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Sexual Assault and Harassment, Dating and Domestic Violence, Stalking

Prohibition of Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Dating and Domestic Violence, and Stalking

The University of Pittsburgh values the safety and health of all members of the Pitt community and seeks to foster an environment in which its students and employees treat other persons with respect, civility, and dignity. Any behavior that involves sexual assault or harassment, relationship (dating and domestic) violence, or stalking of another person is prohibited.

Such behavior may result in criminal charges if reported to the City of Pittsburgh Police or Pitt Police department and/or University disciplinary action if the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX investigates a complaint. The University will use the processes outlined in the Title IX Policy and Sexual Misconduct Policy to investigate and resolve reports of sexual assault, harassment, relationship (dating and domestic) violence, and stalking. In cases involving sexual assault, the University understands that the victim may request confidentiality. In these situations, the University may not be able to honor a victim’s request in order to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all community members, including the victim. The University’s ability to meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator(s) may be limited when a victim requests and is granted confidentiality.

Accused students or employees should know that the initiation of any University proceeding does not preclude the possibility of criminal charges. In fact, parallel University and criminal proceedings are not uncommon.

In addition to using these processes, the University will continue to engage in prevention programs and training for students, faculty and staff in an effort to prevent sexual assault and harassment, relationship (dating and domestic) violence, and stalking. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion houses the University’s sexual violence prevention office. This office was founded in the spring of 2020 and works to engage faculty, staff and students in education regarding consent, healthy relationships, bystander intervention strategies and support resources. The University Counseling Center, part of Student Health Service, houses the Office of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education (SHARE), which provides counseling to victims of sexual assault, assists victims in obtaining medical care, and offers support in all aspects of the recovery process. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Student Health Service work in partnership to respond to incidents of sexual violence and to actively engage the campus in prevention activities.

More detailed information about these programs, processes, and procedures can be found in the Student Code of Conduct.

What is Consent?

Consent is an informed, affirmative decision made freely and actively by all parties to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity. Consent is given by clear words or actions and may not be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance alone. Existence of a current or previous dating, marital, and/or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent to additional sexual activity. Consent to one type of sexual activity does not imply consent to other types of sexual activity.

Someone who is unconscious, asleep, or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition, cannot give consent. Consent cannot be obtained by force, intimidation, threat, coercion, isolation, or confinement. Agreement obtained under such conditions does not constitute consent.

Click here for definitions of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

Consent in Reference to Sexual Activity under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code

Pennsylvania does not specifically define “consent.” However, a person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

(1) By forcible compulsion;
(2) By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;
(3) Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring;
(4) Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant's power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance; or
(5) Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent.  18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3121.

“Forcible compulsion” is defined as “compulsion by use of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional or psychological force, either express or implied. The term includes, but is not limited to, compulsion resulting in another person's death, whether the death occurred before, during or after sexual intercourse.” 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3101.

Further, resistance is not required. The alleged victim need not resist the actor in prosecutions under this chapter: Provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a defendant from introducing evidence that the alleged victim consented to the conduct in question. 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3107. Learn more about Laws in Pennsylvania

Prevention and Awareness Programs

The University has a comprehensive array of prevention and educa­tional programs aimed at ending sexual assaults and harassment, relationship (dating and domestic) violence, and stalking.

Peer Education

There are two organizations, SAFE and PantherWELL with well-trained students that provide peer-to-peer educational programming.

SAFE (Sexual Assault Facilitation and Education)

The SAFE program is sponsored by the sexual violence prevention office within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the SHARE program. Trained peer educators, present workshops to fellow students on topics including consent, healthy relationships, supporting survivors of sexual misconduct, bystander intervention and campus resources. The workshops are designed to provide students with the skills necessary to safely intervene in situations that could lead to violence, harassment or a bias incident. Available SAFE workshops include: Bystander Intervention, Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence, Talk Dirty to Me (affirmative consent), and Healthy Relationships. 

PantherWELL

PantherWELL Peer Health Educators, which is part of the Office of Health Education and Promotion, conduct health and wellness programs on campus, including programs that explore bystander intervention training, as well as various aspects of wellness and safety. Campus-wide sexual assault and consent awareness campaigns are conducted throughout the year—including the It’s On Us campaign—to educate students about the issues surrounding sexual assault through distribution of videos, social media messaging, and creative advertising.

New and Transfer Students

Incoming students are required to attend mandatory programs during orientation week, where students are provided with information regarding University policies, expectations and virtual resources.

Relationship Violence Awareness Month

A variety of programs occur each fall semester for relationship violence awareness month with the goal of supporting survivors and providing education aimed at eradicating sexual misconduct on Pitt’s campus.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

A variety of programs occur each spring during Sexual Assault Awareness Month with the goal of supporting survivors and providing education aimed at eradicating sexual misconduct on Pitt’s campus.

New and Ongoing Employee Education

Provided through both online and in-person modules, employees receive training on prevention and reporting sexual misconduct at orientation and on an annual schedule.

University Police Seminars

Members of Pitt Police are trained in responding to and investigating sex offenses, domestic violence, and stalking incidents. The Pitt Police provide special programs on sexual assault and other safety issues to student groups upon request.

Community Speakers

Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, the Women’s Center and Shelter and SETPoint provide regular training for University community members.

Bystander Intervention

First-year students are required to attend active bystander training, which plays an important role in helping to prevent sexual assault, harassment and bias incidents. Some examples include:

  • speaking up when someone discusses plans to take sexual advantage of another person;
  • confronting people who seclude, hit on, or attempt to engage in sexual activity with people who are incapacitated;
  • calling for assistance when you are concerned about a person’s safety or wellbeing.

Sexual Assault Task Force

This group of interested student leaders, staff, and faculty convenes monthly to discuss issues related to sexual assault, and to develop pro­grams that can effect change and create a climate of safety on campus.

What to Do if You are Sexually Assaulted

Q    What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?
A    Victims of sexual assault may feel traumatized or blame themselves and are reluctant to seek help and proper medical care; it is not the victim’s fault. If an individual has been the victim of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and/or stalking, or think they may have been, there are several options for reporting the incident and for obtaining the information, assistance, and support needed for all aspects of recovery, both emotional and physical.

Immediately After an Incident

Physical Safety: Your immediate safety is a top priority. As quickly as possible, find a safe place away from the perpetrator or any other potential danger. 

  • You are encouraged to seek immediate medical attention for your own physical health and to preserve all physical evidence. You can receive treatment at any medical facility; hospital emergency departments are in the best position to treat you and collect physical evidence. 
  • Contact the Police: You are strongly encouraged to call the Pitt Police department (412-624-2121) or the Pittsburgh Police at 911 and report the situation. 
  • Contact the University Counseling Center's Office of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education (SHARE) at 412-648-7930 (8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday) or 412-648-7856 (after 5 p.m. and on weekends). SHARE will advise victims of reporting options, can guide students through the process of receiving a medical exam, and will assist victims in notifying campus or local police authorities if desired.

Sexual Assault Reporting FAQs

Q    Does contacting the police mean I have to press charges?
A    No. You have the right not to press charges if you call the Pitt Police. However, in the event of a safety concern to the victim and/or campus community, Pitt Police have an obligation to investigate. Pitt Police will report any Title IX incidents to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Q    If I report a sexual assault, will my name become public? What happens to the information?
A
    The University does not release the names of victims. After reviewing the report, Pitt Police may determine there is a serious or on-going threat to the community and may issue a campus Crime Alert. These alerts will not include any identifying information about the victim. Security personnel will file an anonymous record of any on-campus assault among Pitt’s crime statistics in order to give an accurate representation of crime on campus and to help prevent further crimes of this nature.

Q    Do I have to get medical attention?
A
    Although you are not required to seek medical care, it is highly recommended. Taking care of your physical and medical state is an important role in the healing process. You may have internal or external injuries as a result of an assault that require medical care. Additionally, you may want to explore options for treating sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and/or pregnancy. The Student Health Service has staff that can confidentially assess pregnancy risk; test and treat for STIs; and assess, treat, and/or offer/give referrals for physical injuries.

Reporting Options

Several options are available for you to report sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, relationship (dating and domestic) violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

  • You may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX. This office generally investigates complaints of sexual misconduct against members of the University community, including faculty, staff and students. You may contact the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX at titleixcoordinator@pitt.edu or 412-648-7860. The Office of Civil Rights and Title IX can assist with reporting to law enforcement, if requested. Individuals also may decline to notify law enforcement.
  • You may file a report through the Bias Report System on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.
  • You may file a criminal complaint by contacting proper law enforcement agency. Both Pitt Police and City Police can assist with obtaining Protection from Abuse orders. Contact information is listed below:

Pitt Police: (Pitt Police can assist with notifying City Police) Jerome Cochran Public Safety Building (in-person)

3412 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
police@pitt.edu (this email is not monitored 24/7)
police.pitt.edu/anonymous-tip-line (online reporting form)
Rave Guardian app (online reporting form)
412-624-2121

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
City police station locations and information can be found online here. (in-person)
(911) The city police do not accept complaints online.

  • Although the University encourages complainants to make formal reports as outlined above, you may file an anonymous complaint using the Bias Report System on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website or on the University of Pittsburgh Police Department website at police.pitt.edu/anonymous-tip-line. Anonymous reports greatly limit the University’s ability to respond to and investigate the report.

Preserving Physical Evidence

In the aftermath of a sexual trauma, although it may not be foremost on your mind, the preservation of evidence is strongly encouraged. Even if you do not think you want to pursue a criminal or civil proceeding, preserving evidence keeps your options open in case you change your mind. To preserve evidence, do not shower, douche, or change clothes or bedding before you seek medical attention. Also, if oral contact took place, do not brush your teeth, smoke, or eat. Optimally, evidence collection should occur within 72 hours of the assault, and there are medical facilities in Oakland that can assist you:

  • UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, Emergency Room, 300 Halket Street, 412-641-4933
  • UPMC Mercy, Emergency Room, 400 Locust Street, 412-232-8111

Magee-Womens and Mercy are staffed with sexual assault nurse examiners, registered nurses who have completed specialized educa­tion and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of the patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse. Hospital emergency rooms are best equipped to collect physical evidence of a sexual assault. Your best source of immediate medical help is the nearest hospital emergency room. All hospitals are required by law to report to the police any injury that is the result of a crime. This does not obligate you to file formal charges. Completing a forensic exam does not require a victim to talk to police or prosecute the offender.

Students who have experienced sexual assault can get a forensic medical exam free of charge. You may choose to have your insurance billed or to have Pennsylvania’s Victims Compensation Assistance Program will cover the costs.

In addition to evidence collected from a forensic medical exam, victims should take steps to preserve other forms of evidence, including, but not limited to:

  • Save unwashed clothing and/or sheets;
  • Take screenshots of social media posts;
  • Save text messages, emails and other forms of electronic contact.

Counseling and Medical Services and Other Available Support

Seeking emotional support in the aftermath of a sexual assault can be very important for recovery. Pitt’s Office of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education (SHARE) offers specialized counseling services designed to assist students who have experienced sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, harassment, and stalking. The office also can assist with referrals to specialized counseling services off campus. Additional counseling resources include the University Counseling Center (412-648-7930) or (412-648-7856) and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (1-866-363-7273).

Student Health Service

Pitt’s Student Health Service provides ongoing confidential medical treatment for any physical problems related to an assault. The Student Health Service can assess for pregnancy risk; test and treat for sexually transmitted infections; and assess, treat, and/or offer/give referrals for physical injuries. Student Health Service is located in the Wellness Center in Mark A. Nordenberg Hall, 119 University Place, 412-383-1800. NOTE: To ensure the health and safety of staff and students, all appointments must be scheduled ahead of time. During the pandemic, walk-in appointments are not available. 

Life Solutions

Life Solutions is the University of Pittsburgh's Faculty and Staff Assistance Program that provides a broad range of services to assist University employees, including a 24/7 crisis contact and counseling services (1-866-647-3432).

Additional Resources

Pitt students can contact their resident assistant, resident director, or other residence life staff member for support (available 24 hours a day). Residence Life staff are not confidential resources and have a duty to report disclosures of sexual misconduct to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX. 412-648-1200 (or 412-648-1100 for after hours on-call personnel).

Any member of the University community also may contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 412-648-7860 or titleixcoordinator@pitt.edu to report sexual misconduct or seek resources.

International students may contact the Office of International Services (OIS) for questions or concerns regarding immigration and visa status. OIS can be reached at 412-624-7120 or OIS@pitt.edu.

Warning Signs of Abuse

No victim is ever to blame for being assaulted or abused. Below are some warning signs of potential abusive behavior:

  • Being isolated from friends and family 
  • Watching what you say to avoid a “blow-up”
  • Hiding bruises or injuries from family and friends
  • Being afraid of your partner
  • Being forced to do things that you don’t want to do
  • Having your partner monitor where you go, what you do, and who you meet

If you do not want to call the police after an incident but feel the need to leave the current environment, Pitt’s SafeRider program may be able to offer you transportation back to your residence by calling 412-648-CALL (2255). More information about SafeRider here. Community resources include Pittsburgh Action Against Rape at 1-866-363-7273 (answers 24 hours a day) and the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh at 412-687-8005 (answers 24 hours a day). Both groups provide an advocate/escort to accompany victims through the medical and/or legal process. Students who seek assistance from these organizations are not obligated to press charges against the assailant.