Sexual Misconduct

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Sexual Misconduct

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.

Students should call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146 to speak to a counselor, at any time.

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:

  • Survivors are provided with clear information and support.
  • The accused are held accountable.
  • Prevention education is provided to all staff and the student body on an ongoing basis.
  • Professional staff treat complainants with dignity and respect, with the intent that re-victimization does not occur during the process.

Sexual Misconduct Education And Prevention

We're working together to prevent sexual violence and harassment.

Step Up Stags

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Step Up Stags

All new students at Fairfield University participate in a three part-program called Step Up Stags, which includes:

Sexual Assault Prevention Course

This online module is designed to 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 workshops 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:

  • Watch out for friends and colleagues. If you see someone who looks like they could be in trouble or need help, ask if they are okay. If they need help, call immediately!
  • Speak up when someone uses derogatory or harassing language about others and/or discusses plans to take sexual advantage of another person.
  • Confront people who seclude, hit on, try to hook up with, or have sex with people who are incapacitated. Ask for help from friends or RA's.
  • Believe someone who discloses they have been a victim of sexual misconduct and help connect them to resources.

Targeting Programs

Throughout the year, the University offers a number of in-person to program to build awareness amongst students about sexual violence, prevention measures, and available resources. In addition, all first responders on campus (e.g., Department of Public Safety officers, resident assistants, and athletic coaches) are educated on reporting options for survivors.

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.

Watch the Step Up Stags Video

Risk Reduction Strategies

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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 

  • No one is ever to blame for being the victim of sexual misconduct. There is no mistake in judgement or "poor decision" that can make a person "deserve" to be victimized by another person.
  • Victims can be female or male and can identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender. Perpetrators can be female or male and can identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender.
  • Most victims are perpetrated against by someone they know and  most sexual assaults are planned in some way by the perpetrator. Most perpetrators establish some level of trust and rapport with a victim before the assault.
  • Individuals who perpetrate sexual violence typically target a victim who they perceive has some vulnerability that they can exploit and that will make the victim less likely to report the assault.
  • Sexual violence is about the perpetrator asserting power and control over the victim - NOT about sexual attraction.

Watch out for people who

  • do not listen to you, ignore what you say, talk over you or pretend not to hear you. Such perpetrators generally have little respect for their victims and would be more likely to hear "no" as meaning "convince me."
  • ignore your personal space boundaries, stand or walk too close, or touch you without permission.
  • push you to drink beyond your tolerance level, or wait to make a sexual advance until you are extremely intoxicated. Alcohol is the #1 date rape drug.
  • express anger or aggression frequently.
  • use hostile or possessive language about their victims.
  • do what they want regardless of what you want. A person may do this in little ways; for example, by making all the decisions about what you both will do.
  • try to make you feel guilty, or accuse you of being "uptight" if you resist their sexual overtures.
  • act excessively jealous or possessive.
  • prevent you from seeing or talking to friends or family members. Keep you isolated and separated from your support network.
  • drink heavily. A "mean drunk" can often get sexually aggressive, angry, or violent if s/he is rejected.

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.

File A Report

If you are in immediate danger, please call Public Safety at (203) 254-4090 or 9-1-1 to seek safety or medical services. 

Fairfield maintains a policy of offering reporting students amnesty for minor community standards violations (e.g., underage consumption of alcohol), when a good faith report for assistance during an emergency situation is made.

To file a complaint, individuals may call Public Safety (203) 254-4090 or e-mail the University’s Title IX Coordinator, the Senior Director, Equity via

If a student thinks they have 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. They may also contact the Title IX Coordinator at If a peer has experienced sexual violence, students have many options:

  • provide support by encouraging them to seek help with the available resources on and off campus;
  • reinforce that it is not their fault; validate their feelings; do not investigate their story;
  • let them know they are there for them and are receptive to what they are saying;

As a peer, the student may experience secondary trauma. There are many resources available through the Center for Family Justice and Counseling & Psychological Services.

Information for Faculty/Staff

Prevention Resources and Trauma-Informed Resources for Faculty and Staff

In order to create a campus free of sexual misconduct and discrimination of any kind, all Fairfield University campus and community members must work together to prevent incidents of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking. By engaging the entire community in prevention efforts, in challenging norms and behaviors that tolerate gender based violence, and by supporting those affected we can live our mission as people for others and ensure a healthy and safe campus culture for all.

With close relationships and small classes, faculty and staff are an essential part of why students choose Fairfield University. This gives faculty and staff the unique opportunity to care for our students and have a profound impact on them. Through continual interaction, you are able to see changes in student behavior; it is important that you are equipped with the knowledge and know-how to best support your students in times when they need it most.

Prevention with Dr. Jocelyn Novella

Trauma-Informed Approaches with Dr. Tracey Robert

Information For Parents

About Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment on Campus

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.

Information and Resources for Parents

We believe it is important for you, as parents and guardians, to better understand what sexual misconduct, interpersonal violence and stalking is and what the University is doing to reduce and ultimately eliminate these incidents, support those affected, and to promote a safe and healthy culture for all.

Conversations on Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence and Stalking

Young adults want close friends and close relationships.  Understanding boundaries and how to treat others as well as ourselves with respect will help our students develop and maintain healthy relationships. Talk with your student about your values around sex and intimate relationships. Encourage your student to explore what they want out of their social life or dating experiences in college. You don’t need to be an expert; discuss topics that arise from news articles, music, television, or current movies as a starting point. Talking about what we want from relationships helps us to build meaningful and lasting connections with others.

Ideas to Help Start Talking

We know these discussions can be difficult, and we believe it is important for your student to know who they can talk to about significant topics, ask questions, or get advice. Your willingness to talk lets your student know they can turn to you if they need support.  Exploring sensitive subjects with those we trust can be the best way to gather information. Research suggests that discussions between parents or guardians and students in the months before and during college help students to avoid harmful behaviors and negative outcomes at college.

Honest communication provides families with the opportunity to talk about healthy relationships, identify their own expectations and values, as well as set a foundation for their students to fully engage in and safely enjoy the college experience. Below are suggested topics to start and continue the conversation.

  1. Know the facts:
  • One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
  • More than 90 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.
  • Nearly two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment.
  • Among college women, nine out of 10 victims of rape and sexual assault know their offender.
  1. Discuss what healthy relationships look like.
  2. Consent: what it means and doesn’t mean.
  3. Challenge norms and beliefs that perpetuate stereotypes.
  4. What happens when alcohol and drugs are involved.
  5. Identify red flags or potential problem situations.
  6. Bystander intervention strategies. What are realistic ways to get involved in a problem situation?
  • Distract - disrupt the situation or insert yourself into their interaction to help the targeted person get out of the situation.
  • Delegate - get support from people around you by calling on others to help.
  • Direct - confront the harasser. Tell them their words or actions are not okay.
  • Delay - check in later and make sure they are ok.


For students who have been affected by sexual violence or harassment:



Is the student safe? Call 203-254-4090 for assistance if the student is in need of medical care.



From counseling to assistance on how to file a report, there are many resources available to our students.



Encourage your student to report the incident to the Dawn Floyd, J.D., Interim Title IX Coordinator (

Thank you for your partnership in keeping our students informed and safe!

Frequently Asked Questions

(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.

To report sexual misconduct to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, please contact the Senior Director, Equity via

Students should call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146 to speak to a counselor, at any time.

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.

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.

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.

If your friend shares with you that they have 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 & Psychological 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 their 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 they must feel.

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 them 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You can report the assault at any time to Public Safety or seek services through confidential sources.

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.

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.

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.

Contacts, Resources & Policy

Title IX Training Materials

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.

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