Alternative resolution is a voluntary, structured interaction between or among affected parties that is designed to allow a Respondent to accept responsibility for misconduct and acknowledge harm to the Claimant or to the University community. The University recognizes that alternative resolution options may, if implemented in concert with institutional values and legal obligations, be an appropriate means of addressing some forms of Prohibited Conduct reported under this Policy. Alternative resolution options are designed to eliminate the conduct at issue, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects in a manner that meets the expressed preference of the Claimant and the safety and welfare of the campus community.
A. CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH ALTERNATIVE RESOLUTION MAY BE USED
Alternative resolution is not appropriate for all forms of conduct under the Policy and the Title IX Coordinator retains the discretion to determine which cases are appropriate for alternative resolution.
In some forms of alternative resolution, the remedies imposed will focus on supporting the Claimant with no participation or involvement by the Respondent. In other forms of alternative resolution, the Respondent may agree to participate. Depending on the type of remedy used, it may be possible for a Claimant to maintain anonymity.
Alternative resolution may also include practices such as restorative justice and mediation. Practices based in restorative principles are designed to allow a Respondent to accept responsibility for misconduct and acknowledge harm to the Claimant or to the University community. Alternative resolution will be used only with the consent of both parties, under the supervision of University-sanctioned, trained professionals, and following a determination by the University that the matter at hand is appropriate for a restorative approach.
The Alternative resolution options available under this Policy recognize:
- Participation is voluntary and both a Claimant and Respondent can request to end this manner of resolution and pursue an investigation at any time;
- The University will not compel a Claimant to engage in mediation, to directly confront the Respondent, or to participate in any particular form of alternative resolution;
- Mediation, even if voluntary, will not be used in cases involving vaginal, anal or oral penetration;
- Prohibited Conduct affects Claimants, Respondents, witnesses, friends, community members, family members, and others (collectively Affected Persons);
- Affected Persons within the community often benefit when resolution processes and outcomes are tailored to meet their unique needs and interests;
- Claimants and other Affected Persons may find it useful to meet with a Respondent who acknowledges the substance of the underlying events and who acknowledges that Claimants or other Affected Persons have reported experiencing harm as a result;
- Structured interactions between Affected Parties can facilitate long-term healing and reduce recidivism; and
- Participants in alternative resolution processes must be protected from secondary victimization and other potential harms, including the pressure to proceed through alternative resolution instead of formal resolution.
B. ALTERNATIVE RESOLUTION OPTIONS
With approval from the Title IX Coordinator, alternative resolution options may be used during any of the following phases of the resolution process:
- The assessment phase: as a means of addressing the reported or admitted conduct, preventing its recurrence, and remedying its effects absent a formal finding of a policy violation;
- The sanctioning phase: as a means of creating appropriate sanctions or interventions after a finding of responsibility; or
- The reintegration phase: as a means of reintegrating the Respondent into the University community after a period of separation and addressing any lingering community concerns.
The following conditions must be satisfied for an alternative resolution process to be initiated:
- The Title IX Coordinator must have reviewed the matter to the extent necessary to confirm that it is of the type that would be appropriate for an alternative resolution process and must have concluded, in consultation with appropriate University employees, that use of an alternative resolution process was without pressure or compulsion from others and the parties were advised that they may withdraw from the process at any time; and
- Individuals who wish to participate in an alternative resolution process must have successfully completed preparatory meetings with an appropriate staff member(s).
Individuals may be accompanied by an adviser at any meetings related to the alternative resolution process. Information shared or obtained during alternative resolution will be treated as private to the extent permitted by law and will not result in subsequent disciplinary actions by the University, unless additional action is deemed necessary to fulfill the University’s legal obligations.
C. ALTERNATIVE RESOLUTION AGREEMENTS
Any agreements reached in alternative resolution must be documented and approved by the Title IX Coordinator to ensure consistency with the University’s Title IX obligations. An agreement will not be considered valid if the Title IX Coordinator does not approve it.
If the Title IX Coordinator approves an agreement after the parties have voluntarily reached consensus as to its terms, the Respondent will be required to comply with the agreement. Failure to comply with the agreement may result in a violation of the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. If no agreement is reached, the matter may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator for further action.
To fairly assess pattern or systemic behavior, the Title IX Coordinator will maintain records of all reports and conduct referred for alternative resolution. The time frame for completion of alternative resolution may vary, but the University will seek to initiate action within thirty (30) calendar days of the initial assessment.