When the University receives information alleging gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct, an investigation will be conducted by a professional staff member or independent investigator (herein referred to as “investigator”) who has received annual training in these types of cases. The role of the investigator is to be a neutral fact-finder, and the EEO and Title IX Coordinator oversees the investigation.
Ordinarily, an administrative investigation will include a review of statements obtained from either party, interviews with both parties, interviews with witnesses, as appropriate, and a review of relevant documentary evidence. The complainant and respondent have the same opportunity to present witnesses for the investigator to interview. The investigator has the right to forgo interviewing a witness if the investigator determines that the person does not have information that is relevant to the proceedings.
The investigator will also determine whether there is good cause to grant a hearing. If a hearing is recommended, the investigator will list which sexual and gender-based misconduct or student conduct policies may allegedly have been violated.
If the investigator determines that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a violation occurred, the matter under this policy is closed, but the investigator may refer the complaint to another University office for resolution.
After reviewing the investigative report, the complainant may opt for an informal resolution to the case by informing the investigator, the Office of Student Life, or the EEO and Title IX Coordinator. Participation in the informal process does not require face to face interaction between the complainant and respondent. At any time prior to a hearing the respondent may claim responsibility for the alleged sexual and gender-based misconduct. In either situation, the Vice Provost for Student Life & Dean of Students, appropriate administrator, or designee, will propose a resolution and sanctions to the complainant and respondent.
For formal complaint resolutions involving an accused student the investigator prepares a report for a hearing officer or the Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Board, with or without the cooperation of the complainant, to determine if the student respondent committed a violation. Participation in the informal process does not require face to face interaction between the complainant and respondent.
Each case is evaluated on its own unique circumstances. The hearing officer or Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Board base their determination of responsibility on all of the relevant information presented at the hearing. Whether consent was given or obtained is a key factor in determining responsibility for a violation of the Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
If the information presented at the hearing does not support a determination of responsibility for a violation of the Sexual and Gender Based Misconduct Policy based on the standard of more likely than not (preponderance of evidence), the hearing office or board may still determine responsibility for a related violation of the Student Conduct Code, Staff Handbook or Faculty Handbook, as appropriate. Complainants who have engaged in alcohol or other drug use at the time of the assault will not be subject to disciplinary action for such use.
Factors considered when determining a sanction/responsive action may include:
- the nature, severity of, and circumstances surrounding the violation
- an individual’s disciplinary history
- previous grievances or allegations involving similar conduct
- the need for sanctions/responsive actions to bring an end to the discrimination, harassment or retaliation
- the need for sanctions/responsive actions to prevent the future recurrence of discrimination, harassment or retaliation
- the need to remedy the effects of discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the victim and the community
The time frames listed here are guides and may be extended because of circumstances. Each case is unique and the process for handling the incident will be impacted by factors such as the complexity of the investigation and situation, the parties’ schedules and availability, and the academic calendar. Generally speaking, the University will complete the investigative stage within 30 calendar days of receiving a report. If a judicial hearing or other student conduct processes are used, that will occur within 30 calendar days of the end of the investigation. Parties will be notified of the final outcome within seven calendar days of the hearing or other action, which concludes the complaint process. The University will attempt to provide parties with periodic status updates. In no case will these time frames delay the University from providing services or enacting other measures to assist the reporting party.