rights and safety of all parties involved. Such measures include, but are not limited to:
- Changing class schedules
- Providing and escort between classes/work
- Modifying living, dining or work environment
- Transportation accommodations
- Obtaining or enforcing campus/state order of protections/no-contact orders.
These interim protective measures will be in place pending the final outcome of the investigation, including any appeal process.
If you wish to proceed with a Title IX investigation, the accused offender will know you filed a complaint. If you do not wish for your name to be disclosed to the accused student, (i.e. remain confidential) the university's ability to respond and take appropriate disciplinary action may be impeded.
Nevertheless, the university will attempt to provide resources and take steps to address and remedy the effect of the alleged sexual misconduct to prevent its recurrence.
A Title IX investigation, hearing and imposition of any sanction(s) will usually be completed within 60 calendar days unless circumstances require a longer time period. This will be determined by the Title IX Coordinator or designee.
A criminal investigation is intended to determine whether an individual violated criminal law; and, if at the conclusion of the investigation, the individual found is guilty, the individual may be subject to criminal penalties. The U.S. Constitution affords criminal defendants who face the risk of incarceration numerous protections, including, but not limited to, the right to counsel, the right to a speedy trial, the right to a jury trial, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to confrontation. In addition, the government officials responsible for criminal investigations (including police and prosecutors) normally have discretion as to which complaints from the public they will investigate.
By contrast, a Title IX investigation will never result in incarceration of an individual and therefore, the same procedural protections and legal standards are not required. Further, while a criminal investigation is initiated at the discretion of law enforcement authorities, a Title IX investigation is not discretionary; the university has a duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably and to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, free from sexual misconduct.
Because the standards for pursuing and completing criminal investigations are different from those used for Title IX investigations, the termination of a criminal investigation without an arrest or conviction does not affect the university's duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably and to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, free from sexual misconduct.
Even if a criminal investigation is on going, the university must still conduct its own Title IX investigation.
No. The Office for Civil Rights and NIU wants students to feel free to participate in preventative education programs and access resources for victims/survivors. Therefore, public awareness events such as "Take Back the Night" or other forums at which students disclose experiences with sexual misconduct are not considered notice to the university for the purpose of triggering an investigation unless the survivor initiates a Title IX complaint.
Yes, a Community Advisor (CA) is a Responsible Employee.
Therefore, the CA should make every effort to ensure that before the student reveals information that they may wish to keep confidential, the student understands the CA's reporting obligation and the student's option to request that the university maintain confidentiality.
A responsible employee must report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. NIU is obligated to address sexual misconduct about which a responsible employee knew or should have known. A responsible employee includes any employee who:
- Has the authority to take action to redress sexual misconduct;
- Has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX Coordinator;
- A student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.
Get more information about Responsible Employees.
Inform them of your reporting obligation. If you are not a confidential resource, let them know before they continue. As a responsible employee you must report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. You should make every effort to ensure your friend understands this obligation before they disclose something they wish to keep confidential.
Support your friend by actively listening without interrupting. It may be common for a victim/survivor to show a variety of emotions such as being sad, disconnected, angry, emotional, or even silent for periods of time. It may feel uncomfortable, but try your very best to be committed and in the moment with the student.
Refer them to confidential resources that are available. The best starting place on campus is the Confidential Advisor at Counseling and Consultation Services. If the friend is choosing to not use on campus resources, the best place to start in the community is Safe Passage (DeKalb County 24-hour Rape Crisis Center). Please provide the student with contact information for both resources and offer to help get the student connected to one of the services based upon their choosing.
Report the incident. Any disclosure of sexual misconduct must be reported to Sarah Garner, the university's Title IX Coordinator at 815-753-5560 or email@example.com.
Find support for yourself. Assisting a friend who has survived sexual violence can be a difficult experience. The only way to ensure that you're able to provide the best support to your friend is to take care of yourself throughout the process. Anyone who has been directly or indirectly affected by sexual misconduct may contact Employee Assistance Program at 815-753-9191.