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Sexual Misconduct Reporting: What to Expect

Use this FAQ to explore the different options or processes related to sexual misconduct reporting, and the supportive measures that are available to you.

What is sexual misconduct?

Sexual Misconduct is a form of discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, gender identity or expression (including a transgender or gender non-conforming identity) that violates federal Title IX regulations and is prohibited by Tufts policy. In some cases, sexual misconduct can also be a violation of criminal law.

Sexual Misconduct includes:

  • Sex and/or Gender Discrimination
  • Sexual and/or Sex/Gender Based Harassment (including a hostile environment based on sex and/or gender)
  • Sexual Assault (including Non-Consensual Sexual Contact; Forced Sexual Contact; Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse; Forced Sexual Intercourse)
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Stalking
  • Relationship Violence (including dating and/or domestic violence; intimate partner violence)
  • Retaliation (for reporting on or being involved in any of the above)

Learn more about the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Learn more about Reporting Sexual Misconduct.

What happens after I report a sexual misconduct concern or incident?

When OEO receives your report about sexual misconduct, an OEO staff person will contact you to talk about what happened (or what you witnessed). You can go into as much or as little detail as you are comfortable sharing. The OEO staff person will also make sure you have appropriate support and resources, and discuss both informal and formal processes and options for resolving your complaint. You can choose a more formal process which could include a formal investigation. Or you can start with an informal process option and move to a formal one if or when you feel ready.  About 80% of sexual misconduct reporters at Tufts choose an informal process option.

No matter what you choose, you can always receive support and resources!

Learn more about on-campus resources 

Learn more about off-campus resources

Is there someone who will support me through the reporting process?

Yes. Whether you are a complainant or a respondent, you are entitled and encouraged to have a “support person” with you throughout the entire reporting process. Your support person will help and support you when you meet with administrators such as the Title IX Investigator and/or your Dean of Student Affairs. This support person can be from a victim’s advocacy agency, such as the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), or they can be a friend, a family member or an attorney, etc. The support person cannot be someone who was a witness in your case.

Do I have to initiate an investigation to receive support?

No! You do not need to initiate a formal investigation to receive support. There are a number of supportive measures available to you if you decide to choose an informal process option - things like No Contact Orders (NCOs), academic support, and schedule and housing changes - that do not require you to initiate a formal investigation. At Tufts, about 80% of sexual misconduct reporters choose an informal process option.

Learn more about on-campus resources 

Learn more about off-campus resources

Students: Will my parents find out if I start an investigation?

The university treats students as adults and respects their right to privacy. 

OEO does not contact parents or report OEO matters to parents.  We also typically do not return parent emails or calls.

Occasionally, parents/students ask us to talk with them. In those exceptions, we will make sure we have consent from a student before we communicate with their parent/guardian.

Can I end a formal investigation once I’ve already reported?

Yes. You can end your involvement in a formal investigation at any point. In rare cases, the OEO may continue to investigate the case without using your personal details (i.e. if the respondent is a repeat offender and OEO and/or administration is concerned about repeat harm and the safety of others on campus).  In a situation where OEO starts or continues with an “administrative complaint” or a formal climate investigation, reporters and/or complainants become witnesses if they do not want to continue engaging in the formal process.

What are my informal options?

If you have experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct but don’t want to initiate a formal investigation, you can choose one or more informal process options to resolve your complaint. With an informal process option, the focus is on stopping the behavior (“I want this conduct to stop”) or informing the respondent that the behavior was hurtful (“I want them to know this hurt me.”).

This often includes a conversation between an OEO staff member and the respondent about the reported conduct.  These conversations might address OEO policy and/or  reminders about what consent is, how to ask for it, etc.

You can choose from a number of different informal process options. OEO can assist you with implementing a No Contact Order (NCO) , receiving academic counseling, or making housing changes. At your request, OEO can also contact the respondent(s) to:

  • conduct a coaching or counseling conversation*
  • recommend targeted training (i.e. GreenDot or tailored OEO Training)
  • refer the respondent(s) to CARE (if students) or the Employee Assistance Program (if employees)
  • facilitate in-person or remote mediation
  • implement other requests appropriate to the specific situation
    *These conversations do not appear in personnel or student records

OEO will work with you to determine which informal process options you feel will be most effective to resolve your complaint.  We'll also make sure you have the resources and support you need in order to feel safer.

It’s important to know that OEO reserves the right to move an informal complaint to a formal complaint but will not do this without discussing it with you first. 

For an overview of the informal process, view the Informal Process Flowchart (PDF).

For more detailed information about informal process options, visit the sexual misconduct informal process summary page.

What are my formal options?

If you have experienced sexual misconduct, you may want to use a formal process to resolve the situation. In a formal process, the OEO initiates an investigation, which includes assigning an internal or external OEO Investigator.  The OEO Investigator will interview you, the respondent and any witnesses, and gather any other relevant information. This process is called a "fact finding investigation" and can take from 60 - 90 days or more to complete depending on the complexity of the case.

Once the fact finding investigation is complete, the OEO Investigator will share a fact finding draft report that all parties can review, appeal, or rebut. Once the draft report is in final form, it is sent to a panel of three trained adjudicators. It is the panel's job to review the evidence in the case and determine whether there was a policy violation.

After the adjudication panel makes a final decision, OEO will submit an outcome letter to the parties and to the appropriate Deans’ Office for action or discipline consistent with the report’s findings, if any.

For an overview of the formal process, view the Formal Process Flowchart (PDF)

For more information about the Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Process with Cross-Examination (SMAP-X) see this page.

For more information about the Sexual Misconduct Process (SMAP) see this page.

What if I want to press criminal charges?

If you want to pursue a criminal complaint, you can contact Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) and they can assist with a criminal review or investigation of your report.  You can still receive support and resources from OEO while you go through a criminal complaint process.

To contact TUPD:

Medford and SMFA: 617-627-6911 (non-emergency 617-627-3030)

Boston: 617-636-6911 (non-emergency 617-636-6610)

Grafton: 508.839.5303 (non-emergency 508-887-4900)

What can I do if I experience retaliation because I reported the misconduct?

If you feel you are being retaliated against for filing a complaint or for participating in a complaint or investigation, contact OEO immediately at 617.627.3298 or use the EthicsPoint online tool to report the retaliation.

Retaliation is prohibited by Tufts University policies and by state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Retaliation at Tuft University is also subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment for employees or expulsion for students from Tufts.

What if someone accuses me of sexual misconduct?

If someone formally accuses you of sexual misconduct, you will receive an email from OEO outlining the nature of the allegations against you.  OEO does not assume you are responsible or guilty for this conduct until or unless you are found responsible.  You have due process rights throughout the formal investigative process and you also have a right to a support person throughout the process.  OEO will also provide you with resource and support contacts where you can seek confidential support.

If someone names you in an informal process option, OEO may contact you about a No Contact Order (NCO) and/or a targeted OEO conversation about the alleged conduct. These conversations are not a part of  your student or employee record. They are designed to be restorative and/or educational, with the goal of providing an opportunity for you to examine any behavior you believe may have contributed to the report against you.

Discrimination and/or Harassment Reporting: What to Expect

Use this FAQ to explore the different options or processes related to discrimination and/or harassment reporting, and the supportive measures that are available to you.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when a person is harassed or treated arbitrarily or differently because of the person’s real or implied membership in a "protected category."  Almost all protected categories are things you cannot control about yourself, like your age, your national origin, or your sexual orientation. Tufts has adopted the Massachusetts protected categories because they are more protective than Federal policies. They include: race/color, national origin/ethnicity, disability, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, gender identity & expression, retaliation, etc.

Learn more about the Non-Discrimination Policy

Learn more about Reporting Discrimination

What happens after I file a discrimination report?

When OEO receives your report about discrimination, an OEO staff person will contact you to talk about what happened (or what you witnessed), make sure you have appropriate support and resources, and discuss both informal and formal options for resolving your complaint. You can choose a more formal process which could include a formal investigation. Or you can start with an informal option and move to a formal one if or when you feel ready.  No matter what you choose, you can always receive support and resources.

Learn more about on-campus resources 

Learn more about off-campus resources

Do I have to initiate an investigation to receive support?

No. You do not need to initiate a formal investigation to receive support. There are a number of supportive measures available to you- things like No Contact Orders (NCOs), academic support, and housing changes - that do not require you to initiate a formal investigation.

Learn more about on-campus resources 

Learn more about off-campus resources

Students: Will my parents find out if I start an investigation (students)?

In most cases, no. The university treats students as adults and respects their right to privacy.

Can I end an investigation once I’ve already reported?

Yes. You can end your involvement in a report at any point. In some cases, the administration may continue to investigate the case without using your personal details if the respondent (perpetrator) is a repeat offender, or if the administration feels it is necessary to take disciplinary action to ensure the safety of others on campus.

Students: What are my informal options?

If you have experienced or witnessed discrimination but don’t want to initiate a formal investigation, you can choose an informal process to resolve your complaint. With an informal process, the focus is on stopping the behavior (“I want this conduct to stop”) or informing the respondent that the behavior was hurtful (“I want them to know this hurt me.”).

OEO will contact the respondent for a conversation, and discuss informal remedies such as: coaching, counseling, targeted training, no contact orders (NCOs), mediation, etc. OEO will also make sure that you have the resources and support you need to feel safe.  It’s important to know that OEO reserves the right to move an informal complaint to a formal complaint but will not do this without discussing it with you first.

For a more detailed explanation, view:

For students: Informal Process Flowchart (PDF)

Students: What are my formal options?

If you have experienced discrimination, you may want to use a formal process to resolve the situation. In a formal process, the OEO initiates an investigation, which includes assigning an OEO Investigator.  The OEO Investigator will interview you, the respondent and any witnesses, and gather any other relevant information. Note: This process can take from 60 - 90 days to complete.

Once the investigation is complete, the OEO Investigator will share a fact finding report that all parties can review, appeal, or rebut. OEO will then make a final decision about whether there was a policy violation (or not), and will submit an outcome letter to the appropriate Deans’ Office for action or discipline consistent with the report’s findings.

For a more detailed explanation, view the Formal Process Flowchart (PDF)

Employees: What are my informal options?

For a more detailed explanation, view the Informal Process Flowchart (PDF).

For an overview of informal and formal processes for employees, patients, community members and third-parties, view the Discrimination Complaint Processing Guidelines.

Employees: What are my formal options?
If you have experienced discrimination or harassment, you may want to use a formal process to resolve the situation. In a formal process, the OEO initiates an investigation, which includes assigning an OEO Investigator.  The OEO Investigator will interview you, the respondent (if known) and any witnesses, and gather any other relevant information. Note: This process can take from 60 - 90 days to complete. Once the investigation is complete, the OEO Investigator will share a fact finding report that all parties can review, appeal, or rebut. OEO will then make a final decision about whether there was a policy violation (or not), and will submit an outcome letter to the appropriate decision-maker(s) for action consistent with the findings. For a more detailed explanation, view the Formal Process Flowchart (PDF). For an overview of informal and formal processes for employees, patients, community members and third-parties, view the Discrimination Complaint Processing Guidelines.
What if I want to press criminal charges?

If you want to pursue a criminal complaint, you can contact Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) and they can assist with the investigation of the case.  You can still receive support and resources from OEO while you go through the criminal complaint process.

To contact TUPD:

Medford and SMFA: 617-627-6911 (non-emergency 617-627-3030)

Boston: 617-636-6911 (non-emergency 617-636-6610)

Grafton: 508.839.5303 (non-emergency 508-887-4900)

What can I do if I experience retaliation because I reported the discrimination?

If you feel you are being retaliated against for filing a complaint or participating in a complaint, contact OEO immediately at 617.627.3298 or use the EthicsPoint online tool to report the retaliation.

Retaliation is prohibited by Tufts University policies and by state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Retaliation at Tuft University is also subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment for employees or expulsion for students from Tufts.

No Contact Orders: What to Expect

Use this FAQ to better understand No Contact Orders - what they are, who can get them, how to request them, what they can and cannot do, and more.

What is an NCO?

A No Contact Order (NCO) is a mutual, bilateral agreement that helps to minimize intentional direct or indirect contact between complainants and respondents while they are on campus. An NCO is considered a supportive measure and is not a disciplinary tool (i.e. it can’t be used to “punish” someone and it is not a part of a student or employee’s record). In general, NCOs are designed to restore or preserve equal access to the University’s educational programs, activities, and employment for both complainants and respondents.  NCOs are not able to regulate interactions that happen off-campus.

Who can get an NCO?

Anyone can request an NCO against another student, staff member, or faculty member if they have sexual misconduct concerns or discrimination and/or harassment concerns based on protected categories. NCOs are frequently issued between two parties as a supportive measure when a sexual misconduct or discrimination and/or harassment report is initiated, but they can also be requested as part of an informal process option.

Whether the NCO is part of an informal or formal process, complainants and respondents always have input into establishing the parameters of the NCO.

What can an NCO do?

An NCO creates a buffer that helps to minimize intentional direct or indirect contact between complainants and respondents while they are on campus. If you are a complainant, the NCO can prohibit the respondent(s) from speaking to you, calling, texting, or emailing you, messaging or tagging you on social media, and/or attempting to be near you.

Since the NCO is bilateral, prohibited activities go both ways. If you are a respondent, the NCO will also prohibit the complainant from speaking to you, calling, texting or emailing you, messaging or tagging you on social media, or attempting to be near you.

The NCO also allows OEO to work with Deans, Department Heads or supervisors to adjust schedules of complainants and respondents and/or modify activities to prevent anticipated overlap with things like shared classes, meetings or work hours.

What can't an NCO do?

The first thing to know is that an NCO cannot make someone disappear from campus or from your workplace. Because of the smaller size of Tufts campuses, unintentional encounters may happen. For example, you might see the respondent in passing on your way to work or class, or you might both be in the same dining hall, or unintentionally arrive at the same social event. These types of unintentional encounters can be very upsetting for both parties, which is why we encourage both complainants and respondents to prepare for this possibility and reach out to OEO for support if it does happen.

The second thing to know is that each party - complainants and respondents - will have to make adjustments to avoid the other party. For example, you may need to walk a different route to class or enter a building through a different door. Or you might have to change where you sit, or tweak your class, team or work schedule, or other activities such as when and where you eat or take breaks. This is because the NCO is considered a mutual and bilateral agreement that takes into account the schedules and activities of both parties.

What is the process to request an NCO?

OEO is the only University office that can initiate and implement an NCO.

When you choose to file a formal complaint of sexual misconduct, discrimination and/or harassment with the OEO, an NCO will automatically be implemented as part of the formal process.

If you choose an informal process option, you can still request an NCO directly with OEO.

To create the NCO, an OEO Resources and Support Specialist will meet individually with all parties involved in the NCO to discuss the NCO and factors to consider such as: shared classes, clubs and/or teams, housing, work schedules, other campus or work-related activities. Everyone involved in an NCO has input into the NCO.

It’s important to know that NCOs cannot govern off-campus activity or conduct.

View the NCO Flowchart for Students (PDF)

What should I do if I believe the NCO has been violated?

If you believe that the other person(s) is not fulfilling the expectations of the NCO during an unexpected encounter, or if you observe a pattern of behavior that suggests that the encounters are intentional, contact April Robbins, OEO Resources and Support Specialist at April.Robbins@tufts.edu or or Jill Zellmer, Title IX Coordinator at Jill.Zellmer@tufts.edu for further assessment.

How long are NCOs in place?

NCOs are typically in place for as long as all NCO parties - the complainants and respondents - remain at Tufts.