Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights
In accordance with Section 485 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Valdosta State University has established in conjunction with its written Sexual Harassment Policy, a policy which provides that the following right are accorded, by all campus officers, administrators, employees and students, to victims of campus related sexual assaults:
- The right to have any and all sexual assaults against them treated with seriousness; and the right, as victims, to be treated with dignity; and the right for VSU organizations which assist such victims to be recognized.
- The right to have sexual assaults committed against them investigated by VSU Division of Public Safety and the Office of the Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity Programs and Multi-Cultural Affairs; and the right to the full and prompt cooperation and assistance of personnel in notifying the proper authorities. This action shall be in addition to the disciplinary proceedings established by VSU.
- The right to be free from any kind of pressure from any VSU entity that victims (a) not report crimes committed against them to VSU Division of Public Safety, and disciplinary officials for civil or criminal action: or (b) report crimes as lesser offenses than the victims perceive them to be.
- The right to be free from any kind of suggestion that sexual assault victims not report, or under-report, crimes committed on campus because:
- victims are somehow "responsible" for the commission of crimes against them;
- victims were contributorily negligent or assumed the risk of being assaulted; or,
- by reporting crimes they would incur unwanted personal publicity.
- In any campus disciplinary hearing, the accused and accusers have the right to have someone accompany them at the hearing, and both the accused and accuser have the right to be notified of the hearing outcome. The sanctions for the accused in cases of sexual assault will be determined by the individual or body hearing the charges. Sanctions may include any sanction deemed appropriate in the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, or Staff Handbook.
- The right to full and prompt cooperation from VSU personnel in obtaining, securing, and maintaining evidence (including medical examination) as may be necessary for proof of criminal sexual assault in subsequent legal proceedings.
- The right to be made aware of and assisted in exercising any options as provided by State and Federal laws or regulations with regard to mandatory testing of sexual assault suspects for communicable diseases and with regard to notification to victims of the results of such testing.
- The right to counseling from any mental health services previously established by VSU, by other victim-service entities, or by services acquired by victims themselves.
- After campus assaults have been reported, the victims of such crimes shall have the right to require that VSU authorities take the necessary steps or actions reasonably feasible to prevent any unnecessary or unwanted contact with or proximity to reported assailants, including immediate relocation of the reported victim to safe and secure alternative housing and transfer of classes if so requested by the victim.
- In addition, students, whether sexual assault victims or not, have a right to habitability (*) in on-campus housing accommodations for which VSU may receive any compensation, direct or indirect. Substantiated violations of these provisions shall be corrected by campus personnel with relocation of the complainant to acceptable, safe, and secure alternative housing as soon as possible, unless conditions warrant other immediate action by campus personnel.
(* Habitability shall be defined as an environment free from sexual or physical intimidation, or any other continuing disruptive behavior by persons sharing rooms or roommates' guests that is of such a serious nature as would prevent a reasonable person from attaining their educational goals.)
- Other appropriate personnel will be contacted as needed by the individuals responding to the victim of the assault. Education and awareness programs will be conducted by appropriate campus personnel on the topics of sexual assault and victims' rights on a regular basis.