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 adjudication meeting, the College provides that the complainant and respondent are not in the same room at the same time and will each meet with the adjudicator separately. 

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 support person, 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 Harassment and 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, however, it is not required to go forward with the student conduct process. 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 if the complainant does not wish to do so. 

What is the role of the Support Person?

Complainants and Respondents may each choose to have a support person accompany them during any stage of the grievance/complaint process. The support person’s role is to help the complainant or respondent prepare his/her/hir statements, advise on the procedural aspects of the matter, and to be a nonparticipating supporter at any hearing/adjudication meeting the support person’s complainant or respondent is invited to attend. The support person may be anyone of the student or employee’s choosing, provided the support person is a student, faculty member, or staff member. In cases of sexual harassment or misconduct, the complainant and respondent are not limited to a support person from the students, faculty or staff, but may choose any one person they feel would be helpful. The support person may be any person of the complainant’s or respondent’s choosing and may include (but is not limited to) student, faculty member, staff member, an attorney, an advocate or a College-provided adviser.  

How do I file a complaint?

A person who has experienced an incident of sexual misconduct, as defined in the Guide to Preventing, Reporting, and Responding to Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, may file a complaint against the Grinnell College student, staff or faculty person responsible for that conduct. “Person” may include any member of Grinnell College, including students, faculty, staff members, and visitors. You will submit a grievance to the appropriate Senior Official, outlined in the Guide. The grievance 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 support person(s). 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 judge adjudicating the case. The Dean of Students will provide the complainant and the respondent with a copy of the investigative report before the adjudication meeting.

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

Those who may be present at the adjudication meetings are the complainant, the respondent, who will each meet separately with the adjudicator, their respective support person(s), investigator, witnesses and adjudicator. The investigator and witnesses may only be present in the meeting room when they are providing information to the adjudicator. The complainant and respondent will not be in the same room at the same time.  All requests to participate in the meeting other than in person must be reviewed in advance by the Dean of Students or designee as presiding officer to ensure compliance with a fair and equitable process.

Who will be responsible for determining the educational outcomes?

At this time, Grinnell College will engage an external party to adjudicate cases of sexual harassment and misconduct. Once of the information has been presented through these three adjudication meetings, the adjudicator will deliberate in private.  While finding the facts in the case, the adjudicator must reach a decision on responsibility by using the preponderance of evidence.   This means that the adjudicator will decide whether it is “more likely than not,” based upon the information provided through the investigation and at the adjudication meeting(s), that the Respondent is responsible for the alleged violation(s). (The adjudicator does not make findings of “guilty” or “not guilty” which terms used in the criminal justice system and specific to it.) The decision on responsibility will be shared with the Complainant and the Respondent within five (5) business days of the completion of meetings.  

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.