Confidentiality and Privacy

Williams strongly supports students’ interest in confidentially in cases involving sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence and harassment. Even if a student does not specifically ask for confidentiality, Williams will only disclose information regarding incidents of alleged sexual violence to those individuals responsible for handling the school’s response. Students considering reporting an incident, or in the process of reporting and/or adjudication, will always be told, in advance, what information would need to be disclosed, to whom, and why.

At the same time, there are situations in which the College must override a student’s request for confidentially in order to meet its federal legal obligations. However, these situations (described below) will be limited, and the information will only be shared with individuals who are responsible for handling the College’s response to incidents of sexual violence.

Confidential and private resources

Students are able to share information confidentially with certain members of the Williams community. This means that any information shared about sexual violence is reported to the Dean of the College in a way that does not contain any identifying information about the student.

  • Sexual Assault Survivor Services (SASS) 413-597-3000
  • Williams College Health Center 597-2206
  • Williams College Psychological Counseling 597- 2353 (or on call 24/7 through Campus Safety at 597-4444)
  • Williams College Chaplains’ Office 597-2483
  • Elizabeth Freeman Center 499-2425
  • Meg Bossong, Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 597-4977
  • Donna Denelli-Hess (Health Educator) 597-3013
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline  1-800-656-HOPE
  • National Sexual Assault Online Hotline – https://ohl.rainn.org/online/
  • For a list of resources with particular focus on the needs of LGBTQ survivors, see http://barcc.org/information/resources-online/glbt

Responsible employees.  Federal law requires that Williams address sexual violence about which “responsible employees” knew or should have known.  The term “responsible employee” means a College employee who has the duty to report or authority to address sexual misconduct by a member of the College community, or who a student reasonably could believe has such duty or authority.  A “responsible employee” is any college employee who is not a confidential employee.

Responsible employees must report to one of the Title IX Coordinators all relevant details about the alleged sexual misconduct that the person disclosing the incident has shared.  This includes:

  • The person who experienced the alleged sexual misconduct
  • The name of the alleged perpetrator, if known
  • The identity of other persons involved in the alleged sexual misconduct
  • The relevant facts, including the date, time, and location of the alleged misconduct
  • Whether the person who experienced the alleged misconduct has asked that that their name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator(s) or that the College not investigate or take action against the alleged perpetrator(s).

A responsible employee reporting an assault to the Title IX Coordinator does NOT require the student who experienced misconduct to participate in College investigation if they do not wish to.

A student may report an incident of sexual violence to the College but request that their name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator(s) or that the College not investigate or take action against the alleged perpetrator(s).

The College has an obligation to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including the student who reported the sexual violence. Confidentiality requests which could preclude a meaningful investigation or potential discipline of the alleged perpetrator(s) will be evaluated by the Title IX Committee for Student Concerns, which consists of Marlene Sandstrom, the Dean of the College; Meg Bossong, the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response; and Donna Denelli-Hess, Health Educator.

The Title IX Committee for Student Concerns considers a range of factors in their evaluation of confidentiality requests, including:

  • circumstances that suggest there is an increased risk of the alleged perpetrator committing additional acts of sexual violence or other violence
  • whether there have been other sexual violence complaints about the same alleged perpetrator
  • whether the alleged perpetrator has a history of arrests or disciplinary complaints in other settings indicating a history of violence
  • whether the alleged perpetrator threatened further sexual violence or other violence against the student or others
  • whether the sexual violence was committed by multiple perpetrators
  • circumstances that suggest there is an increased risk of future acts of sexual violence under similar circumstances
  • whether the student’s report reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location and/or by a particular group
  • whether the sexual violence was perpetrated with a weapon
  • whether the College possesses other means of obtaining relevant evidence (e.g. electronic evidence, via security personnel, etc.)

In cases where the balance of factors compels the College to investigate the allegation of sexual violence and pursue disciplinary action in a manner that requires the disclosure of the survivor’s identity to the alleged perpetrator, the survivor will always be told in advance and the College will work with the survivor to maximize their safety and privacy, as well as reiterating the College’s non-retaliation policy with all parties.