#1. What are the current policies for handling sexual misconduct on campus?
Christendom’s sexual misconduct policy is printed in the 2017-2018 Student Handbook. It defines sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct and instructs students on how to report incidents of sexual misconduct. Reports of sexual misconduct are handled through the disciplinary conduct process which is focused on violations of the student code of conduct. Sanctions up to and including permanent expulsion from the College may be imposed if a student is found responsible for violating this policy. Students are also encouraged to contact law enforcement if they believe a crime has been committed.
#2. Are there female faculty and staff on campus to whom female students can report sexual misconduct?
Yes, the female faculty and staff on campus work hard to build trusting relationships with students so that they are comfortable making a report, should the need arise. Female faculty and staff meet informally and formally with students for mentoring, organize formation events on campus, lead mission trips, and find myriad other ways to get to know female students. A female full-time staff member lives in one of the three main women’s residence hall on campus and makes herself widely available to speak with students. Efforts at raising awareness about available faculty and staff and the details of the reporting process are regular and on-going.
#3. How are the RAs trained to help victims of sexual assault?
Currently we have 26 Resident Assistants serving their peers on campus. The RAs are trained in recognizing the signs of sexual assault, active and empathetic listening, and how to assist a student in making a report to the College and accessing resources for recovery.
#4. Is there a clear chain of command when an incident is reported?
Yes, a student can make a verbal or written report of sexual misconduct to any Student Life staff member. Those reports are received and handled by the Director of Student Affairs who uses the disciplinary conduct process to determine if the sexual misconduct policy was violated. It is the Director of Student Affairs who ultimately decides if the code of conduct has been violated and, if a student is found responsible, assigns an appropriate sanction.
#5. Is the College maintaining best practices regarding reports of sexual misconduct?
The College cares deeply for those students entrusted to us and we take seriously our commitment and responsibility to ensuring their growth and safety during their time on our campus. We believe our policies, procedures, education, and formation reflect that deep commitment. We also seek to help form young men and women in the full truth of the human person as revealed in the Catholic faith. In addition to well-thought-out policies for misconduct, the College educates on the Church’s teaching about sex as proper to marriage and the virtue of chastity. We are always considering where we can grow and enhance our procedures to fit the needs of the campus community. For this reason, we continue to review our sexual misconduct policies and procedures to ensure that they continue to meet the best practices used in the field of student affairs.
#6. Historically, how has your student code of conduct addressed sexual misconduct?
The student code of conduct was updated in 2013 to include a more detailed policy addressing sexual misconduct. Before 2013 the code of conduct included language prohibiting any acts of physical or emotional harm against another member of the college community. This policy was effectively used to find students responsible for a range of behaviors that have no place in our community, including sexual misconduct.
#7. Would Christendom ever consider implementing Title IX like federally funded schools are mandated to do?
Title IX of the Higher Education Amendmentof 1972 addresses issues of gender equality at institutions that accept funding from the federal government, including financial aid provided through federal student loan programs. At Christendom we are committed to providing access to higher education to all students and to providing a safe campus where students can freely pursue the Truth. We believe that we can provide that safe environment and a process for preventing and addressing sexual misconduct even though we are not mandated to do so by the federal government. Many of our policies and processes are like those used at federally-funded schools, and we continue to review our procedures to ensure that they create the best possible environment for our students.
#8. Who on the staff or in the administration learns about a report of sexual misconduct?
We take issues of confidentiality very seriously, especially when it comes to reports of sexual misconduct. A formal report is handled by the professional staff in the Student Life Office, and even then, only by those staff members who are directly involved in the disciplinary conduct process or providing resources to a student who makes a report. As in almost all disciplinary matters, it is the Student Life staff who have the education and training to handle these reports. When the staff determines that a student may be suspended or expelled for violating the code of conduct, this information may be shared with the Administration.
#9. What, if anything, can the college do about incidents that take place off campus? What about an incident that involves a non-student?
Christians are called to lead lives of integrity and honesty in all that we do. For this reason, our student handbook clearly states that students are responsible for their behavior both on or off campus and the college reserves the right to discipline students even if a policy violation occurs off campus. We believe this policy supports the community and challenges students to be accountable for their actions at all times. Non-students are not subject to the student code of conduct, and therefore cannot be found responsible for a violation through the disciplinary conduct process. When the College becomes aware of a non-student who is harming a student or having a negative impact on the campus community, we can ban that person from coming onto campus or attending College-sponsored events. We also have a strong relationship with local law enforcement and can refer (and have referred) matters to them that fell outside the bounds of the conduct process.
#10. Are women safe at Christendom?
The faculty, staff, and administration at Christendom care deeply about our students and their wellbeing. It is this commitment and care that has drawn people to Christendom’s campus and unique way of life over the past 40 years and why we continue to attract new students who want to be part of this Christ-centered community. The world does not stop at the wooden fence posts that outline the border of Christendom College. It would be insincere and just plain wrong to deny that there are students on campus who struggle with the problems often found in the contemporary culture. What we can say is that we proactively promote a life of virtue and a commitment to knowledge and the Truth to aid each member of the community as he or she pursues the deeper conversion to which all Christians are called. When error or transgressions do occur, we have systems in place to ensure that they are corrected quickly and justly and that everyone is held accountable for his or her actions. We believe that our proactive formation and system of accountability create a campus environment where students can become the men and women Christ is calling them to be.
#11 What is being done to “reach” students before major problems occur?
Proactive formation is a key component to challenging and supporting men and women during their time at College. Spiritual and personal formation strengthen each student’s moral character and help them to challenge their peers to a higher level of Christian behavior. A men’s formation program called “into the Deep” and a women’s formation program called “At the Well” are hosted several times throughout the semester. Speakers are brought in to address issues ranging from self-image, strong friendships, anxiety and depression, and addiction to pornography. Faculty and staff often attend and can offer practical advice to the students and learn what struggles our students are facing in their day-to-day lives. These formation programs are just one example of the many ways the College encourages and challenges students to live out their faith. Spiritual direction, small accountability groups, senior-led talks in the residence halls, fireside chats with faculty, bringing in nationally renowned speakers, and other efforts ensure that students have the opportunity to grow during their time here.
#12 Are faculty & staff trained about these issues?
Faculty and staff receive training annually about recognizing and reporting sexual misconduct from the Director of Student Affairs. Now we are partnering with a local sexual assault prevention and resource non-profit, the Laurel Center, to provide ongoing education to faculty and staff. It is our aim to train every member of the faculty and staff to understand what constitutes sexual misconduct, to recognize possible signs of sexual misconduct, and how to promptly report or aid a student in reporting an incident of sexual misconduct.
#13 Is counseling available on campus?
Christendom partners with Winchester Community Mental Health Center to provide on-campus counseling to students. When the counselor is not on campus, there students have the option to meet with a counselor in their Winchester office or have a tele-therapy appointment from the counselor’s office on campus. For students without insurance, the College covers the cost of counseling. The counselor explains the resources available to students during freshmen orientation and hosts a come-and-see night in the fall where students can learn more about counseling in general and what Christendom offers specifically. We are very grateful to be working with the staff at WCMHC and plan to continue to enhance the services we offer to our students.
#14 What are the health resources on campus like?
Our on-campus nurse is available to students 20 hours a week and is available for pre-scheduled appointments outside of her planed hours. She also has a cell phone number exclusively for Christendom students to contact her whenever it is necessary. Our nurse has a master’s of science in nursing and is a qualified Family Nurse Practitioner which mean she has advanced classroom and clinical training.
#15. Will the College have a third-party review of its sexual misconduct policies and procedures?
Christendom has retained a respected and experienced firm to do a thorough review of all our sexual misconduct policies and procedures, as well as an on-campus climate study to assess how these procedures are understood and enacted. This firm has worked with large public campuses as well as several other schools in the Cardinal Newman Society’s Newman Guide. Once the College receives the firm’s analysis and recommendations, they will be reviewed by staff and faculty to make sure they are implemented in a way that best serves our students and promotes our uniquely Catholic mission.