Other Terminology

Confidentiality

From the Middlebury College Handbook Policy Against Sexual Misconduct, Domestic and Dating Violence and Misconduct, and Stalking (SMDVS):

Confidentiality

Middlebury encourages individuals to report incidents of sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, and related retaliation so that they can get the support they need, and so that Middlebury can respond appropriately. Certain Middlebury employees may maintain confidentiality, but most cannot. Although strict confidentiality may therefore not be guaranteed, in all cases Middlebury will handle information in a sensitive manner and will endeavor to protect the privacy of individuals to the extent it can do so consistent with its obligations to respond to reports of sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, and/or related retaliation.

This section is intended to inform students, faculty, staff, and covered third parties of the various reporting and confidential disclosure options available to them, so that they can make informed choices about where to go for help.

Confidential Resources
A confidential resource is an individual who is legally and ethically bound to keep confidential all information shared with them in the course of providing counsel and support, except under the circumstances noted below. Middlebury respects that the decision to come forward may be difficult and that individuals may wish to seek assistance from someone who can confidentially offer information and support, and who can provide assurances that the disclosed information will not be acted on except in the circumstances outlined below. In general, the law recognizes and protects the confidentiality of communications between a person seeking care and a medical or mental health professional, religious advisor, or trained sexual assault advocate. The medical, mental health, and religious professionals and MiddSafe advocates at Middlebury, and their off-campus counterparts, respect and protect confidential communications from students, faculty, and staff to the extent they are legally able to do so. These professionals may have to breach a confidence, however, when they perceive a serious risk of danger or threat to any person or property. In addition, medical and mental health professionals may be required by law to report certain crimes (e.g., any allegation of sexual and/or physical abuse of a person under 18). These exceptions to confidentiality are governed by the law of the state in which the confidential resource is located.

An individual who speaks to a confidential resource must understand that, if they want to maintain confidentiality, Middlebury will be unable to conduct an investigation into the particular incident or pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator. However, confidential resources may assist the individual in receiving other forms of protection and support, such as victim advocacy; academic accommodations; disability, health, or mental health services; and changes to living, working, or transportation arrangements. An individual who initially requests confidentiality may later decide to file a complaint with Middlebury or report the incident to local law enforcement, and thus have the incident fully investigated. These confidential resources will help to direct the individual to the appropriate resources in the event that the individual wishes to file an internal complaint with Middlebury or report to the police. 

Non-Confidential Resources
Non-confidential resources are all faculty or staff members, including residential life staff and ombudspersons, who are not medical or counseling professionals, clergy, or MiddSafe advocates, and are therefore not permitted to honor requests for confidentiality. Non-confidential faculty or staff who learn of an incident of alleged sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, or related retaliation involving a student are required to report that information to an HRO or a JAO or the Title IX coordinator, and they are “responsible employees” to this extent. The Title IX coordinator, HROs, and JAOs are “responsible employees” for the purposes of redressing reports of sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, and related retaliation in accordance with this policy.

Faculty and staff who are Campus Security Authorities are required to report certain sex offenses and other crimes to the Department of Public Safety for the purpose of compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

Employees with supervisory responsibility are expected to report all incidents of alleged sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, or related retaliation involving employees to an HRO, the Title IX coordinator, and/or to Human Resources.

General inquiries to Middlebury officials about policies or procedures, and conversations in which the alleged perpetrator is not identified by name or by implication from the circumstances, may remain private. Otherwise, individuals who want to maintain confidentiality should seek a confidential resource.

Disclosure to Responsible Employees and Requests for Confidentiality
When a responsible employee (e.g., an HRO or JAO) learns of an incident that could constitute sexual misconduct, domestic or dating violence, domestic or dating misconduct, stalking, or related retaliation involving a student, faculty or staff member, or covered third party, the responsible employee will report the incident to the Title IX coordinator (and/or an HRO or JAO, if a responsible employee other than an HRO/JAO learns of such an incident). The report will include relevant details about the incident of which they are aware, including the names of the parties, any witnesses, and any other relevant facts, including the date, time, and specific location of the alleged incident.

To the extent possible, information reported to a responsible employee will be shared with others only to the extent necessary to respond to the situation and support the parties and in accordance with state and federal law. Examples include individuals who are responsible for processing, investigating, adjudicating, and responding to sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, and/or related retaliation reports, deans, program directors, supervisors, Human Resources staff, and Department of Public Safety or other campus security personnel who are responsible for reporting campus crime statistics and issuing timely warnings under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

Evaluating Requests for Confidentiality in Sexual Assault Cases
If an individual discloses an incident of sexual assault but wishes to maintain confidentiality or requests that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted or disciplinary action taken, Middlebury will make every effort to respect this request and will evaluate the request against its responsibility to provide a safe, nondiscriminatory environment for all students, faculty and staff, including the individual who reported the sexual assault. Although rare, there are times when Middlebury may not be able to honor the individual’s request. Further, if Middlebury honors the request for confidentiality, Middlebury’s ability to appropriately investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator(s), if warranted, may be limited.

Middlebury has designated its JAOs, its HROs, and the Title IX coordinator as responsible for evaluating requests for confidentiality, as appropriate to the circumstances. In considering an individual’s request for confidentiality, the HROs, JAOs, and/or Title IX coordinator may consult with Middlebury’s Threat Assessment and Management Team (TAM) and other Middlebury personnel, or law enforcement authorities, as appropriate.

Factors to be considered in determining whether confidentiality should be maintained may include but are not limited to:

(i) The increased risk that the alleged perpetrator will commit additional acts of sexual misconduct or other violence, such as:

  • whether there have been other sexual misconduct complaints about the same alleged perpetrator;
  • whether the alleged perpetrator has a history of arrests or records from a prior institution indicating a history of violence;
  • whether the alleged perpetrator has threatened further sexual misconduct or other violence against the individual or others;
  • whether the alleged sexual misconduct was committed by multiple perpetrators;
  • circumstances that suggest there is an increased risk of future acts of sexual misconduct or other violence under similar circumstances (e.g., whether the report reveals a pattern of perpetration (e.g., via illicit use of drugs or alcohol) at a given location or by a particular group);

(ii) whether the alleged sexual misconduct was perpetrated with a weapon;

(iii) whether the alleged victim is a minor; and

(iv) whether Middlebury possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence (e.g., security cameras, information known to Middlebury personnel, or physical evidence).

The presence of one or more of these factors or other factors as deemed appropriate may prompt an investigation and adjudication under Middlebury’s policies and, if appropriate, result in disciplinary action. If none of these factors is present, Middlebury will likely honor the individual’s request for confidentiality. 

Evaluating Requests for Confidentiality in Sexual Exploitation, Domestic and/or Dating Violence, Domestic and/or Dating Misconduct, Stalking, and Related Retaliation Cases
In cases involving sexual exploitation, domestic or dating violence or misconduct, stalking, and/or related retaliation, if an individual insists that their name or other identifiable information not be revealed, or asks that Middlebury not investigate or seek action against the alleged perpetrator, Middlebury will evaluate the request in the context of its commitment to provide a safe environment for that individual as well as all students, staff, and faculty. Thus, Middlebury may weigh the individual’s request against a number of factors, including but not limited to the seriousness of the alleged conduct; circumstances that suggest there is a risk of repeated conduct; whether there have been other reports or complaints about the alleged perpetrator; the credibility and significance of existing relevant evidence; and the extent of any ongoing threat to the individual, the Middlebury community or any of its members.

In considering an individual’s request for confidentiality, the HROs, JAOs, and/or Title IX coordinator may consult with Middlebury’s Threat Assessment and Management Team and other Middlebury personnel, or law enforcement authorities, as appropriate.

If Confidentiality Is Requested but Cannot Be Maintained
If Middlebury determines that it cannot maintain an individual’s request for confidentiality, Middlebury will inform the individual prior to conducting an investigation (unless extenuating circumstances are present) and will, to the extent possible, only share information with those individuals who are responsible for Middlebury’s response to the incident. Middlebury will not require the individual to participate in any investigation or disciplinary proceeding, nor will it require the individual to personally report any information to law enforcement authorities. It will remain up to the individual to choose whether they personally want to participate in notifying law enforcement authorities, or would rather not do so.

If, when responding to reports of sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, or related retaliation, Middlebury determines it is obligated to take any action that would involve disclosing a reporting individual’s identity to the respondent, or an action from which the reporting individual’s identity may be easily determined by the respondent, the individual will be informed before the action is taken (unless extenuating circumstances are present). If the reporting individual requests that the respondent be informed that they requested that there be no investigation or disciplinary action, Middlebury will endeavor to honor this request and inform the respondent that Middlebury made the decision to investigate the matter.

Middlebury will take supportive measures when requested and reasonably available that are designed to prevent and address retaliation against individuals whose requests for confidentiality have not been honored.

When Confidentiality Can Be Maintained
If Middlebury determines that it can respect the individual’s request for confidentiality, Middlebury will take action to assist the individual, to the extent possible, where such measures are requested and reasonably available.

Individuals should be aware that if Middlebury honors their request for confidentiality, this may limit Middlebury’s ability to fully respond to the incident, including pursuing disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator.

Disclosure During Internal Investigations and Adjudications
Middlebury will handle information related to alleged violations of this policy with sensitivity and discretion. However, Middlebury may need to disclose information relating to an incident (including the identity of parties, witnesses, or others) to the extent necessary to conduct a thorough, fair, and impartial investigation and adjudication process for all involved parties.

Disclosure Required by Law
Middlebury will not include the names of complainants or other identifying information in publicly available reports that are compiled as required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, and when issuing timely warnings as required by the Clery Act, will withhold as confidential the names of such individuals. Middlebury is also part of a larger community and context. If there is an independent investigation, lawsuit, or criminal proceeding related to a sexual misconduct, domestic and/or dating violence, domestic and/or dating misconduct, stalking, or related retaliation matter, those involved or others may be required by law to provide testimony or documents (e.g., investigation reports, witness statements, and any other information gathered or obtained in the course of a particular matter).

Disclosure to Law Enforcement
In certain circumstances, Middlebury may need to report an incident to law enforcement authorities. Such circumstances include but are not limited to incidents that warrant the undertaking of safety and security measures for the protection of the individual and/or the campus community, or situations in which there is clear and imminent danger and/or a weapon may be involved. Complainants may choose to notify authorities personally and directly with or without Middlebury’s assistance, or may choose not to notify such authorities personally.

Survivor

Survivor, used throughout this site, requires elaboration in two areas. First, the word survivor, rather than victim, honors the strength and courage of the individuals survive sexual, physical, and emotional violence. Survival is a physical and emotional process that is experienced differently by each individual, and progresses at an individual pace.

In addition, it is important to note that the word survivor on this site does not connote or imply any legal status, either of an individual or of the encounter they experienced. Regardless of legal definitions of rape or sexual assault, or of outcomes of formal internal or external judicial processes, “survivor” on this site refers to anyone who has suffered a distressing sexual encounter.

Reporting

Throughout this site, we use the word “reporting” to reflect a process in which survivors share information to create a formal record of their experience, often in order to initiate action of some kind, including any of the following:

  • To ensure that there is a record of your experience;
  • To address your safety and seek appropriate accommodations, such as room change, or a No Contact Order or No Trespass Notice, both of which restrict the alleged perpetrator’s ability to communicate with you or go near you;
  • To seek information about confidential resources, counseling or other appropriate assistance;
  • To file a complaint on campus;
  • To report the incident to law enforcement.

It is important to understand that when a "non-confidential" member of the staff or faculty is notified of behavior that may constitute harassment, sexual misconduct, domestic or dating violence or misconduct, stalking, and/or related retaltiaion involving a student, they are obligated to report the matter to a Middlebury Human Relations Officer or a Judicial Affairs Officer. Middlebury will take reasonable, prompt and appropriate action to respond to such reports where the alleged conduct impacts or has the potential to impact the educational, residential, or employment environment of any member of the Middlebury community. For more information, please see the following:

Reporting Requirements for Staff and Faculty (sexual misconduct, domestic and dating violence and misconduct, stalking, and related retaliation incidents)

Requests for Confidentiality and Confidential Resources (sexual misconduct, domestic and dating violence and misconduct, stalking, and related retaliation reports)

Right to an Advisor of Choice (parties may have an advisor of their choice at all meetings, interview, or proceedings that involve Middlebury’s SMDVS investigation and adudication process)

Disclosure to Law Enforcement (sexual misconduct, domestic and dating violence and misconduct, stalking, and related retaliation reports)

Pursuing a Criminal Complaint and Medical Care and Evidence Preservation (sexual misconduct, domestic and dating violence and misconduct, stalking, and related retaliation reports)

Services and Accommodations (sexual misconduct, domestic and dating violence and misconduct, stalking, and related retaliation reports)

Reporting Requirements for Staff and Faculty (harassment, discrimination, and related retaliation)

Requests for Confidentiality and Confidential Resources (harassment and discrimination reports)

For additional information, see If you have been affected. See also Appendix C to Middlebury’s Policy Against Sexual Misconduct, Domestic and Dating Violence and Misconduct, and Stalking.

Acquaintance Rape

The vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by assailants who are known to the survivor. Acquaintance rape is a non-legal term defining a person being subjected to unwanted sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or other sexual contact through the use of force or threat of force by someone the survivor knows. When it occurs between individuals who have been in a dating relationship, it is often referred to as date rape. Because survivors of date rape are typically and erroneously viewed as less harmed by the experience than other rape survivors, and perpetrators of date rape are typically and erroneously viewed as less culpable, this term is generally discouraged.


Acquaintance rape is the most common type of rape. Like stranger rape, it is a crime of violence and an attempt by the attacker to assert power. Acquaintance rape often occurs within a context that is confusing for both the rapist and the survivor. While their behavior may legally constitute rape, many assailants committing acquaintance rape do not think of themselves as rapists. The survivor may also be unclear about whether or not s/he has been raped, and may fail to label forced sex by someone s/he knows as rape. Survivors may feel guilty or responsible for the assault when they know their assailant, and may also question their judgment and/or have difficulty trusting people. If the survivor was using drugs or alcohol at the time of the forced sex, s/he may also be reluctant to report the crime, especially if s/he is under age. Loss of self esteem appears to be a particular problem when the perpetrator is known to the survivor.

Partner Violence

Partner violence, also referred to as dating violence, relationship violence, or domestic violence, is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors including physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, sexual, and emotional attacks that individuals use against their intimate partners. Examples include hitting, yelling, pushing, stealing money, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other expressions of power and intimidation. Partner violence often coincides with the isolation of one partner by another, be it through physical restraint, psychological isolation, or taking away mechanisms, like money or self-confidence,  that would allow a partner to leave. Partner violence occurs in all types of relationships, and people of all genders, sexualities, abilities, races, and ages can be perpetrators and survivors. Physical violence or intimidation of any kind, and some forms of emotional violence, are violations of Middlebury College’s Policy Against Sexual Misconduct, Domestic and Dating Violence and Misconduct, and Stalking and its General Conduct policies. For more information, see If you are in a violent or dangerous situation, or are feeling harassed.

Regretted Sex

People can consent to be sexually intimate and feel bad about it or regret it afterward. This is often called “regretted sex.” It is not sexual assault, because both individuals consented, but it is not healthy sex, because one or both individuals feel guilty, uneasy, or unhappy about what happened afterward.

Sexual assault prevention typically focuses on ending nonconsensual sex, but regretted consensual sex is a common and upsetting occurrence on college campuses, and can be damaging to those who experience it.

Reasons for having regretted sex include peer pressure, sexual inexperience, poor communication skills, and feelings of insecurity, such as having sex out of fear a partner will lose interest or be offended. Students who are struggling with experiences of regretted sex are encouraged to seek help from the counseling center or other resources listed under Seeking care and seeking action. Remember that all individuals in distress of any kind deserve care and support.

Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

From the Middlebury College Handbook's Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy:

Harassment

Harassment is defined as verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct based on or motivated by an individual’s actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, creed, color, place of birth, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or other characteristics as defined and protected by law in the location where a particular program is operating, that has the purpose or effect, from the point of view of a reasonable person, of objectively and substantially:

a. undermining and detracting from or interfering with an individual’s educational or work performance or access to Middlebury resources; or

b. creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational, work, or living environment.

Harassment may include repeated slurs, taunts in the guise of jokes, or disparaging references to others, use of epithets, stereotypes, comments, gestures, threats, graffiti, display or circulation of written or visual materials, taunts on manner of speech, and negative reference to customs when such conduct is based on or motivated by one or more of the protected characteristics identified above, or other characteristics as defined and protected by applicable law.

In Middlebury’s Vermont programs, harassment may also include conduct of the type described above that is based on or motivated by a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, which has the type of purpose or effect described above.

With respect to Middlebury programs operating in states other than Vermont (e.g., California, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.), harassment shall be defined as stated in this section unless the local law applicable to the program at issue mandates a broader definition, in which case such law will apply.

Sexual Harassment

Harassment may also include so-called quid pro quo sexual harassment, meaning unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

a. submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or educational status; or

b. submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a component of or as the basis for employment decisions (such as wages, evaluation, advancement, assigned duties, or shifts) or educational/student life-related decisions (such as grades, class assignments, or letters of recommendation, or residence-related decisions) affecting an individual.

Other examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • touching or grabbing a sexual part of a student’s or employee’s body;
  • touching or grabbing any part of a student’s or employee’s body after that person has indicated, or it is known or reasonably should be known, that such physical contact was unwelcome;
  • continuing to ask a student or employee to socialize on or off duty when that person has indicated s/he is not interested;
  • displaying or transmitting sexually suggestive pictures, objects, cartoons, or posters if it is known or reasonably should be known that the behavior is unwelcome;
  • continuing to write sexually suggestive notes or letters if it is known or reasonably should be known that the person does not welcome such behavior;
  • referring to or calling a person a sexualized name if it is known or reasonably should be known that the person does not welcome such behavior;
  • regularly telling sexual jokes or using sexually vulgar or explicit language in the presence of a person if it is known or reasonably should be known that the person does not welcome such behavior;
  • derogatory or provoking remarks about or relating to a student’s or employee’s sex or sexual orientation;
  • harassing acts or behavior directed against a person on the basis of his or her sex or sexual orientation.

Retaliation

Retaliating directly or indirectly against a person who has in good faith made a report under this policy or participated in an investigation of a complaint of any type of discrimination or harassment as defined above is prohibited. Retaliation includes but is not limited to ostracizing the person, pressuring the person to drop or not support the complaint or to provide false or misleading information, or engaging in conduct that may reasonably be perceived to affect adversely that person’s educational, living, or work environment; threatening, intimidating, or coercing the person; or otherwise discriminating against any person for exercising their rights or responsibilities under this policy. Depending on the circumstances, retaliation may also be unlawful. Retaliation under this policy may be found whether or not the complaint is ultimately found to have merit. Complaints of retaliation should be reported under the procedures described below.