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FAQs

The following are answers to questions we often receive. If you have been assaulted in the last 72 hours, please review the information on that page first.

Detailed information for faculty and staff regarding their obligations on reporting sexual harassment or violence at Virginia Tech can be found on the Employees page.


General Questions

If I feel unsafe with someone that I live with or go to classes with, how can this be dealt with?

I know that a friend was sexually assaulted. What can I do to best support them?

  • Listen and believe your friend. Assure them what happened wasn’t their fault and keep the information private. Visit our Support a Friend page for more information.

Is it possible for Virginia Tech to enforce a No Contact Order between students?

  • Virginia Tech can issue and enforce No Contact Orders between students. Those orders prohibit direct, in-person contact; contact by phone, text message, or other electronic method; and indirect contact though third parties, like friends, teammates, and classmates. No Contact Orders are enforced through the Student Code of Conduct.
  • If a Protection Order has been issued by a court in Virginia or any other state, Virginia Tech will also honor that order.

Prevention

Where can I learn more about how Virginia Tech is working to prevent sexual harassment and violence?

  • Creating a Virginia Tech culture that prevents violence is all our responsibility. To advance the university’s commitment to end sexual violence and enhance prevention efforts, President Tim Sands has established a Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group, which is working in a number of ways to create culture change and prevent violence.
  • From increasing awareness and prevention education programs, to making information more accessible through this new website, to committing to transparent communications with our students, this group is working strategically with community leaders and students to make Virginia Tech safe for everyone. Find out how you can be a part of the changes by visiting our prevention page.

If I see sexual harassment, violence, or assault happening, what can I do?

  • There are ways to safely intervene when we see things happening. It’s helpful to remember the three Ds of Intervening:
    • Direct - approach the individuals involved directly,
    • Distract - find a way to distract those involved to de-escalate the situation, or
    • Delegate - find an authority figure you trust to help intervene.
  • Be sure to offer support to the person experiencing the harm and check in to see what kind of help they need and want. For more information about bystander intervention, including information about available workshops, programs, and ways to get involved, please visit our prevention page.

Where can I go to learn more about prevention of sexual harassment, violence, and assault?

  • Our prevention page provides additional information about workshops and ways you can prevent sexual harassment, violence, and assault at Virginia Tech.

What are the possible repercussions if a student is accused of sexual harassment, sex and gender-based violence, or sexual assault?

  • Virginia Tech will investigate any formal complaint alleging sexual harassment or violence. If after an investigation and hearing, a student is found responsible for sexual harassment or violence, they will be sanctioned according to the Student Code of Conduct. Sanction decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by the Office for Student Conduct after considering all the available facts. Sanctions include, but are not limited to, formal warnings, probation, deferred suspension, suspension, and dismissal from the university. If a student is suspended or dismissed from the university, a notation will also be placed on their transcript.
  • In some cases, when there is a clear and significant threat to someone’s or the community’s safety, a person may receive an interim suspension from Virginia Tech after a report has been made and while the investigation and hearing happens. This means that a person may not attend classes or take part in university activities during the investigation. In some cases, an interim suspension may come with a requirement to temporarily leave on-campus housing.

Reporting and Investigating

Who can I speak to about an assault?

  • Virginia Tech encourages anyone who experiences abuse or assault to report it and to get the help and support you need. Visit the Resources page if you want to speak to someone confidentially. Complete this form to make a report.

What will happen if I go to the police?

  • Virginia Tech encourages anyone who has been a victim of a crime to report to the police. The Virginia Tech Police will work with you to find out more about what happened and support your safety and well-being. If the crime happened away from campus, Virginia Tech Police will help connect you to the right law enforcement office. Your decision about whether to ask for a criminal investigation or to press charges will be respected. Once the police have investigated the case, they will present the evidence to the Commonwealth’s Attorney who will then decide if there is enough evidence to go to court. More information about reporting is available.

If I was drinking or using drugs when I was assaulted, will I get into trouble with the university or the police?

  • Virginia Tech has a policy that you will not be disciplined for alcohol or other substance use related to the incident you are reporting. Similarly, if you report to police, you will not get in trouble for drinking or consuming drugs. Alcohol and other drugs are often part of sexual violence and should never stand in the way of your right to report what happened.

If I think I was drugged, what should I do?

  • You may want to seek medical care if you think you may have been drugged. Drug screening may be available as part of a forensic physical evidence recovery kit, or PERK, exam at a hospital. If you choose to do that, be sure to tell the forensic nurse about your concerns. Keep in mind that a variety of substances can be used to enable sexual assault, and many pass through your body quickly. You may want to write down everything you can remember and the symptoms you experienced and consider reporting your suspicions to the police or the university. Alcohol is the drug used most often in connection with sexual violence.

What is the difference between reporting to the police and reporting to the university?

  • When you report to police, you have the choice to begin a criminal investigation. The police will investigate whether a crime has occurred under Virginia state law. They work in the criminal court system and outcomes of police reports may include arrests, criminal trials, and a variety of criminal sentences, potentially including jail or probation for people who are found guilty of sexual violence.
  • When you report to the university, you may choose to file a formal complaint. The university will apply university policies, including the Student Code of Conduct, to decide if a member of our community has violated Virginia Tech’s policies. The outcomes of university complaints may include permanent or temporary removal of a person from the Virginia Tech community and education sanctions aimed at stopping future similar conduct.
  • If you choose to report to both police and the university, the investigations can largely run simultaneously, and the university and police will work together.
  • Also, you do not have to file a report with the police to file a report with Virgina Tech. Because the university uses different policies and procedures to respond to complaints, the university may still act on a complaint even if a criminal report did not move forward or was dismissed.
  • Ultimately, you choose which path works best for you.

Can I only report things that happen on campus to the university?

  • You can report a sexual assault to the university no matter where it happened. If you choose to file a report Virginia Tech’s policies, including the Student Code of Conduct, apply to incidents both on and off campus.

Is there a time limit to how long after an event that I can report a sexual harassment of violence?

  • There is no time limit to when you can file a report with the university. Many people choose to delay reporting until they feel ready. You can access resources and support measures whenever you feel ready. If you choose to file a report, the university can investigate as long as the person you are reporting about is enrolled or attending the university. If they are a student and have taken a leave from the university, we can still investigate if it has been less than one year since they last attended classes.
  • Please be aware that, for criminal investigations with the police, there may be a time limit for when you can file a report.

What is Title IX?

  • Title IX refers to a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination at schools like Virginia Tech. No one deserves to be discriminated against on the basis of their sex, including their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Title IX requires that the university responds when it learns about sexual harassment and violence by offering support and reporting options to protect against discrimination and lessen its impact.

If I am a student and the person is in a position of authority, will I get in trouble for reporting what happened?

  • Regardless of authority (also sometimes called power dynamics), everyone working with or for the university in any capacity must follow our sexual harassment and violence policies. Retaliation, which means taking some negative action against you because you reported what happened or took part in an investigation process, is also prohibited by those same policies. If you have concerns about retaliation, you can talk with the Title IX Coordinator to explore ways to prevent it from happening and how to report if it has occurred.

If I reported an incident to an RA or other position of authority, but there was no follow-up, what can I do?

If I reported to a position of authority but decide that I don’t want to be part of a complaint or investigation, what can I do?

  • The decision to file a report is yours to make. Whenever possible, we will respect your decision not to move forward. In some cases, when someone’s physical safety is clearly at risk, the university may need to move forward with some action. Even in those cases, you can choose to take part or not take part in whatever way feels best for you. Your decision will be respected.

How should sexual assaults be reported in university-sponsored large events, like football games and concerts?

  • More information about reporting incidents of sexual harassment and violence is available on this site. When a report is made about an incident at a large event and if you are ready to discuss the incident, it is helpful for the university and/or police to know as soon as possible. Whenever possible, provide as much detail as you can such as the time and location of the incident and description of the suspect/s.

Can I report a case of sexual harassment or violence on behalf of a friend?

  • The decision about reporting a sexual assault is deeply personal. All survivors should have the space and time to decide who to report to when they are ready and should stay in control of who knows their private information. That said, there are resources that can help you support a friend who has experienced a sexual assault. Generally, only the person who experienced the assault can file a formal complaint with the university and request an investigation.

I have been accused of harassment, sexual harassment, or violence. What can I expect?

  • Being accused can be frightening and stressful. Resources are available to you as are support measures. If a formal complaint has been made against you, be assured that the university will follow a clear and fair process for resolving it.

Support, Counseling, and Medical Services

What support services are available for survivors of sexual harassment and violence? Do I need to file a formal complaint to receive support services?

  • You never need to file a formal complaint to receive support. Support such as academic help, housing changes, No Contact Orders, class and work schedule changes, and more are available to you through the Title IX Coordinator. They can also give referrals to confidential resources to support your well-being, including on and off-campus resources.

What are confidential resources? And who can I speak to confidentially on campus?

  • Confidential resources are places you can go to on campus for support that will not share your private information with anyone without your permission. When sexual harassment or assault is reported, most university employees must share information with the Title IX Coordinator when they learn about it, however confidential resources are not required to report to the Title IX Coordinator.

Is there ever a time that a confidential resource will share report information?

  • Some confidential resources may need to share information about violent crimes that occur on campus with the Virginia Tech Police department in order to keep track of incidents, but the information that is shared will be very generic and will not have any information that identifies an individual.

Where should I go for medical services after an assault?

Will it cost anything for me to go to the hospital or talk to a counselor?

What is the Women's Center at Virginia Tech and what services do they provide?

Are there trauma-informed counselors at Virginia Tech?

  • All counselors and advocates at the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech are trauma-informed and trained to work with individuals who have experienced sexual violence. Additionally, many counselors at Cook Counseling Center have extensive experience working with survivors of sexual violence in a trauma-informed way. When seeking care at Cook, you may want share at your first session that you are interested in trauma-informed care. Additionally, all detectives and some officers of the Virginia Tech Police Department are able to provide trauma-informed care.

Are there group counseling sessions offered for survivors of sexual assault? Where are these services offered and how can I join one?

  • The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech offers group counseling services for individuals who have experienced sexual violence. More information about group availability and meeting times is available on their website. The Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley may also have group sessions available.

I need immediate counseling services, where and how can I receive such services?

I need more services beyond these to help with my mental health and well-being. Where can I find information?

  • The mental health and well-being of Virginia Tech students is a primary concern for the university. If you need additional help beyond the resources we’ve mentioned on this page, please visit our well-being website.