You feel as if you are being harassed or otherwise discriminated against based on sex/gender, stalking or relationship violence. What do you do? Sometimes the best answer is to talk to that person, to try to work things out before they go too far. Sometimes simply asking someone to “stop” is enough to get them to stop. For instance, someone might not realize a certain term is offensive.
But talking is not always a good idea. Some problems are so serious that you need the University’s help. For instance, you cannot “talk out” a sexual assault, and no one would want you to try. If you are not sure whether it would be a good idea to try to resolve a situation on your own, contact the Title IX Coordinator, the Dean of Students Office or the Violence Prevention & Action Center Coordinator for advice.
The University is always ready to help when someone believes the Sexual Harassment/Interpersonal Violence policy has been violated. A question you need to ask yourself is:
“What do I want the University to do?” You might want the University to take official action to remedy the situation. If you have seen or been a victim of an incident of discrimination, you can file a complaint with the Title IX Coordinator asking the University to remedy/fix the situation. Doing so triggers the Complaint Process.
You might want to talk to someone secure in the knowledge that they will not share your story with University officials. In other words, you may not want the University to take action. You may just want to talk to someone. If so, you can contact the University Counseling Center, a doctor at the Health Center or an ordained member of the clergy acting in such capacity. These individuals can keep your information confidential.
You might want to speak with a member of the University’s Violence Prevention and Action Center (VPAC). Staff members of this office are private, non-confidential resources who do not have to share any identifying information with the University unless in the rare event of a threat to campus-wide safety or your immediate physical well-being.
You might want to seek advice from a professor, supervisor, RA, or another University employee you trust. If that is your choice, you need to know that almost all University employees are “responsible employees” and are required to report incidents of sexual harassment and interpersonal violence to the University. So, if you talk about an incident with an employee other than a counselor, doctor or an ordained member of the clergy acting in such capacity, that employee must share part or all of what you said with the Title IX Coordinator. Responsible employees must report all relevant details of the incident to the Title IX Coordinator, including names of those involved, date, time and location of the incident (if known).
If you wish to request that no investigation be conducted, you should notify the responsible employee of such a request at the time you make your report. The responsible employee will inform the Title IX Coordinator of your request. Please keep in mind that honoring your request may limit the University’s ability to meaningfully respond.
The University always acts on a complaint or report of harassment or discrimination. But the type of action it takes depends on the facts of each case.
When a complaint or report is made the Title IX Coordinator acts as a “gatekeeper.” Their first job is to look at the facts to see if, assuming they are true, they might violate the Sexual Harassment/Interpersonal Violence Policy. Not every wrongful act is sufficient to violate the policy. If the answer is “no,” the process/investigation ends.
The Title IX Coordinator will inform the parties, the complainant (the “reporting party”) and the accused party (the “responding party”) if known, of the outcome.
If the conduct may violate some other University policy or otherwise merit some action, they will pass the complaint on to the appropriate officials. If the answer is “yes,” they will inform the parties involved and determine what the next steps should be.
What the next steps are depends on the facts of each case. If the Title IX Coordinator thinks this complaint may be one that could be resolved informally using something like a mediation, and if both parties agree, informal resolution is a possibility.
If informal resolution is not a possibility or does not work, the Title IX Coordinator will assign the case to a specially trained investigatory team to investigate the facts. The team will interview the parties and others with information about what happened. It will also gather other materials (e.g., texts, emails, etc.) that may help show what happened.
Both parties have the option of participating as much or as little in the process as they choose, but choosing not to participate typically makes it more difficult for the University to learn about the case in greater detail.
Both parties are also permitted to have a support person present, including a licensed attorney, during any meetings or interviews, but the support person is not permitted to speak during any interviews or proceedings.
The team will compile all of the evidence it has gathered into an investigative report. You will be able to review a draft copy of the report before it is finalized.
The finalized report will be sent to the Associate of Dean of Students, who will convene a Complaint Review Panel to determine responsibility and possible disciplinary actions, if appropriate.
The Complaint Review Panel will make its determination of “responsible” or “not responsible” based on the preponderance of the evidence standard, that is, whether it is more likely than not that the University’s Sexual Harassment/ Interpersonal Violence Policy has been violated.
Once the Complaint Review Panel has made its determination of responsibility and sanction(s), if appropriate, it will notify the Title IX Coordinator and the Title IX Coordinator will provide both parties a notice of outcome that outlines the findings and disciplinary actions.
The reporting party will also be informed of any actions taken or recommended to resolve the complaint, if any, that are directly related to them, such as a recommendation that the responding party not contact them.
The responding party will also be informed of actions taken or recommended to resolve the complaint and will be notified of referrals for disciplinary action and recommended disciplinary action.
An appeal will be granted only if:
- A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the investigation; and/or
- To consider new information, unknown or unavailable during the original investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or disciplinary action; and/or
- The disciplinary sanction(s) imposed are substantially outside the parameters or guidelines set by the University for this type of violation or the cumulative conduct record of the respondent.