Frequently Asked Questions

How can I reduce the risks of sexual violence?

In social situations

  • Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or worried for any reason, don't ignore these feelings. Go with your gut and get out of the situation.
  • Use the buddy system. Go out with friends and keep an eye on each other. Plan to leave with them, and let them know if you leave early. Check in and communicate any concerns with each other throughout the night.
  • Clearly give and receive consent for every aspect of sexual activity.
  • Clearly communicate with your partner about what you want and don't want, and how you feel
  • If someone says no, stop, or looks uncomfortable, stop what is happening.

 When there is alcohol involved

  • Know what you are drinking. Steer clear of large batches of alcohol, “jungle juice,” or ingredients that you don't recognize.
  • Don't leave a drink unattended.
  • Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust. Always watch a drink get made before you accept it.
  • Check in with yourself. Be aware of sudden changes in the way your body feels. Do you feel more intoxicated than you should? If so, seek out a friend or call security in order to get to a safe place.
  • Ask yourself: “Would I do this if I was sober?” Alcohol can have an effect on overall judgment.
  • Never engage in sexual activity with someone who is drunk to the point of incapacitation. People cannot give consent while incapacitated.
  • If you suspect a friend is too intoxicated or is incapacitated, get them to a safe place.

Remember: Even if you were consuming alcohol when an assault occurred, know that is it not your fault.

Source: RAINN.org

From whom can I get support on campus and in the community?

Resources that can provide support and complete confidentiality include:

  • Staff members at the Counseling Center
  • Staff members at the Health Center
  • Melissa Quinby, Director of the Women’s Resource Center
  • Kate Stern, Director of the Resource Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity
  • Bob Ives, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life
  • Safe Space members
  • Advocates at the Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine

Other individuals on campus that can provide information and support, but are not confidential (meaning they must refer survivors to Title IX resources), include:

  • Benje Douglas, Director of Title IX and Compliance
  • The Director of Gender Violence Education and Prevention/Accommodations
  • Staff members in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
  • Staff members in the Office of Residential Life

For more information please visit Resources and Support.

How do I support a friend who has been assaulted?

The most important thing you can do is to believe them and listen. For more information on specific things you can do to support someone who has been assaulted, see How to Support Someone Affected by Sexual or Gender Violence.

Is there a way to confidentially report sexual misconduct?

Any student can anonymously report any sexual misconduct by filling out the Online Report Form. There are different outcomes, depending on what information is provided:

  1. If the student does not provide any names in the report, the assault is counted for the Clery Report, but the information is held in confidence.
  2. If the student includes the name of the respondent, the Advisor to the Student Sexual Misconduct Board and someone from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs will meet with the respondent to talk about expectations around consent as well as review the Sexual Misconduct Policy and discuss the process if a charge is brought forward. No details from the report will be shared with the respondent, and they will be informed of Bowdoin’s Retaliation Policy.
  3. If the student includes the name of the survivor, the Director of Title IX and Compliance will reach out to inform the survivor of their various resources and to provide any necessary protection.

How do I know if something is considered sexual misconduct?

Bowdoin has created a Guide to the Bowdoin Student Sexual Misconduct Policy in order to give students a way to understand what is and is not considered sexual misconduct at Bowdoin College. The Guide has definitions of what constitutes sexual misconduct, as well as case studies that highlight different situations that would and would not be considered sexual misconduct.

If I fill out an Anonymous Report Form and include someone's name, what happens?

If you fill out an Anonymous Report Form and include the name of the Respondent, the Respondent will meet with the Advisor to the Student Sexual Misconduct Board and a member of the Dean of Student Affairs staff to talk about expectations around consent, review the Policy and discuss the process if a charge is brought forward. No details from the report will be shared with the Respondent and the Respondent will be told not to attempt to figure out who submitted the Anonymous Report Form.

I don't feel safe on campus, but don't want to file a formal complaint. Are there other options?

Yes, there are a number of options available to you. The first would be to have a no-contact order put in place. A no-contact order typically will include a directive that the Respondent refrain from having contact with the Complainant, directly or through proxies, whether in person or via electronic means, pending the investigation and, if applicable, the hearing.  

Bowdoin also has an Informal Resolution process available for those who do not want to file a formal complaint. The Informal Resolution, a resolution process that does not involve a hearing and is not mediation, provides an opportunity for the Complainant to confront the Respondent, in the presence of and facilitated by a presiding officer, and to communicate his or her feelings and perceptions regarding the alleged sexual misconduct, the impact of the incident, and his or her wishes and expectations regarding protection in the future. The Respondent will have an opportunity to respond.

The outcome of an Informal Resolution may include protective actions such as accommodations to living, academic, or employment situations; limitations of contact between the parties; and required counseling for the Respondent.

Does the Complainant have to be present if a hearing is held?

Bowdoin provides a number of different options for Complainants. One option is to choose to file a formal complaint of sexual misconduct, but to participate in the process solely as a witness if a hearing is held.  Witnesses do not provide pre-hearing submissions, attend the pre-hearing meeting, attend the hearing for the testimony of the Respondent or other witnesses, call witnesses, pose questions of the Respondent or other witnesses, or make opening or closing statements.

Another option is to participate fully in the hearing process but ask that the Chair accommodate concerns for personal safety, well-being and /or fears of confrontation by using a visual screen, and/or by permitting participation by telephone, videophone, closed circuit television, video conferencing, videotape, audiotape, written statement or other means.

If I was drinking or using drugs and bring forward a complaint, will I get in trouble?

The severity of the infraction will determine the nature of the College's response, but whenever possible, the College will respond educationally rather than punitively to the illegal use of alcohol and/or other drugs. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern and the College does not want any of the circumstances to inhibit reporting. For this reason, students or survivors who report misconduct will generally not be held responsible for actions that might constitute a violation of the Social Code, as long as their actions did not put another student or the community at risk.

What should I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

You are encouraged to find support by connecting to Counseling Services as well as contacting someone in the campus community who can act as your Supporter throughout the process. You can also contact Benje Douglas, Advisor to the Student Sexual Misconduct Board, who will explain the College’s procedures for dealing with complaints of sexual misconduct. You can read about your rights as the respondent here.

Can I report a situation to both the College and the Police?

Yes.

Since sexual misconduct may constitute both a violation of Bowdoin's Sexual Misconduct Policy and the law, Bowdoin encourages students to report alleged sexual misconduct promptly to local law enforcement agencies. Criminal investigations may be useful in the gathering of relevant evidence, particularly forensic evidence. Because the standards for finding a violation of criminal law are different from the standards for finding a violation of Bowdoin's Policy, criminal investigations or reports are not determinative of whether sexual misconduct, for purposes of Bowdoin's Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, has occurred.

In other words, conduct may constitute sexual misconduct under Bowdoin's Policy even if law enforcement agencies lack sufficient evidence of a crime and therefore decline to prosecute. In such cases, the Complainant may not initially understand the results of the criminal investigation, the nature of criminal procedure, or the grounds for the law enforcement decision not to prosecute. The Complainant in such cases may request that the Advisor identify a member of the Dean’s Office to assist the Complainant in seeking and attending a meeting with the local prosecutor to gain an understanding of the decision to decline a prosecution.

The filing of a Complaint of sexual misconduct under Bowdoin's Policy is independent of any criminal investigation or proceeding and (except that the College’s investigation may be delayed temporarily while the criminal investigators are gathering evidence) the College will not wait for the conclusion of any criminal investigation or proceeding to commence its own investigation and take interim measures to protect the Complainant and the Bowdoin community.

If I bring a case forward, how will the College protect me from harassment or retaliation?

It is a violation of College policy to retaliate against any person making a Complaint of sexual misconduct or against any person cooperating in the investigation of (including testifying as a Witness to) any allegation of sexual misconduct. For these purposes, “retaliation” includes intimidation, threats, and other adverse action against any such Complainant or third party. Retaliation should be reported promptly to Benje Douglas, the Advisor to the Student Sexual Misconduct Board and may result in disciplinary action independent of the sanction or interim measures imposed in response to the underlying allegations of sexual misconduct.  

What can I do if I am sexually assaulted off campus?

Bowdoin provides resources and support to survivors of sexual assault regardless of the location of the incident.  In regards to reporting an instance of sexual assault, the procedure may vary depending on the location of the student. Bowdoin encourages students to reach out to both the College and, if they are comfortable, to their program director in order to figure out what actions can be taken.

To report sexual assaults that happen both on and off campus, contact Benje Douglas.

With whom should I speak if I have other questions?

For Questions Regarding Medical Treatment, Please Contact:

  • Bowdoin College Health Center: 207-725-3770, on-call 207-725-3314
  • Mid Coast Hospital: 207-729-0181, for emergencies 911

For Personal Counseling, Please Contact:

  • Bowdoin College Counseling Center: 207-725-3145, on-call 207-725-3314

For Questions Involving Criminal Prosecution, Please Contact:

  • Brunswick Police Department: 207-725-5521, for emergencies 911

For Policy or Process Questions, Please Contact:

  • Director of Title IX and Compliance, Benje Douglas: 207-721-5189

For Questions Relating to Sexual Violence, Please Contact:

  • Advisor to the Student Sexual Misconduct Board/Title IX Coordinator: 207-721-5189
  • Sexual Support Services of Mid-Coast Maine (SASSMM): 1-800-871-7741
  • Family Crisis Services: 866-834-4357

For General Support or To Be Connected To Additional Resources, Please Contact:

  • Office of the Dean of Student Affairs: 207-725-3229, on-call 207-725-3314
  • Melissa Quinby, Women's Resource Center: 207-725-3724
  • Kate Stern, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity: 207-798-4223
  • Bob Ives, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life: 207-798-4196

Campus Groups:

National Groups: