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    March 2015

    Use of No-Contact Orders in Sexual Assault Cases

    No-contact or “stay-away” orders are commonly used by colleges as an interim measure to protect victims upon the report of a sexual assault. These orders may also be used as an ongoing remedy after adjudication of such allegations. While no-contact orders can be a useful interim measure and effective as a deterrent for retaliation, they can also be problematic and create confusion if they are unclear. 

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

    • Specify who on campus issues the order and how to obtain one.
    • Clarify whether an order will automatically be granted when a student makes a complaint of sexual assault, or whether it will be issued only upon request.
    • State which party or parties to a complaint may obtain one. If you readily grant no-contact orders to victims, in the interest of fairness and balance, your institution should make the option available to 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 the potential consequences for violating the order. 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. For example, Bard College provides information on community resources and contact information for the local police.

    When your campus determines a no-contact order is an appropriate interim measure or ongoing remedy, you should:

    • Put the order in writing and provide clear notice to both parties. Consider having the person required to stay away 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 with the person seeking protection. The order may also clarify the distance the alleged perpetrator must stay away from the victim 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 whether it also extends to institution-sanctioned events held off campus. Consider detailing how 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 recipient that violations will be subject to disciplinary action.

    Resources

    Title IX and Beyond: Interim Measures, Remedies, and Sanctions     
    NotAlone.gov
    Tufts University Sexual Misconduct Resources
    Bard College Title IX Policies
    “Key to assault arbitration, barring contact is difficult in practice” Yale Daily News

    By Heather A. Salko, senior risk management counsel

    2 Comments

    • Avatar

      I would agree with the comment above and would add that regardless of the reason the institution issues the no-contact order, and whether or not the institution undertakes an investigation, the ability of the institution to issue no-contact orders should be integrated into the appropriate anti-harassment or disciplinary policy.
      - Heather Salko, senior risk management counsel at United Educators

    • Avatar

      Thank you for this timely post. In your opinion, can an institution impose an keep away/no contact order, without charging a student with a violation of the Code of Conduct? Many times I’ve had a student who feels mildly harassed by an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and wishes a keep away/no contact order. They don’t want a formal charge imposed, only to be left alone. Is it permissible?

      Replies(2)

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