Amended Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy A Message to the Community on July 1, 2015

To: Faculty, Staff and Students
From: President Kenneth P. Ruscio
Date: July 1, 2015

Over the past year, I have written to the Washington and Lee community several times about our policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct. Throughout the year, we have closely followed legislation at the state level and changing guidance from federal agencies. We need to comply with those changes. In writing to you now to outline how they affect our current policies and procedures, I will also remind us not to lose sight that our fundamental goal is building and sustaining a culture that does not tolerate mistreatment of others in any manner, especially sexual assault.

On July 1, 2015, an Amended Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy goes into effect and will comply with new laws adopted this year by the Virginia General Assembly. The changes involve two main provisions that differ from our current policy:

  • mandatory reporting of complaints to law enforcement and/or the local Commonwealth's attorney when disclosure is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals; 
  • mandatory academic transcript notations for students who are dismissed or suspended after a finding of responsibility for sexual violence, and for those students who withdraw while under investigation for allegations of sexual violence. (Sexual violence under Virginia law is defined as "physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent.")

It is possible, based on evolving federal guidance and policy from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR), that the University's student hearing procedures may also have to be changed. Therefore, the Amended Policy will likely remain "interim" for the upcoming academic year.

As we continue to assess and modify the procedures by which we address these cases, and conform to current laws, regulations, and guidance, I remain confident in our procedures, in our policies, in our approach, and especially in our values.

You will be hearing more details about the Amended Policy and specific changes mandated under Virginia law during training sessions in the fall and in a communication from Lauren Kozak, W&L's Title IX Coordinator, that will soon follow this notice. Ms. Kozak' message will include Frequently Asked Questions that are intended to help you understand the changes. In the meantime Ms. Kozak, is available to answer any questions members of the community might have about the Amended Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy. (Ms. Kozak's contact information is as follows: Title IX Coordinator, 540-458-4055, kozakl@wlu.edu.) You can review these changes along with the Updated Policy at the Sexual Misconduct page: go.wlu.edu/sexual-misconduct. The Amended Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy is also available in the Code of Policies at go.wlu.edu/OGC/SexualMisconductPolicy

For those employees without access to email, I ask that their supervisors print out this message and provide it and a copy of the Amended Policy to them.