Academic Appointee and Staff Sexual Misconduct - University Complaint Resolution Procedures

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

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

    1. Investigator – The Deputy Coordinator 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. Decisional Official (DO) – The DO will issue the decision determining responsibility and assigning 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.
    3. Appellate Official (AO) – The AO may review the decision of the campus 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.
    4. Faculty Board of Review (FBR) – In faculty cases, following the decision 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. Initial Assessment
    1. Upon receipt of a report alleging that an employee has engaged in sexual misconduct, an Investigator will conduct an initial assessment to determine whether it falls within the scope of this policy, and whether the conduct alleged rises to the level of an allegation of sexual misconduct. If a complaint raises allegations that are outside the scope of this policy, but may violate other university policy(ies), the Investigator will refer the complaint to the appropriate university office.
    2. In the event the Investigator determines not to pursue an investigation under this policy, that decision may be appealed by either party to the DO, requesting a review of the decision not to proceed with an investigation. Upon review, the DO may uphold that decision or order an investigation to proceed.
    3. In the event the Investigator determines that the allegations fall within the scope of this policy, the process that follows shall apply.
  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 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 investigation process. These resolution options may include, but are not limited to mediation, development of an action plan, and voluntary resolution of 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 used 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 University Coordinator and the DO.

    3. Acceptance of Responsibility:
      1. In cases where the Respondent expresses a willingness to accept responsibility for any or all allegations in a case, the Respondent will be offered the opportunity to bypass the remainder of the investigatory stage of the grievance 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.
      2. 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. Interim Action

    If, upon the receipt of a complaint, the Coordinator, or their designee, determines a need for immediate interim action, e.g. removal, reassignment, administrative leave, or suspension, they shall consult with the DO and any other appropriate university officials. The DO may administer such interim action at any point in this process pending final outcome.

  6. Investigation
    1. Following the initial assessment, if a formal investigation is initiated, the Investigator(s) will notify the Complainant and the Respondent. 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.
    2. The Investigator will conduct fact-finding as to the allegations made against the Respondent  and will preserve all evidence collected.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
  7. 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 additional and/or clarifying 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 information submitted or received that was determined not relevant for inclusion; and
      4. An analysis of the information.
    3. At the conclusion of the 10-day period, the Investigator will review the information submitted by either party and determine whether and to what extent to incorporate such information into a Final Investigation Report. The Investigator will then finalize the Final Investigation Report and include a recommendation as to whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the alleged violation(s) of this policy, using a preponderance of the evidence standard (more likely than not); and a recommendation as to appropriate sanctions, if any, as set forth below.
    4. The Investigator will provide the Final Investigation Report to the DO, as well as to each party.
  8. Finding and Decision
    1. Upon receiving the Final Investigation Report, the DO shall issue a finding. The DO may consult with the Investigator concerning the investigation and recommendations. The DO will provide each party the opportunity to meet and provide comment and make a statement.  If the DO wishes further consultation with the parties, the Investigator will facilitate consultations to ensure equal opportunities is provided for the parties. 
    2. The DO will issue one of the following findings, using a preponderance of the evidence standard:
      1. Finding of “No Violation”:

        If there is a determination that the behavior alleged and investigated did not violate this policy, the DO shall provide the parties written notice of the finding. In the event the investigation reveals that the employee may have violated a different university policy, the DO may address any such potential violation through other applicable university policies. Documentation regarding a finding of “No Violation” shall be maintained with the campus Deputy Title IX Coordinator’s office, and not in the employee’s personnel file.

      2. Finding of a “Violation”:

        If there is a determination that the behavior alleged and investigated was in violation of this policy, the DO shall issue the finding and sanction(s) based on the level of sanctions set forth below.

    3. The DO shall provide the parties written notice of the finding and any sanctions, if applicable.
  9. Sanctions
    1. Sanctions for a violation 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.
  10. Appeals
    1. Following the decision, either party may appeal to the Appellate Officer (AO) on the basis of:
      1. Significant procedural error that reasonably would have affected the outcome.
      2. Newly discovered evidence that reasonably would have affected the outcome.
      3. Significant bias in the process.
      4. The finding of responsibility is not supported by the evidence in the Investigation Report.
      5. The appropriateness of the sanctions.
    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.
    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 determination.
    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 determination following an appeal.
  11. Request for Faculty Board of Review
    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 bases 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.
  12. 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.