Community Expectations

Anti-Bullying Policy

Cushing Academy is committed to respecting and protecting the personal dignity of all its students and community members. Cushing Academy does not tolerate hazing or actions which constitute harassment because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, ancestry, sexual orientation or other status protected by law, or which create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. The Academy as a whole shares responsibility for ensuring an environment that respects the individual differences and personal dignity of all members of the Academy community. Any student who feels he or she is being harassed or hazed should tell the person to stop (if he/she is comfortable doing so) and speak promptly with a faculty member, a Administrator, or the Office of Student Affairs.

GENERAL HARASSMENT: Actions and behavior that create a hostile environment for an individual or group are prohibited and include but are not limited to the following:
  • Playing abusive pranks.
  • Subjecting someone to personal indignity.
  • Stereotypical remarks, humor, jokes, epithets, posters, cartoons or graffiti.
  • Threatening an individual; creating a fearful and unsafe environment.
  • Initiation rituals (see Hazing).

SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND MISCONDUCT: Sexual harassment and misconduct is any unwelcome sexual advance, fondling or unwanted touching, request for sexual favors or any verbal, physical or suggestive misconduct of a sexual nature. This type of behavior may be between students or between a student and any adult member of the Academy community. This type of harassment and misconduct may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Unwelcome, offensive and unnecessary touching.
  • Spreading false rumors or accusations of a sexual nature.
  • Pressuring someone for sexual activity.
  • Making suggestive or explicit sexual comments about a person’s anatomy, behavior or clothing.
  • Engaging in unwanted and sexually suggestive letters, messages (including those sent via e-mail, computer systems, the Internet or apps) or phone calls.
  • Displaying sexually offensive materials or wearing offensive articles of clothing.
  • Inappropriate personal questions.
  • Any coerced sexual relations.

HAZING: Cushing Academy does not tolerate hazing. “Hazing” means any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization which endangers the physical or mental health of any student. As stated in Massachusetts State Law prohibiting this activity, hazing shall include “whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, beverages, drugs or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any person, or which subjects the person to extreme mental stress.” A copy of the law prohibiting such action can be reviewed in the Office of Student Affairs.

Cushing Academy does not tolerate bullying. Under Massachusetts law, bullying is defined as the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that does any of the following:
  • Causes physical or emotional harm to the targeted student or damage to the targeted student’s property.
  • Places the targeted student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property.
  • Creates a hostile environment at school for the targeted student.
  • Infringes on the rights of the targeted student at school.
  • Materially and substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of the school.

Cyberbullying is not tolerated at Cushing Academy. Cyberbullying is defined as bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Cyberbullying shall also include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying. Cyberbullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

Bullying shall be prohibited on Academy grounds, property immediately adjacent to Academy grounds, at an Academy-sponsored or Academy-related activity, function or program whether on or off Academy grounds, on a Academy bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by a school district or school, or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by Cushing and at a location, activity, function or program that is not Academy-related, or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by Cushing, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes on the rights of the victim at school or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

The following procedure will be followed if a community member thinks they are being or have been harassed, bullied or has experienced misconduct:

  • The person that is being or has been harassed, bullied or has experienced misconduct should, if they are comfortable doing so, let the offending person or persons know that the behavior needs to stop immediately.

    • Silence encourages recurrent behavior; students are encouraged to say NO firmly; do not apologize. It is acknowledged that some students may find this difficult. If they are unable to do this, they should focus their response on #2.

  • Tell someone: the Academy’s counselors, an advisor, a teacher, someone in the Office of Student Affairs, or the Head of School. Singular minor incidents of harassment, misconduct and bullying may be resolved through informal means. Major incidents of harassment, misconduct, hazing and bullying will be resolved through the Office of Student Affairs, the Head of School’s Office, or through the Disciplinary Committee.

  • It is important that the Academy supports and protects any individual or individuals who raises a complaint. If an individual or individuals are found to have engaged in retaliation against a student or faculty member for raising a complaint, this individual of individuals may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the Academy.

The Office of Student Affairs, the Head of School or the Head of School’s designee will likely take the following steps in response to a complaint of harassment misconduct and bullying, while at the same time tailoring these responses to the uniqueness of each case.

  • Conduct a full investigation, including speaking with all parties involved.
  • Contact parents of all students involved, including victims, witnesses, and perpetrators, to explain policies, reporting, and responses.
  • To protect the well-being of the community and to prevent disruption of the learning environment, the parties involved may be asked to leave campus while the investigation occurs.
  • Decide on disciplinary responses, if warranted, and document all steps of investigation.
  • Contact the appropriate government or state agency if a potential crime has been committed or if a student has been subject to abuse, neglect, harassment, hazing, misconduct or bullying.
  • Notify key faculty members to offer support for any persons who are the target of harassment, misconduct or bullying or for anyone involved in an incident of harassment, misconduct or bullying in any way.

DISCIPLINARY PROCESS: Cushing Academy views its discipline process and responses as a guide to educate students, individuals and the community to growth. While the Office of Student Affairs generally operates as the point of referral for inquiries into disciplinary matters, individual faculty members have the ability to hold students accountable for their actions and behaviors. Most offenses will be handled at the level of teacher and dorm head though the accountability system. Others may require the intervention of the Office of Student Affairs. In all disciplinary matters, the Head of School shall have the ultimate decision-making authority.

Responses to Minor and Major School Rule Violations
  • Accountability Point
  • Warning
  • Restitution
  • Detention
  • Loss of privileges
  • Removal from leadership positions
  • Probation
  • Counseling
  • Loss of privileges
  • Removal from leadership positions
  • In-house restriction
  • In-house suspension
  • Out-of-school suspension
  • Dismissal
Sexual Intimacy
Students should exercise thoughtful and appropriate discretion in all of their relationships. Consensual sexual intimacy is a complex issue, and it is additionally complicated in a community comprised of students who may range in age from 13 to 20, and who hail from a range of cultures, beliefs, and values. While we recognize that romantic relationships may involve consensual sexual intimacy and that sexual curiosity during adolescence is common, we are committed to creating a learning and residential environment characterized by safety, trust, and dignity for all. Therefore, the school cannot condone or make judgments about individual students’ private sexual conduct but must be concerned about the safety and appropriateness of a student’s sexual behavior. The Academy’s responses to student intimacy may include, but are not limited to, conversations between students involved and the Director of Student Affairs, communication with the involved student’s advisor, referral to school health professionals, and notification of and conversations with parents/guardians. Depending on the age of students, the Academy is mandated to report a student’s sexual intimacy. Repeated disregard to uphold the expectations of conduct stated above may be grounds for further educational and/or disciplinary action.

The Academy has equal expectations for students regardless of their sexual orientation. We expect every student involved in intimate relationships—whether same-sex or opposite-sex—to respect their partner’s privacy, the privacy of others, and to uphold the expectations of conduct stated above.

Massachusetts State Law
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Academy has legal obligations, which must be clear to all students and parents. Massachusetts State Law stipulates that any person who engages in sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 years of age is subject to prosecution under state law. Often referred to as Statutory Rape, sexual activity with a person under 16 can never be considered consensual—that is, it is always considered rape. Additionally, Massachusetts State Law stipulates that any person who engages in intentionally touching the buttocks, breasts or genitals of an individual under the age of 14 can never be considered consensual and is subject to prosecution.

If the Academy becomes aware that an individual engaged in, or is victim to, sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person less than 16 years or if an individual under the age of 14 has been intentionally and inappropriately touched, consensual or not, the Academy and its employees are mandated to report activity that violates the law and the school may respond with a significant disciplinary response.

Cushing Academy

39 School Street
Ashburnham, Massachusetts 01430

Cushing Academy

Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.