Alcohol Policy Statement
Mount Holyoke College permits the consumption of alcoholic beverages at social functions only within the stipulations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town of South Hadley that govern the purchase and selling of alcoholic beverages. Such social functions include all events held on campus and sponsored by any student, alumna, staff, or faculty member of the College, as well as any College-sponsored function held at an off-campus location.
The College expects all faculty, staff, and students to become familiar with the laws and with the College's policies governing alcohol and to consider the penalties and risks that can result from violations. The Mount Holyoke College policy is guided by three concerns:
- the health and safety of our students,
- compliance with state and federal laws regarding the possession, purchase, sale, and distribution of alcohol, and
- our educational mission, which includes informing students so they can make responsible life choices. Consequently our alcohol policy is designed to do the following:
- observe all state and federal laws
- stress moderation, safety, and individual accountability of those 21 and over who choose to drink
- provide a college atmosphere free of coercion for those who choose not to use alcohol and/or other drugs
- maintain a community where the effects of alcohol are minimal and where problem behavior is reduced
- provide information and education for all students
- provide confidential and effective guidance and counseling for students with issues related to alcohol use or abuse (Federal Confidentiality Law 42CFR, Part 2)
Students who violate state or federal laws will not be protected by the College. Violations of the alcohol and drug policy and dangerous or disruptive behavior and its consequences will be handled by the usual general judiciary procedure under the honor code. The involvement of alcohol with such behavior will be considered an exacerbating factor, not a mitigating one. If a student does not choose to follow these policies, the student may receive sanctions ranging from a written warning to suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. A chart of specific violations and sanctions can be found below.
Mount Holyoke College emphasizes the responsibility of each community member to be law-abiding, knowledgeable, and thoughtful about any decisions regarding alcohol consumption. With the help of the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project, residence hall staff, and other educational resources, the College provides information about alcohol use and abuse and urges all community members to take advantage of the opportunity to become educated and make informed choices about consumption and nonconsumption. We encourage those with concerns about their own or others' difficulties with alcohol and/or other drugs to seek confidential assistance through the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Project.
- Use or possession of alcoholic beverages by any persons under the age of twenty-one is prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the College. (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 138, Section 6, 34A).
- Purchase of an alcoholic beverage by an underage person or any arrangement with another person to procure such drinks is a crime punishable by a mandatory $300 fine.
- Deliveries of alcoholic beverages to individuals or groups are prohibited on the Mount Holyoke College campus, except those which have been arranged through the Department of Dining Services/Willits-Hallowell Center for social events that have been registered through the Office of Student Programs.
- The presence, possession, or use of kegs by individuals or groups other than at a registered, approved event is prohibited on the College campus.
- Persons twenty-one years old and over may use alcohol in the privacy of their rooms providing all guidelines governing guests, noise, and appropriate behavior are followed. Individuals should be informed that distributing to persons under twenty-one is prohibited by laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the College. It is a criminal offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,000 fine, for any person to furnish any alcoholic beverage to a person less than 21 years, parents or grandparents of the person excepted.
- Consumption of alcohol in unapproved areas (e.g., residence hall corridors, stairways, elevators, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, laundry rooms, academic buildings etc.) can result in disciplinary action.
- Possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in public/common areas or on the grounds of the College, except at registered events or licensed facilities.
- Students under the legal drinking age cannot serve or host alcohol in their residence hall room, including instances where the alcohol is in the possession of or is the property of a person of legal drinking age.
- Organizers of student events may request alcohol service during an event.
- The Office of Student Programs must be contacted to approve and register student-sponsored events in campus buildings or at outdoor locations on campus.
- Alcohol may be ordered and served only by dining services/Willits-Hallowell staff.
- Nonalcoholic beverages and food must be made available free of charge at any event where alcohol is served. Additional food may be sold at a reasonable rate.
- Students and guests entering events where alcoholic beverages are served must show proper identification upon request. A A valid U.S. driver's license or two proof-of-age photo-ID cards must be shown to be served alcoholic beverages. Any forms of identification that appear to have been tampered with will not be accepted. Altering any form of identification is a felony.
- Massachusetts state law prohibits those under twenty-one years of age and those having had too much to drink from being served alcohol.
- Sponsors of events serving alcohol bear responsibility to ensure that no one is coerced, however subtly, to drink excessively.
- If a person appears to have had too much to drink prior to entering an event, she or he should not be allowed entrance. Public safety officers will assist in removing unwanted guests.
- Alcohol may be served for no more than four hours at any student sponsored event on campus. During late-night events, alcohol service will stop one hour of the event so that the last hour of the event will be alcohol free. In no case can alcohol be present after 1:45 am.
- Sponsoring social events and parties that encourage drinking as themes and advertising such events through words and/or images depicting drinking or drunkenness are prohibited. An event may be cancelled if sponsors do not adhere to this guideline
Important items to note
- The host(s) assumes full responsibility for informing their guests of the College policies, procedures, and community expectations. The host will be held accountable for the actions of their guests. This includes participation is a disciplinary hearing and responsibility for related disciplinary hearing sanctions.
- Students may also be held accountable for policy violation in which they are in the presence of. Being in the presence of alcohol may be implied based on the number, location and condition of empty or partially empty cans, bottles, or other containers.
- Any person who violates state or federal law is liable for their actions and may be subject to civil or criminal complaints. Mount Holyoke College does not intervene on an individual’s behalf with campus, local or state law enforcement authorities. The College will not protect those who violate state and federal laws. Campus Police always have the option to arrest. In accordance with federal law, a conviction of a drug offense in any criminal proceeding will make a student ineligible for financial aid for a period of at least one year.
- The College considers intoxication requiring medical assessment, medical treatment, and or medical transport a health emergency. There may be instances in which the parental/ emergency contact will be notified in response to intoxication.
Please refer to the College’s policy on Parent Notification noted earlier in this document.
Amnesty/Bystander Intervention Policy
For Students Who Report Intoxication, Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Other Forms of Discrimination
The College expects all community members to take reasonable and prudent action to prevent or stop harassment, discriminations, and the violation of College policy and Honor Code. Taking action may include direct intervention, a call to Campus Police, or a report to a person in authority.
The College also recognizes that fear of disciplinary repercussions may deter reporting or requests for help. The College has developed this Amnesty or Bystander Intervention policy to alleviate such concerns and encourage members of the College to respond.
The College provides disciplinary amnesty for student, who in the course of reporting:
- the intoxication of others;
- an act of bias or discrimination; and>
- a sexual assault, other form of gender based discrimination, or sexual violence
discloses personal behavior that would be a violation of College policy or Honor Code. In such cases, the incident will be documented and educational and/or health interventions may be required as a condition of foregoing a disciplinary sanction. The reporting student will not receive a violation on their record. The Amnesty policy applies to the College’s student disciplinary process and use of the College Grievance Procedure.
The Amnesty policy does not apply to repeated, flagrant, or serious violations, or violations that caused harm to another person. This policy does not preclude action by Campus Police or other outside legal authorities.
Examples where this policy would apply:
- A student is reluctant to report a sexual assault because of the fear of receiving a violation of the College Alcohol or Drug policy. To encourage reporting incidents of sexual assault, the College will not pursue or process any violations related to the alcohol or drug policy.
- A student is reluctant to call Campus Police to assess the health of a friend who is intoxicated because of the fear of receiving a violation of the College Alcohol or Drug policy. To encourage reporting, the College will not record the violation on the reporting student’s record. The reporting student may be required to partake in some form of alcohol education in lieu of a sanction.
- A student is reluctant to report an act of vandalism or hate crime because he/she silently witnessed the behavior or was intoxicated at the time of the incident and is under the age of 21. To encourage reporting, the College ill not record the violation on the reporting student’s record. The reporting student may be required to partake in some form of alcohol education in lieu of a sanction.
Hazing is a serious offense. The College encourages students to report such offenses promptly. Hazing is prohibited by both state law and the Mount Holyoke College Honor Code and will not be tolerated in this community of trust. All reported cases of suspected hazing will be seriously investigated with a fair process.
On November 26, 1985, legislation prohibiting hazing took effect in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Although hazing is most commonly associated with induction into college fraternities and sororities, the practice can also occur in a number of other circumstances.
The legislation states:
The term "hazing"... shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person.
Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, or other substance, or any brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest, or extended isolation.
Go to the following website for the complete text of the Massachusetts Hazing Law and review 269: 17, 18, 19:
Some ways to tell if an activity is hazing:
- A selected group is singled out for ritual
- It results in behavior or pictures that you would not share with your parents, coach, professors or athletic director
- The activity is humiliating, demeaning, intimidating, and exhausting, and/or results in physical or emotional discomfort, involves harassment or ridicule, or which endangers the health or safety of any person whether on or off campus.
Remember: what may seem like harmless "fun" to you may be deeply humiliating to another person.
Distribution of Policy:
All students receive a copy of this policy. (Non-residential students will be mailed a copy of the policy.) All student team captains and organization chairpersons receive copies of the policy from Athletics and Student Programs at the start of the year/their season, and are required to have each member of their group sign a statement that they agree to abide by this policy. Each group member then receives a copy of the policy statement they have signed. *Certain student organizations, such as the SGA, FPSA, Class Boards, and Day Student Organization, that act as governing bodies or represent a constituency based upon enrollment in the college, require only the signatures of officers and other actively participating students, not the entirety of their constituency.
Myths and Facts About Hazing
Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily. Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or, organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.
Myth #2: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that sometimes go awry. Fact: Hazing is an act of power and control over others --- it is victimization. Hazing is premeditated and NOT accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and sometimes life-threatening.
Myth #3: As long as there's no malicious intent, a little hazing should be O.K. Fact: Even if there's no malicious "intent", safety may still be a factor in traditional hazing activities that are considered to be "all in good fun." For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts and kidnapping trips. Ask what purpose such activities serve in promoting the growth and development of group team members?
Myth #4: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline. Fact: First of all, respect must be EARNED--not taught. Victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy and alienation.
Myth #5: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can't be considered hazing. Fact: In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim can't be used as a defense in a civil suit. This is because even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action it may not be true consent when considering the peer pressure and desire to belong to the group.
Myth #6: It's difficult to determine whether or not a certain activity is hazing--it's such a gray area sometimes. Fact: It's not difficult to decide if an activity is hazing if you use common sense and ask yourself the following questions:
IS IT HAZING?
Make the following inquiries of each activity to determine whether or not it is hazing:
- Is alcohol involved?
- Will active/current members of the group refuse to participate with the new members and do exactly what they're being asked to do?
- Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse?
- Is there risk of injury or a question of safety?
- Do you have any reservation describing the activity to your parents, to a professor or University official?
- Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crew?
If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," the activity is probably hazing.
Where can I make a report and/or receive support if I’ve experienced hazing?
You may report hazing to the appropriate law enforcement individual and/or any of the following offices – click on the office for a link to direction. Reports should include what happened, where it happened, when it happened and who was there.
- Dean of Students Office
- Student Programs
- Athletics Department
- Public Safety
- Counseling Services
- Ombuds Office
- Diversity and Inclusion
Can I make an anonymous report?
Yes you can make an anonymous report to any of the resources listed above.
If I am the witness of a hazing incident, what responsibility do I have to report it?
Yes, you have an ethical and legal responsibility under the Honor Code and MA law to report any incident of hazing that you witness to an appropriate law enforcement official and a College administrator as soon as reasonably practical. See list above of offices to report hazing
What is the range of outcomes for reported hazing incidents involving Mount Holyoke community members?
Hazing is a serious offense. If it is determined to be a criminal offense, legal outcomes include fines of not more than three thousand dollars or imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both fine and imprisonment.
Even if there is no criminal case
- The range of outcomes at the College depends on facts of the matter, as determined by the College’s investigation of the report.
- The complainant may choose to pursue action against those involved with the hazing (i.e. none, informal grievance, formal grievance, Student Disciplinary Process through the Dean of Students Office, legal remedies).
- The Dean of Students or other college officials may also take action to enforce College policy or comply with applicable law. The College may take appropriate protective and administrative action even in situations where the Complainant is absent.
- Outcomes may include, but are not limited to: a letter of reprimand, mandatory educational project, social probation, suspension, required withdrawal or expulsion. Team players may be suspended or expelled from the team. Club members may be suspended or expelled from their club. In addition, teams or clubs participating in hazing may lose the right to organize, play, compete for any period of time, including permanently.
- Grievance procedures
- Standards of Social Conduct
Policy Regarding Illegal Drug Use
Members of the College community are expected to follow applicable Federal and State laws regarding the use of controlled substances. For the purposes of this policy, controlled substances include over-the-counter medications, prescribed medication not used as indicated or prescribed, illegal drugs, chemical substances not used for their intended purpose.
The use, cultivation, manufacture, sale, distribution, and/or possession of drugs or controlled substances in violation of federal, state, or municipal laws is prohibited by the College and is not permitted in the residence halls, on any College property, or while on College business. Those seeking exception to this policy for disability or other chronic medical conditions should consult with the Director of AccessAbility Services or the Director of College Health Services.
Violations of the Drug Policy include but are not limited to:
* Possession or use of illegal drugs and controlled substances
* Misuse of prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicine
* Failure to report the use, cultivation, manufacture, sale, distribution, and/or possession of illegal substances on any College property to a College official
* Presence during the known use of illegal drugs or misuse of substances
Federal, state and local sanctions for unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs range from probation and forfeiture of property to fines and imprisonment.
Violations and Sanctions
Typical Sanctions for Violations of the Campus Drug Policy
Sexual Violance Policy
Mount Holyoke College is committed to a climate of diversity, respect, accountability, and free inquiry. We see it as our collective responsibility to be a community free from the ill effects of harassment and discrimination. The College has developed the following policy to enforce our prohibition of gender-based discrimination. Mount Holyoke College prohibits its faculty, staff and students from engaging in any form of sexual violence against another member of, or visitor to our community. Sexual violence incorporates a continuum of nonconsensual acts including sexual harassment, rape, stalking, intimate partner violence and sexual coercion.
This policy covers incidents that occur on the College grounds and conduct that occurs off campus while on college related business (e.g. study abroad, academic exchange sponsored by the College or summer internship sponsored by the College).
This policy protects members of the Mount Holyoke community and visitors, including prospective employees and applicants for admission, of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, immigration status, genders, gender identities and sexual orientation. The College does not discriminate in providing services to victims and survivors.
The College provides the student support services and resources highlighted in this policy document at no cost.
Related Policies and Applicable Laws
The College has named the following individuals as Title IX Coordinators to oversee compliance with these laws, including the review and investigation of reports of sexual violence. The Title IX Coordinators are also responsible for identifying and addressing systematic problems that may arise during the complaint process. Individuals can also reach out to the Title IX Coordinators to obtain interim measures to redress, to the extent possible, the effects of the violence experience and prevent its reoccurrence.
The College encourages members of the College community to report any incident of sexual violence or gender discrimination promptly and accepts anonymous and third party reports. Reporting is an expectation each member of the community must share and is a requirement for employees who serve as a student’s supervisor, advisor, coach, or is a person to which a student would reasonably think of as a person of authority. All reports of harassment are taken seriously and will be investigated.
Faculty, staff, students and visitors can report behaviors they have experienced, witnessed or become aware to many offices on campus such as Campus Police, Dean of Students Office or Human Resources. Individuals can also report harassing behavior, ask questions regarding this policy or make suggestions for policy improvements to the College’s Title IX Coordinators.
Deputy Title IX Coordinators
Chris Abbuhl Eleanor Townsley Summer Hutcheson
Director of Human Resources Associate Dean of Faculty Associate Athletics Director
1 Skinner Hall 101 Mary Lyon Hall 110 Kendall Sports Complex
50 College Street 50 College Street 50 College Street
South Hadley, MA 01075 South Hadley, MA 01075 South Hadley, MA 01075
ph 413-538-2503 ph 413-538-3093 ph 413-538-2276
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Maintaining confidentiality of the identity of the survivor and/or reporting party is a high priority. Reporting an incident or utilizing support services does not require a survivor to take campus disciplinary or off campus legal action. The College's primary concern is ensuring the safety of its students and employees and providing access to support services.
College Disciplinary Options
- College disciplinary options are available for reported sexual assault and sexual misconduct involving Mount Holyoke students.
- The College's Grievance Procedures is the mechanism used to respond to complaints of harrassment and discrimination.
- Any type of sexual assault or sexual misconduct may be reported.
- The range of outcomes depends on the findings of the investigation into the case.
- The Title IX Coordinator or other college officials may also take action to enforce College policy or comply with applicable law. The College may take appropriate protective and administrative action even in situations where the Complainant is absent.
- Outcomes may include, but are not limited to: a letter of reprimand, mandatory educational project, social probation, suspension, required withdrawal or expulsion.
Getting Help at Mount Holyoke
Students can access help at Mount Holyoke after a sexual assault through the Dean of Students Office, Campus Police, Health Services, Counseling Services, or the Office of Residential Life. We encourage students to seek the services of Health Services, Counseling Service and Campus Police immediately after an assault. These offices can provide you with immediate medical attention and assist you in collecting and preserving evidence. Individuals can also report instances of sexual violence, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sex discrimination to the campus Title IX Coordinator.
The on- and off-campus services referenced below are available at no charge to all Mount Holyoke students.
For immediate assistance after a sexual assault, you are encouraged to contact Mount Holyoke College Campus Police. Campus Police is available on campus 24 hours a day and can provide services immediately. A Campus Police officer will:
- Encourage you to get immediate medical attention. An officer from Campus Police will contact the on-call clinician and escort you to the Health Center or other medical facility for medical assessment and treatment of any injuries.
- Arrange for you to see a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). This examination includes collection and documentation of evidence to preserve your future legal options. An on-call nurse will provide the exam at UMass University Health Services or Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Campus Police will arrange for transportation to either location.
- Advise you of on-campus options for counseling and other services available through the Health Center, Counseling Service, Residential Life, Dean of Students, Academic Deans, and Religious and Spiritual Life.
- Connect you to off-campus resources, such as the Everywoman’s Center Counselor Advocate Program, Womanshelter/Compañeras, and the District Attorney’s Office for SAFEPLAN.
If you request, Campus Police will also investigate the incident and provide follow-up services. In its investigation of a sexual assault, Campus Police will assign an officer who has received special training in these matters. The officer will ask for a description of the assailant(s) at the time you report the incident. During the investigation, the officer will ask you many questions and go over the details of the incident.
If necessary, Campus Police will provide liaison with the South Hadley Police Department, the Hampshire County District Attorney’s Office, and other local police departments, depending on where the sexual assault occurred.
Requesting Campus Police to investigate does not mean you are making a commitment to follow through with criminal prosecution. If you choose to report the crime and the assailant is known, you may have the following judicial and/or criminal options:
If the assailant is not a member of the Mount Holyoke community, a trespass notice may be appropriate to prevent the person from entering the campus.
If the assailant is another member of the Mount Holyoke community, you may opt to utilize campus sanctions. The Dean of Students will direct you to the appropriate resources for your situation.
If you and the assailant had a relationship such as dating or living together, you may be able to obtain a restraining order against that person.
The College--or in some cases you--may be able to request a criminal hearing, or an arrest may be made.
Resources at Mount Holyoke during the Academic Year
The following departments will help you access all campus and community services during the academic year. Campus Police is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Availability of other departments will vary during vacations, summer, and January Term.
- On Campus: x2304 or 911
- Phone: 413-538-2304
- Staff are on campus 24 hours a day.
- MHC anonymous reporting by staff required
- For online access to information, see the Mount Holyoke Sexual Assault Resource Guide
In addition to the option of contacting Campus Police, you may choose to access help after a sexual assault through the Health Center, the Counseling Service, or the Office of Residential Life. These departments will explain all of your options and will contact other departments at your request.
- Phone: 413-538-2242
- On Campus: x2242
- Staff is on call 24 hours a day.
- MHC anonymous reporting by staff required.
At the Health Center, a nurse can:
- Provide emergency contraception (EC) up to 120 hours after the incident.
- Provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Provide anonymous and confidential HIV testing and counseling.
- Screen for predatory drugs up to 96 hours after the incident.
- Contact Everywoman’s Center at UMass to arrange for a Counselor Advocate to provide you with support.
- Encourage you to seek further treatment through the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program at UMass University Health Services or Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Campus Police can arrange for transportation to either location.
In order to preserve evidence after a sexual assault it is important that you do not change your clothes, bathe or shower, brush your hair or teeth, or apply medication or cosmetics prior to any kind of medical exam.
- Phone: 413-538-2037
- On Campus: x2037
- Staff is on call 24 hours a day.
- MHC anonymous reporting by staff not required.
At the Counseling Service, a clinician can:
- Listen to you, validate your experience, and empower you with options.
- Offer crisis intervention and brief therapy to assist you in recovering from the trauma.
- Offer referral to other services including the Counselor Advocate Program at the UMass Everywoman’s Center.
- Provide you with information regarding the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program.
- Offer support, counseling, and referral for others who may have been affected by the sexual assault such as friends, partners, and witnesses.
- Phone: 413-538-2088
- On Campus: x2088
- Staff is on call 24 hours a day.
- MHC anonymous reporting by staff required.
At Residential Life, a staff person can:
- Escort you to campus resources if needed.
- Discuss temporary housing assignments if the sexual assault happened on campus, or if returning to your room is not an option.
If you talk with a Hall President (HP) or Student Advisor (SA) they must contact an Assistant Director of Residential Life (AD), the Dean on Call, and/or Campus Police.
ADAP (Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program)
- Phone: 413-538-2616
- On Campus: x2616
- Monday – Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm; some evening hours
- Phone: 413-538-2855
- On Campus: x2855
- Monday – Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm
If you have academic or personal issues related to a sexual assault that are not addressed by the services described in this guide, you are encouraged to contact other campus resources for assistance. These include the Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Students, Academic Deans, ADAC, the Ombudsperson, and Religious and Spiritual Life.
If you do not wish to use campus resources, you may also contact the following directly:
Local Police and Emergency Services
Phone: 911 off campus
Services reached depend on your location and the phone from which the call originates.
South Hadley Police
Phone: 413-538-8231 or 911 in South Hadley
If the incident occurred on the Mount Holyoke campus, you will be referred to Mount Holyoke Campus Police.
Everywoman’s Center: Toll-Free 24 hour Rape Crisis Hotline
Phone: 413-545-0800; 888-337-0800
(Local Long Distance)
MA Relay 711
Spanish Speaking Rape Crisis Counselors,
M-F, 11am - 5pm
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)
On-call nurse available at UMass Amherst or Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Northampton.
When reviewing allegations of discrimination or sexual misconduct, Mount Holyoke College strives to respect the survivor's wish for confidentiality. The College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to a complaint in a manner that is consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation. Individuals should note that requests for confidentiality will limit the College’s ability to investigate.
Confidentiality is not always possible or appropriate. The College has the responsibility to balance the requests for confidentiality with our institutional responsibility of ensuring a safe educational environment and workplace. An individual's requests regarding the confidentiality of a report of discrimination or sexual misconduct will be considered in determining an appropriate response. Factors the College will consider when making this assessment include: the seriousness of the alleged harassment; the complainant’s age; whether there have been other harassment complaints about the same individual; and the alleged harasser’s rights to receive information about the allegations if the information is maintained by the school as an “education record” under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 C.F.R. Part 99.
Please note that staff within offices that hold legal confidentiality, such as the Counseling Service or Health Serviices are exempted from this confidentiality statement, except as otherwise required by law. Because content of discussions with confidential resources noted above is not reported, such discussions do not serve as notice to the College to address the alleged discrimination or sexual misconduct.
Employees of the College are mandated to report instances of harrassment and discrimination that they witness or that is reported to them.
MHC Anonymous Reporting
If you disclose a sexual assault to a Mount Holyoke staff member they must report it using the MHC Sexual Assault Centralized Report Form. This form does not include your name. It includes only a minimal amount of general information about the sexual assault for federal Clery Act purposes. It is also included in statistics used to reduce the future incidence of such crimes. The only staff members exempt from this requirement are individuals working as counselors in the Counseling Service and in Religious and Spiritual Life.
If you decide to make a sexual assault report to Campus Police this does not mean that you must go to court and prosecute. Decisions about possible prosecution are made later. Filing a sexual assault report preserves evidence and documents the incident to protect your rights. You are involved in all decisions about proceeding with criminal charges. By Massachusetts state law, your name on all sexual assault reports is kept confidential and will not be released without your permission.
Survivor's or reporting parties who are non-Mount Holyoke College community members (including Five College students) may file a sex discrimination, sexual assault or sexual misconduct complaint with the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will respond to any complaint that involves a current member of the Mount Holyoke community (faculty, student, or staff) or that occurs on campus grounds or during a college sponsored activity away from campus.
Who can I talk to about my experience who will not tell anyone or do anything at all?
At Mount Holyoke, staff of the Counseling Service and staff of Religious and Spiritual Life are not required to report anything about you or your experience to anyone at all.
What is considered sexual contact? How can I know how someone else is experiencing touch or physical intimacy?
People have different understandings of what they consider intimate and “friendly” versus what they consider intimate and sexual. These understandings can vary on the basis of religious and cultural values, social and family norms, and personal values and experiences.
The best way to find out how someone experiences touch and physical intimacy is to ask and discuss it before something happens and obtain consent for physical touch or intimacy before it takes place.
Many situations are ambiguous and risky if not clarified in advance. Consider the possibility of sleeping in the same bed as another student because “It’s too late to walk across campus to my own residence hall.” Does this imply that you have given consent to be touched in a sexual way? Who is responsible for clarifying the situation—and when?
It can be awkward and even embarrassing to talk about the situation and establish boundaries in advance—but it can be devastating for everyone involved if an awkward situation turns into sexual misconduct or a sexual assault that could have been avoided through a frank discussion about expectations and consent in advance.
How should consent be obtained? Can body language be understood as consent?
Ideally, consent is given verbally. However, consent can also be expressed (given or withdrawn) through body language. For example, active reciprocation could express consent, pushing someone away or moving away could express lack of consent.
Body language and even verbal responses may be ambiguous. It may also be unclear who is responsible for getting consent and who is responsible for giving consent at any particular moment. If consent is unclear, there is a risk of committing a sexual offense. Consequently, when in doubt, each participant in the activity should stop and ASK.
What are some of the indicators that I am at risk for committing sexual assault or sexual misconduct?
- You are touching another person in a sexual manner without their consent.
- You are initiating sexual contact when you are not sure what the other person wants.
- You are initiating sexual contact when the other person is drunk or otherwise intoxicated.
- You decided to have sex by any means necessary.
- You are hoping that they won't say anything but will just be quiet and like it.
- You are acting on an impulse or dare.
- You are getting mixed messages/signals.
- You have not spoken with the person about what they want to do.
- Ask rather than assume. You and your partner should talk about what would be most enjoyable together.
If I am accused of committing a sexual assault, how serious is it?
Being convicted of a sexual assault is a felony in Massachusetts.
How can alcohol and drugs impact consent and decision making?
The use of alcohol and other drugs impairs judgment and undermines the ability to make good decisions, including decisions about sexual activity.
If I hear about a sexual assault that happened to someone else, should I report it?
Yes! The College takes all reports of sexual harrassment (including sexual assault) and sexual misconduct seriously. Individuals are welcome to make an anonymous report of sexual assault. Information regarding the College's anonymous reporting option is linked here.
Does Mount Holyoke College collect data regarding sexual assaults?
Yes. The College gathers and reports data consistent with various federal and state reporting mandates. Individuals interested in the College's crime statistics are encourage to review our Campus Clery Crime and Fire Safety Report.
Examples of Conduct Prohibited Under the Sexual Violence Policy
- Sexual Assault
- Statutory Rape
- Sexual Harassment
- Dating/Intimate Partner Violence
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Exploitation
Definitions of Conduct Prohibited
Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual activity. When any person engages in sexual activity to which they DO NOT or CANNOT consent, that fits the definition of sexual assault. Sexual assault includes rape, incest, fondling and statutory rape.
Rape (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 265, s.22) is defined as "sexual intercourse" (insertion of penis in vagina) or (insertion of other body part or object into the vagina; insertion of penis, other body part, or object into the rectum; fellatio or cunnilingus) with a person by force and against the will of that person or by threat of bodily injury. Penetration must exist, but may be slight. Rape can be committed by a man against a woman, by a man against a man, by a woman against a man, by a woman against a woman, or by any person against a person who is drugged or unconscious.
Incest: Incest is sexual intercourse, sexual activity or marriage of persons within degrees of consanguinity (MGL c.272, s.17)
Statutory Rape: Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the legal age to give consent. Massachusetts General Law (MGL c.265, s.23a) defines statutory rape as sexual intercourse with a child under 16 years of age.
Fondling: Fondling, defined as Indecent Assault and Battery in Massachusetts (Massachusetts General Law Ch. 265, s.13H) is non-consensual, intentional physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as unwelcome physical contact with a person’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts. Lack of consent may be inferred from the use of force, threat, physical intimidation, or advantage gained by the victim’s mental or physical incapacity or impairment of which the perpetrator was aware of or should have been aware.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors and other unwelcome verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition to the provision of the College’s educational benefits, privileges or services or as a basis for the evaluation of academic achievement
- such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s education by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive academic or educational environment [Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 151C ]
Sexual harassment in employment is a form of illegal sex discrimination and is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:
- submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment
- submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or offensive working environment [Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Massachusetts General Law 151C]
Stalking: Stalking (MGL c.265, s43.) is the willful and malicious pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time that:
- is directed at a specific person
- causes a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress
- makes a threat with the intent ti place a person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury
Stalking includes unwanted and repeated harassing behavior, such as: following a person; appearing at a person’s home/residence hall, class or work; making frequent phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.; continuing to contact a person after receiving requests not to; leaving written messages, objects or unwanted gifts; vandalizing a person’s property; and threatening, intimidating or intrusive behavior. Stalking includes cyber stalking which is the use of internet, social networks, anonymous blogs, cell phones, texts, or other similar devices or forms of contact to pursue, harass, or to make unwelcome contact with another person.
Dating/ Intimate Partner Violence: Dating/Intimate partner violence includes sexual assault, physical abuse, or threats of such violence and abuse committed by a person who is or has been in a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined by consideration of both the reporting party's characterization of the relationship and the following factors:
- the length of the relationship
- the type of relationship
- the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship
Dating/intimate partner violence does not include the behaviors prohibited under the definition of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior by a partner or family household member to gain or maintain power and control over another. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
- Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc. are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.
- Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.
- Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children.
- Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance at school or employment.
- Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include - but are not limited to - causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.
Family or household member is defined as persons who
- are or were married to one another
- are or were residing together in the same household
- are or were related by blood or marriage
- have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together
- are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship
Sexual Exploitation: Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:
- Prostituting another student
- Non-consensual video or audio taping of sexual activity
- Distribution of consensual recordings, photos or other images without the knowledge or permission of the other parties involved
- Letting others hide to watch one have consensual sex
- Knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV
- Inducing incapacitation to make another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.
- Exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances
- Possessing, distributing, viewing or forcing others to view illegal pornography
Consent, Retaliation and Other Key Concepts
Mount Holyoke College believes that all sexual activity should be consensual. Consent to engage in any sexual activity must be knowing and voluntary; it must exist for each form of sexual contact. Consent given for a past sexual activity does not give consent for a new activity. The existence of a current or prior dating or intimate relationship does not imply consent. Consent can be given and withdrawn at any time.
One demonstrates consent through mutually understandable words and/or actions that clearly indicate a willingness to engage freely in sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive. Silence or the absence of resistance does not imply consent.
An individual who was asleep, mentally or physically incapacitated, either through the effects of drugs, alcohol or for any reason, or who was under duress, threat, coercion, or force, would not be able to consent to sexual activity.
Guidance on Consent
- It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain consent. Students are encouraged to communicate openly about what they do and do not want. Students may be held responsible for a violation of the sexual violence policy by NOT OBTAINING consent. A student will not be held responsible if they do not GIVE consent.
- If the sexual interaction is mutually initiated, both parties are equally responsible for getting and giving consent.
- All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting.
- Consent must be a free choice. Consent cannot be obtained by force, coercion, threats, intimidation or pressuring, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another individual.
- Consent is not unlimited. Consent is required for each separate sexual activity (i.e. kissing, touching, penetration). Consent to one form of sexual contact does not constitute consent to all forms of sexual contact, nor does consent to sexual activity with one person constitute consent to activity with any other person. Each participant in a sexual encounter must consent to each form of contact with each participant.
- Everyone has the right to change his or her mind and withdraw consent at any time. Individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner and communicate clearly throughout all stages of sexual activity. Withdrawal of consent can be an expressed “no” or can be based on an outward demonstration that conveys that an individual is hesitant, confused, and uncertain or is no longer a mutual participant. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must cease immediately and all parties must obtain mutually expressed or clearly stated consent before continuing further sexual activity.
- The ability to give consent freely may also be jeopardized if the initiator is in a position of power over the student, such as a professor, employer, or functioning in a supervisory capacity.
- Silence is not consent. Consent cannot be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of response. An individual who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent. Relying solely upon non-verbal communication can lead to a false conclusion as to whether consent was sought or given.
Incapacitation is the lack of ability to make informed, rational judgement to engage in sexual activity. A person who is incapacitated cannot offer consent to sexual activity. Incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol and/or drugs, when a person is asleep or unconscious or unable to provide consent due to age or disability. Where alcohol or other drugs are involved, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. Evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how substances consumed impact a person’s decision-making ability, awareness of consequences, ability to make informed judgements or capacity to understand the nature of the act.
Force is the use or threat of physical violence or intimidation to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity. For the use of force to be demonstrated, there is no requirement that a Complainant resists the sexual advance or request. However, resistance by the Complainant will be viewed as a clear demonstration of non-consent.
Coercion is the improper use of pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against his/her will. Coercion can include a wide range of behaviors, including intimidation, manipulation, threats and blackmail. A person’s words or conduct are sufficient to constitute coercion if they wrongfully impair another individual’s freedom of will and ability to choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity. Examples of coercion include threatening to “out” someone based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression and threatening to harm oneself if the other party does not engage in the sexual activity.
Role of Alcohol and Other Drugs
While alcohol use is not the cause of sexual assault, it is often a major contributing factor in sexual assault incidents. Alcohol and drugs impair a person’s decision-making capacity, awareness of consequences, and ability to make informed judgments. It is especially important, therefore, that anyone engaging in sexual activity be aware of the other person’s level of intoxication. If there is any doubt as to the level or extent of the other individual’s intoxication or impairment, the prudent course of action is to forgo or cease any sexual contact or activity.
The use of alcohol or other drugs does not minimize an initiator’s responsibility for perpetrating sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Being under the influence of alcohol or any other drug does not excuse behavior. In particular, it does not mitigate or nullify a charge of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
The College provides disciplinary amnesty to victims and third-party reports of sexual violence. Amnesty is given, in lieu of sanction, to encourage survivors to seek out support services and report act of sexual violence or other forms of gender-based discrimination. See our Amnesty/Bystander Intervention policy for more details.