Academic Appointee and Staff Sexual Misconduct - Title IX Complaint Resolution Procedures

  1. Covered Behaviors
    The following behaviors, as defined below, are covered under these procedures:
    1. Sexual Harassment
    2. Sexual Assault
    3. Dating Violence
    4. Domestic Violence
    5. Stalking
  2. Officials

    For the purpose of these procedures, relevant officials with key responsibilities are:

    1. Investigator – The Deputy Coordinator(s) for the respective campus, or an appropriate designee, will conduct fact-finding as the Investigator and may coordinate with other offices such as human resources, academic affairs, and student affairs.
    2. Hearing Official - A hearing official will be responsible for assisting the DO during the hearing process including reviewing the Investigation File, assisting with determinations of relevancy during questioning, and coordinating a fair and respectful hearing.
    3. Decisional Official (DO) – The DO will be present at the sexual misconduct hearing and, following the hearing, will issue the decision determining responsibility and assign appropriate sanctions, if applicable. The DO will be as follows, or an appropriate designee:
      1. For complaints against staff employees, including temporary (hourly), the DO will be the university employee relations director.
      2. For complaints against academic appointees, the DO will be the campus Vice Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
      3. For complaints against a Dean, a Vice Provost, or a Vice Chancellor, the DO will be the campus Provost/Chancellor.
      4. For complaints against a University Vice President, a Provost, a Chancellor, or equivalent, the DO will be the President.
      5. For complaints against the President, the DO will be the Board of Trustees.
    4. Appellate Official (AO) – The AO may review the decision of the DO, following appeal by either party, and make a subsequent determination. The AO will be as follows, or an appropriate designee:
      1. For an appeal in a complaint against staff employees, including temporary (hourly), the Vice President of Human Resources.
      2. For an appeal in a complaint against academic appointees, the campus Provost/Chancellor.
      3. For an appeal in a complaint against a Dean, a Vice Provost, or a Vice Chancellor, the President.
      4. For an appeal in a complaint against a Vice President, a Provost, a Chancellor, or equivalent, the Board of Trustees.
    5. Faculty Board of Review (FBR) –In faculty cases, following the determination of the AO, the faculty member may request a review by the campus FBR, which may review and issue a recommendation to the AO.
  3. Interim Action
    If, upon the receipt of a complaint, the Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator determines a need for immediate interim action, e.g. removal, reassignment, administrative leave, or suspension, they shall consult with DO and any other appropriate university officials. The DO may administer such interim action at any point in this process pending final outcome.
  4. Informal & Alternative Resolutions 
    1. Informal Action:
      In appropriate cases, the university may pursue informal actions in connection with reported sexual misconduct, including when the individual who may have experienced the conduct does not wish to pursue a formal complaint, and/or when there is not enough information to proceed with a formal complaint resolution process against a known Respondent. Informal actions will not result in findings related to responsibility or in sanctions, nor will an informal action preclude further steps, including formal resolution, if a complaint is later made or additional information is received by the university. Informal actions can include, but are not limited to, educational meetings, additional training, and/or continued monitoring. 
    2. Alternative Resolution Options:
      In appropriate cases, the university may pursue alternative resolution with the consent of all parties at any point in the complaint resolution process. These resolution options may include, but are not limited to facilitated mediation, development of an action plan, and other voluntary steps to resolve the matter. Under alternative resolution, the Complainant will not be required to resolve the problem directly with the Respondent, unless desired by the Complainant. All parties must be notified of the right to end the alternative resolution process at any time and to begin the formal process. Face-to-face mediation may not be required in cases involving any physical or sexual violence or where the complaint is made against an employee with a position of authority over the Complainant. The Investigator shall document the outcome of any alternative resolution and share with the Coordinator and the DO.
    3. Acceptance of Responsibility:
      In cases where the Respondent expresses a willingness to accept responsibility for any or all allegations in a case, the Respondent may be offered the opportunity to bypass the remainder of the investigatory stage of the complaint resolution process and agree to receive a sanction from the DO. In such situations, the parties will each be provided the opportunity to submit a written statement to the DO for consideration in determining appropriate sanctions. In determining sanctions in such cases, the DO shall consider only the allegations and parties’ written statements, the relevant facts gathered from the investigation, and past conduct history of the Respondent (if applicable). The right to appeal will be limited to an appeal on the grounds that the sanction is disproportionate to the violation(s) committed, in light of all relevant aggravating and mitigating factors, and in consideration of applicable university guidelines.
  5. Investigation
    1. Upon receipt of a signed formal complaint of sexual misconduct that falls within the scope of this policy, the university will take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate the allegations.
    2. The Investigator(s) will notify the Complainant and the Respondent.
    3. The Respondent shall be informed of the allegations made against them and shall be provided the opportunity to respond. The Respondent will be provided a date by which an appointment must be made to discuss the matter.
    4. The Investigator will conduct fact-finding as to the allegations made against the Respondent and will preserve all evidence collected.
    5. The investigation may include, but is not limited to, interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, and other witnesses identified as having information relevant to the allegations made, as well as the examination of written statements by the parties, relevant documents, and other relevant information. Information for the investigation may be provided by Complainant, Respondent, witnesses identified by any party, or the university. The Investigator shall ensure that the Respondent has been informed of all allegations raised and the name of the Complainant(s), and is provided the opportunity to respond.
    6. Prior or subsequent conduct of the Respondent may be included in the investigation and considered in determining pattern, knowledge, intent, or motive. The determination of the 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.
    7. All members of the university are expected to cooperate fully with the investigative process. Interference with the investigation may result in disciplinary measures pursuant to applicable university policy and procedure. Any individual believed to have information relevant to an investigation may be contacted and requested to make an appointment to discuss the matter.
  6. Report of Investigation
    1. Following the investigation, the Investigator will provide a Preliminary Investigation Report to the parties. At that time, the parties will be provided access to the Investigation File. The parties will be provided 10 calendar days to review the Preliminary Investigation Report and provide any additional and/or clarifying information to the Investigator. This period of 10 days will be the final opportunity for parties to submit any additional information to the Investigator.
    2. The Preliminary Investigation Report will include:
      1. the specific allegation(s);
      2. the Respondent’s response to the allegation(s);
      3. a summary of the relevant information gathered from the parties, witnesses and other sources; as well as explanation for any additional and/or clarifying information submitted or received that was determined not relevant for inclusion;
      4. an analysis of the information.
    3. At the conclusion of the 10-day period, the Investigator will review any additional information submitted that is directly related and make it available to both parties. The Investigator may incorporate such information into a Final Investigation Report.
    4. The Final Investigation Report will be submitted to the DO, and the parties will be provided the Final Investigation Report and notified of next steps in regard to the hearing.
    5. The investigation will be conducted in a reasonable timeframe given the circumstances of the specific case
  7. Selection of Advisors
    At any point in the investigation, but prior to the hearing, the Complainant and Respondent may select an advisor of their choice, and at their expense, to advise them throughout the sexual misconduct process. If a party does not have an advisor for the hearing, the university will provide one for them. The university-provided Hearing Advisor is selected by the university and will not necessarily be an attorney, even if the other party is represented by an attorney. The Hearing Advisor will have the opportunity to review all evidence collected in the investigation.
  8. Hearing
    1. The complaint resolution process will include a live hearing.  The hearing will be closed except for the parties, their advisors, the DO and Hearing Official, and other university officials necessary to facilitate the proceedings.  Witnesses will be expected to be available in-person or via video and audio for the portion of the hearing relevant to their statement. The hearing will be recorded. Deliberations following the hearing are not recorded.
    2. At the request of either party, the hearing may occur with the parties located in separate locations using technology for those involved to see and hear each other.
    3. Complainants and Respondents are not permitted to personally conduct questioning. Each party’s Hearing Advisor may ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions, including those challenging credibility. Questions must be verbal, direct, and in real time. The Hearing Official and the DO will make determinations as to the relevance of questions and may exclude a question as not relevant.
    4. If a party or witness does not submit to cross-examination at the live hearing, the DO must not rely on any statement of that party or witness in making a determination of responsibility and may not draw any inference based solely on the non-participation of any party or witness.
  9. Finding and Decision
    1. At the conclusion of a hearing, the DO, in consultation with the Hearing Official, shall deliberate without the parties present to determine responsibility for the specific allegations based on the evidence.
    2. If, after deliberations, the DO determines that the information contained in the Final Investigative Report and gathered during the hearing, does not support by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the Respondent is responsible for a violation of university policies, the DO will notify both the Respondent and the Complainant by means of a written notice. The Complainant and/or Respondent may request an appeal (see below).
    3. If, after deliberations, the DO determines that the information contained in the Final Investigative Report and gathered during the hearing, does support by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that the Respondent is responsible for a violation of university policies, the DO will make the final determination regarding appropriate sanctions. The DO will then notify the parties of the determination and sanctions by means of a written notice. The Respondent and/ or the Complainant may request an appeal (see below).
    4. The DO will issue one of the following findings, using a preponderance of the evidence standard:
      1. Finding of “No Violation” of the university’s policies:
        If there is a determination that the behavior alleged and investigated did not violate the university’s policies, the DO shall provide the parties written notice of the finding. Documentation regarding a finding of “No Violation” shall be maintained with the Deputy Title IX Coordinator’s office, and not in the employee’s personnel file.
      2. Finding of a “Violation” of the university’s policies:
        If there is a determination that the behavior alleged and investigated was in violation of the university’s policies, the DO shall issue the finding and sanction(s) based on the level of sanctions set forth below.
    5. The DO shall provide the parties written notice of the finding and any sanctions, if applicable.
  10. Sanctions
    1. Sanctions for violations of this policy include the following:
      1. Level One Sanctions include sanctions that do not directly modify job duties or actual salary, such as informal discussions, additional training, periodic review, letter to personnel file (other than to promotion and tenure dossier which is included in Level Two Sanctions below). Level One Sanctions shall not be appropriate in the event the Respondent was found responsible for sexual assault or other sexual violence.
      2. Level Two Sanctions include sanctions that directly modify job duties, salary or job status, including affecting compensation, consideration in tenure or promotion decisions, suspension, and termination.
    2. When determining the appropriate sanctions, consideration shall be given to the nature and severity of the behavior and the existence of any prior incidents or violations.
  11. Appeals
    1. Following the decision, either party may request an appeal to the Appellate Officer (AO) on the basis of:
      1. Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome;
      2. New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination was made and that reasonably could have affected the outcome;
      3. The Title IX Coordinator(s), Investigator(s), DO or hearing official had a conflict of interest or bias for or against the party(ies) that affected the outcome; and/or
      4. The sanction imposed is disproportionate to the violation(s) committed, in light of all relevant aggravating and mitigating factors, and in consideration of applicable university guidelines.
    2. A request for appeal must be submitted in writing to the AO within 10 calendar days of receiving the DO’s decision. The request must set forth the basis(es) for seeking an appeal and must include information to support such basis(es). If an appeal is requested, all parties will be notified and provided an opportunity to submit a written statement.
    3. The AO shall first determine whether the basis of appeal has been met, and if so, shall review the findings and any applicable sanctions, in making a decision.
    4. The AO shall make a final determination within 15 calendar days of the receipt of any appeal, indicating one of the following:
      1. Affirming the DO’s original finding(s).
      2. Setting aside the DO’s original finding(s) and imposing a new finding and/or sanctions.
      3. Setting aside the DO’s original finding(s) and ordering a new investigation (this option will generally be reserved for cases where significant procedural error has been identified to have affected the outcome).
    5. To the extent possible, the parties will be notified simultaneously in writing of the final decision following an appeal.
  12. Request for Faculty Board of Review following the AO’s Determination
    1. In cases involving a faculty member as a party, a faculty member sanctioned under this policy may submit a request for review by the Faculty Board of Review (FBR) following the determination of the AO. The request for review should be made according to the specific campus FBR policy, and campus FBR procedures will apply except as modified by the provisions below.
    2. The basis(es) for appeal are the same as those for appeal to the AO. The request for a FBR must set forth the basis(es) for seeking review and be submitted in writing within 15 calendar days of receiving the AO’s determination. For good cause shown, and bearing in mind the need for timely resolution, the timeframes set forth within these procedures may be extended. If a request for a FBR is submitted, the FBR shall notify the other party(ies), as well as the DO and the AO.
    3. The FBR will only receive the Final Investigation Report; the Investigation File; the written findings of the DO, along with comments submitted to the DO by any party named in the report; the written findings of the AO; and any sanctions. The FBR may not conduct new fact-finding. The FBR may seek training and additional information from the University Coordinator.
    4. Throughout the FBR process, hearing members and participants shall ensure that the privacy of the matter and the parties is upheld. If a hearing is held, it shall be closed to the public to protect the privacy of all parties. In addition to faculty members serving on the FBR hearing panel, others present during a hearing may include the party requesting review and that individual's advisor, the other party(ies) named in the report and their advisor(s), the DO, the University Coordinator,  Deputy Coordinator, and other university officials necessary to the proceedings. No witnesses will be allowed in the FBR. The grievant, the Complainant, and one designated university official have the right to present a statement to the FBR in writing or orally, either personally or through an advisor. If any participant elects to make a statement, the FBR may pose questions related to their statement, but the other participants may not.
    5. The FBR must be concluded promptly, and generally within 60 days of the request, absent special circumstances. After review, the FBR may recommend one of the following to the AO:
      1. Affirm the AO’s determination.
      2. Recommend an alternative finding and/or sanction.
      3. Recommend that the determination be set aside and a new investigation be conducted. (This option will generally be reserved for cases where significant procedural error has been identified and determined to have affected the outcome).
    6. To the extent possible, the parties will be notified simultaneously in writing of the FBR’s recommendation to the AO.
    7. Upon receipt of the FBR’s recommendation, along with any materials considered by the FBR, the AO will make a final determination within 10 calendar days, indicating one of the following:
      1. Affirming the prior determination on appeal.
      2. Setting aside the prior determination on appeal and imposing a new finding and/or sanctions.
      3. Setting aside the prior determination on appeal and ordering a new investigation (this option will generally be reserved for cases where significant procedural error has been identified to have affected the outcome).
    8. If the FBR recommends that the AO’s prior determination be modified, but the AO affirms the prior determination, the final determination shall be made by the President.  To the extent possible, the parties will be notified simultaneously in writing of the President’s final determination. This concludes the appeal process.
  13. Expectations for a Respectful Process
    Every individual involved in a proceeding under this policy is entitled to be treated with respect. All parties and their advisors are required to follow the rules and procedures put in place to ensure a fair and respectful process. No one may intentionally harass or intimidate any party or witness, and university officials are authorized to halt such behavior.