Frequently Asked Questions: If I am the victim of a sexual offense…
What do I do if I am the victim of sexual violence or unwanted sexual contact…
READ BELOW AND, FOR MORE INFORMATION, Link to the Campus Assault and Relationship Education Page for your campus: ROSE HILL | LINCOLN CENTER
What are my options?
A student who believes he/she is a victim of sexual violence or unwanted sexual contact is strongly encouraged to report these situations to the University.
- The student may confidentially explore the situation and options available with a member of the Fordham Counseling and Psychological Services and/or Campus Ministry without filing an official complaint;
- The student can make a formal complaint to the Dean of Students which the University will investigate internally.
- The student has every right to report the situation to the New York Police Department. If the student chooses to make such a report, a member of the University staff will accompany the student throughout the charging process.
How do I make a formal report with the University?
A victim is encouraged to report the incident to the Office of Safety and Security, the Dean of Students, a member of the Residential Life staff or another member of the University’s administrative staff. When a member of the administrative staff is notified of a potential sexual offense, they are obligated by law to notify the Office of Safety and Security. This office may interview the victim and conduct an investigation. If an investigation is conducted, the Office of Safety and Security will send the completed incident report to the appropriate Dean of Students to be handled in the University’s judicial process.
If I do make a formal report with the University, do I have to go to the police?
No, but if the situation is reported to the police, the University will accompany the student to the New York City Police Department. Fordham University encourages any student who is the victim of a felony to notify the Office of Safety and Security immediately and to work with them to report the felony to the NYPD. In certain cases, the University reserves the right to notify local law enforcement as required by statute.
Will the person who did this know I am talking with the University?
If the student is meeting with a counselor at Fordham’s Counseling and Psychological Services or a pastoral counselor in Campus Ministry to explore options, that meeting is confidential. If the student reports the incident to another member of the University administrative staff and/or the Office of Safety and Security, the alleged attacker may be interviewed.
If I do make a formal report, will I have to face the person in the judicial process?
No. Fordham’s process does not involve having to see or speak with the alleged attacker or to be questioned by his/her representatives. Processes outside the University, such as those in the criminal justice system, may require this. Fordham will support and accompany the student as these details are explained by outside authorities.
If I do make a formal report, will I have to participate in mediation with this person?
No. Fordham’s process in investigating sexual offenses does not require or even encourage mediation. The University handles the investigation with each party separately.
Will I have to move from my residence hall?
No. A reported victim of sexual assault will not be required to move. In the majority of cases, once a report is made and the investigation begins, the alleged attacker is moved to another location if he/she lives on the campus and in proximity to the reported victim.
Fordham’s judicial process for sexual offenses typically takes about one month. Some cases are more rapid while others can take longer depending on the details of the case, the time of year and other factors. Fordham works to make things move as quickly as possible.
I have heard that investigations at other schools take a long time. How long will Fordham's process take?
If I would like to make a formal complaint with the University (but not to involve NYPD), what happens?
A victim is encouraged to report the incident to the Office of Safety and Security, the Dean of Students, a member of the Residential Life staff or another member of the University’s administrative staff. When a member of the administrative staff is notified of a potential sexual offense, they are obligated by law to notify the Office of Safety and Security. A member of the staff in the Office of Safety and Security may contact you to schedule a meeting and take your complaint. Safety and Security may then interview the alleged attacker and any witnesses and the final report will be forwarded to the appropriate Dean of Students. The Dean of Students will have a member of the Student Affairs professional staff reach out to the student. That staff member will accompany the student during the entire process and act as the designated support person. The Dean of Students will ask the student victim to provide a written statement and the Dean of Students will schedule a time to meet with the student and support person to review the statement and answer any questions regarding the process. In most cases, the dean will meet with the student and support person a second time to check facts and then have a final meeting to explain the outcome of the case. In certain cases, the University reserves the right to notify local law enforcement as required by statute.
Do I have to prove that I have been the victim of a sexual offense?
No. Fordham does not place the burden of “proving” that an attack has occurred on the student. As the incident is investigated, the Dean of Students works with a standard called “preponderance of information.” This means that the dean will use his/her judgment based on all available information from security, the victim, the alleged attacker and witness interviews to determine whether there is enough information to confirm that a violation of University policy has occurred and what the appropriate action by the University will be.
Do I have to tell my story before a panel?
No, the Fordham process of investigation is confidential. Meetings and interviews are private and include the victim, the support person and the Dean of Students only. The reported attacker is interviewed separately with his/her own support person. If a student appeals the outcome of the investigation, however, it is possible that the victim would be called by the appeals body. This body is called the University Judicial Council and is a group of three faculty, three students and one administrator who convene to hear appeals of student suspensions or expulsions. Calling of a victim by this body is strongly discouraged by the Dean of Students who presents all relevant information to the board instead.
What if I have class with the person who attacked me?
While every case is different, efforts will be made to assist the student victim in eliminating or minimizing contact with the alleged attacker. When a situation is reported and/or being investigated, all parties are warned to avoid direct contact or risk adjudication. In some cases, the alleged attacker will be moved to a different residence hall or removed from residence or campus pending the outcome of the case. Unless notified that the alleged attacker has been removed, the student should be prepared for the possibility of seeing the alleged attacker on campus. Student victims are encouraged to inform the support staff person and the Dean of Students as soon as possible if the student has classes or lives in the same residence hall as the alleged attacker. In any case, it will be important to avoid direct contact with this person.
Can I make a report about someone with whom I have been in a relationship?
Yes, a student can make a report about anyone they believe has violated the University’s policy on sexual offenses. There may be times when this person has an existing relationship with the victim. People in relationships can violate the sexual offenses policy and it is important for the victim to receive assistance and know their options for reporting the incident. Students are encouraged to contact staff if they are in this situation.
Where can I see how many violations of Fordham’s sexual offense policy are reported?
All crime statistics reported to Fordham are, in turn, reported to the community and the federal government. The Office of Safety and Security keeps crime statistics for the campus and surrounding areas, is required to report these statistics to the federal government (anyone can find the data here: http://ope.ed.gov/security/GetOneInstitutionData.aspx
) and will provide statistics to any interested member of the community (phone: 718.817.2222). All crime statistics are also shared with faculty, staff and students on an annual basis and student media such as the student newspapers routinely review security reports and publish items from which names and identifying information have been removed for privacy.
Who should I contact with any questions about the policies and process in this FAQ?
The best source of information is the Dean of Students for your campus:
Rose Hill Dean of Students: 718.817.4755
Lincoln Center Dean of Students: 212.636.6250
Students are also encouraged to speak with a member of Residential Life, Student Leadership and Community Development, Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Office of Safety and Security.
August 24, 2012