Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I or a friend may have been sexually assaulted?

As soon as possible, seek medical attention. A friend, staff member, or advocate can go with you. Call Grinnell College Campus Safety and Security at (641) 269-4600 to report a possible assault, and they will in turn help you or your friend get the care you need. You may call the Student Health and Counseling Services at (641) 269-3230 to speak to a counselor. If you wish to pursue a complaint against the respondent, or if you wish to discuss your options, you should consult with the College’s Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Students, Director of Human Resources, or Dean of the College.

What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?

Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the victim/survivor’s person within 72 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to the Grinnell Regional Medical Center's Emergency Room before washing yourself or your clothing. The Dean on call, a trained campus Advocate, or another support person could accompany you to the hospital if you wish. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help keep all options available, but will not obligate you to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should you decide later to exercise it. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to athe hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence.

What should I do if I am uncertain about what I experienced constitutes sexual assault?

If you believe that you have experienced a non-consensual sexual contact, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the College’s sexual harassment and misconduct policy, you should contact the Title IX Coordinator, Chaplains, Campus Safety & Security, or another trusted administrator who can help you to define and clarify the event(s), and advise you of your options.

Can I make a report anonymously?

Any individual may make an anonymous report concerning an act of sexual misconduct. An individual may report the incident without disclosing his/her/hir name, identifying the respondent or requesting any action. Depending on the level of information available about the incident or the individuals involved, however, the College’s ability to respond to an anonymous report may be limited. EthicsPoint is a service that allows anyone to report suspected misconduct or other issues with complete confidentiality. Anonymous reports may be made by telephone at (855) 667-1753 or online at This service allows the person making the report and College administrators to confer about additional details, while the reporting party's identity remains confidential. All reports will go to the Title IX Coordinator.

Do I have to name my assailant?

No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint.

Yes, if you want formal conduct action to be taken against the alleged assailant. Complainants should be aware that not identifying the respondent may limit the College’s ability to respond comprehensively.

Will the accused person know my identity?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the respondent has the right to know the identity of the complainant/alleged victim. If there is a hearing, the College does provide options for questioning without confrontation.

If I report my assailant, I am afraid that I will be subject to retaliation from him/her/hir or his/her friends. What kinds of protection can Grinnell provide to me?

It is a violation of College policy to retaliate in any way against an individual or a group because the individual or group of individuals reported an allegation of sexual harassment or misconduct. The College recognizes that retaliation can take many forms, may be committed by an individual or a group against an individual or a group, and that a respondent can also be the subject of retaliation by the complainant or a third party. The College will take immediate and responsive action to any report of retaliation and may pursue conduct action as appropriate. An individual reporting sexual harassment or misconduct is entitled to protection from any form of retaliation following a report that is made in good faith, even if the report is later not proven.

What if I have a relationship with the person who assaulted me?

It is never okay to force, threaten, or coerce someone into having sex against his/her/hir will, even if they are in a relationship. Just because you have been intimate with someone in the past does not automatically mean you give consent for any and all future sexual activity.

Will my parents be told?

Whether you are the complainant or the respondent, the College’s primary relationship is to the student and not the parent. However, in the event of major medical, conduct, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. College officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, or in certain instances where a health or safety emergency exist, or if the College determines such communication is necessary.

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

Do not contact the alleged victim. You should contact the Dean of Students Office, which will explain the College’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints and provide the option to select a trained adviser, explain the rights and responsibilities of the complainant and respondent, explain the prohibition against retaliation, and explain the student conduct process.

How can I change my residence hall assignment and/or receive help with my courses?

If your (alleged) assailant lives in your residence hall or attends one of your classes, you may change residence halls or classes. In order to change residence halls, the Title IX Coordinator will work with staff from Residence Life & Orientation to make this change on your behalf. You may be offered a temporary relocation on campus until the first suitable room becomes available. We can also work with the Registrar’s Office and faculty, respectively, to help switch your classes and assist in getting extensions on course work if necessary.

Will a student be punished when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if he/she/zi has illegally used alcohol and/or other drugs?

Grinnell College’s primary concern is the health and safety of its students. When conducting an investigation of an alleged sexual assault, the College’s focus will be on addressing the sexual assault and not the lesser policy violations that may be discovered or disclosed. The College may, however, provide referrals to counseling or require other educational options when deemed appropriate.

Will the use of alcohol and/or other drugs affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint?

The use of alcohol and/or other drugs by either party will not diminish the responsibility of the respondent. However, alcohol and/or other drugs are likely to affect memories and may affect the outcome of a case.

Will either party's prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?

Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.

If I engage in a sexual activity with someone who has been drinking, can I be accused of sexual assault?

It depends. It is against Grinnell College’s Sexual Misconduct policy to engage in any sexual activity with someone who is mentally or physically incapacitated, and therefore incapable of giving consent. Alcohol may cause such a state of incapacitation. However, it varies on a case by case basis. For a variety of reasons it is not advisable to engage in sexual activity while intoxicated. When one or both parties are intoxicated, people tend to misinterpret another’s sexual intentions and often proceed before the issue of consent has been clarified.

Can I file a complaint with the College and also with the Grinnell Police Department? Can I do one and not the other?

Yes, you may take action through both the campus student conduct system and the criminal justice system. The College encourages complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual harassment or misconduct that may also be crimes under Iowa law. The College will assist a complainant in making a criminal report and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies if a complainant decides to pursue the criminal process to the extent permitted by law. However, a complainant may also choose not to pursue criminal action, and under most circumstances, the Grinnell Office of Campus Safety and Security will not ask a complainant to pursue charges.

What is the role of the Advisor?

A trained Adviser serves to guide the complainant and respondent through the pre-hearing and hearing process and may accompany the student to any meeting with a College employee and to the hearing. The Adviser is not a trained advocate for the student and may not direct questions to or otherwise address the Hearing Board but, rather, may consult with the student that he/she/zi is assisting. An Adviser will be offered to the complainant at the time the complaint is filed and the respondent will be offered an Adviser at the time he/she/zi is notified of the complaint. The complainant and respondent may select from the list maintained by the Dean of Students of trained Advisers or each may decline the assistance of a trained Adviser.

How do I file a complaint?

A person who has experienced an incident of sexual misconduct, as defined in the Sexual Misconduct Policy, may file a complaint against the Grinnell College student responsible for that conduct. “Person” may include any member of Grinnell College, including students, faculty, administrators, staff members, and visitors. You will submit a Complaint Form to the Dean of Student Conduct. The Complaint Form should contain sufficient information to permit the Respondent to understand the charges being brought and to be able to adequately respond.

What is the role of the investigator?

The Title IX Coordinator or Dean of Students will designate an investigator of its choosing to conduct a thorough, impartial and fair investigation. The investigator chosen will have specific training and experience investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. The investigator will coordinate the gathering of information from the complainant, respondent, and other individuals or entities with relevant information regarding the complaint using any of the following processes. The investigator will share with the complainant and respondent for comment or rebuttal information and documentation considered material to the findings related to the complaint.

In addition to reviewing any documents submitted by the complainant and respondent, the Investigator will try to obtain such other physical or medical evidence relevant to the investigation as the Investigator determines, in his/her/hir judgment, to be necessary, including but not limited to documents, police records, electronic or other record of communications between the parties or witnesses, records or other relevant information. In obtaining such evidence, the investigator will comply with applicable laws and Grinnell College policies. The Investigator may visit relevant sites or locations and record observations through written or photographic documentation. The investigator will interview the complainant and the respondent separately and may interview one or both more than once as necessary. The complainant and respondent may be accompanied by their respective Advisors. The Investigator will make a good faith effort to contact and interview any witnesses identified by the parties or in the documentation, including those no longer at the College. The investigator may also interview any other individual he or she finds to be potentially relevant to the allegations of the complaint. The investigator will inform each witness or other individual interviewed that they are prohibited from retaliating against the complainant and respondent or other witnesses. The investigator may contact any expert the Investigator determines is necessary to ascertain the facts related to the complaint. An expert witness may be contacted for an informal consult or for a professional opinion regarding information learned from the investigation.

The investigator will prepare an Investigative Report summarizing and analyzing the relevant facts determined through the investigation, referencing any supporting documentation or statements. The investigative report may include summaries of interviews with the complainant, respondent, third-party witnesses, experts, and any other individuals with relevant information, photographs of relevant sites or physical evidence, electronic records and forensic evidence. The Investigator may provide a summary of his/her/hir impressions including context for the evidence, but will not make a determination as to whether a violation occurred, reserving that decision for the Hearing Board. The Dean of Students will provide the complainant and the respondent with a copy of the Investigative Report before the hearing.

Who is present at the conduct hearing and will I need to be in the same room as my assailant?

Those who may be present at the hearing are the complainant, the respondent, their respective Advisers, investigator, witnesses and Hearing Board Members. The investigator and witnesses may only be present in the hearing room when they are providing information to the Hearing Board. The complainant and respondent will be present in the hearing room; however, a complainant or respondent may also request participation in the hearing by other suitable means that would not require physical proximity to the other. This can include, but is not limited to, partitioning a hearing room or using technology to facilitate participation. The Hearing Board may also allow for witnesses to appear through other technological means. All requests to participate in the hearing other than in person must be reviewed in advance by the Dean of Students or designee as Chair to ensure compliance with a fair and equitable process.

Who will be resposible for determining the educational outcomes?

At the conclusion of the hearing, everyone other than the hearing board members will be dismissed from the hearing room to allow board members to deliberate in private. The hearing board must reach a decision on responsibility by majority vote. If the hearing board determines a student to be responsible, it will deliberate regarding the appropriate educational outcome, as appropriate, and reach a decision by majority vote. The hearing board may schedule additional meetings to complete deliberations if necessary. If the hearing board finds the respondent responsible for violations of the Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy and/or other College policies, the hearing board may impose appropriate educational outcomes by selecting from the range of sanctions outlined in the Student Conduct Process. Educational outcomes may be issued individually or in combination with other outcomes. In determining the appropriate outcome(s), the hearing board may consider a number of factors including: the harm suffered by the complainant; any ongoing risk to either the complainant or the community posed by the respondent; the impact of the violation(s) on the community, its members, or its property; any previous conduct violations; any mitigating or aggravating circumstances; and the information contained in any impact statements submitted by the parties.

What is the time frame for resolution?

The investigation and resolution (including appeal) of all reports will generally be completed within 60 calendar days. Extenuating circumstances including the complexity and severity of a complaint may arise that require the complaint process to extend beyond 60 calendar days. In general, a complainant and respondent can expect to receive periodic updates as to the status of the review or investigation. In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the College will notify all parties of the need for additional time and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner.