Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy

Title IX is a federal law that mandates that colleges and universities create an environment free from sexual discrimination and harassment for all community members. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), 20 U.S.C. §1681
et seq., is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All public and private elementary and secondary schools, school districts, colleges, and universities receiving any Federal funds must comply with Title IX. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, sexual violence, sexual assault, other forms of sexual misconduct, stalking, and intimate partner violence.

Title IX says that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation
in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This policy applies to all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, stalking, and intimate-partner violence.1

I. Statement of Intent

Swarthmore College is committed to establishing and maintaining a community rich in equality and free from all forms of discrimination and harassment. The College seeks to create an environment in which the greatest academic potential of students and professional potential of employees may be realized. In order to create and maintain such an environment, the College recognizes that all who work and learn at the College are responsible for ensuring that the community is free from discrimination based on sex or gender, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, other forms of sexual misconduct, stalking, and intimate-partner violence. These behaviors threaten our learning, living, and work environments and will not be tolerated.

This policy prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct committed against Swarthmore community members of any gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. This policy also prohibits gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

When the College becomes aware of allegations of sexual misconduct, it will take prompt and effective action.This action may include an initial assessment of safety and well-being, interim provisions for immediate protection and support for a complainant2, a Title IX assessment or investigation, remedies-based resolution (as appropriate), or disciplinary action against a respondent. In all instances, the College, not the complainant, will bear the responsibility for investigating and taking appropriate action, including the decision to seek disciplinary action against a respondent. 

The College’s response will be overseen by the Title IX Coordinator Kaaren Williamsen, who 
is available by telephone at 610-690-3720, email at, or in person at 504 Fieldhouse Lane.

This policy prohibits a broad continuum of behaviors, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, physical assault, bullying, intimidation and retaliation, stalking, and indecent exposure.

The College will respond according to the severity
or pervasiveness of the offense and the threat it poses to the community. Individuals who are found responsible under this policy may face disciplinary sanctions up to and including expulsion and/or termination of employment. Because behavior that violates this policy may also be a violation of law, any individual who has been subjected to sexual assault or harassment is also encouraged to consider criminal or civil legal options. An individual may also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The College will not tolerate retaliation. Retaliation against any person or group who makes a complaint, cooperates with an investigation, or participates in
a resolution process is a violation of College policy. Retaliation should be reported promptly to the Title IX coordinator for investigation, which may result in disciplinary action independent of any sanction or interim measures imposed in response to the underlying allegation of misconduct.

The College encourages all community members to take reasonable and prudent actions to prevent or stop acts of sexual misconduct. Taking action may include direct intervention when safe to do so, enlisting the assistance of friends, contacting law enforcement, or seeking assistance from a person in authority. Community members who choose to take these actions will be supported by the College and protected from retaliation.

The College is committed to fostering a climate free from sexual misconduct through clear and effective policies, a coordinated education and prevention program, easily accessible mechanisms for reporting, and prompt and equitable procedures for resolution of complaints.

Swarthmore College is an institution that strives
to achieve its mission as a liberal arts college by the free, open, and civil exchange of ideas. The application of this policy will strive to consider how best to preserve that free, open, and civil exchange of ideas. Ideas, creativity, and free expression thrive and can only exist for the entire community in an atmosphere free of sexual discrimination and harassment.

The College will review the Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy on an annual basis in order to capture evolving legal requirements and improve the delivery of services based on a review of each year’s experience by the Title IX coordinator and assessment team.

Sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, and intimate-partner violence are broad terms designed to capture a spectrum of behavior. Sexual harassment and intimate-partner violence are specifically defined within this policy. In general, sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to incapacitation. In general, sexual misconduct is a broad term that refers to all of the prohibited behaviors under this policy.

In this policy, “Complainant” refers to the individual who has been the subject of sexual assault or harassment. “Respondent” refers to the individual(s) who has been accused of sexual assault or harassment. A “third party” refers to any other participant in the process, including an individual who makes a report, participates in an investigation or judiciary process as a witness, or is affected by any prohibited conduct.