Dealing with University-Issued No Contact Orders

This article is part of our “Dealing with…” advice series, written by activists based on their own experiences.

A university-issued no contact order (NCO) is an interim protective measure for survivors, meaning that it can be issued even in cases where a respondent has not been found formally responsible for violating university policy. The NCO will usually state that the university has received a report stating that the respondent may be in violation of university policy. Therefore, the university must have good cause to issue an NCO, but does not need to have finished a formal investigation. In fact, an NCO can be issued for a survivor even if no formal investigation has begun. A sound NCO should state that the respondent is prohibited from contacting the survivor

  1. in person
  2. by phone (including text messages)
  3. voicemail
  4. via third party
  5. notes, letters, or other written communication
  6. by email or internet messenger or any other internet based communication

The NCO will usually be in the form of a letter which the respondent must sign. The NCO will state that any violation will result in formal disciplinary action. Survivors should be aware, however, that disciplinary action usually refers to the beginning of a formal investigation through the university rather than immediate suspension or arrest. If a survivor desires more immediate consequences for the breaking of a NCO, she may want to seek a civil NCO/restraining order through local law enforcement. A university NCO may be an alternative for those who do not want to see the respondent in court in order to have some protections. A survivor may still be able to call campus police under a university NCO if a respondent approaches her in person or will not leave an area. The survivor should ask the person who issues the NCO to explain school policy on what to do if she is approached. It is the choice of the survivor to report suspected contact to the university’s complaints coordinator after the NCO is issued. It is worth reporting even anonymous messages or internet contact, as sometimes respondents will admit to these behaviors when confronted by a school administrator. Survivors should consider telling friends, family, and coworkers about the NCO, as third party contact is also a violation of the NCO. A university NCO remains in effect as long as the respondent is a student at the university (even if the survivor has graduated, and even if contact occurs off campus).

–Alison Gover

Although these resources have been written with the guidance of legal experts, we are not lawyers, and the information on this website does not constitute legal advice. We encourage you to contact a lawyer to discuss your complaint or suit.