Formal Procedures for Investigating and Resolving Reports of Student Violations of the Policy
Timeframe for Formal Adjudication Process
The formal adjudication process for investigating and resolving reports of student violations of the Policy will be conducted as expeditiously as possible and normally will be completed within sixty (60) calendar days after receipt of the report, except where the Complainant agrees that a longer period of time would be appropriate, or circumstances require it. For the purposes of this Policy, the formal adjudication process includes the fact-finding investigation along with a hearing or other related decision-making process to determine if the alleged incident occurred and what actions the University must take in response. If and when an extension of the timeframe is required for good cause, written notice will be provided to the Complainant and Responding Party of the delay and the reason for the delay. If a Complainant and/or Responding Party withdraws from the University at any stage of the formal investigation, the University will continue its process as outlined in this Policy.
The University may need to delay temporarily the fact-finding portion of the investigation if and when law enforcement authorities are gathering evidence. The length of time for evidence gathering by law enforcement authorities will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Protective measures can be pursued during this time. Both the Complainant and Responding Party will be updated on the status of the investigation, including when it is resumed.
The Complainant and Responding Party are each permitted to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice to any meeting or disciplinary proceeding (including, but not limited to, fact finding investigations, formal or informal meetings, hearings and/or mediations sessions). An advisor is an individual (friend, parent, attorney or anyone else) who provides the Complainant and Responding Party respectively with support, guidance or advice. The advisor is not permitted to be an active participant in meetings or disciplinary proceedings. The University may remove or dismiss advisors who become disruptive or who do not abide by the restrictions on their participation. It is the responsibility of the Complainant and Responding Party to provide notice of meetings or disciplinary proceedings to their respective advisor. Meetings and/or disciplinary proceedings generally will not be canceled or delayed because an advisor could not be present. However, reasonable requests to reschedule based on compelling circumstances may be considered.
Confidentiality of the Investigation
In order to comply with laws and regulations protecting education records of students and to provide an orderly process for the determination and consideration of relevant evidence without undue intimidation or pressure, the investigation findings are confidential. Investigation findings may not be disclosed except as described below or as required or authorized by law or as may be authorized by the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) in connection with responsibilities of the University.
The investigation process will proceed as follows:
- Assignment of Investigator: The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will assign the matter to a trained investigator or investigators (the “Investigator”) to promptly, fairly and impartially investigate the report. Investigator training is provided at least annually on issues including, but not limited to, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; how to conduct investigations; protecting safety of all individuals involved, and promoting accountability.
- Conduct of the Investigator: The Investigator will promptly, fairly and impartially investigate the report. The Investigator may not privately discuss the facts or merits of the case with the Complainant or Responding Party or with anyone acting on behalf of the Complainant or Responding Party. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will provide the Investigator with a written copy of the report and any other supporting material.
- Initiation of the Investigation: The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will notify the Complainant and Responding Party, in writing, of the commencement of an investigation under the AHND Policy. Such Notice shall (1) identify the Complainant(s), when the Complainant is otherwise not anonymous, and the Responding Party(ies); (2) specify the date(s)(if known), time(s) (if known), location(s), and nature of the alleged violation(s); (3) identify potential Policy violation(s); (4) identify the Investigator(s); (5) inform the parties of the right to choose and consult with an advisor, who can accompany the parties to any meeting or hearing under the Policy; (6) explain the prohibition against Retaliation; (7) instruct the parties to preserve any potentially relevant evidence in any format; and (8) provide the parties with a copy of the Policy. Note the Department of Public Safety’s contemporaneous response to an incident and any information or statements collected by the Department of Public Safety in response to an incident shall be considered by the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) as part of a determination to initiate an investigation. Both parties will be afforded seven (7) calendar days in which to provide a written response to the Notice of Investigation. A copy of this response will be provided to investigators and will be included in the final investigation report. During this seven (7) day period, the investigation may proceed forward.
- Interviews: The investigation will include, where permissible, interviews of (1) the Complainant, (2) the Responding Party, and (3) any witnesses and other persons who are identified as possibly having relevant information related to the allegation, and who agree to be interviewed. The investigation also will include a review of relevant documentation and other information the Investigator deems relevant.
- Investigation Report: The Investigator will prepare a written report (the “Investigation Report”) concerning the results of the investigation. The Investigation Report will be distributed to the Complainant, the Responding Party, and the Title IX Coordinator (or a designee). If a Board hearing is held, the Board will also be provided with a copy of the Investigation Report. Both parties may respond in writing to the Investigation Report within seven (7) calendar days of the delivery date of the Investigation Report. Any response will be delivered to the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) for review.
- Determination of Charges: The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) reviews the Investigation Report and any response, consult with the Investigator, and make a determination of whether sufficient facts exist to warrant a Formal Hearing. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) also will determine what charges (e.g., “Discrimination,” “Sexual Assault,” “Sexual Misconduct,” or other forms of “Sexual Harassment” or other “Harassment,” or “Intimate Partner Violence” or “Stalking”), if any, will be referred for a Formal Hearing. That determination will be communicated in writing to the Complainant and Responding Party in the form of the Notice of Charges or other written communication as appropriate.
A Complainant whose request for Formal Adjudication is denied may appeal that denial to the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) within five (5) calendar days. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will then review the report and the Investigator’s report and all other available case material. The decision of the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) on the appeal is final and not the subject of further appeal.
- Notice of Charges: If a Formal Hearing is deemed necessary, the Office of Community Standards will commence the hearing process by providing written notice to the Responding Party (“Notice of Charges”) stating: (1) the nature of the report; (2) the offense alleged (including references, as applicable, to the Standards of Conduct allegedly violated); (3) the name of the Complainant; (4) the date, time and place of the Formal Hearing; (5) the date, time, and place of the pre-hearing meeting at which preliminary matters will be discussed as outlined in the “Pre-hearing Meeting(s) and Determination of Witnesses” section that follows; and (6) the names of the Board members (the “Board”), including the presiding chair. The Notice of Charges is emailed to the Responding Party’s official university email address and is considered effective three (3) calendar days after such mailing or otherwise when actually received by the Responding Party, whichever occurs first. The Notice of Charges is simultaneously emailed to the Complainant’s official university email address (if applicable), along with the date, time, and place of a separate pre-hearing meeting at which preliminary matters will be discussed.
- Request to Terminate the Investigation: Upon mutual consent, the Complainant and Responding Party may seek to terminate a formal investigation, but the Title IX Coordinator (or designee), in consultation with the Investigator, may nevertheless determine, in his judgment and discretion, that the interests of the University community require the continuation of the formal investigation.