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    October 2019

    Use of No-Contact Orders in Sexual Misconduct Cases

    Use of No-Contact Orders in Sexual Assault Cases

    Upon the report of a sexual assault or other sexual misconduct, colleges commonly use no-contact or "stay-away" orders to separate alleged victims and perpetrators. These orders typically remain in place while the investigation and adjudication are completed. No-contact orders also may be used as an ongoing remedy after adjudication of such allegations. While the orders can be a useful measure and effective as a deterrent for retaliation, if they are unclear, they can be problematic and create confusion. 

    To avoid misunderstandings and promote appropriate use of no-contact orders, your campus Title IX and disciplinary resources should:

    • Specify who on campus issues the order and how it can be obtained.
    • Clarify whether an order will automatically be granted when a student makes a complaint of sexual assault or misconduct, or whether the order will be issued only upon request.
    • State which party or parties to a complaint may obtain an order. In the interest of fairness and balance, the option of seeking a no-contact order should be available to both alleged victims and alleged perpetrators.
    • Provide notice of an order’s limitations. Your procedures should note that these orders are not the same as a formal protective order issued by a court of law and may not apply off campus.
    • Explain the process of reporting violations of the no-contact order, and state potential consequences for violating it. Most institutions refer allegations of a violation to the student disciplinary process.
    • Identify additional resources, such as police departments or other outside community organizations, to help victims who are concerned for their personal safety.

    When your campus determines a no-contact order is appropriate while an investigation or adjudication is ongoing or as a remedy, you should:

    • Put the order in writing and provide both parties clear notice. Consider having the affected parties sign an acknowledgment of receipt.
    • Craft the order on a case-by-case basis and provide detail. The order should state that it prohibits verbal, electronic (including email and all forms of social media), written, and third-party communication between parties subject to the order. The order also may clarify a physical distance the parties must maintain if they are in the same vicinity on campus.
    • State the general time period for enforcement and that the need for the order may be reviewed periodically.
    • Specify where — other than on campus — the order is effective. Inform parties when the order extends to institution-sanctioned off-campus events. Consider detailing how the parties will navigate around campus, eat in a shared cafeteria, participate in shared activities, or respond to accidental interactions. These details will be particularly important on small campuses.
    • Remind the parties that violations will be subject to disciplinary action.

    More From United Educators

    Supportive Measures, Remedies, and Sanctions Regarding Campus Sexual Harassment

    Additional Resources

    Tufts University Sexual Misconduct Resources
    Bard College Gender-Based Misconduct Policy
    Bates College Title IX Policies
    Princeton University No Communication and No Contact Orders
    SUNY Empire State College No Contact Order Policy

    By Heather A. Salko, senior risk management counsel


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