Policies & Regulations - Stalking and Relationship Abuse Policy
I. Statement of Purpose
This policy serves to define certain behaviors and/or acts that the University does not tolerate, and to articulate how the institution will respond when incidents of relationship abuse and violence are reported. This policy does not substitute or supersede the University of Maine System Student Conduct Code.
The University of Maine is an educational community bound by common standards of conduct and a commitment to its educational missions. Relationship abuse and stalking interfere with the University’s educational mission and with students’ aspirations and abilities by:
- Causing emotional and/or physical harm to community members;
- Contributing to an atmosphere of fear and distrust;
- Offending the dignity and violating the autonomy of community members;
- Disrupting the academic progress of partners and/or former partners.
II. Definition of Terms
A. Relationship Abuse is a pattern of coercive behaviors that serves to exercise control and power in an intimate relationship. The coercive and abusive behaviors can be physical, sexual, psychological, verbal and/or emotional. Relationship abuse can occur between current or former intimate partners who have dated, lived together, or been married. It can occur in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. Relationship abuse is sometimes also referred to as intimate partner violence, domestic violence, or dating violence.
For the purposes of this policy and related procedures, the term relationship abuse encompasses one or more of the following behaviors directed toward a current or former intimate partner:
- Attempting to cause or causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact, e.g., slapping, pulling hair, punching, sexual assault;
- Knowingly restricting the movements of another person, e.g., removing a person from residence or school, isolating or confining a person for a substantial period, monitoring phone calls or email, preventing a person from attending class or interfering with studying;
- Attempting to place or placing another person in fear through a course of conduct, e.g., threatening, manipulating, intimidating, verbally and/or emotionally abusive behaviors, or exhibiting extreme possessiveness or jealousy.
B. Stalking is defined as a pattern of conduct that has the purpose or effect of producing fear and/or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. “A pattern of conduct” means repeatedly (two or more times) maintaining unwanted visual or physical proximity to a person or repeatedly conveying oral or written threats, implicitly threatening conduct, or any combination of these directed at or toward a person. The following are examples of stalking behavior:
- unwelcome communication, including, but not limited to: face-to-face, telephone, voice message, electronic mail, written letter, and/or contact; unwelcome gifts or flowers, etc.
- threatening or obscene gestures and/or pursuing or following
- unwelcome touching or physical contact; and/or
- gaining unauthorized access to personal, medical, financial and/or other identifying information, including, but not limited to: access by computer network, mail, telephone or written communication.
Cyber-stalking is an extension of the physical form of stalking (defined above) where electronic media such as the internet, pagers, cell phones, or other similar devices are used to pursue, harass or to make unwanted contact with another person in an unsolicited fashion.
III. Statement and Intent of Policy
Relationship abuse, stalking, and sexual assault are related phenomena and can occur in the same relationship. However, some characteristics are unique to each type of behavior. Relationship abuse and stalking are covered by this policy; the University of Maine has a separate policy addressing sexual assault; and UMaine has protocol for responding to reported incidents of sexual assault, relationship abuse, and stalking. As a matter of policy, relationship abuse and stalking will not be tolerated in the University community.
All students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the public participating in University activities have the right to an environment free from interpersonal violence, including relationship abuse, harassment, assault, and stalking. Violence, abuse, and/or acts of aggression or intimidation directed toward another person violate the University’s Student Conduct Code and Maine state law. As members of the University community, students are expected to comply with and abide by the University policies and guidelines, in addition to federal, state, and local laws whether on or off campus.
The University of Maine determines the following to be its intentions for this policy:
A. Maine State Law and University Policy
Portions of this policy may parallel published laws, but are in no way intended to substitute or supplant those laws. It should be clearly understood that there is a fundamental difference between the nature and purpose of student discipline and criminal law. For more information about the laws of Maine see: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/ros/lom/lomdirectory.htm.
University disciplinary procedures should be considered distinct and independent of any and all criminal procedures. University disciplinary procedures may precede, co-occur, or follow court action. When necessary, temporary action may be taken by the University against the person accused in the form of summarily suspending, summarily restricting, or officially requesting no contact between the person accused and the person who reported victimization. The University reserves the right to alter and/or restrict the respondent’s access to the University and/or participation in University events, such as use of FirstClass (university e-mail system), attendance of classes and campus residency.
B. Campus Disciplinary Proceedings
Individuals should refer to the Student Conduct Code for information regarding violations, procedures and sanctions. Any questions regarding the Student Conduct Code should be directed to the Director of Community Standards, Rights and Responsibilities.
The person who reports victimization and witnesses is not required to initiate the Student Conduct Code allegations. When an incident of relationship abuse or stalking is reported, the University is considered the complainant and is responsible for continuing the investigative process. Charges can be investigated on the basis of either a statement from the person who reports victimization or a witness’s statement or complaint (e.g., residence hall staff, police, faculty, staff, and another student). The person who reported the incident(s) and all witnesses will be asked to contribute their statements and any information to assist in the resolution of the complaint. The person who reports victimization has the right to withdraw from the investigation at any time. The university may proceed with disciplinary action even when the person who reports victimization voluntarily chooses not to participate in the process. Additional questions or concerns regarding disciplinary proceedings should be addressed directly to the Office of Community Standards, Rights, and Responsibilities.
The University recognizes that violations of relationship abuse and stalking are not the fault of the individual filing the complaint. The University intends to encourage the report of relationship abuse and stalking and therefore the University generally does not intend to hold the person filing the complaint accountable for conduct code violations that may have occurred along with violations of relationship abuse and stalking. The University administration will use discretion to ensure the rights of the complainant are preserved.
C. Procedure for Policy Assessment and Improvement
The University supports and maintains the Rape & Sexual Assault Awareness Committee as a standing committee. This Committee is comprised of faculty, staff, students, and community members. This group is responsible for:
- reviewing non-identifiable campus crime information being collected in compliance with the Clery Act,
- reviewing various policies and protocols related to incidents of sexual assault, relationship abuse, and stalking,
- ensuring and reviewing ongoing awareness and education programs on campus, and
- advocating for support services for individuals who report incidents of sexual assault, relationship abuse, and stalking.
D. Policy Dissemination
As with all University policies, this policy is published and available for review in the University’s student handbook.
IV. Reporting Procedures
Under the Clery Act, an institution must report certain crimes to the campus community in a timely manner that will aid in prevention of similar crimes that represent a threat to students and employees. To that end, a community alert will be issued whenever appropriate. Additionally, departments will comply with all mandatory reporting requirements.
Any individual may file a complaint of relationship abuse or stalking at any time. Early reporting is encouraged to preserve evidence and provide the person filing the complaint with information regarding rights, options, and resources available to them by this policy and federal or state laws.
Reporting incidents of relationship abuse and stalking can sometimes compromise individual safety. In order to provide appropriate support and services, this policy delineates the following reporting options.
A. Confidential Disclosure
The University of Maine offers confidential advocacy services to all University affiliates (students and employees). The UMaine Safe Campus Project offers assistance by providing a confidential advocate to support and assist individuals to:
- weigh options and associated risks,
- discuss possible next steps, and
- obtain information about available resources and services. Other campus offices offer confidential support, e.g., the Counseling Center, Employee Assistance Program. No one is expected or required to pursue a specific course of action.
B. Official Reporting
All University of Maine students, employees, or visitors are strongly encouraged to make an official report of any incident of relationship abuse and stalking to the UMaine Police and/or Office of Community Standards, Rights, and Responsibilities, whether the incident occurred on or off campus. The laws of Maine mandate a law enforcement officer arrest without a warrant when the officer has probable cause to believe a person has committed assault, stalking, or reckless conduct against an intimate partner.
C. Anonymous Reporting
Any University of Maine students, employees, or visitors may file an anonymous report via: http://www.umaine.edu/publicsafety/txt/campuseyes.htm.
Initiators of anonymous reports are not identifiable by the recipient. Such reports may be filed regardless of any legal or University disciplinary action.