Frequently Asked Questions
Will my parents find out?
Will the police find out?
The University takes incidents of sexual misconduct very seriously, and strongly encourages you to make a full report to police and to the AAEO Office to ensure the University's ability to take strong responsive action. Federal law requires University police to track statistics for certain types of crimes, including sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence. If you tell anyone who works for the University about one of these crimes, they will have to let the police know that the incident occurred, and where it occurred. However, they do not have to share your name or other identifying information with the police if you do not want them to (the exception being reports of recent or ongoing stalking or relationship violence). If you make a report to a University employee and want to remain anonymous, you should let them know that you do not want them to share your name with the police.
Will my report be public?
If you make a report to police, your case is exempt from the Vermont Public Records Act while it is under investigation, and information that you share with police will not be made public. However, it will become a public record after the investigation is complete. That does not mean that the police will put identifying information about you and your case in a public place; it just means that if someone specifically requested information about your case, the police would probably have to give it to them once the investigation is complete. If your case results in criminal charges, the affidavit used to charge the perpetrator is also a public record, and anyone can request a copy from the court.
If you make an internal complaint to AAEO, student records are private, and cannot be shared outside of the University without your permission. Employee records related to discipline are also generally private and exempt from public records requests. However, students, staff, or faculty who are accused of sexual misconduct are entitled to a copy of any resulting investigative reports, because they have the right to see all of the information related to the charges against them. While the University can advise the accused to keep the information private, it cannot guarantee that s/he (or others that s/he may share it with) will do so. The University can and will inform the accused not to retaliate against anyone who makes a report of sexual misconduct, or participates in the investigative process as a witness. This means that if the accused were to use the information in the report in a retaliatory way, it would likely result in additional charges and disciplinary action.
If I report, do I have to provide the name of the accused?
No. You can provide as much or as little information as you choose. But providing minimal information or declining to participate in an investigation may limit the University's ability to take strong responsive action.
If I was sexually assaulted off campus, can I still make a report?
Yes. You can always make a criminal report, no matter where the incident happened. For incidents that happened off campus, the Campus Victim's Advocate (CVA) or UVM Police Services can help you figure out which police agency to report to if you want to make a criminal report.
- If the incident occurred off campus and the perpetrator is a UVM student, faculty, or staff member, UVM can still conduct an internal investigation, in addition to or instead of a criminal investigation, if you desire.
- If the incident occurred off campus and the perpetrator is in no way affiliated with the University, the University will still offer a full range of support and services, including the Campus Victim's Advocate, counseling, changes to class schedules or assignments, or assisting with measures that would prohibit the perpetrator from coming to campus if you believe that s/he will continue to threaten or harass you. These services are available to you whether or not you decide to make a criminal report.
What should I expect if I have been accused of sexual misconduct?
If there is a formal complaint against you, the AAEO investigator will send you a notice letter, via your UVM email account, outlining the accusations and identifying the complainant. The AAEO investigator is a neutral third-party fact finder, and does not represent you or the complainant. His/her job is solely to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, and to determine whether or not a University policy violation occurred.
The notice letter you receive will invite you to contact the investigator for a meeting. At your meeting with the investigator, you will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations, identify witnesses, evidence, or other information that you think might be important, and ask any questions that you may have. You can bring a support person of your choice with you to the meeting if you choose. Please see FAQ #8 for more information about options for support.
While you are encouraged to meet with the AAEO investigator, so that you can provide any information you are aware of that might be helpful to a thorough and impartial investigation, you are not required to do so. If you prefer, you can send any information or materials you wish to provide in writing (via electronic or regular mail). You may also choose not to participate in the AAEO process at all, which means that you can decline to meet with the investigator and to provide any written or other materials. Keep in mind, though, that if you decide not to participate at all, the investigator's report will only include the testimony and evidence provided by the complainant and other witnesses, and your testimony will not be considered in making a determination of whether or not a policy violation occurred.
See the Reporting Sexual Misconduct page to learn more detailed information about the involved processes.
If I make a complaint to police or to AAEO, will someone be available to help me with the process?
If you have experienced sexual assault, stalking, or relationship violence, the Campus Victim's Advocate (CVA) is available to provide support, assistance, and advocacy throughout the investigative and disciplinary process. While her position is based at the UVM Women's Center, the CVA serves people of all genders and identities, and her services are completely free of charge.
Additionally, AAEO's Intake and Outreach Coordinator is available at 802-656-3368 to provide information about the AAEO process and support services. In some cases, AAEO is able to facilitate interim measures designed to support students and employees. AAEO's Intake and Outreach Coordinator is not a confidential or advocacy-based resource.
If I have been accused of sexual misconduct, will someone be available to help me with the process?
UVM has several AAEO Process Advisors. The Advisors are specially-trained faculty and staff members who are very familiar with UVM's sexual misconduct policies and procedures, and who volunteer their time to help UVM affiliates navigate the student or employee investigation and conduct processes related to sexual misconduct. The Advisors serve people of all genders and identities, and their services are completely free of charge. . In the event that you have criminal charges pending related to the incident for which AAEO has contacted you, the following may be helpful: Students: Student Legal Services (SLS) is a student-run organization, funded by the Student Government Association, which aids students on campus with legal problems.
Does it cost anything to make a report?
No. Making a report to the police and/or internally to the AAEO office is completely free.
Can I still receive services and support if I decide not to pursue a criminal or internal investigation?
Yes. The University will still offer a full range of support and services, even if you decide not to make a formal report. The Campus Victim's Advocate and counseling center are available to provide support, and the University will provide interim measures in appropriate cases, like changes to class schedules/assignments, room/housing relocation, or issuing "no contact" orders. These supports and services are available to you whether or not you decide to pursue a criminal or internal investigation. If you are interested ininterim measures, please contact AAEO and/or the Campus Victim's Advocate.
Will it be on my student record if I make a report? If I am accused?
The University maintains records on all student conduct processes to comply with a variety of laws and regulations. Generally, these records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and cannot be released to anyone without your authorization.
You should be aware that FERPA makes exceptions allowing educational institutions to share information about students with each other. For example, another college or university that you apply to as a transfer or graduate student may ask the University for information about your student conduct record. If you have been accused of and/or found responsible for a sexual misconduct violation, the University will likely disclose that information to the other educational institution upon request.
Colleges and universities generally do not ask for information about whether you have made a report of sexual misconduct. While the University must maintain records of complaints to ensure compliance with a number of laws and regulations, is very unlikely that information related to making a complaint of sexual misconduct would be disclosed to anyone without your authorization.
I think I was sexually assaulted, but I was drunk when it happened, and I'm not 21. Will I get in trouble for drinking if I report the sexual assault?
No. As a general rule, UVM does not pursue student conduct violations related to drug use or to underage drinking against victims, perpetrators, or witnesses who cooperate in a sexual misconduct investigation. There are some exceptions; for example, if a perpetrator intentionally uses drugs or alcohol to subdue a victim, s/he can and will be held accountable. Likewise, if a group or organization affiliated with UVM knowingly serves alcohol to minors or provides drugs resulting in a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the organization or its representatives can be held accountable.