University Investigation & Response
Investigation of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct details
Complaints of sexual misconduct are referred to the Title IX Coordinator for an investigation. The Reporting Party can decide whether she/he will participate in the investigative process. If a Reporting Party requests that her or his name not be revealed to the student Responding Party or asks that the University not investigate or seek action against the Responding Party, honoring the request may limit the University's ability to fully respond to the incident, including pursuing student conduct action. The Title IX Coordinator or designee will proceed with an investigation if she/he determines that the safety and security of the broader campus community requires that the university proceed with a full investigation. Any time this is done, the Reporting Party will be notified prior to the start of any such investigation.
The University will take all reasonable steps to respond to the complaint. In addition to the investigative process, other actions may be taken by the Title IX Coordinator or designee including interim interventions or safety measures (e.g. providing support services to the Reporting Party, changing living arrangements or course schedules, assignments, or tests, providing increased monitoring, supervision, or security at locations or activities where misconduct occurred).
Investigation Process details
The investigation process is conducted by an investigator who will meet separately with the Reporting Party and the Responding Party. During each meeting, the investigator will explain: (a) a summary of rights for each party, (b) the investigative process, (c) avenues of appeal after the investigation (if any), (d) information about available resources, and (e) an explanation that the University and the law protect against retaliation.
The investigator will ask for all information relevant to the allegations. For both parties, this is their opportunity to present any information regarding the incident, including names of witnesses, the existence of documents, emails, text messages, or other recordings, or any other information the parties feel may be relevant. Both parties may also present supplemental information during the course of the investigation, until the investigator issues findings regarding the case.
At their respective separate meetings with the investigator, the Responding Party and the Reporting Party may have an advisor or advocate present while being interviewed. The advisor or advocate is selected by the student (i.e. a parent, staff member, an advocate provided through Campus Advocacy Network (CAN), or an attorney). Advisors and advocates will be limited to advising and supporting the student and will not have an active part in the meeting.
The investigator will not question or request information related to the Reporting Party's sexual history with anyone other than the Responding Party. Additionally, the mere fact of a previous consensual dating or sexual relationship between the parties does not, itself, imply consent to the act (s) under investigation or preclude a finding of sexual misconduct.
As part of the investigation, the investigator may conduct additional investigative and witness interviews as appropriate and review all available pertinent evidence. This may include reviewing student and personnel files and reviewing law enforcement documents or evidence.
Once the investigator has completed all the meetings and reviewed the pertinent information, the investigator will issue a notice of finding as to whether or not, by a preponderance of the evidence, the alleged conduct occurred and make a conclusion as to whether the Responding Party is or is not responsible for a violation of the University Statement on Sexual Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct, the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, and/or the University Nondiscrimination Statement based on the evidence available at the time of the investigation. The investigator cannot and does not make a finding as to whether a crime has been committed, as that can only be determined through the criminal/legal process.
The investigator will simultaneously send the notice of finding to both parties outlining the results of the investigation and the basis for the conclusion, and setting forth recommended actions, as appropriate. Notice of finding will also be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students and to the Responding Party's and Reporting Party's respective college and department.
If the investigator deems that the Responding Party is responsible for a violation of the University Statement on Sexual Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct, the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, and/or the University Nondiscrimination Statement, the University will take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual misconduct, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence and, as appropriate, remedy its effects.
All students have the responsibility to participate fully and truthfully in university investigations. If the Responding Party declines to present information on his/her own behalf, this will not be construed as an admission of wrongdoing. Student Responding Partys who fail to respond within ten (10) business days to an initial notification from the Title IX Investigator or who cannot be contacted after reasonable attempts remain subject to an investigation and/or referral to the Office of the Dean of Students for possible action under the Student Disciplinary Policy.
Referrals to the Student Conduct Process details
The Title IX Coordinator and/or investigator may file a student conduct complaint with the Office of the Dean of Students when the findings of the investigation indicate that a violation of the Student Disciplinary Policy has occurred. Although it is generally up to the discretion of the Reporting Party as to whether she/he files a student conduct complaint against the Responding Party, the Title IX Coordinator may deem a conduct hearing necessary for the safety and security of the student Reporting Party and/or the broader campus community. The complaint will request that the Office of the Dean of Students hold a formal student conduct hearing to determine whether the Responding Party is responsible for the charges as related to the Student Code of Conduct and, if so, issue appropriate sanctions. In such a case, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the Reporting Party that the case has been forwarded to the Office of the Dean of Students for adjudication through the student conduct process. The Reporting Party is not required to participate in the student conduct process.
Procedural Rights During the Investigation details
Significant procedural protections are provided to both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party. Both the Reporting Party and the Responding Party are granted the following procedural protections:
- Written notice of the report that specifies the nature of the alleged misconduct and the basis for the charge including the date or period of time and location regarding the alleged incident.
- Written notice of the published location of the Student Disciplinary Policy, University Statement on Sexual Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct, the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, and/or the University Nondiscrimination Statement.
- Written notice of the requirement to meet with the investigator. The university reserves the right to conduct investigations in absentia when a student responding party fails to respond after proper notice has been given or after the university has exercised reasonable effort to notify the student of the allegations. Also, there may be times when the university in its discretion decides to proceed with the investigation even when the Reporting Party or other complaining party does not wish to proceed.
- At the start of the investigation, a summary of rights, the investigation procedures, and an avenue of appeal (if any) are provided to the student reporting party and the student responding party.
- The right to inspect documents and/or relevant information gathered as part of the investigation (though medical/mental health information may be kept confidential). A request to inspect documentation or evidence should be directed to the investigator at any time during the process. Requests must be presented in writing at least three (3) working days in advance.
- Both parties will have the opportunity to provide names of relevant witnesses and an advisor and/or advocate.
- If the Responding Party declines to present information on his/her own behalf, this will not be construed as an admission of responsibility. If the Reporting Party declines to participate in the investigation, this will not be construed as evidence that favors the Responding Party.
- The Reporting Party will be informed about (1) whether or not the university found the Responding Party responsible for the alleged misconduct, (2) any interim interventions imposed on the Responding Party, and (3) other steps the University has taken to eliminate the hostile environment, if the University finds that one exists, and measures taken to prevent recurrence.
- A written notice of finding simultaneously will be sent to both parties outlining the results of the investigation, explaining the basis for the conclusion, and setting forth recommendations. Notice may be delivered by: email to each party's university email address of record in the campus directory, U.S.P.S. mail to the party's last known address on record, or hand delivered.
Standard of Proof details
The outcome of an investigation will be made using the preponderance of the evidence standard. The preponderance of the evidence standard requires the investigator to determine whether or not it is more likely than not that sexual misconduct occurred.
Interim Interventions details
The University will take the appropriate steps to protect student victims of sexual misconduct, to minimize or eliminate contact with the responding party, and to provide appropriate academic and administrative accommodations in accordance with the Clery Act and Title IX. The University may implement interim interventions, as appropriate, for the students involved in a reported incident of sexual misconduct. The interim interventions may be imposed at any time after the initial reporting of the incident, (e.g. prior to or during the investigation and the student conduct processes, and through the completion of any appeal process).
Interim interventions will vary depending upon the facts of each case. The interventions may include options for the Reporting Party to change academic, living, transportation, and working situations if those changes are requested by the Reporting Party and reasonably available. The Reporting Party will be notified of interim interventions required and/or offered to the Responding Party. The Responding Party will not be notified of the interim interventions offered or provided to the Reporting Party.
Except in those cases where the Office of the Dean of Students invokes the interim suspension process, interim interventions will not terminate the Responding Party's status as a student, and will not be construed as a finding of responsibility on the part of any student. A Responding Party's failure to abide by these interventions may be considered a violation of the Student Disciplinary Policy. The Title IX Coordinator may request that the Office of the Dean of Students issue an interim suspension of the Responding Party. Interim interventions may include, but are not limited to:
- Directing students to avoid all forms of contact (i.e. telephone, text, email, social media) with a specifically named individual (s) for a specified period of time;
- Change of Campus Housing room assignment or removal/ban from Campus Housing;
- Change of dining/parking/arrangements;
- Restriction on participation in student organizations and student/ university activities;
- Change in work schedules;
- Alteration of academic schedules;
- Withdrawal from/retake a class without penalty;
- Limitations on access to academic support services such as tutoring;
- Restriction on access to university buildings/facilities;
- Issuance of no contact orders.
Additional Safety Measures details
There are some cases in which imposing sanctions for violations of the sexual misconduct policy without taking further measures, will not eliminate a hostile environment and provide a safe campus environment for the university community. Consequently, additional safety measures may be necessary. Depending upon the facts of a given case, these may include, but are not limited to:
- Providing an effective escort to ensure that the Reporting Party can move safely between classes and activities;
- Providing increased monitoring, supervision, or security at locations or activities where the sexual misconduct occurred;
- Ensuring the Reporting Party and the Responding Party do not share classes or co-curricular activities;
- Providing comprehensive, holistic Reporting Party services including medical, counseling, and academic support services, such as tutoring;
- Arranging for the Reporting Party to have extra time to complete or re-take a class or withdraw from a class without an academic or financial penalty to the extent possible;
- Reviewing any disciplinary actions taken imposed on the Reporting Party (unrelated to the reported sexual misconduct) to determine if there may be a causal connection between the sexual violence suffered by the Reporting Party and the misconduct;
- Training and retraining University employees on the University's responsibilities to address allegations of sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence;
- Developing additional materials on sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence;
- Conducting additional bystander intervention and sexual violence prevention programs with students and employees;