S.tags A.ware F.or E.veryone
At Fairfield University, we are committed to providing a learning environment free of sexual misconduct. If you or a friend are a victim of sexual misconduct, please know you are not alone, and it is not your fault. There are many resources available to you, both confidential and non-confidential.
If you are in immediate danger, please call Public Safety at (203) 254-4090 or 9-1-1.
Public Safety can connect you with a University counselor 24/7.
What is sexual violence and sexual harassment?
Sexual violence, or sexual assault, is any sexual act that is perpetrated against someone’s will. This includes engaging in any sexual activity without effective consent, ranging from non-consensual sexual contact to non-consensual sexual intercourse. Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, threat, or coercion, or from someone who is incapacitated—including through consumption of drugs or alcohol.
What constitutes sexual misconduct at Fairfield University encompasses a wide range of behaviors, including, but not limited to, harassment of a sexual nature, stalking, intimate partner violence, intimidation and sexual exploitation. The University prohibits all forms of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.
We ensure that:
We're working together to prevent sexual violence and harassment.
Step Up Stags
As part of S.tags A.ware F.or E.veryone, all new students at Fairfield University participate in a three part-program called Step Up Stags, which includes:
Haven-Understanding Sexual Assault
This is an online module that addresses the critical issues of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking.
Step Up Stags Lecture
During Fall Welcome, first-year students will engage in a meaningful dialogue about what it means to live in community and treat each other with respect. Within the conversation, students will understand policies pertaining to sexual misconduct and consent.
Bystander Intervention Education
Bystanders play a critical role in the prevention of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. They are individuals who observe violence or witness the conditions that perpetuate violence. They are not directly involved, but have the choice to intervene, speak up, or do something about it. Fairfield University promotes a culture of community accountability where bystanders are actively engaged in the prevention of sexual violence and harassment without causing further harm and while minimizing risks to their own safety. We want students to be an active bystander within our community.
All first-year students, resident assistants, new student leaders, and many other student leaders participate in a training workshop around safe and positive options for bystander intervention. These training programs are co-sponsored with the Center for Family Justice.
Below are some ways to be an active bystander:
Targeting Programs led by University administrators and community partners, such as “Sex Signals,” “Jane Doe No More,” “Take Back the Night,” and “Women’s Day.”
In addition, Fairfield University trains all first responders (e.g., Department of Public Safety officers, resident assistants, and athletic coaches) on reporting options for survivors.
All programs build awareness among students.
Ongoing Prevention and Awareness Campaigns
A variety of materials have been created for the Step Up Stags program to help create awareness throughout the University community.
See the Step Up video
Risk Reduction Strategies
There is no way to reduce your risk of sexual assault to zero, and even if you do not recognize these as warning signs, sexual assault is NOT YOUR FAULT. Perpetrators are responsible for their actions; you are not.
Anyone can be a perpetrator. Statistics show that most victims are assaulted by someone they know, an acquaintance, family member, friend, dating partner or spouse. Studies have shown that there are some people who are more likely to be sexually aggressive than others.
Know the Facts
Watch out for people who:
Be aware of the effects of drugs used to facilitate sexual assault. If you feel extremely tired, out of it or more intoxicated for the amount of alcohol you may have consumed, you may have been drugged. Find your friends and ask them to leave with you as soon as possible. If you suspect you have been drugged, go to a hospital and ask to be tested. Similarly, if you see a friend reacting in a way that is atypical for the amount of alcohol they have consumed or they are acting out of character for the situation, ask her or him to leave with you and get them to a safe place immediately.
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up and seek resources. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut and call DPS at 203-254-4090.
If you see something, say something. Step up and call for help if you see someone isolating another person who looks uncomfortable or who may be intoxicated, intervene!
Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust. If you choose to accept a drink, go with the person to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself. At parties, don’t drink from the punch bowls or other large, common open containers.
Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation. Carry your cell phone and tell a friend where you are going if they are not with you.
Be true to yourself. You are not obligated to do anything you don't want to do. "I don't want to" is always good enough.
Sexual Misconduct Policy
Refer to the Student Handbook for details about Fairfield University's Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Rights as the complainant
If you have filed a sexual misconduct complaint under Title IX, you have rights. The following rights are part of the University's policy and procedures.
As a complainant, you have the right to:
Rights as the respondent
If you have been accused of a violation of our sexual misconduct policy under Title IX, you have rights.
As a respondent you have the right to:
If you are in immediate danger, please call Public Safety at (203) 254-4090 to seek safety or medical services. You will receive amnesty if you had been drinking underage.
Seeking help from Public Safety does not mean you are filing a report, although Public Safety is mandated through the Clery Act to file an anonymous report and notify the Title IX Compliance Coordinator.
Interpersonal violence or sexual assault is more likely to occur by someone known to the student. If a student thinks he/she has experienced non-consensual sexual misconduct by force, coercion or inability to give consent, they should know that it is not their fault and there are many resources available, including filing a complaint. Students may feel pressure to not file a report by mutual friends or fear of getting in trouble, but the University process is student-centered, offering many remedies (no-contact orders, safe housing, class changes) to prevent retaliation and reoccurrence.
To encourage individuals to come forward with reports about sexual misconduct, students will not be sanctioned for revealing a violation in good faith—such as underage drinking—in the process of reporting a sexual violence claim.
A standard, formal incident report can be filed with the Department of Public Safety at any time. An Incident Report will include, among other things, the name of the complainant and the name of the accused, if known. Upon the filing of an Incident Report, the Department of Public Safety will act as first responder and refer the matter to the Title IX Compliance Coordinator. Public Safety will also determine whether law enforcement or other authorities should be notified.
Direct reporting can be important for the safety of the entire University community. Individuals have the right to report sexual misconduct to Public Safety without further participation in the investigatory process. Individuals can choose to initiate a criminal complaint through law enforcement and/or initiate a Title IX Sexual Misconduct Complaint with a Title IX Compliance Coordinator. Individuals should understand, however, that by choosing to not participate in the University’s disciplinary process, the University’s response to the incident may be limited.
Peers of victims of sexual misconduct can file an incident report or anonymous report with the Department of Public Safety on someone’s behalf. If a peer has experienced sexual violence, students have many options:
As a peer, the student may experience secondary trauma. There are many resources available through the Center for Family Justice and Counseling & Psychological Services.
About Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment on Campus
Dear Parents and Guardians:
At Fairfield University, we take the issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment seriously and strive to provide a safe environment where your student can live and work free from exploitation and discrimination based on gender.
We believe it is important for you, as parents and guardians, to better understand what is sexual violence and what the University is doing to prevent and respond to it. Although women are disproportionately affected, both men and women can be victims of this crime. The University offers education, prevention programs, and resources for students.
We encourage you to engage in dialogues about this issue with your son or daughter and familiarize yourself with our comprehensive resources to build awareness and offer support on the issue of sexual violence and harassment.
Please follow the links at the top of the page for more information, and share the link (fairfield.edu/survivor) with your son or daughter.
If your son or daughter reports that she or he is a victim of sexual violence or harassment:
Step 1: Safety
Is your son or daughter safe? Call 203-254-4090 for assistance if they are in need of medical care.
Step 2: Resources
From counseling to assistance on how to file a report, there are many resources available to our students.
Step 3: Report
Encourage your student to report the incident to the Title IX Compliance Coordinator Susan Birge.
Thank you for your partnership in keeping our students informed and safe!
Who can I talk to if I think I have experienced sexual misconduct?
(Such as sexual assault, gender-based harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment)
Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. Studies show that approximately 80% of women reporting sexual assaults knew their accused. If you think you have experienced non-consensual sexual misconduct, whether by force, coercion, or inability to give consent, please know that it is not your fault and there are resources available.
If you are in immediate danger, call Public Safety at (203) 254-4090 or 911. Public Safety can connect you with a University Counselor 24/7. To learn more about medical, reporting, and safety options, call the confidential hotline at the Center for Family Justice (203) 333-2233.
Note: Students under the age of 21 who have been drinking will receive amnesty when seeking help after an assault. Students who are undocumented may seek services and apply for amnesty through the U-Visa.
What if the offender is a friend or classmate?
Based on statistics, most sexual assaults are committed by someone you met in class, at a party or through a friend. You may feel pressured from mutual friends to not file a report or you might fear getting the accused in trouble, but you should keep in mind sexual assault is not only against University policy, it is also a crime.
If I am a survivor of intimate partner or sexual violence, can I call the police?
Yes. You can call the local police where your assault occurred. In the town of Fairfield, you can call Fairfield Police or State Police (see numbers on back panel). Public Safety can help you contact the appropriate agency. If the police are notified, it is up to you whether to proceed with a complaint or an investigation. Call the Fairfield Police Department Detective Bureau at (203) 254-4840 if you want to talk to someone unofficially.
How can I help as a friend?
If your friend shares with you that he/she has survived a sexual assault, it’s important to keep this information private and refer them to get help immediately. You can ask trained resident assistants, Counseling & Psycholgical Services, or the Office of the Dean of Students to assist you with the referral process. They can help you talk to your friend about all of the options and resources available, both at Fairfield University and in the greater community.
As a friend you may experience secondary trauma. There are resources for you through Counseling & Psychological Services and The Center for Family Justice hotline. If your presence is supportive to the survivor, you are welcome to accompany them when seeking counseling services, medical attention or filing a report.
Support your friend by validating his/her feelings about the experience. Do not question if the survivor was actually assaulted. Stay attuned to the survivor’s attitude and don’t assume or dictate how she or he must feel.
What do I do if I think my friend is in an intimate partner relationship and has experienced domestic violence?
Seek advice from Counseling & Psychological Services or The Center for Family Justice Domestic Violence at (203) 384-9559. Public Safety can offer help if you or your friend is in immediate danger.
What to look out for:
• Signs of physical violence such as bruising or bite marks
• Strong sense of jealousy by the offender
• Your friend may feel afraid or isolated
Support your friend by encouraging him/her to seek help and to participate in activities outside of the relationship. Let them know that you will be there for them no matter what.
If I make a report or seek help, is it confidential?
A list of confidential and non-confidential resources and services are located on this website under "Resources".
If you wish to file a report or seek help from Public Safety, the police, or a resident assistant, the disclosure will be private and confidential between all necessary professional personnel such as the Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Students, and other necessary participants to the investigation and hearing process. If at any point you wish to withdraw a complaint and maintain confidentiality, you can. The University has an obligation to continue to investigate to determine patterns and larger risks within the community. If there appears to be a threat to campus, a campus-wide notification will be made regarding an incident of sexual or domestic violence. All measures will be taken to maintain confidentiality. In some cases when incidents of domestic violence, violence, threats of violence, or stalking have been reported to Fairfield Police, they have to act to ensure the safety of the victim.
Federal and state laws protect the identity of survivors of sexual assault. Your name will not be released to the media. Please notify the Title IX Coordinator or any other professional staff if you feel your confidentiality and privacy has been compromised.
What will happen if I go to Public Safety?
Public Safety can help if you are in immediate danger or if you want to file a report. You may request to meet with an individual who shares the same gender identity as you.
If you file a report at Public Safety, you are welcome to have a friend or trained crisis counselor present. Public Safety will notify Fairfield Police if a report is filed. Fairfield Police will contact the survivor to talk about options outside of the University's process. You have the authority to withdraw a complaint at any time.
Why should I seek medical attention?
The decision to go to the hospital is entirely yours. If you have been assaulted, either by force, coercion, or by a non-violent offense, seeking medical attention is recommended. You will be evaluated for risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. Prophylactic medication may be prescribed. An evidence collection kit examination is offered as part of the medical assessment in cases of sexual assault. Try not to bathe, shower, change or wash your clothes, eat, drink, smoke, gargle or urinate prior to the exam. However, some evidence collection may still be done if you have done these things.
Even if you think there is no evidence from the assault, an evidence collection kit may discover something and can be administered up to 120 hours (five days) after the assault. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner will perform the procedure, and the exam will collect any evidence such as hair, skin cells, blood, or fluid that may remain on the body or clothing and assist in the identification or conviction of an offender.
A crisis counselor will meet you at the local hospital to support you throughout the process. The examination will not cost anything. Any expenses incurred are paid for by the State of Connecticut through the Office of Victim Service's Victim Compensation Program.
What if I suspect a “date rape” drug was used?
At the hospital there are tests that can detect the presence of a date rape drug in your blood and urine. Although these drugs leave your body quickly, tests can detect the drugs as much as 72 hours after they are ingested.
What if I was assaulted days ago and didn’t tell anyone?
You can report the assault at any time to Public Safety or seek services through confidential sources.
What will happen at court?
Arrests are made when “probable cause” is established to show that the incident happened in the manner you have reported. This is separate from the University conduct process where it must be shown that it is “more likely than not” the incident occurred.
As the reporting student, what else can I expect?
A full description of the University’s policies and processes for dealing with sexual assault and sexual misconduct can be found in the Student Handbook at www.fairfield.edu/studenthandbook.
If reasonably available, complainants will be afforded the opportunity to request immediate on-campus housing relocation, transfer of classes, or other steps to prevent unnecessary or unwanted contact or proximity to an alleged assailant. The provision of such accommodations does not constitute a determination of responsibility, but rather is offered to assist the complainant.
S.A.F.E. Resources for Survivors
Fairfield University has established policies and procedures to address discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment complaints by students and employees. Under Title IX, “sexual harassment” includes incidences of sexual misconduct.