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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the spring 2021 semester.
Current Operating Mode: GREEN

Survivor/Witness Assistance

Overview

Crime of any type committed against or witnessed by someone can be traumatic. Only the survivor or witness can understand how deeply a crime affects them.

On campus, we are fortunate that we have had very few serious crimes over the years. However, even crimes such as thefts and annoying telephone calls can be disturbing for victims and survivors of these crimes.

This section aids survivors in finding resources to help them understand that they are not alone and that they have rights, and provides information about the legal process in Massachusetts.

Anyone who is a victim of or witness to a crime should immediately contact the Smith College Campus Safety Department by dialing 800 from any campus phone for emergencies. National statistics provide a foundation for what seems like common-sense: The sooner authorities are alerted to a crime, the more likely it is that the perpetrator can be apprehended and prosecuted.

Survivor Rights

The Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights, available online as well as from campus safety officers, outlines what assistance the commonwealth and its employees can provide.

Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights

How Does the Smith College Campus Safety Department Help Me?

The Victim Assistance Program is victim-based. While some laws require officers to take legally mandated action upon notification of certain crimes, the campus safety department prefers to allow the victim to make all decisions about how to proceed with a case.

On campus, officers will provide education about the crime encountered as well as crime prevention programming for campus groups. Officers will discuss with a victim their rights for prosecution of a case. Officers often assist victims in getting to the court and in understanding the court and its procedures.

The court's Victim and Witness Assistance Program works with with the campus safety department when a case enters the court system. They provide support and education to victims and witnesses. They have Safe Plan advocates who aide victims and witnesses of violent crimes in locating safe places or developing a plan to protect themselves, among many other services.

Victims’ identities are strictly confidential. However, victims may allow campus safety officers to release victims' names to specific campus administrators, Health Services staff or other agreed-upon resources, so those offices can assist victims in obtaining alternate housing, assistance with classes, and so on, if the victim wishes to have such assistance.

Officers will work with a victim and with other victim resources to develop a safe plan when a victim or the officers feel there is a safety concern.

What Options Would I Have?

Survivors have a number of options when the perpetrator of a crime is known:

Campus Sanctions: If the offender is another member of the campus community, a victim may opt to use campus sanctions to adjudicate the matter such as the Student Judicial Board or the Department of Human Resources.

Criminal Complaint: The college, or in some cases, the victim, may be able to request a criminal hearing, or an arrest may be made.

Campus Trespass: If the victim does not live on campus, a trespass notice may be appropriate to prevent the offender from entering the campus.

Protective Order: In specific situations in which this may be appropriate, victims may opt to obtain a court restraining order against an offender.

Reports

The department can release certain reports to victims. Contact Campus Safety.


Resources

 

Smith College Resources