Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board

Meredith Harper Bonham
Senior Associate Dean of Students/Title IX Coordinator

Sexual Assault Awareness, Prevention and Reporting

Sexual Assault
Hamilton College is committed to the personal safety of members and guests of the Hamilton community. Hamilton College informs incoming students about sexual assault prevention measures through campus programs that include workshops, discussion groups, and on-going orientation seminars. The purpose of these programs is to disseminate information about sexual assault, promote discussion, encourage reporting of incidents of sexual assault, and facilitate prevention of such incidents.

Sexual Assaults on College Campuses
College students are more vulnerable to sexual assault than any other age group. Nationally, the majority of reported victims and offenders are of college age, with the rate of victimization highest among 16 to 19 year olds. Women between 20 and 24 years of age experience the second highest victimization rate. Offender populations show a similar age distribution.

Traditionally aged college students are vulnerable to being victims of violence. They are typically in a new setting with a variety of environmental stressors, and away from direct parental supervision and past support systems. They are under peer pressure, their identities are not yet firm, their competence is not yet established, and they often have mistaken beliefs about their invincibility. They live among others who are experimenting with new freedoms. Thus, college students are a population at risk.

The most prevalent form of rape on college campuses is acquaintance rape. The acquaintance may be a date or friend of the victim, or someone the victim knows only casually, from a residence hall, a class, or through mutual friends.

Regardless of the relationship between them, if one person uses force to coerce another into submitting to sexual behaviors, or if the other party does not give consent, the act is unlawful. The same criminal laws and penalties apply in cases of acquaintance rape and stranger rape, and other forms of sexual assaults.

Many acquaintance rapes involving college students follow similar patterns. Acquaintance rapes often occur at parties or in residential settings. Frequently, the students involved in these assaults have been drinking heavily or using drugs. Detailed crime reports and prevention information can be obtained from the Office of Campus Safety.

There are things you can do to reduce your chances of being sexually assaulted.

  • When you go out, do so with people that you trust to look out for your safety. Be a good friend—keep an eye on your friends to make sure they are safe.
  • When you are at a party, make sure that someone knows where you are at all times. Check on your friends to make sure they are safe too.
  • Get your own drinks. Only accept beverages from people you trust and never drink out of a cup that has been left unattended.
  • Never walk home alone from bars or parties. Have a friend walk with you, call Campus Safety for an escort, or let the Events Staff know that you need an escort. Walking home alone may make it easier for someone to isolate and assault you.
  • Always lock your residence hall room door.
  • Know your sexual desires and limits. You have a right to say 'no' to any unwanted sexual contact, at any point.
  • Since alcohol and drugs interfere with clear thinking and effective communication, avoid excessive use of these substances. It may not be safe to be intimate with someone if you or they have been drinking or using other substances.
  • If you do not feel well and need to lie down, make sure that a friend stays with you to check on you.
  • If you want to be intimate with someone, remember that you can still change your mind.
  • If you find yourself alone or in an unfamiliar place:
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.
  • Be assertive — don't let anyone violate your space.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave.
  • Don't prop open self-locking doors.
  • Lock your door and your windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes.
  • Watch your keys. Don't lend them. Don't leave them. Don't lose them. And don't put your name and address on the key ring.
  • Watch out for unwanted visitors. Know who's on the other side of the door before you open it.
  • Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.
  • Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.
  • Have your key ready to use before you reach the door — home, car, or work.
  • Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you'll only be gone a few minutes.
  • Never hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.

Reporting and Obtaining Assistance

  • Professional help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A member of the Hamilton College Counseling Center is on-call at all times. The Counselor On-Call (COC) can provide immediate crisis support and information about resources for survivors on and off campus. Contact the COC by calling 315-859-4340 during normal business hours. (315-859-4000 after hours). This is a completely confidential service. Upon request, the COC will come to campus immediately.
  • Immediate help is also available through YWCA Rape Crisis Services by calling 315-797-7740. Rape Crisis volunteers are trained and available by phone or to accompany survivors to the hospital or the police. This service is confidential and is not connected with the College.
  • Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible following a sexual assault or rape. Not all injuries are immediately apparent. Contact the Hamilton Student Health Service (8:30-4:30 M-F), Hamilton's Emergency Medical Technicians (315-859-4000), or go to the hospital Emergency Room for medical services. Transportation to the hospital can be arranged by request through the Office of Campus Safety or Student Health Service.
  • For any major injuries, as well as a rape examination (Physical Evidence Recovery Kit), go to the emergency room of Oneida Healthcare Center. The rape examination allows evidence to be collected in case prosecution is desired at a later time. The examination should be conducted within 96 hours of the incident. It includes a pelvic examination and semen analysis; sexually transmitted disease testing; and treatment for possible infection, which may include taking an antibiotic. Do not bathe, shower, change or wash clothes, or douche – important evidence may be lost. You may wish to take a change of clothes with you to the hospital. Upon request, a volunteer from the YWCA Rape Crisis Service (315- 797-7740) will accompany you and will assist in managing the process. The evidence kit can be kept secure at the hospital for 30 days while you decide whether or not you wish to prosecute. The police will be called only if you wish to seek prosecution.
  • If unprotected penetration occurred, discuss with a healthcare provider whether to consider Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which involves a regimen of anti-HIV medications that must be taken within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV. For more information, click here.
  • The hospital will never refuse services, but is required to bill your insurance company. The New York State Crime Victims Board will reimburse medical expenses, counseling services, and damage to personal property if you choose to pursue criminal prosecution.
  • Reporting to police is your choice. While you may not be certain now that you wish to press charges, failure to involve police at an early stage may limit later choices. Contact the Kirkland Police Department by calling (315-853-3311) or call Campus Safety (315-859-4000) to request that the police come to campus to take a report. You may wish to request that a Rape Crisis advocate be present in order to provide support through the process. You may choose to meet the police in the Counseling Center or Student Health Service to preserve confidentiality.
  • Police will ask questions to establish facts and, if possible, to apprehend the suspect. Police or Rape Crisis Services staff can explain your legal options and provide information about likely consequences of legal actions.
  • If the assailant is a Hamilton College student, you may choose to file a complaint with the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board Chair, Prof. Vivyan Adair (315-859-4330) or Meredith Bonham, Senior Associate Dean of Students/ Title IX Coordinator (315-859-4020). This can be done in conjunction with criminal prosecution or instead of it. The Chair, Board member, or Dean Bonham will explain the various options for on-campus follow-up. If you choose to file a formal complaint, Dean Bonham and the Chair will meet with you to discuss the complaint and explain the process. If the respondent is found responsible for having violated the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct policy, the Committee will recommend a sanction that could range from a warning to permanent separation from the College.
  • Counseling is available on a free and confidential basis through Hamilton's Counseling and Psychological Services (315-859-4340).
  • Incidents of sexual misconduct reported to any College employee, with the exception of Counseling Center, Health Center personnel and Chaplains, will be anonymously reported to the College and included in the College's annual crime statistics.
  • If the incident represents a serious threat to the community at large, the Dean of Students will issue a warning to the campus community, preserving the survivor's anonymity.