Title IX, Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Policy


Sexual misconduct of any form is a violation of a person’s rights, dignity and integrity. An act of sexual misconduct represents a fundamental failure by a community member to recognize and respect the intrinsic worth and dignity of another. Acts of sexual misconduct are harmful and illegal and will not be tolerated at NIACC. Such acts corrupt the integrity of the educational process, are contrary to the mission and values of the NIACC community and are against College policy.

All members of the NIACC community should be free from sexual misconduct in the classroom; the social, recreational and residential environment; and the workplace. The College seeks to foster a climate free from sexual misconduct through a coordinated education and awareness program, the promulgation of clear and effective policies, as well as investigative and grievance procedures that are prompt, equitable, and accessible to all. In response to any reported sexual misconduct, the College will take all appropriate steps to eliminate the misconduct, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.

In order to foster a climate of respect for oneself and for one another and provide for the safety and security of our community, the College expects all community members to take action to prevent acts of sexual misconduct. Creating a safe campus environment is the responsibility of all members of the College community, both individually and collectively.

In order to foster a climate that encourages reporting of sexual misconduct, the College will actively educate the community, respond to all allegations promptly, will provide interim measures to address safety and emotional well-being, and will act in a manner that recognizes the inherent dignity of the individuals involved.

In order to achieve equitable results, the College will carefully review and/or investigate all reports with an earnest intent to understand the perspective and experiences of each individual involved, and provide for fair and impartial evaluation and resolution.

Sexual Harassment
Purpose of Policy
The purpose of this policy is to provide the NIACC community with a clear articulated set of behavioral standards, common understands of definitions and key concepts, and descriptions of prohibited conduct. This policy applies to all community members, including students, faculty, and staff. It is intended to protect and guide students, faculty and staff who have been affected by sexual misconduct, whether as a Complainant, a Respondent, or a third party.

When used in this policy, a Complainant refers to the individual who believes to have been the subject of sexual misconduct. A Respondent refers to the individual who has been accused of sexual misconduct. A third party refers to any other participant in the process, including a witness to the incident or an individual who makes a report on behalf of someone else. A report refers to any incident or concern regarding sexual misconduct that is reported to the College. A complaint is an allegation of sexual misconduct filed against a faculty or staff member or student that initiates the appropriate disciplinary process.

In addition to defining sexual harassment and the forms of sexual misconduct that violate the standards of our community, this policy will also:

    • Identify resources and support for all members of the NIACC community.
    • Identify Title IX Coordinators.
    • Provide information about where a College community member can obtain support or access resources in a confidential manner.
    • Provide information about how a College community member can make a report.
    • Provide information about how a report against a College community member will be investigated, evaluated and resolved.

As stated above, this policy applies to all members of the NIACC community, including students, employees, visitors, and independent contractors. When used in this policy, employee generally refers to both staff and faculty members. Vendors, independent contractors, visitors, and others who conduct business with the College or on College property are also expected to comply with this policy.

All College community members are responsible for their actions and behavior, whether the conduct in question occurs on campus or in another location. Members of the NIACC community have a responsibility to adhere to College policies and local, state, and federal law.

As a result, this policy applies both to on-campus and off-campus conduct. In particular, off-campus behaviors that have an actual or potential adverse impact on any member of the College community or the College fall under this policy including events (athletic and otherwise) sponsored by the College.

Any individual may make a report alleging a violation of this policy. The College will provide resource options and respond promptly and equitably to all allegations of sexual misconduct.

The College will engage in a Title IX review throughout which it is committed to maintaining fairness for all parties and to balancing the needs and interests of the individuals involved with the safety of the community as a whole.

Coordination with Non-Discrimination Policy
The College recognizes that harassment related to an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression can occur in conjunction with misconduct related to an individual’s race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, or disability. Targeting individuals on the basis of these characteristics is also a violation of the community standards. Under these circumstances, the College will coordinate the investigation and resolution efforts to address harassment related to the targeted individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression together with the conduct related to the targeted individual’s race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, or disability.

Notice of Non-Discrimination
The College is committed to establishing and maintaining an environment free of all forms of harassment and discrimination for all College community members. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, age, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, religion, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected class.

The College does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational, extracurricular, athletic, or other programs or in the context of employment. Sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment as defined in this policy, is a form of sex discrimination that unjustly deprives a person of equal treatment. It is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that provides that:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

This policy prohibits sexual misconduct against all NIACC community members of any gender or sexual orientation. This policy also prohibits gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Prohibited Conduct and Definitions
The College prohibits sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a broad term that includes but is not limited to sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, cyber-stalking, hazing, bullying and cyber-bullying, aiding or facilitating the commission of a violation, and retaliation.

NIACC prohibits supervisors and managers from dating or having any amorous or sexual relationship (consensual or otherwise) with a subordinate, include student employees. NIACC reserves the right to take whatever action is appropriate to protect the College’s interests in the event of a violation of this policy (including reassignment or dismissal of one or more employees involved).

Consistent with the values of an educational and employment environment free from harassment based on sex, the College also prohibits gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

Definition of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

    1. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, evaluation of academic work or participation in social or extracurricular activities.
    2. Submission to or reject of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; or
    3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic or social environment. The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of a Complainant.
Forms of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is prohibited. In some cases, sexual harassment is obvious and may involve an overt action, a threat or reprisal. In other stances, sexual harassment is subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated.

Sexual harassment can take many forms:

    • It can occur between equals (student to student, faculty member to faculty member, visitor to staff) or between persons of unequal power status (i.e., supervisor to subordinate, faculty member to student, coach to student-athlete, student leader to first year student). Although sexual harassment often occurs in the context of an exploitation of power by the individual with the greater power, a person who appears to have less power in a relationship can also commit sexual harassment (i.e., student harassing faculty member).
    • It can be committed by an individual or may be a result of the collective actions of an organization or group.
    • It can be committed against an individual, an organization or a group.
    • It can be committed by an acquaintance, a stranger, or someone with whom the Complainant has a personal, intimate or sexual relationship.
    • It can occur by an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
    • It does NOT have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents.

Examples of behavior that might be considered misconduct include, but are not limited to:

    • Unwanted or inappropriate sexual innuendo, propositions, sexual attention or suggestive comments and gestures; humor and jokes about sex or gender-specific traits; sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality or gender; insults and threats based on sex or gender; and other oral, written or electronic communications of a sexual nature that an individual communicates is unwanted and unwelcome.
    • Written graffiti, social media postings, or the display or distribution of sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials; sexually charged name-calling; sexual rumors or ratings of sexual activity/performance/ the circulation, display, or creation of e-mails or websites of a sexual nature.
    • Non-academic display or circulation of written materials or pictures degrading to an individual(s) or gender group (it is expected that instructors will offer appropriate warning regarding the introduction of explicit and triggering materials used in the classroom).
    • Inappropriate or unwelcome physical contact or suggestive body language, such as touching, patting, pinching, hugging, kissing, or brushing against an individual’s body.
    • Undue and unwanted attention, such as repeated inappropriate flirting, inappropriate or repetitive compliments about clothing or physical attributes, staring, or making sexually oriented gestures.
    • Physical coercion or pressure of an individual to engage in sexual activity or punishment for a refusal to respond or comply with sexual advances.
    • Change of academic or employment responsibilities (increase in difficulty or decrease of responsibility) based on sex, gender identity/express, or sexual orientation.
    • Use of a position of power or authority to: (1) threaten or punish, either directly or by implication, for refusing to tolerate harassment, for refusing to submit to sexual activity, or for reporting harassment or (2) promise reward in return for sexual favors.
    • Sexual assault.
    • Abuse, disruptive or harassing behavior, verbal or physical, which endangers another’s mental or physical health, including but not limited to threats, acts of violence, or assault based on gender and/or in the context of intimate partner violence.
    • Demeaning verbal or other expressive behavior of a sexual or gendered nature in instructional settings.
    • Acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping. Harassment for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for one’s sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or target.

Additional Forms of Prohibited Sexual Misconduct
Sexual misconduct may vary in its severity and consists of a range of behaviors. The following descriptions represent sexual behaviors that violate NIACC’s community standards and a person’s rights, dignity, and integrity.

Sexual violence – Physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. This includes rape, sexual assault, battery and sexual coercion. Sexual violence may involve individuals who are known to one another or have an intimate and/or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals not know to one another.

Sexual exploitation – An act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage or any other non-legitimate purpose. The act or acts of sexual exploitation are prohibited even though the behavior does not constitute one of the other sexual misconduct offenses. Sexual exploitation may involve individuals who are known to one another, have an intimate or sexual relationship, and/or may involve individuals not known to one another.

Stalking – A course of conduct involving more than one instance of unwanted attention, harassment, physical or verbal contact, or any other course of conduct directed at an individual that could be reasonably regarded as likely to harm or place that individual in fear of harm or injury, including physical, emotional, or psychological harm. This includes cyber-stalking, a particular form of stacking in which electronic media such as the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, texts or other similar devices or forms of contact are used to pursue, harass, or any unwelcome contact with another person. Stalking and cyber-stalking may involve individuals who are known to one another or have an intimate or sexual relationship, or may involve individuals not known to one another.

Statement on Consent, Coercion, Incapacitation, and Alcohol
Consent to engage in sexual activity must be knowing and voluntary. Consent to engage in sexual activity must exist from the beginning to end of each instance of sexual activity, and for each form of sexual contact. Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact.

Consent consists of an outward demonstration indicating that an individual has freely chosen to engage in sexual activity. Consent is demonstrated through mutually understandable words and/or actions that clearly indicate a willingness to engage freely in sexual activity. Relying on non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response alone. A person who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. In the absence of an outward demonstration, consent does not exist.

A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates willingness to engage in sexual activity each time such activity occurs. Consent may be withdrawn by either party at any time. In the state of Iowa, consent may never be given by minors under the age of 16. Consent is not effective if it results from the use or threat of physical force, intimidation, or coercion, or any other factor that would eliminate an individual’s ability to exercise his or her own free will to choose whether or not to have sexual contact.

An individual who is incapacitated is not able to make rational, reasonable judgements and therefore is incapable of giving consent. Incapacitation is the ability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because the individual is mentally and/or physically helpless due to drug or alcohol consumption, either voluntarily or involuntarily, or the individual is unconscious, asleep or otherwise unaware that the sexual activity is occurring. Where alcohol is involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication.

Privacy & Reporting
College Statement on Privacy
The College is committed to maintaining the privacy of all individuals involved in the report of sexual misconduct. In any Title IX review of an allegation of sexual misconduct, every effort will be made to protect the privacy and interests of the individuals involved in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review of the allegation. Such a review is essential to protecting the safety of the Complainant, the Respondent, and the broader campus community and to maintaining an environment free from sexual discrimination.

At all times, the privacy of the parties will be respected and safeguarded. Information related to a report of misconduct will be shared only with those College employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the investigation and/or resolution of the complaint. All College employees who are involved in the Title IX review process have received specific training regarding the safeguarding of private information. Students or employees wishing to obtain confidential assistance through on-campus or off-campus resources without making a report to the College may do so by speaking with professionals who are obligated by law to maintain confidentiality. These professionals are identified in the Resources section of this position. As a reminder, students may seek confidential assistance on campus through the Counseling Office. Employees may seek confidential assistance through the Employee Assistance Program. Community resources include Crisis Intervention, North Iowa Mental Health Center, Parents United of North Central Iowa, and the Sexual Assault Center.

When the College has received a report of sexual misconduct, but the Complainant requests that his/her identify remain confidential or that the College not pursue an investigation, the College will balance this request with its responsibility to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all College community members. The College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the Complainant consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation. At all times, the College will seek to respect the request of the Complainant, and where it cannot do so, the College will consult with the Complainant and keep him/her informed about the chosen course of action.

If a report of misconduct discloses an immediate threat to the College campus community, the College may issue a timely notice of the conduct to the community to protect the health or safety of the broader campus community. This notice will not contain any biographical or other identifying information. Immediately threatening circumstances include, but are not limited to, recently reported incidents of sexual misconduct that include the use of force, a weapon, or other circumstances that represent a serious and ongoing threat to College students, faculty, administrators, staff, or visitors. All resolution proceedings are conducted in compliance with the requirements of FERPA, the Clery Act, Title IX, and College policy. No information shall be released from such proceedings except as required or permitted by law or College policy.

Grievance Procedure
Any person who believes they have been subjected to discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking), bullying or retaliation may report the behavior to the Educational Equity (or Title IX) Coordinator for the purpose of obtaining a prompt and equitable resolution.

A complainant may submit a written grievance to the Educational Equity (or Title IX) Coordinator by following the appeal procedures outlined in the NIACC Employee Handbook.

Individuals additionally always have the right to file a formal complaint with:
Iowa Civil Rights Commission in Des Moines, IA by calling 515.281.4121 or 800.457.4416
Office for Civil Rights (Midwestern Division), US Department of Education in Chicago, IL by calling 312.730.1560 or via email to OCR.Chicago@ed.gov.

Disciplinary Action
The College reserves the right to take whatever measure it deems necessary in response to a complaint of harassment or violence by a student, faculty member, staff member, administrator, or other College employee because of sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity. Such measures for employees include discipline up to and including termination of employment and for students include, but are not limited to modification of on-campus housing arrangements, probation, and interim suspension from campus pending a decision, and expulsion. Not all forms of sexual harassment and/or sexual violence will be deemed to be equally serious offenses and the College reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion of enrollment or to termination of employment, depending on the severity of the office. Title IX requires notification be made to Dr. Shelly Schmit, Title IX Coordinator of the resolution of any potential sexual harassment and/or sexual violence issues.

The individual, in accordance with College policy, may appeal any disciplinary action resulting from this procedure.

On Campus Contacts (Title IX Coordinators)

Dr. Terri Ewers, Vice President of Student Services, 641-422-4104 Counseling Office, 641-422-4207

Dr. Shelly Schmit, Vice President for Organizational Development and Human Resources, 641-422-4211

Off Campus Contacts

    • Crisis Intervention Services 641-424-9133
    • Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224
    • Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline 1-800-284-7821
    • National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453
    • Mental Health Center of North Iowa 641-424-2075
    • Parents United of North Central Iowa 641-424-5232
    • Sexual Assault Center 641-422-7433
    • Sexually Transmitted Diseases Hotline 1-800-227-8922
All College employees, including faculty, staff, and administrators, student employees who have a responsibility for student welfare are required to share with a Title IX Coordinator any report of sexual misconduct they receive or of which they have become aware.

Complaint Procedure
A complainant may submit a written grievance to the Educational Equity (or Title IX) Coordinator by following the appeal procedures outlined in the NIACC Employee Handbook.

Bystander Intervention
The College expects all community members to take reasonable and prudent actions to prevent or stop an act of sexual misconduct. Taking action may include intervention, calling law enforcement, or seeking assistance from person in authority. Community members who choose to exercise this positive moral obligation will be supported by the College and protected from retaliation.

Statement against Retaliation
It is a violation of College policy to retaliate in any way against an individual or group because the individual or group of individuals reported an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The College recognizes that retaliation can take many forms, may be committed by an individual or a group against an individual or a group, and that a Respondent can also be the subject of retaliation by the Complainant or a third party. The College will take immediate and responsive action to any report of retaliation and may pursue disciplinary action as appropriate. An individual reporting sexual misconduct is entitled to protection from any form of retaliation following a report that is made in good faith, even if the report is later not proven.

Title IX Review
The President of the College has appointed Dr. Shelly Schmit to serve as the Title IX Coordinator. In her role as Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Schmit oversees the College’s centralized review, investigation and resolution process for reports of sexual misconduct. She also coordinates the College’s compliance with Title IX. Dr. Shelly Schmit is supported by Dr. Terri Ewers who serves as the Title IX Coordinator for the student population. Each is knowledgeable and trained in state and federal laws that apply to matters of sexual harassment as well as College policy and procedure.

The duties of the Title IX Coordinators include training, education, and climate checks as well as the oversight of procedures that promptly and equitably eliminate sexual harassment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects on individuals and our community. In addition, they will:

    • Oversee the investigation and resolution of all reports of sexual misconduct.
    • Meet with any individual, whether a Complainant, a Respondent, or a third party, to discuss interim measures, resources, and procedural options on and off campus.
    • Ensure prompt and equitable resolutions that comply with all requirements and timeframes specified in the complaint procedures.

The Title IX Coordinator will coordinate the gathering of information from the Complainant, the Respondent, and any other individuals who may have relevant information. In gathering such information, the Coordinator will comply with applicable laws and NIACC policies. The investigation will be thorough, impartial, and fair, and all individuals will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect. Information gathered during the investigation will be used to evaluate the responsibility of the Respondent, provide for the safety of the individual and the College campus community, and impose remedies as necessary to address the effects of the alleged conduct. An investigative report will serve as the foundation for all related resolution processes. Both the Respondent and Complainant will be notified in writing of the outcome of the complaint.

The investigation and resolution of all reports will generally be completed within 60 to 90 days. Extenuating circumstances including the complexity and severity of a complaint may arise that require the complaint process to extend beyond 60 to 90 days. In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the College will notify all parties of the need for additional time and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner.