The hearing is an opportunity for the parties to address the hearing officer in person and to question the other party and/or witnesses and for the hearing officer to obtain information following the investigation that is necessary to make a determination of whether a Policy violation occurred.
The University expects that both the Claimant and the Respondent will attend a prehearing meeting and the hearing, but neither party is required to participate in the prehearing meeting or the hearing.
- Hearing Officer. The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer, who is selected by the General Counsel in consultation with the Vice President of Student Life. The hearing officer will receive annual training regarding the University’s policies and procedures, the handling of student sexual misconduct cases, and other relevant issues.
The hearing officer must be impartial and free from bias or conflict of interest. The parties will be informed of the identity of the hearing office and vice versa before the prehearing conference. If the hearing officer has concerns that he or she cannot conduct a fair or unbiased review, the hearing officer may report those concerns in advance of the prehearing conference to the Title IX Coordinator and a different hearing officer will be assigned. Similarly, a Claimant or a Respondent who has concerns that the assigned hearing officer cannot conduct a fair and unbiased hearing, may report those concerns to the Title IX Coordinator who will assess the circumstances and whether a different hearing officer should be assigned.
The hearing officer has broad discretion to determine the hearing format. The hearing officer is responsible for maintaining an orderly, fair, and respectful hearing and has broad authority to respond to disruptive or harassing behaviors, including adjourning the hearing or excluding the offending person.
The Claimant or the Respondent may make requests to the case manager related to the format or the nature of their participation in the hearing. The case manager will work with the hearing officer to accommodate reasonable requests, including the option for the hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms with technology enabling the decision-maker and the parties to simultaneously see and hear the party answering questions.
- Scheduling. When OIE refers a case to a hearing, the case manager will forward a copy of the investigation report to the hearing officer, the Claimant, and the Respondent. The case manager will schedule a hearing date, time, and location and notify the parties of the same. The hearing officer will strive to complete a hearing within fourteen (14) calendar days from the issuance of the investigation report.
- Standard of Evidence. In all cases before a hearing officer, the standard of proof is a preponderance of evidence. A finding of responsibility by a preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not, based on all the reasonable evidence and reasonable inferences from the evidence, that the Respondent violated this Policy.
- Record of Hearing. The hearing and any prehearing conference are closed to the public. The Claimant, the Respondent, and the witnesses are each allowed to have one adviser of their choice present throughout the hearing process. The University shall keep an official transcript of the hearing and any other recording is prohibited. No camera, TV, or other equipment, including cellphones, will be permitted in the hearing room except as arranged by the University.
- Pre-hearing Meeting. The case manager will convene a separate pre-hearing meeting with each of the parties and the hearing officer to plan for the hearing and to identify the advisers of the parties, if any; to review the complaint and issues of interest to the hearing officer and parties; to describe the procedures to be followed at the hearing; to discuss and determine whether the Associate Director of OSCR has a conflict; to identify the names of witnesses that will be asked to appear; and to answer any other questions or share information prior to the hearing. The hearing officer will also discuss the time allotted for the hearing and any time limitations. The hearing officer will provide all relevant and significant information to the other party. If either party does not attend the pre-hearing meeting, the hearing officer will determine whether and how that absence affects the ability of the University to move forward with the hearing, as well as the hearing schedule.
The parties and the hearing officer are expected to identify witnesses by the pre- hearing meeting. The hearing officer may, in his or her discretion, exclude from the hearing, witnesses who were not previously identified to the other party.
- Adaptable Resolution. The University permits adaptable resolution of complaints whenever requested and appropriate. During the pre-hearing conference and up to 48 hours prior to a hearing, both parties must agree to participate before adaptable resolution will be used, and both the Claimant and the Respondent have the option to voluntarily consent to engage in one of the facilitated processes described in Section XIV, with the approval of the Title IX Coordinator.
- Case Presentation. The hearing is not intended to be a repeat of the investigation. The hearing officer will be well-versed in the facts of the case based upon the investigation report and the parties’ responses to the investigation report, if any. The Claimant and the Respondent and their advisers, Associate Director of OSCR, and the Hearing Officer will attend the hearing. Other University administrators may attend at the request of or with the prior approval of the hearing officer, but the parties will be notified in advance of anyone who will be in attendance.
The hearing officer has absolute discretion to decide upon a format for the hearing and to determine which witnesses are relevant to their outcome determination. A hearing officer may decline to hear from a witness where they conclude that the information is not necessary for their outcome determination.
A typical hearing may include brief opening remarks by the hearing officer; questions posed by the hearing officer to one or both of the parties; follow-up questions by one party to the other (typically with the Respondent questioning the Claimant first); questions by the hearing officer to any witness; and follow-up questions by either party to any witness (typically with the Respondent questioning the witness first). The hearing officer also will afford either party an opportunity at the end of the hearing to offer closing remarks. A decision whether to offer closing remarks is completely voluntary.
- Expectation of the Claimant, the Respondent, and the Witnesses at a Hearing. The Claimant, the Respondent, the witnesses and other individuals sharing information with the hearing officer are expected to provide truthful information in any proceeding under this Policy.
- Notice of Hearing Outcome. Following the hearing, the hearing officer will consider all of the evidence and make a determination, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the Respondent has violated the Policy. The hearing officer will issue a written notice of hearing outcome, which will contain the hearing officer’s factual findings, determination of whether a Policy violation occurred, and a summary of the hearing officer’s rationale in support of the hearing outcome. The hearing officer will strive to issue the written notice of hearing outcome within fourteen (14) calendar days of the hearing.
The OSCR case manager will provide the notice of hearing outcome to the Claimant and the Respondent simultaneously, and will strive to do so within three (3) calendar days of receipt of the hearing officer’s written notice of hearing outcome. The notice of hearing outcome will include information about next steps, which may include the sanctioning process (in the event there is sufficient evidence to support a Policy violation), or the appeal process.
If a Claimant has chosen not to participate in the investigation, but requests to be notified of the outcome, the University will notify the Claimant. If a Claimant has requested not to be notified of the outcome, the University will honor that decision. In such cases, the University will not send the notification to the Claimant, but may proceed with any necessary follow-up, as appropriate, if the case proceeds to a sanctioning or appeals phase of the process.