Formal resolution typically begins when:
- A Claimant has reported one or more instances of Prohibited Conduct and requests, at any time, an investigation of the concern; or
- After receiving a report of Prohibited Conduct, the Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the review panel, has determined, based on the totality of the circumstances and the information available that a formal resolution process is required to ensure the health and safety of the Claimant or University community members.
While the Title IX Coordinator will identify the most effective means to formally review a report, in most instances the review will involve an investigation.
An investigation will afford both the Claimant and Respondent a full and fair opportunity to be heard, to submit information and other evidence, and to identify witnesses. During an investigation, the investigator typically will meet separately with the Claimant, Respondent and pertinent witnesses; offer the parties the equal opportunity to submit and/or identify related and relevant information or evidence; and gather other relevant information or evidence, including documents, photographs, communications between the parties, medical records (subject to the consent of the applicable person) and other electronic records as appropriate. Following the interview, each person will be provided with a draft summary of their statement so that they have the opportunity to comment on the summary and ensure its accuracy and completeness.
The Claimant or Respondent may, under limited and extenuating circumstances, make a request to the investigator to submit a written statement instead of participating in an interview. The decision regarding whether to allow a party to submit a written statement in lieu of participating in an interview belongs to the Title IX Coordinator. In addition, the Claimant or Respondent may provide other supporting materials relevant to the matter. However, it is the responsibility of the University, not the Claimant or Respondent, to gather relevant evidence to the extent reasonably available. The investigator may impose time and page limits on written documents and information presented by either person as part of the investigation. The University’s review will be thorough, reliable and impartial.
1. Role of Investigator. Whenever a formal resolution is initiated, the Title IX Coordinator will designate an investigator. The investigator will typically be a member of OIE, although the investigator may be any appropriately trained individual. The investigator must be impartial, free of any actual conflict of interest, and have specific and relevant training and experience.
A Claimant or Respondent who has concerns that the assigned investigator cannot conduct a fair and unbiased review (e.g., has a personal connection with one of the parties or witnesses, etc.), may report those concerns to the Title IX Coordinator who will assess the circumstances and determine whether a different investigator should be assigned to the matter.
Investigators do not function as advocates for Claimants or Respondents. Investigators can, however, identify campus support and other resources for Claimants and Respondents and refer them to DOSO, SAPAC, or Respondent Support Program to coordinate services for students upon request.
2. Notice of the Investigation. Before any interview by an investigator of the Respondent, the Respondent will be informed in writing of the initiation of the investigation. The Claimant will also be notified, in writing, unless the Claimant has requested that the University not contact them. The written information will include the identities of the parties, if known, a concise summary of the conduct at issue, and potential Policy violations. The Respondent will be informed in writing if, during the investigation, additional information is disclosed that may also constitute Prohibited Conduct under the Policy.
3. Assumption of Good Faith Reporting. The University presumes that reports of Prohibited Conduct are made in good faith. A finding that the behavior at issue does not constitute a violation of this Policy or that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the incident occurred as reported, does not mean that the report was made in bad faith. The University encourages all individuals who have experienced or witnessed behavior they believe violates this Policy to report the matter so that it may be addressed, without fear of consequences from the University, if their good faith report cannot be substantiated or the behavior does not constitute a violation of this Policy.
4. Presumption of Non-Responsibility and Standard of Proof. The investigation is a neutral, fact-gathering process. The Respondent is presumed to be not responsible. This presumption may be overcome only where the investigator and/or external reviewer, as defined in Section XII(C)(2), conclude that there is sufficient evidence, by a preponderance of the evidence, to support a finding that the Respondent violated the Policy. 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.
5. Participation by the Parties and Witnesses Is Voluntary. Claimants, Respondents, or witnesses may choose to participate or decline to participate in the formal resolution process. However, even if a Claimant or Respondent declines to participate, the University may continue to investigate the report and issue findings based on available information.
6. Expectation of Claimant, Respondent, and Witnesses in an Investigation. The Claimant, Respondent, witnesses and others sharing information with the investigator are expected to provide truthful information in any proceeding under this Policy.
7. Acceptance of Responsibility. The Respondent may, at any time, elect to resolve the formal resolution process by accepting responsibility for the Prohibited Conduct, in which case the Title IX Coordinator will refer the matter to the sanction board to determine the appropriate sanctions.
8. Advisers. Throughout the formal resolution process, a Claimant, Respondent or witness may have an adviser of their choice. An adviser is an individual chosen by a Claimant, Respondent, or witness to provide support and guidance during the review of a report of Prohibited Conduct under this Policy. An adviser may not be a witness or otherwise have any conflicting role in the process. An adviser may be an advocate and/or an attorney.
Any person who serves as an adviser should plan to make themselves available for meetings throughout the process. The adviser may assist with all written submissions made by a Claimant or a Respondent, and may facilitate scheduling and other processes. During any meeting, the adviser is present to observe and provide support and counsel to the participant. The adviser may not testify or obstruct the meeting.
The University has the right at all times to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of an adviser and to take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the Policy.
9. Evidence. The investigator, not the Claimant or Respondent, is responsible for gathering relevant evidence to the extent reasonably possible. However, each person will be asked to identify witnesses and provide other relevant information, such as documents, communications, photographs, and other evidence. Both persons are encouraged to provide all relevant information as promptly as possible to facilitate prompt resolution.
The investigator will review all information identified or provided by the parties and will determine the appropriateness, relevance, and probative value of the information developed or received during the investigation. All information considered relevant by the investigator will be provided to the parties for their review and comment, as described below.
In general, a person’s medical and counseling records are confidential and not accessible to the investigator unless the person voluntarily chooses to share those records with the investigator. In those instances, the information, if relevant, will be summarized in the preliminary report for both person’s review, and the relevant portions of the medical records made available for the other party’s review.
The investigator may consult experts who have no connection to the reported incident when expertise on a specific topic or submitted evidence is needed to gain a fuller understanding of the relevance or value of the evidence or the issue at hand.
10. Prior or Subsequent Conduct of the Respondent. Prior or subsequent conduct of the Respondent will never be used to prove character, but may be considered for other purposes, such as determining pattern, knowledge, intent, or the Respondent’s reasons for taking the action. For example, evidence of a pattern of Prohibited Conduct by the Respondent, either before or after the incident in question, regardless of whether there has been a prior finding of a Policy violation, may be deemed relevant to the determination of responsibility for the Prohibited Conduct under investigation.
The determination of relevance of pattern evidence will be based on an assessment of whether the previous or subsequent conduct was substantially similar to the conduct under investigation or indicates a pattern of similar Prohibited Conduct. The investigator will determine the relevance of this information and both persons will be informed if evidence of prior or subsequent conduct is deemed relevant.
11. Prior Sexual Contact Between Claimant and Respondent. Prior sexual contact between a Claimant and a Respondent will never be used to prove character or reputation. Moreover, evidence related to the prior sexual history between the parties is generally not relevant to the determination of a Policy violation and will be considered only in limited circumstances. For example, if the question being determined is whether consent was given through mutually understandable actions (rather than words), information about prior sexual contact, in the totality of the evidence considered, may help the investigator understand the manner and nature of sexual communication between the two persons. This information may, therefore, be relevant in determining whether consent was sought and given during the incident in question.
However, even in the context of a relationship, consent to one sexual act does not, by itself, constitute consent to another sexual act. Consent on one occasion does not, by itself, constitute consent on a subsequent occasion. The investigator will determine the relevance of this information and both parties will be informed if evidence of prior sexual contact is deemed relevant.
In addition, and as required by applicable state and federal law, other prior sexual activity of the Claimant or Respondent may be relevant only in certain, very limited circumstances.
12. Witnesses. Witnesses must have observed the acts in question or have information relevant to the incident and cannot be participating solely to speak about an individual’s character.
Witnesses will have the opportunity to discuss the investigation process and participate in an interview. Following the interview, a witness will be provided with a draft summary of their statement so that they have the opportunity to comment on the summary and ensure its accuracy and completeness.
Where witnesses are interviewed as part of the investigation, the investigator will produce to Claimant and the Respondent for their review and comment a written summary of the witness’ interviews, which will identify the witness by name and relationship to each person and the University. This information will be provided in or with the draft investigation report.
13. Coordination with Law Enforcement. Where the University is made aware that there is a concurrent criminal investigation, the investigator will inform any law enforcement agency that is conducting its own investigation that a University investigation is also in progress; ascertain the status of the criminal investigation; and determine the extent to which any evidence collected by law enforcement may be available to the University in its investigation.
At the request of law enforcement, the University may agree to temporarily defer part or all of the investigation until after the initial evidence-gathering phase of the law enforcement investigation is complete. The investigator will communicate with the parties, consistent with the law enforcement request and the University’s obligations, about resources and support, procedural options, anticipated timing, and the implementation of any necessary interim measures for the safety and well-being of all affected individuals.
Standards for criminal investigations are different than the standards for a violation of this Policy, and therefore, the University will not base its decisions under this Policy solely on law enforcement reports and/or actions. The University will fulfill its legal and ethical obligation to take immediate and appropriate action in response to a report of Prohibited Conduct, even if there are other external processes or procedures pending in connection with that same report. Similarly, if the University finds Prohibited Conduct has occurred, the University will take appropriate action, regardless of external proceedings that may also be pending.
14. Time Frame for Completion of Investigation. The period from commencement of an investigation, which begins with notice of the investigation to the Respondent, through resolution (finding) typically should not exceed forty-five (45) calendar days.
This time frame may be extended for good cause, which may exist if additional time is necessary to ensure the integrity and completeness of the investigation, to comply with a request by law enforcement for temporary delay to gather evidence, to accommodate the availability of witnesses, to account for University breaks or vacations, to account for case complexities including the number of witnesses and volume of information provided by the parties, or for other legitimate reasons.
The investigator will notify the Claimant and Respondent in writing of any extension of this time frame and the reasons for such extension as soon as practicable.
15. Preliminary Investigation Report. After each person has had the opportunity to comment on their own statement and to identify witnesses and other potential information, and the investigator has completed witness interviews and the gathering of evidence, the investigator will prepare a preliminary report. The preliminary report will include, as applicable, the Claimant’s statement, Respondent’s statement, each witness’ statement and either a copy or written summary of any other relevant information collected during the investigation. The preliminary report will not contain any findings.
The Claimant and Respondent may review the preliminary report and provide feedback in response. The Claimant and Respondent must submit any comments, feedback, additional documents, evidence, requests for additional investigation, names of additional witnesses, or any other information they deem relevant to the investigator within five (5) calendar days after it is sent to them for review. The Title IX Coordinator or designee may, in their discretion, impose strict page limits on the feedback the parties can provide the investigator.
In the event that new, relevant information is provided or identified by one of the parties, the information will be incorporated into the preliminary report and the parties will be provided a second opportunity to review and provide feedback before the investigator proceeds with the final report.
16. Final Investigation Report and Outcome of Investigation. After receiving any comments submitted by either person, or after the five (5) calendar day comment period has lapsed without comment, the investigator will address any relevant issues identified by the Claimant and/or Respondent, as appropriate, pursue any additional investigative steps as needed, and make a determination, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the Respondent has committed a violation of this Policy.
The investigator’s final written report will contain all information from the preliminary report, as supplemented by the relevant feedback submitted; any additional information gathered; the investigator’s findings; and a summary of the investigator’s rationale in support of the findings.
The investigator’s report and findings must be reviewed and approved by the Title IX Coordinator and reviewed by OGC before it is provided to each person. OSCR will provide the written notice of outcome of the investigation to the Claimant and Respondent simultaneously. The notice of outcome will include information about next steps, which may include the sanctioning process (in the event that there is sufficient evidence to support a Policy violation), or the appeal process (in the event that there is insufficient evidence to support a Policy violation).
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, including as described below, and may need to provide notification of that follow-up if appropriate.
17. Finding(s) of Policy Violation. When the investigator determines that there is sufficient evidence, by a preponderance of the evidence, to support a finding of a Policy violation on one or more of the allegations, the Respondent will be sanctioned through the sanctions board as set forth below (Section XII(B)).
18. Finding(s) of No Policy Violation. When the investigator determines that there is insufficient evidence, by a preponderance of the evidence, to support a finding of a Policy violation on one or more of the allegations, the Claimant may accept or appeal the finding by notifying OSCR in writing within seven (7) calendar days of the notice of outcome. If the Claimant accepts the finding of no Policy violation, the investigation will be closed. If the Claimant appeals one or more of the findings, further proceedings as set forth below (Section XII(C)) will follow.
If the Respondent is found responsible for Prohibited Conduct (either because of a finding of a Policy violation that is not appealed, or after an appeal of no Policy violation that results in a Policy violation), the University will initiate a sanctioning process designed to eliminate the conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects, while supporting the University’s educational mission and Title IX obligations. Sanctions or interventions may also serve to promote safety and/or deter students from similar future behavior. Other remedies may include targeted or broad-based educational programming or training.
OSCR will facilitate the sanctioning process outlined in this Policy upon receipt of the Investigative Report. OSCR will convene the sanctioning board within seven (7) calendar days of receiving the notice of a Policy violation. Both the Claimant and the Respondent may offer brief written impact or mitigation statements within five (5) calendar days of receiving the notice of a Policy violation. The University will strive to complete the sanctioning process within fifteen (15) calendar days after the Claimant and Respondent are notified of the investigation outcome.
1. Sanctioning Board
An impartial sanctioning board will typically be comprised of one student chosen by Central Student Government, one staff or faculty member chosen by the Vice President for Student Life (VPSL), and one staff or faculty member chosen by the President. The sanctioning board will receive annual training regarding the University’s policies and procedures, the handling of student sexual misconduct cases, and other relevant issues.
The sanctioning board will meet weekly at a regularly scheduled time in order to promptly review any pending matters and impose sanctions. The sanctioning board will review the written final investigation report, electronic case notes, any additional information from OSCR regarding previous conduct committed by the Respondent, and any impact statement or mitigation statement provided to the staff member by the parties. The sanctioning board may also request from OSCR information on sanctions levied in previous, similar student sexual misconduct matters. They may also consult with the Title IX Coordinator as necessary. The sanctioning board will render a written sanctioning determination within two (2) calendar days of its weekly meeting.
Claimant or Respondent’s decision whether to provide an impact or mitigation statement is completely voluntary. The sanctioning board may use information from these statements to help determine the Respondent’s sanction. An impact statement is written information from the Claimant describing the impact of the Prohibited Conduct on the Claimant and expressing the Claimant’s preferences regarding appropriate sanctions. A mitigation statement is a written statement from the Respondent explaining any factors that the Respondent believes should mitigate or otherwise be considered in determining the sanctions imposed.
The impact or mitigation statements may not exceed five (5) pages, including attachments. The sanctioning board may use information from these statements to help determine the Respondent’s sanction. OSCR, in consultation with the OGC, will review all information submitted in an impact statement or mitigating statement for relevance and appropriateness and may determine that some or all of the information submitted cannot be provided to the sanctioning board.
2. Factors Considered in Sanctioning
In determining the appropriate sanctions, the sanctioning board will be guided by a number of considerations, including:
- The nature of the conduct at issue;
- The impact of the conduct on the Claimant;
- The impact of the conduct on the community or the University;
- Prior misconduct by the Respondent, including the Respondent’s relevant prior discipline history, both at the University or elsewhere, and any criminal convictions, if such information is available and known;
- Whether the Respondent has accepted responsibility for the conduct, which may be considered as a factor that may lessen, not increase, the severity of the sanctions;
- Maintenance of a safe and respectful environment conducive to learning;
- Protection of the University community;
- The necessity of any specific action in order to eliminate the Prohibited Conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the Claimant or other University community members; and
- Any other mitigating, aggravating, or compelling circumstances, including those set forth in the impact or mitigation statements, to reach a just and appropriate resolution in each case.
3. Possible Sanctions or Interventions
The list of potential sanctions or interventions includes one or more of the following:
- Disciplinary Probation: A designated period of time during which the student is not in good standing with the University. The terms of disciplinary probation may involve restrictions of student privileges and/or set specific behavioral expectations;
- Restitution: Reasonable and limited compensation for loss, damage, or injury to the appropriate party in the form of money or material replacement;
- Restriction from Employment at the University: Prohibition of or limitation on University employment;
- Class/Workshop/Training/Program Attendance: Enrollment in and completion of a class, workshop, training, or program that could help the student or the University community;
- Educational Project: Completion of a project specifically designed to help the student understand why certain behavior was inappropriate and to prevent its recurrence;
- University Housing Transfer or Removal: Placement in another room or housing unit or removal from University housing. Housing transfers or removals may be temporary or permanent depending on the circumstances;
- Removal from Specific Courses or Activities: Suspension or transfer from courses or activities at the University for a specified period of time;
- No Contact: Restriction from entering specific University areas and/or from all forms of contact with certain persons;
- Suspension: Separation from the University for a specified period of time or until certain conditions are met;
- Expulsion: Termination of student status for an indefinite period;
- Transcript notation, hold, and/or notification to other institutions: A notation of non-academic disciplinary action may be made on a transcript and/or the University may notify other institutions of non-academic disciplinary action. In addition, the University may place a hold on transcripts, meaning that the University may prevent a student from registering for classes, receiving a copy of their transcript, or both; or
- Withholding, delaying, or revoking the conferral of the degree: The University may delay the conferral of the degree pending the outcome of an investigation or withhold the conferral of the degree due to a finding of Prohibited Conduct. In extraordinary circumstances, the University may revoke the conferral of the degree.
Student-employees who are reported to have engaged in Prohibited Conduct in their employment capacity will continue to be subject to review under the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy (SPG 201.89-0) rather than under this Policy. If a student-employee is found to have engaged in Prohibited Conduct, the student-employee may be subject to sanctions both in connection with their employment and in connection with their student status (as listed here), as appropriate under applicable processes.
4. Written Notice of Sanction
OSCR will provide the written notice of the sanction to the Claimant and Respondent simultaneously. The notice will include the sanction, a summary of the sanctioning board’s rationale in support of the sanction, and the appeal process. The sanction must be reviewed and approved by the Title IX Coordinator and reviewed for legal sufficiency by OGC before it is provided to each person.
C. APPEALS OF FINDINGS OR SANCTIONS
Both a Claimant and Respondent may appeal the investigator’s finding or may appeal the sanctions determined by the sanctioning board. The appeal will be conducted in an impartial manner and equivalent rights will be provided to both parties throughout the process.
A Claimant may appeal the investigator’s finding that there is insufficient evidence to support a Policy violation within seven (7) calendar days of the date of the written notice of investigation outcome.
A Respondent may appeal the investigator’s finding that there is sufficient evidence to support a Policy violation within seven (7) calendar days of the date of the written notice of sanction.
Either party many appeal the sanction imposed by the sanctioning board within seven (7) calendar days of the date of the written notice of sanction.
To appeal the finding or the sanctions, a party must submit a written request to OSCR within seven (7) calendar days of the date of the notice of outcome or sanctions, whichever is relevant. OSCR may deem a late submission reasonable only under extraordinary or extenuating circumstances. The appeal shall consist of a plain, concise, and complete written statement outlining the basis for appeal and all relevant information to substantiate the claim. OSCR may, in its discretion, impose page limits for all written appeal statements.
Each party will be given the opportunity to review and respond in writing to the other party’s appeal. Any response by the opposing party must be submitted to OSCR within seven (7) calendar days. All appeal documents from each party will be considered together in one review process.
1. Grounds for Appeals
Claimant or Respondent may appeal on one or more of the following grounds for the finding:
- A material deviation from the procedures affected the outcome of the case;
- There is new and relevant information that was unavailable, with reasonable diligence and effort, at the time of the investigation that could reasonably affect the investigation findings; or
- A review of all available and relevant information indicates that the evidence clearly does not support the finding(s) and provides firm and definite support for modifying the original finding(s).
Claimant or Respondent may appeal the sanction on the following ground:
- The sanction was clearly inappropriate and/or disproportionate to the conduct for which the person was found responsible.
2. External Reviewer Will Conduct Appeal Review
The appeal review will be conducted by an external reviewer. The external reviewer will be a neutral party, most often an attorney outside of the University with significant legal experience, knowledge, and judgment. The external reviewer will be chosen by OGC in consultation with VPSL. The external reviewer will receive annual training regarding the University’s policies and procedures, the handling of student sexual misconduct cases, and other relevant issues. The external reviewer must also be impartial and free from bias or conflict of interest.
The external reviewer will review the matter based on the issues identified in the appeal(s) materials. The external reviewer may, at any time, freely consult with the Title IX Coordinator and OGC and other University administrators as necessary. The external reviewer has the authority to determine the appropriateness of evidence, including whether certain evidence should be considered, and the strength and value that evidence will be given. In deciding the appeal of the finding or the sanction, the external reviewer will consider the final investigation report and any written submissions by the parties outlining any basis for altering the finding, any electronic case notes, the determination of the sanctioning board, and any impact or mitigation statements. The external reviewer can request additional information from the Title IX Coordinator.
3. Decision of External Reviewer
The external reviewer may conclude that there are no relevant issues of concern and therefore recommend that the investigator’s finding or the sanctioning board’s determination be affirmed. In the alternative, the external reviewer may identify issues of concern; if so, in the case of the findings, the external reviewer will provide, in writing, to the Title IX Coordinator one of the following recommended actions and any additional instructions or recommendations it deems appropriate under the circumstances:
- If there was a material deviation from procedure, remand the matter to the Title IX Coordinator and/or a new investigator with corrective instructions from the external reviewer;
- If new information appears relevant, refer the matter to the Title IX Coordinator, and the original investigator, if available, to determine whether any modifications may need to be made to the original investigative report; or
- If the evidence clearly does not support the finding(s) of a Policy violation and provides firm and definite support for modification, the external reviewer may make any necessary modifications to the report.
If the external reviewer determines the sanctions to be clearly inappropriate or disproportionate, they will alter the sanctions or interventions accordingly. In the event that the external reviewer makes any determination that ultimately results in a finding of a Policy violation when the investigator had initially made a finding of no Policy violation, the case will be sent to the sanctioning board for a determination of sanctions. The sanctions can then be the subject of a second appeal on the sanction only.
The external reviewer will strive to complete the appeal review within seven (7) calendar days of receipt of all documents.
The external reviewer will provide these determinations to the VPSL or their designee who may accept or modify the determinations made by the external reviewer within seventy-two (72) hours of receiving the external reviewer’s decision. If the VPSL or their designee does not complete the review within seventy-two (72) hours, the review will be waived and the external reviewer’s determination will be deemed final. The VPSL'S final and unreviewable decision will be made available to the participating parties, in writing, simultaneously, by OSCR.