Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I, or a friend, have been sexually assaulted?
Your safety is important. Get to a safe place away from the assailant—a friend’s room, your room, or a public place—and call for help. Once you are safe, consider the following options:
- Seek medical attention. Medical attention may be necessary to treat the full extent of any injury or trauma and to consider the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. In addition, a medical exam may be necessary to properly preserve evidence in case you decide to prosecute.
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has a variety of resources, including specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, who can collect evidence and prescribe needed treatment and/or medications.
- The University’s Student Health Services staff can provide a medical examination and consultation, test for pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases, and later follow up, as needed. Forensic evidence cannot be collected by SHS.
- Contact law enforcement.
- You can call the Boston University Police Department 24/7 at 617-353-2121 if you are concerned about your safety or to report a crime to be investigated.
- You can call 911 or other local authorities, including the Boston Police Department, the Boston Police Sexual Assault Unit https://bpdnews.squarespace.com/fjc/ ( 617-343-4400), or Brookline Police Department, for assistance or to report a crime.
- Contact an experienced counselor.
- The University’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (SARP, 617-353-7277) provides rapid, confidential, compassionate counseling and assistance to BU students who have experienced a traumatic event, including sexual assault. Counselors are available 24/7 at 617-353-7277.
- Other are resources include the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Fenway Health Violence Recovery Program, and the GLBTQ Domestic Violence Program.
- Report the assault.
- You can pursue criminal charges by working with the Boston University Police Department or other local law enforcement agencies, including the Boston Police Department and the Brookline Police Department.
- If your assailant is a member of the BU community, you can report the assault to the University’s Title IX coordinator (617-353-0911) who will investigate the incident. If your assailant is a BU student, he or she may be sanctioned under the Code of Student Responsibilities under the University’s policy on Sexual Misconduct and the Judicial Process.
What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?
If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, you should go to the emergency room before you wash yourself or your clothing. Do not shower, bathe, douche, or brush your teeth before seeking medical attention. If you have changed your clothes since the assault, bring the clothing you had on with you in a paper bag or clean towel or sheet (plastic bags or containers may render evidence useless). Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners who can collect evidence.
What if I’m not sure whether I was sexually assaulted?
If you believe you’ve experienced non-consensual sexual contact but are not sure, you should contact the University’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center. Counselors are available 24/7 at 617-353-7277.
Will my complaint be confidential?
Mental health counselors and members of the clergy are confidential resources. All other employees of the University, including coaches, resident assistants, teaching assistants, faculty, and staff are required by law and University policy to report an allegation of sexual misconduct to the University’s Title IX coordinator. However, the University will make every reasonable effort to protect your privacy as it investigates the circumstances.
Can I discuss a sexual assault confidentially without initiating an investigation?
Yes, to discuss a sexual assault confidentially, please contact the University’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center. Counselors are available 24/7 at 617-353-7277. You may also contact a member of the clergy to talk confidentially. You can find University chaplains from a variety of religious traditions through Marsh Chapel.
Can I report sexual misconduct to the University and to an outside police department? Can I do one and not the other?
Yes, you may report sexual misconduct to on-campus authorities, off-campus authorities, or both. Examples of each, with contact information, are below.
All forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, and sexual harassment, are violations of Boston University’s policies. If you know or believe your assailant is a member of the Boston University community, you can report it to:
Dean of Students Office
Equal Opportunity Office
Many forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking, are crimes. You can report sexual misconduct to Boston University Police or to your local police departments, including:
Boston University Police Department
Boston Police Sexual Assault Unit
Brookline Police Detective Bureau
Your report is not a commitment to prosecute.
Whether you report to the University police or an outside police department, it is likely that the University’s Title IX Coordinator will follow up with you. It is up to you whether to cooperate with the Title IX Coordinator’s investigation and/or the University’s disciplinary procedures.
Do I have to name my assailant?
You must identify your assailant in order for the University to take disciplinary action against him or her under the Policy on Sexual Misconduct and the Judicial Process. The University will not compel you to identify your assailant, but you should understand that the University will be limited in its ability to respond to the allegation if you do not identify the assailant.
Will the accused person know my identity?
Yes, if you choose to move forward with disciplinary action under the Policy on Sexual Misconduct and the Judicial Process or with a criminal complaint, the accused assailant will know your identity. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense, and the accused student has the right to know the identity of the individual who makes the allegation. If there is a hearing, the University will provide options to minimize any situations in which you and the accused assailant must come in contact.
If I report my assailant, I am afraid that I will be subject to retaliation from him/her or his/her friends. What kinds of protection can the University provide?
It is a violation of University policy to retaliate either during or after the filing of a sexual misconduct complaint. If you believe that you are being harassed or retaliated against in any way as a result of alleging sexual misconduct, you should immediately notify the Title IX coordinator at 617-353-0911. If you believe that a friend or roommate who has reported sexual misconduct is being subject to retaliation, you should contact the Title IX coordinator immediately. It is also a crime to threaten or intimidate a victim or witness to a crime. The BU police will investigate any such allegations for arrest and prosecution. The BU Police will also assist victims in obtaining protection orders from the court in such cases.
Will the use of alcohol or other drugs affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint?
Boston University encourages the reporting of all concerns regarding sexual misconduct. In some instances, students may be hesitant to report sexual misconduct because they fear they may be charged with other policy violations, such as underage alcohol consumption or violation of the University’s drug policy. Because BU’s primary interest is in protecting the well-being of its community and remedying sexual misconduct, the University will, to the extent allowed by applicable laws and University policy, seek to make the sexual misconduct allegation the primary focus of any investigation or disciplinary action. In such circumstances, the University will exercise leniency regarding secondary conduct violations (e.g. underage drinking) and those issues will not subjected to adjudication. However, the use of alcohol or drugs does not excuse sexual misconduct and a person who has been incapacitated through the use of alcohol and drugs (or by any other means) cannot give effective consent to sexual activity.