Student Honor Office Title IX Investigation Procedures
For complete policy, see Sexual Misconduct Policy.
V. COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURES: STUDENTS
Under direction of the Title IX Coordinator, the Student Honor Office will investigate reported violations of the university's Sexual Misconduct Policy when perpetrated by or against university students. This investigation is independent of any civil, criminal, or ecclesiastical proceeding.
The Student Honor Office Title IX Investigation Process ("Process") is designed to provide prompt, fair, and equitable resolution of reported behavior(s) which may violate this Policy. The Process will be conducted by Administrators who do not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against the parties and who receive annual training on the issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and how to conduct an investigation that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability.
A. FORMAL RESOLUTION
The formal Student Honor Title IX Investigation Process may be initiated by submitting a report to the Title IX Coordinator or any Administrator in the Student Honor Office. A report of Sexual Misconduct can be made verbally or in writing. Additionally, depending on the circumstances and the severity of the reported violation, the university reserves the right to initiate this Process in the absence of a formal report.
1. Preliminary Assessment
Upon receiving a report of Sexual Misconduct, the Director of the Student Honor Office, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, will promptly perform a preliminary assessment based on the facts reported to determine whether they provide reasonable cause to believe a violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy may have occurred. If there is no reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred, no formal Title IX Investigation will be conducted, and the report will be handled under the Student Honor Office Investigation Process (as applicable). The Reporting Party will be informed that his or her report has been considered and will not be investigated under this Process. If reasonable cause is found, an investigation will proceed as provided below.
2. Selection of Administrators
Violations may be reported directly to the Title IX Coordinator or the Student Honor Office. Regardless of where the report is made, the Director of the Student Honor Office (in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator) will assign two Student Honor Office Administrators ("Administrators") to promptly investigate the allegations.
3. Interim Measures
Based on any information acquired in the course of the preliminary assessment or investigation, the Title IX Coordinator, the Director of the Student Honor Office, or the Administrators may recommend that interim measures be taken to protect the Reporting Party or others from further acts of Sexual Misconduct or retaliation while the investigation is pending. The Title IX Coordinator will work with the office(s) or individual(s) within the university authorized to implement the recommendation. The Reporting Party will be informed in writing of the availability of interim measures such as separating the Reporting Party and the Responding Party by changing academic, employment, or living situations; academic support; on and off-campus counseling, health care providers, and mental health services. Any request for accommodations or protective measures by the Reporting Party must be reasonably available, but if a requested change is unreasonable, the university is not required to make the change. A request for accommodations or protective measures can be made regardless of whether a victim of Sexual Misconduct chooses to report the crime to law enforcement. In situations deemed to be extreme or dangerous, the Title IX Coordinator may take interim disciplinary action against the Responding Party, up to and including a temporary suspension and ban from campus; in such cases both parties will receive simultaneous written notification of this action.
Given the sensitive nature of Sexual Misconduct allegations and the potential for damage to the parties' personal reputations, all reports will be investigated as confidentially as reasonably possible. All participants in the investigation-including the Reporting Party, the Responding Party, and individuals interviewed by the Administrators-should keep the allegations and proceedings confidential, and should provide information only to those university employees authorized to investigate the report or who otherwise have a legitimate need to know. Records kept by the university relating to allegations of Sexual Misconduct are not publically available, but in the event that the university is required to make any such records publicly available, any identifying information about the Reporting Party will be excluded, to the extent permissible by law, to protect the Reporting Party's confidentiality. Federal law requires the university to publically disclose statistics about reported incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; however, no personally identifiable information is maintained or published for purposes of such reporting.
Notwithstanding the foregoing confidentiality provisions, the Reporting Party and any witnesses who participate in an investigation of Sexual Misconduct should be advised that their confidentiality will be preserved only to the extent it does not interfere with the university's ability to investigate the report and take corrective action. If the investigation results in litigation, the university may be legally required to disclose any information it has received.
If a Reporting Party requests that his or her identity be kept confidential or asks the university not to pursue an investigation, the Reporting Party should be notified that (1) the university's ability to investigate and respond to the report may be limited by such a request, and (2) under some circumstances the university may not be able to honor such a request. The university will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to a report consistent with the Reporting Party's request for confidentiality. However, without conducting a full investigation or disclosing the full nature of the report (including its source) to the Responding Party, the university may be unable to impose any discipline, and its corrective actions might be limited to informing the Responding Party that allegations of discriminatory behavior have been made against him or her, preserving a record of the discrimination allegation in the Responding Party's student disciplinary file, and pursuing other steps to limit the effects of the alleged Sexual Misconduct. The university may not be able to honor a request for confidentiality or to forego an investigation if such a request would prevent the university from providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment and to conduct a thorough investigation and a prompt and equitable resolution of the Report.
The university will consider the following factors in determining whether to disclose the identity of a Reporting Party or pursue an investigation contrary to the Reporting Party's request:
· the seriousness of the alleged Sexual Misconduct
· the age or maturity of the Reporting Party
· the risk the Responding Party poses to other students
· the existence of any previous accusations against the Responding Party
· the existence of independent evidence to substantiate the allegations
· the rights of the student under the university's Access to Student Records policy and corresponding
federal and state privacy laws or laws mandating disclosure
If the university determines it cannot honor a Reporting Party's request for confidentiality or a request to forego an investigation, it will inform the Reporting Party prior to commencing its investigation. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for evaluating requests for confidentiality or to forego an investigation.
5. The Investigation
The investigation should be thorough, prompt, reliable, and impartial. The Administrators will, in good faith, attempt to conclude the investigation within sixty (60) days of receiving the report. If, as a result of the complexity of the case or other extenuating facts and circumstances, the investigation cannot reasonably be concluded within the sixty (60) day period, the Reporting Party and the Responding Party will be provided periodic updates at reasonable intervals regarding the status of the investigation and cause(s) for delay. If either party withdraws from school while the investigation is pending, the Administrators will proceed with the investigation until complete. However, the party that withdraws will not be allowed to request a Title IX Coordinator Review.
The university will provide both parties timely notice of meetings at which the Reporting party or Responding party may be present, and upon request will make information that will be used during any related meeting available to both parties prior to their attendance. The university reserves the right to redact information to protect other parties involved.
Either party may elect to be accompanied to any related meeting by an advisor of their choice, though such is not required. The Administrators will outline the advisor's role prior to the advisor attending any related meeting. While the university will not limit the choice of advisor for either party, the advisor is not an advocate for either party and will be prohibited from speaking to any person other than the party they are accompanying during any related meeting. The university reserves the right to dismiss any advisor who becomes disruptive or fail to abide by restrictions governing their participation. Timely notice of meetings will only be made to the parties involved, and the parties bear the burden of notifying their advisor of the date, time, and location of any related meeting.
During the investigation, the Administrators will conduct interviews with any person(s) with information concerning the Report and review any other documents or evidence submitted by the parties or discovered during the investigation. An investigation under these procedures is an internal university student disciplinary matter. If a student withdraws from the university or refuses to participate while an investigation is pending, the university will proceed with an investigation of the original Report.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Administrators will determine, based on the preponderance of the evidence (i.e., whether it is more likely than not), whether the Responding Party has in fact engaged in behavior in violation of the university's Sexual Misconduct Policy. The Administrators will promptly communicate notice of the outcome of the investigation (including the rationale for the outcome) simultaneously and in writing to the Reporting Party and Responding Party. The Administrators will also communicate to both parties the process and timeline for requesting a Title IX Coordinator Review to appeal the results.
At the conclusion of the investigation, if the Administrators determine, based on the preponderance of the evidence, that this Policy was not violated, the Report may be handled under the Student Honor Office Investigation Process (as applicable), including any disciplinary sanctions.
6. Resolution and Disciplinary Sanctions
Any student found in violation of this Policy may be subject to discipline up to and including mandatory training or education, suspension, expulsion, or a ban from campus, depending on the circumstances and the severity of the violation. After informing both parties of the outcome of the investigation, the Administrators will disclose the discipline imposed by the resolution (including the rationale for any disciplinary sanctions) to the Responding Party. While the Reporting Party will be informed of the resolution, the Administrators will not disclose the discipline imposed on the Responding Party except under one of the following circumstances:
· the discipline directly affects the Reporting Party-such as when the Responding Party is ordered to
stay away from the Reporting Party, is transferred to another class, or residence hall, or is
suspended or expelled from the university;
· the Reporting Party alleged Sexual Misconduct involving a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex
· the Responding Party gives his or her written permission to disclose the discipline to the Reporting
Resolution of reported Sexual Misconduct shall include, in addition to any discipline imposed, reasonable steps designed to correct any discriminatory effects on the Reporting Party and on others who may have been affected, and to prevent the recurrence of any discriminatory or otherwise inappropriate actions. Possible corrective measures that may be imposed at the conclusion of the investigation may include any of the following: making interim measures permanent, offering remedies and accommodations to the Reporting Party, implementing changes in programs or activities, or providing training for the university community or specific groups or individuals.
7. Title IX Coordinator Review
At the conclusion of the investigation, either party may request a review before the Title IX Coordinator ("Review"). The Review is not an investigative process and cannot be requested simply to have a case reinvestigated. In any Review, the Title IX Coordinator, or his designee, will presume the outcome of the investigation was reasonable, and the party requesting review bears the burden of establishing otherwise. A Review will only be granted when the requesting party identifies at least one of the following reasons for Review:
· The outcome of the investigation is clearly contrary to the preponderance of the evidence.
· A procedural error significantly impacted the outcome of the investigation (e.g., a substantiated bias
or material deviation from these procedures).
· The discipline imposed is substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation (i.e.,
too severe or not severe enough).
The Title IX Coordinator reserves the right to assign a designee to conduct the Review. A Review may be initiated by contacting the Director of the Student Honor Office or designee within two (2) business days after receiving notice of the outcome of the investigation from the administrators. The Director of the Student Honor Office will explain the Review process and answer any questions the student may have pertaining to the Review.
The student requesting Review shall prepare in writing an Explanation ("Explanation"), which should include all relevant information in support of the student's reason(s) for Review. Upon receipt of the Explanation, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will promptly contact the other party and provide them an opportunity to respond ("Response") to the Explanation. The Response should include all relevant information for the Title IX Coordinator to consider and must be submitted within two (2) business days after being contacted by the Title IX Coordinator or designee. The Administrators will submit a written response to the Title IX Coordinator, addressing the student's Explanation. As with the investigation, the university will provide both parties timely notice of information that will be used during the Review and will make such available upon request to both parties prior to their opportunity to respond. The university reserves the right to redact information to protect other parties involved.
Either party may review their own Student Honor Office file. The university may redact these materials at its absolute discretion to protect other parties involved. Either party may request to view their file by contacting the Student Honor Office in writing (firstname.lastname@example.org). A student may take notes while viewing their file, but no information contained in the file can be copied or transmitted in any form, unless an exception is granted in writing by the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Coordinator will consider the Explanation, Response, and Administrators' response to determine whether the university erred as identified by the student requesting Review. The Title IX Coordinator will provide a written decision to both parties and the Administrators within ten (10) business days of receiving the Explanation, Response, and Administrators' response. The university considers the written decision from the Title IX Coordinator to be final, and no other appeal or review process will be available to either party beyond the Review.
Retaliation or intimidation against an individual who has made a Report or provided information in connection with an investigation of Sexual Misconduct is strictly prohibited. Individuals who participate in a Sexual Misconduct investigation should be advised that university policy and federal law prohibits retaliation or intimidation against them or against individuals closely associated with them. The university will take steps to prevent retaliation or intimidation and will take disciplinary action against any party engaging in such behavior, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the university. An individual who feels that he or she has been subjected to retaliation or intimidation should report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator.
9. Concurrent Investigations or Processes
An investigation conducted under this process will be conducted independent of any associated criminal investigation or any other university investigation. An investigation under this process will not be suspended pending the conclusion of a criminal investigation or any other investigation, though the fact-finding portion of the investigation may be delayed temporarily while the police are gathering evidence. While the findings and conclusions of one investigation will not determine the outcome of any other, any evidence or findings developed in any university or non-university investigation may be shared with and considered in any other university investigation.