Policies and Handbook

Community Policies

College of the Atlantic is committed to creating and maintaining a community in which students, faculty, and staff can work, live, and learn together in a supportive, respectful environment. Membership in this community places a significant expectation upon its students, faculty, and staff to respect the dignity and autonomy of others – and to act with forethought and consideration of the social and environmental impacts their actions may have. This community thrives on the freedom of inquiry and expression that extends from the classroom into the social life of the College. This freedom is manifest in the vigorous debates that take place in our classrooms, committees, and residence halls and which bring together students, faculty, and staff. By necessity, such freedom comes from an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence that must also extend from classroom to committee to residence hall.

With these expectations in mind, there are few stated restrictions on behavior at the college – nevertheless, students are expected to adhere to the social and academic policies stated in all college documents. With one possible exception, the policies that follow have been developed and endorsed by the ACM as necessary for the functioning of this community

The following procedures apply for students. Students who are concerned about the actions of a faculty or staff member should talk with any of the following faculty or staff members: the Academic Dean, any of the Associate Deans, the Director of Public Safety, the Administrative Dean or the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. Any forthcoming charges against faculty and staff will be handled according to the procedures set forth in the faculty and staff manuals.

This section is not a comprehensive list of all campus community policies. Included here is important information about our drug/alcohol and safe community policies. 

Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is a breach of common standards of academic honesty as well as a breach of any particular instructions provided by a professor in a given class; for example, cheating, plagiarism, or any other form of using the work of another person without proper acknowledgment. For more guidance on this see the ‘Academic Integrity’ section within the Academic Program and Policies portion of the course catalog. Students who are suspected of academic misconduct may reasonably expect to be processed through a Judiciary Hearing process.

Social Misconduct

Students who engage in conduct which harms, or is intended to harm, another person or another’s property in the community (including college property) will be held accountable by the College. Harassing and intimidating behavior is particularly injurious to community life and will likely be subject to significant disciplinary action. The College also expects students to behave in accordance with the community policies outlined below. Social Misconduct may be dealt with administratively or through a Judiciary Hearing process.

Judiciary Hearing

A student can be charged with misconduct by any member of the College community. The following steps should be taken in any situation except those involving sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct issues are covered in the “Complaint Procedures for Sexual Misconduct” section of this handbook.

For complaints of Academic Misconduct, the Academic Dean or his/her designee will serve as the Chair for the Judiciary Hearing Board; for complaints of Social Misconduct, the Dean of Student Life or his/her designee will serve as the Chair. This judiciary hearing process is an internal COA procedure, separate from and in addition to any legal actions outside the college which may be appropriate.

Generally, it is anticipated that the vast majority of complaints are the result of imperfect communication rather than malice or ill-intent – and can therefore be resolved informally through communication and mediation. If a community member is concerned about the actions of a student, he/she is encouraged to address that student’s behavior directly and respectfully. If a community member is uncertain about how to address the behavior, he/she can seek help and advice from a variety of sources: the Dean of Student Life, the Director of Public Safety, the Academic Deans, the Resident Advisers, or any faculty or staff member he/she feels comfortable with.

In the event that a community member feels uncomfortable confronting a student’s behavior directly, he/she should discuss his/her concerns directly with either the Dean of Student Life or the Academic Dean. They will be able to advise you of your options. In the event that a written complaint is deemed necessary, they can assist you deciding whether an informal or formal resolution is appropriate. Please keep in mind that all parties need to be willing to engage in and complete an informal resolution in order for it to be successful. In the event this is impossible, the complaint will be referred to a judiciary hearing board for formal resolution. A person who feels uncomfortable approaching either of the Dean of Student Life or the Academic Dean should talk with any faculty or staff member who can speak on his or her behalf.


COA is required to comply with the Drug Free Campuses Act, as well as the laws of the State of Maine, which include but are not limited to:

  • Individuals must be 21 years old to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol in the state of Maine.
  • Persons under 21 years of age may not purchase, consume, possess, or transport alcoholic beverages.
  • It is illegal to present false identification, either written or oral, in the attempt to procure alcoholic beverages.
  • No person may furnish, procure, or deliver alcohol to a minor or allow any minor in his/her control to drink alcohol.
  • No person may furnish, procure, or deliver alcohol to/for an intoxicated person.
  • Only licensed liquor dealers may sell alcoholic beverages in Maine.
  • Charging admission to parties where alcoholic beverages are available "free" is illegal.
  • No person may drink alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. In addition, an excessive blood alcohol level (0.08) could result in a suspension of your driver's license and/or a fine. If you are under 21 years old, the state considers you intoxicated if your blood alcohol level reaches 0.02.
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places is illegal without a special license or permit issued by Maine state officials.

In order for COA to comply with these laws and to maintain a safe campus, the following policy has been enacted:

  • All COA students, staff, and faculty are personally responsible for complying with Maine state and local laws regarding consumption, sale, transportation, and procurement of alcohol.
  • Individuals under the influence of alcohol will be held fully accountable for their actions, including physical or verbal abuse to individuals, or any action resulting in damage to personal or college property. Intoxication is not an acceptable defense or excuse for disorderly conduct.
  • Making reference to alcohol is discouraged in campus advertisements or announcements for social events.
  • Consumption of alcohol is prohibited in spaces regularly frequented by the public, including but not limited to Blair Dining Hall; Thorndike Library; Gates Community Center; Deering Common, access ways to buildings; parking lots and drives, hallways, lobbies, and common areas of buildings; formal gardens; and at all COA functions except under conditions noted below.
  • At the discretion of the Director of Public Safety or his delegate, any individual who is potentially disruptive or impaired by alcohol must cease his/her behavior upon request.
  • Consumption of alcohol in campus housing is only permitted by residents 21 or older, in private student rooms in housing not designated as substance free. Alcohol is not permitted to be stored in common spaces. Any student storing alcohol in a student room will be held responsible for any consequences resulting from the consumption of that alcohol whether by themselves or others. The household and the Resident Advisor will determine further guidelines, with the assistance of the housing office as needed. The household policy must be in accordance with the community guidelines and all members of the household are to share in the responsibility of upholding the policy.
Any community member violating this policy will be held accountable through measures that may include a warning or referral to appropriate social misconduct or personnel procedures. Complaints of social misconduct can be brought through the offices of either the Director of Campus Safety or the Dean of Student Life. Violations of Maine laws occur at the risk of the individuals involved - and are not the responsibility of the College.

Drug-free Workplace and Campus

College of the Atlantic, in compliance with and in support of the Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988 and other Federal and State laws, hereby notifies all employees and students that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of controlled substances is prohibited at COA. Individuals will be prosecuted through either the College’s internal policies and/or local law enforcement agencies.

Smoking on campus

In compliance with the Maine Workplace Smoking Act of 1985 and additional legislation in 1993 banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, COA is committed to providing a smoke-free work environment. Smoking is therefore prohibited in and within a 25 foot zone around all college buildings, except for specific designated smoking areas. Smoking is also prohibited in all college owned vehicles.

Community members who smoke are asked to do so in such a way that they do not expose those who do not smoke, to second-hand smoke. Those who want to smoke in areas without a specific designation are asked to be respectful of the needs of those who do not smoke by requesting permission to or refraining from smoking if the area is already in use, or stopping smoking if asked to do so.

Smoke-free areas:

The Newlin Gardens area (the “Red Bricks” area) including the stairways leading to the Newlin Gardens, the Campus Walk (the pathway connecting the Newlin Gardens to the Davis Center), the courtyard of Blair-Tyson, and the courtyard created by Deering Common, Seafox, and the Kathryn W. Davis Residence Village

Designated smoking areas:

The lean-to at Buildings and Grounds, the overhang at the northwest entrance to TAB, the porch of the KWD Residence Village Bike Shed, and a lean-to to be constructed adjacent to the bike shed at Blair-Tyson. At the discretion of CPBC these areas can be changed or moved.


The College is committed to maintaining an environment in which the age, race, color, creed, religion, marital status, sexual preference, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental handicap or veteran status of an individual or group are respected and not disparaged. Therefore, the following procedures will be followed should any member of our community feel that infringement of rights or discrimination has occurred.

The procedure utilized in the investigation of any complaint of civil rights infringement or discrimination will be the same as those used for the investigation of gender or sexual harassment. These procedures are outlined in the Sexual Harassment section of this Handbook.

If a community member is uncertain about whether he/she has experienced discrimination, has questions or would like clarification, or needs help, he/she is strongly encouraged to contact any of the following: the Associate Dean of Student Life, the Director of Public Safety, the Academic Dean, or the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity officer. Any of these people will be glad to help.

If a community member decides to pursue a complaint, the first person to be contacted in such an event should be the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity officer. Anna Murphy is the College’s AA/EEO officer – and can be reached via e-mail or at x5602

Sexual Assault & Misconduct policy

Members of the College of the Atlantic community, guests, and visitors have the right to be free from sexual misconduct and violence. This policy is intended to define community expectations, to establish definitions to aid in determining when behavior violates these expectations, and to outline the options available in response to sexual misconduct. It is our expectation that each individual will exhibit the respect, consideration, and responsibility that would prohibit sexual misconduct. Further, while we expect that individuals engaging in any kind of sexual activity will communicate clearly with each other, it is the responsibility of the person(s) pursuing sexual activity to ensure that she/he/they have the consent of any partner(s). An instance of sexual misconduct is a violation of the rights of the individual as well as a significant betrayal of the fundamental trust and values of our community. COA believes that rape, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation are unacceptable and therefore sexual misconduct will not be tolerated.

The College will regard all reports of sexual misconduct as worthy of earnest response. It is our goal to provide prompt, effective, and sensitive assistance to anyone requesting support as a result of sexual misconduct. This includes taking action to protect community members from harm, to impose serious disciplinary consequences to ensure misconduct is not repeated, and to educate our community appropriately. The college will strive to empower the victim/survivor regarding decisions about notification, medical or other services, legal or campus action, and other matters. Previous behavior on the part of the victim/survivor (attire, intoxication, previous sexual history, etc.) will never be considered as grounds to justify sexual misconduct.

Included in this policy:

  • definitions relevant to the policy
  • consequences of violating the policy
  • college response options for support and action, including information about confidentiality
  • notification, education and training

COA recognizes that there is much discussion about appropriate terminology- victim or survivor. While we recognize the awkwardness of the construction, we have chosen to use “victim/survivor” where possible throughout this document in recognition that each person should have the right to determine the language that best describes where they are in the process of coming to terms with what they have experienced.

This policy covers incidents or behavior that occur on campus (including farms and islands), off-campus, on COA-sponsored trips or programs in which one or more of the parties are members of the COA community.

For the purposes of this policy the following definitions are used:

Consent: is unambiguous, voluntary, and knowing agreement demonstrated by positive and active participation and cooperation between partners prior to and during a sexual encounter for any kind of sexual activity. Consent can only be given by a person with the capacity to do so and who has not been coerced into doing so.

The following are offered to further understanding of the definition of consent:

  • Consent can be given by word or action, but verbal consent is usually the clearest;
  • Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically taken as consent to any other form of sexual activity or the same activity again;
  • Silence--without actions demonstrating permission--cannot be assumed to show consent;
  • Previous sexual encounters with or prior consent from the same partner(s) cannot imply consent to future sexual acts;
  • Consent given prior to or during an encounter does not preclude consent being withdrawn later in that encounter;
  • Under this policy, “No” always means “No,” and “Yes,” if produced while a person is being coerced or does not have the capacity to consent, may not always mean “Yes.”

Sexual Misconduct: Sexual misconduct offenses include but are not limited to the following each to be defined further: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Assault- Unwanted Sexual Contact, Sexual Assault- Rape (or the attempt to commit such actions).

Sexual Harassment: is unwelcome gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from COA’s educational program, work environment, and/or activities, and is based on the creation of a hostile environment, retaliation or power differentials (quid pro quo).

Sexual Exploitation: occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of other sexual misconduct offenses.

Sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to:

  • invasion of sexual privacy;
  • prostituting another student;
  • non-consensual video or audio-taping of sexual activity;
  • non-consensual digital or online sexual behavior;
  • engaging in voyeurism without the consent of the parties having sex;
  • knowingly transmitting an STI or HIV to another student;
  • exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances;
  • inducing another to expose their genitals; stalking and/or intimidation

Sexual Assault-- Unwanted Sexual Contact: is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or foreign object, by a person upon another person regardless of gender, that is without consent and/or by force.

Sexual Contact includes:

  • intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals;
  • touching another with any of these body parts;
  • making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts;
  • or any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner that doesn’t involve contact with/of/by breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth or other orifice.

Sexual Assault-- Rape: is any sexual intercourse however slight, with any body part or foreign object, by a person upon another person regardless of gender, that is without consent and/or by force.

Intercourse includes:

  • vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex, no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

Incapacity: is the lack of ability to consent resulting from mental disability, sleep, lack of consciousness, involuntary physical restraint, alcohol intoxication, or from the consumption of drugs including but not limited to rohypnol, ketomine, GHB, burundanga, etc. (More information on these drugs can be found at http://www.911rape.org/) or other drugs/substances.

NOTE: Because alcohol or other drug use can place the capacity to consent in question, sober sex is less likely to raise such questions. When alcohol or other drugs are being used, a person will be considered unable to consent if they lack the capacity to reasonably understand the situation-understanding is demonstrated by knowledge of who, what, when, where, why, or how. In situations where alcohol or drug use are involved, if one person is incapable of functioning and the other, capable of functioning, takes advantage or exploits the first person’s incapacitation- there is no consent.

Administering drugs to another person for the purpose of reducing inhibitions, gaining or rendering a person incapable of giving consent is a violation of this policy.

Force: is the use of physical violence and/or the imposition on someone physically to gain sexual access and can also include threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent . The absence of resistance does not imply the absence of force.

NOTE: The use of physical force including partner (domestic or dating) violence, constitutes a stand-alone non-sexual offense as well, as it is our expectation that those who use physical force (restraint, battery, etc.) would face consequences not just for sexual misconduct, but also additional consequences for assaultive behavior. Similarly, emotional abuse used to control, isolate, or manipulate another person constitutes misconduct for which additional consequences can be imposed.

Coercion: is when one person is pressured unreasonably for and/or manipulated into sex and is clearly distinct from seduction. Coercing someone into sexual activity violates that person’s agency and autonomy and this policy in the same way as physically forcing someone into sex.

The misconduct hearing process is detailed in a separate policy. However it is relevant to include here that COA never assumes a community member is in violation of COA policy without due process. Hearings are conducted to take into account all evidence available, from all relevant sources.

In addressing sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct, not just those acts that would meet a criminal standard, COA aims to uphold our community expectations of respect, the right to autonomy, and a campus environment that is safe for all.

Not all forms of misconduct covered in this policy will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and COA reserves the right to impose different consequences, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion/employment termination, depending on the severity of the offense.

That said, the following are offered as guidelines for hearing boards when addressing complaints of sexual misconduct:

  • Any student/employee found responsible for violating the policy on sexual harassment or sexual exploitation will likely receive a recommended consequence ranging from warning to expulsion/employment termination, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
  • Any student/employee found responsible for violating the policy on Sexual Assault- Unwanted Sexual Contact (where no intercourse has occurred) will likely receive a consequence ranging from probation to expulsion/employment termination, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
  • Any student/employee found responsible for violating the policy on Sexual Assault-Rape will likely face a recommended consequence of suspension or expulsion/employment termination.

COA will consider the concerns and rights of both the victim/survivor and the person accused of sexual misconduct when addressing sexual misconduct complaints. The hearing board may solicit input from a victim/survivor about potential consequences to aid in their deliberations. The hearing board or any person reviewing a request for appeal should follow the range of recommended consequences unless compelling justification exists to do otherwise.

COA will work with anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct to make accommodations and offer appropriate services. COA reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct in order to protect community members’ rights and safety. Options available to victims/survivors may include but are not limited to changes to housing or work situations, changes to course or work schedules, access to medical and counseling services including transportation, limited or no contact agreements with persons involved, and campus disciplinary procedures, as well as assistance in accessing legal options including reporting misconduct to the police. COA may also choose to institute interim suspension from campus pending a hearing when appropriate.

Any person, who in the course of seeking support for being sexually assaulted, admits to a violation of COA policy will be granted amnesty and will not face disciplinary action or consequences for that policy violation (ex. underage drinking or use of illegal drugs).

When seeking support or reporting sexual misconduct, all parties should be aware of confidentiality, privacy and reporting requirements in order to make informed choices. Different people on campus have different reporting responsibilities and different abilities to maintain confidentiality, depending on their roles at COA and upon COA policy. Individuals are encouraged to ask questions about a person’s ability to maintain confidentially or to maintain privacy, before consulting and are reminded that they do not have to share any information that they do not wish to share when seeking support.

To Seek Confidential Support:
Individuals wishing to maintain absolute confidentiality can seek support from COA mental health counselors and nurses, from other mental health practitioners or clergy in town, or from our community partners working with victims/survivors of sexual assault. Campus counselors are available to help you free of charge. These people can offer you confidentiality, discuss options and offer advice without any obligation to tell anyone unless you want them to do so.

To Seek Support and Have Personally Identifiable Information Remain Private:
Individuals can seek support and or advice from most college employees (faculty members, advisors, RAs, student life staff, etc ) and not have their private, personally identifiable information shared with others (unless there is cause to fear for the individual’s safety, or the safety of others). College employees will be required to report some statistical information (date, location, category of misconduct/crime, potential for danger) as outlined more fully in a following section, but not any of the victim/survivor’s personally identifiable information.

In accordance with the federal regulations, the report of statistical information will be shared with the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Public Safety, or the Dean of Student Life. These reports do not include any personally identifiable information without the permission of the victim/survivor, except in the event that the report reveals a possible threat to the victim/survivor or other members of the community. If personally identifiable information is shared, it will only be shared as necessary with as few people as possible, and all efforts will be made to protect the victim/survivor’s privacy. The Title IX coordinator, the director of public safety and the dean of student life, will be notified of any reports of sexual assault made to college employees, in order to determine whether a potential threat to the community exists. In the event that a threat does exist, appropriate and timely notification will be issued. All possible measures will be taken to maintain confidentiality within the response team and anonymity for the victim/survivor within the larger COA community.

To Take Action and Make a Formal Report (non-confidential):
In order to begin a disciplinary process, leading to possible administrative action and/or a misconduct hearing and a resolution that can end in the consequences described in the appropriate section above, individuals are encouraged to make a formal report to the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Public Safety, or the Dean of Student Life. Formal reporting means that only people who need to know will be told, and information about the victim/survivor will be shared only as necessary with investigators, witnesses, and the accused individual.

Informing the COA Community and Federal Statistical Reporting Obligations:
All college employees, including RAs, but excluding campus counselors, have a duty to report instances of sexual misconduct according to federal reporting guidelines. All personally identifiable information is kept confidential (except in circumstances involving potential threats of bodily harm) but the date, the location of the incident (on or off campus) and the category of misconduct/crime must be passed along to the Title IX coordinator and director of public safety for publication in the annual Campus Security Report required by the federal government. This reporting protects the identity of the victim/survivor and may be done anonymously.

The Campus Security Report helps provide the community with a clear picture of the extent and nature of campus crime, to ensure greater community safety. This report is available online and will be distributed to the COA community. Copies can also be requested from the Director of Public Safety.

COA will also issue an addendum to the Campus Safety Report that will include statistics about sexual misconduct not mandated to be reported by the Clery Act. Sexual misconduct is significantly underreported nationwide and can contribute to a false sense of security. Reporting all incidents of sexual misconduct will keep the COA community informed of the true frequency of these events.

Federal Timely Warning Reporting Obligations:
Victim/survivors of sexual misconduct should also be aware that COA must issue immediate timely warnings for incidents reported to them that are confirmed to pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. COA will make every effort to ensure that a victim/survivor’s name and other identifying information are not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the danger. The reporters for timely warning purposes are the director of public safety and the dean of student life.

Education and Training:
COA recognizes the importance of raising awareness of the issues surrounding sexual misconduct and assault. Therefore we commit ourselves to ensuring that community members (students, faculty and staff) have adequate information on this topic and are offered appropriate training on sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual assault on a regular basis. We further commit to ensuring that those responsible for responding to those who have experienced sexual misconduct or those responsible for addressing sexual misconduct complaints have been sufficiently trained to carry out those responsibilities with sensitivity, compassion, and fairness.

Amorous Relationships

Amorous relationships between paid professionals (faculty and staff) and students are prohibited at COA. Should any faculty or staff member enter into an amorous relationship with a student, that staff or faculty member will be expected to take unpaid leave for the duration of the student’s time at the college.

Complaint Procedures for sexual misconduct

Interim Process - November 2014

The Student Life Committee discussed and endorsed the outline of the following as the Interim Process for Addressing Complaints of Violations of the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Policy. This process is effective immediately and will remain in place until such time as we have finished revisions to the process. We are implementing this interim procedure by administrative action to offer the best options to our community, to be consistent with best practices, and to comply with federal regulations for Title IX.

 Our goal for our process is that it offer prompt, effective, and equitable resolution to complaints under our sexual assault and misconduct polices. The process is outlined below. More information about the process or questions about the process can be directed to the Title IX Coordinator, Sarah Luke, 207 801 5670, sluke@coa.edu.


 As a general notes:

  • Both the complainant and the respondent can have an advisor of their choosing to assist them with the process. This advisor may be, but is not required to be a member of the COA community. The role of the advisor is to provide support and guidance to either the complainant or the respondent, but not to direct the process or formally represent the complainant or respondent. 
  • Both the complainant and the respondent have access to available counseling and other relevant support services, assuming that the individual is a member of the COA community. Requests for such support or information about services can be requested from the Title IX Coordinator, Sarah Luke, 207 801 5670, sluke@coa.edu
  1. Notice: Notice can come in a variety of ways including a formal complaint. Notice of a formal complaint can be made in a written statement or be given orally to a college employee, preferably a member of the Title IX team. All employees who receive such a complaint must immediately inform the Title IX Coordinator, Sarah Luke, x5670. Complaints should clearly and concisely describe the events of the incident(s) in question in narrative format, including when and where it happened, and if there any witnesses. The complaint should also reference any supporting documentation that the complainant may have available to them. 
  2. Initial Remedies or Interim Actions: There are a number of interim actions that are outlined in our Sexual Assault and Misconduct Policy that are available. These will be discussed with the complainant to determine which, if any, may be appropriate given the specific nature of the complaint. 
  3. Preliminary Intake: Upon receipt of a complaint Title IX Coordinator, in conjunction with members of the Title IX Team, will gather information and take whatever action is necessary to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that any policies may have been violated and whether or not COA has jurisdiction to proceed with our campus process. The Title IX Coordinator will also assign an investigator or team of investigators to the case, if necessary. 
  4. Notice of Investigation: At the appropriate point, the Title IX Coordinator will prepare a letter of notice of investigation for the respondent, including the list of charges based on the initial investigation and instructions on how and when the respondent will be interviewed. This notice can be given prior to or at the time of the interview depending on circumstances. 
  5. Investigation: The Title IX Coordinator and the investigator (s) will ensure a thorough, reliable, impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and an order of interviews. The investigator(s) will also prepare an investigation report to include a finding based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not to have occurred). 
  6. Notice of Charge: If the investigation determines there is sufficient evidence to proceed, then a formal letter of charges will be prepared and given to the respondent outlining all of the charges determined to be relevant as a result of the investigation. 
  7. Presentation of Finding: The findings of the investigation will be presented to the respondent, who can accept the findings, accept in part, reject in part or reject all findings. If the respondent is found not responsible then the investigation is closed. If the respondent accepts the finding then the Title IX Team will determine and implement an appropriate sanction according to the range of sanctions outlined in our policy. If the respondent rejects the findings in part or in full then a hearing board will be selected and a hearing scheduled. The findings of the investigation will also be shared with the complainant and an update given as to the status of the case.
  8. Hearing: Should a hearing be necessary, the board will be comprised of 3 members of our trained Title IX team, one of whom will be identified as the chair. Each member will have an equal vote. At the hearing, the investigation report will be presented by the investigator(s) and reviewed by the board. The finding of the investigation will be included but is not binding. If during the hearing additional information needs to be gathered the chair will work with investigators to gather that information. The purpose of the hearing will be to determine if it is more likely than not that the respondent violated the policies forming the basis of the charges. The goal of the hearing is to provide an equitable resolution via an equitable process, respecting the rights of all participants. Both the complainant and the respondent can have an advisor of their choosing to assist them with the process. The role of the advisor is solely to support either the complainant or the respondent, as such the advisor is not permitted to address the board verbally or in writing. At the discretion of the board chair, if an advisor is disruptive to the proceedings then they can be removed. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to petition to have any member of the hearing board removed on the basis of bias. Petitions can be directed to the Title IX Coordinator, Sarah Luke, x5670. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to review all documentary evidence available regarding the complaint subject to the privacy limitations imposed by state and federal law, at least 48 hours in advance of a hearing. Parties also have the right to be informed within 48 hours of the hearing of the names of all witnesses who will give statements except where the identity of a witness will not be revealed to the respondent for compelling safety reasons. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to have the opportunity to ask questions indirectly of witnesses and the right to challenge documentary evidence. Both the complainant and the respondent can make an impact statement as part of the process of determining any appropriate sanctions.
  9. Outcome and Sanction: The hearing board will determine an outcome and if appropriate, sanctions, and will have final decision making authority with regard to formal complaints subject to appeal. The goal of any sanctions will be to stop any behavior that is in violation of policy, prevent such behavior from recurring and to remedy its effects on any individuals and the COA community. 
  10. Share Outcome: The outcomes of the hearing will be shared with the respondent and the complainant, as well as anyone else who needs to know in order to implement the sanctions and ensure campus safety, within 48 hours of the hearing (except in exceptional circumstances). The information to be shared can include the name of the respondent, the charges, the finding of the hearing, the rationale for the finding, and the sanctions, if there are any. 
  11. Request for Appeal: Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to request an appeal, within 5 business days of written notice of the outcome, if they can show sufficient evidence to meet any of the following criteria: a procedural error/omission that would have significantly impacted the outcome; new evidence that would have significantly impacted the outcome; or sanctions disproportionate to the violation. All sanctions implemented will be in effect during the appeal process. Requests for appeal can be made to the Title IX Coordinator who will forward the appeal to a trained member of the Title IX Team not previously involved in the case to review and render a decision as to whether to grant the request for appeal or not. If either the complainant or the respondent makes a request for appeal, that information will be shared with the other, who will have opportunity to craft a written response to the request for appeal to also be considered as part of the request. Requests for appeals are based on a review of documents or recordings and do not constitute a new hearing. If granted, appeals will be sent back to the original body that heard the case, except in situations where there is indication that significant bias exists such that an impartial finding and sanction cannot be determined by that body. There is only one level of appeal and the decision that results from a successful appeal is binding. 
  12. Share Final Outcome: After the appeals process has been exhausted then the final outcome will be shared with appropriate parties. Again this can include the name of respondent, the charge, the outcome, the rationale for the outcome, and the sanctions if there are any.
  13. Implement outcome and sanctions: The Title IX Coordinator will work with appropriate college offices to ensure that any and all sanctions are implemented appropriately. No recording of interviews or proceedings is allowed except by those investigating or hearing the case, if they so choose.Amnesty: Any community member who as a reporter of an incident, as a complainant, as a witness, or in the process of offering assistance to another shares information that might constitute admitting to a policy violation, such as underage drinking, is offered amnesty from consequences for those violations, except where the actions led to the harm of others.

sexual assault & misconduct

To read COA's Sexual Assault & Misconduct Policy, click here. To download a PDF copy of the document, click here.


  • To report an on-campus crime:

    Millard Dority

    Director of Public Safety




    To report sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or gender-based discrimination:

    Sarah Luke
    Dean of Student Life

    Title IX Coordiantor



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