If you have experienced an incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, gender-based harassment, or stalking, know that it is not your fault and that you have many options available to you. It is your right to report an incident to the University or to law enforcement. However, if you are unsure about reporting, you are still entitled to receive medical care, or request changes to your academic, living, transportation and working situations. Learn how you can get the assistance you need. If you would like to talk to someone to explore your options, keep in mind that most Penn State employees are required to report these incidents. A confidential support person will not inform the University of your disclosure and can help connect you with resources.
The University does not limit the time for submitting a report of gender-based harassment or sexual harassment. However, the University’s ability to investigate and respond effectively may be reduced with the passage of time. You are encouraged to make a report as soon as possible.
The University strongly encourages the reporting of gender-based harassment or sexual harassment. Therefore, complainants reporting gender-based harassment or sexual harassment to the University typically will not face University disciplinary action for their own drug or alcohol possession or consumption in connection with the reported incident.
The University’s procedures for responding to incidents of gender-based harassment and sexual harassment are separate from the criminal justice system. The decision of whether to report an incident to the police is up to you. If you do decide to report an incident to the police, University staff are available to assist you with that process.
The University can work with you to identify resources and remedial measures that will help you feel safe- for example, changing on-campus housing assignments, changing classroom assignments, and/or issuing an administrative directive for no contact. The Title IX Coordinator and other on-campus resources can assist you with this. Additionally, some campuses have programs designed to provide walking accompaniment for Penn State students, employees, and visitors who may feel unsafe walking alone on campus at night. At University Park, individuals can request a Safe Walk by calling 814-865-WALK (9255).
Certain employees are not required to report information regarding gender-based harassment or sexual harassment in a way that identifies complainants without their consent. These individuals are known as confidential employees. When acting in their primary role at the University, reports to these individuals are confidential and can be anonymous. Except in rare, extreme circumstances, identifying information disclosed to these individuals will not be shared without a complainant’s explicit permission. Primary providers of confidential support services and advocacy at University Park are Counseling and Psychological Services, University Health Services (Medical Staff), and the Center for Women Students. Learn how you can get the confidential assistance you need.
Yes, if the incident has ties to the University (if it occurs in connection with a Penn State program or activity, if it involves an alleged perpetrator who is connected to the University, etc.) then the University may respond. Regardless of where the misconduct occurs, the University can also provide support services for the complainant.
No, anyone (regardless of gender identity) can be the victim of gender-based harassment or sexual harassment.
Consent is a voluntary agreement to engage in a specific sexual activity during a sexual encounter. According to Penn State policy AD85, consent must be informed, freely given and mutual. If coercion, intimidation, threats or physical force are used there is no consent. If a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that such person cannot understand the fact, nature or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent: this includes impairment or incapacitation due to alcohol or drug consumption, or being asleep or unconscious. Inducement of incapacitation of another with the intent to affect the ability of an individual to consent or refuse to consent to sexual contact almost always, if not always, negates consent. Silence does not necessarily constitute consent. Whether a person has taken advantage of a position of influence over an alleged victim may be a factor in determining consent.
Do not contact the complainant through any means – in person, by phone, by mail, by social media or electronic communication or through someone else. Familiarize yourself with Penn State’s process for investigating complaints of gender-based harassment or sexual harassment so that you know what to expect. If you have questions about the process or are seeking support services, contact the Title IX Coordinator. Visit the Resources for the Respondent page to learn more.