Alcohol and College Park Title IX Investigations
In the course of many Title IX investigations in College Park, investigators learn that alcohol played a role in the events leading to allegations of sexual misconduct. The relationship between alcohol and College Park Title IX investigations provides cause for concern because it can complicate evidentiary findings and inhibit prevention or reporting of sexual misconduct.
Students are sometimes afraid to report incidents involving alcohol because they believe they could get themselves or others into trouble for violating school rules concerning alcohol. However, provisions are in place that may provide relief from disciplinary action in such cases.
Alcohol Can Affect Consent in Title XI Investigations
The question of whether an individual consented to sexual activity is frequently the main issue of contention in a Title IX case. Consent is a term defined and discussed in detail in the University of Maryland College Park Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedures guide, and the guide explains how alcohol can affect consent for Title XI purposes.
Consent is defined as a willingness to participate in a specified sexual activity that is affirmatively communicated, voluntary, and knowingly made. A person cannot consent if they are incapacitated. Although someone may be incapacitated by sleep, disability, or restraint, very often the use of alcohol or drugs causes incapacitation.
The policy guide describes incapacitation due to alcohol as “a state beyond intoxication.” Determining whether someone is incapacitated due to alcohol requires an assessment of whether alcohol consumption caused that person to be incapable of actions such as:
- Assessing the nature of their own conduct
- Communicating unwillingness to participate in sexual activity
- Expressing consent to sexual activity
- Making decisions about the consequences of sexual activity
College Park Title XI investigations involving alcohol may reveal conflicting evidence regarding consent or the ability to give consent.
Alcohol and the Reporting of Sexual Misconduct
Alcohol may inhibit College Park Title IX investigations by preventing the reporting of incidents. Students may hesitate to report sexual misconduct involving alcohol due to fears of disciplinary action for violating alcohol policies.
Grant of Amnesty
In recognition of this factor, the University of Maryland College Park President stated in an announcement that “students under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs who report sexual misconduct may be granted amnesty in accordance with the University’s Police on Promoting Responsible Action in Medical Emergencies.”
The medical emergency policy itself does not specifically refer to reporting sexual misconduct. Instead, the policy states that disciplinary charges will be deferred in situations where students possessing alcohol or under the influence of alcohol summon medical emergency assistance for themselves or another student. Summoning medical emergency assistance is defined as contacting police, school staff, or other designated emergency medical providers.
Students under the influence or in possession of alcohol do not get off completely free from sanctions, however. They are required to complete an approved alcohol intervention program before disciplinary charges against them will be dropped. In addition, any student organizations will remain liable for violations of alcohol policies.
Find Out More How Alcohol Affects College Park Title IX Investigations
The use of alcohol often clouds the memory and judgment of people involved in and witness to an alleged Title IX violation. Those accused are advised to seek assistance from a legal advocate with experience defending against Title IX sexual misconduct charges who may be able to find reliable evidence to counter the allegations.
Alcohol and College Park Title IX investigations are regulated by school policy, which is subject to change. For the latest information or to learn how policy may affect the circumstances of an individual case, consult a Title IX attorney.