12.3.5. Grievance Process

This section outlines steps in the grievance process to be carried out by the University when a formal complaint is filed for violation of this policy. The formal complaint may be initiated by someone who reports their own experience of sexual misconduct directly to the University and seeks to file a complaint, or someone who is advised of their right to file a complaint after a report has been made by a third party. The University may also elect to move forward with a complaint independently and act as a University complainant.

By reporting an incident to a University official, the Title IX coordinator will be notified and, with appropriate University officials, will take immediate action to ensure safety and minimize recurrence of any sexual misconduct and/or violence. All reports of sexual misconduct will be treated seriously. The Title IX Coordinator will make an initial determination whether the reported conduct appropriately falls under this policy (such determination may be revisited throughout the process), and begin engaging parties involved. The Title IX Coordinator will offer supportive measures, as described below, and respond meaningfully to all reports of sexual misconduct regardless of whether a party wants to move forward with the grievance process.

The grievance process provides for a prompt and equitable resolution to complaints of sexual misconduct. All parties are expected to fully participate and adhere to proscribed timeframes. Proceedings may continue without a party’s participation in the case of untimely participation, untimely response, or refusal to participate. Timeframe exemptions may be allowed for good cause at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator or Hearing Coordinator.

The University is committed to a fair and equal process for all parties. A student responding to a complaint is presumed not responsible, throughout the grievance process until otherwise determined by the appropriate decision makers or the Respondent admits responsibility. The burden of proof for a violation of the sexual misconduct policy is a preponderance of the evidence, and such burden rests on the University. The Title IX Coordinator, assigned Investigator, and decision makers must not have any conflicts of interest or bias against the Complainant and Respondent. All parties are expected to be truthful in statements and participation in the reporting, complaint, and grievance process. Dishonesty or false statements will not be tolerated and may impact and individual’s rights or standing in the process in addition to consequences in student code of conduct.

The University will make and retain records of reports, complaints, and relevant portions of the grievance process in accordance with the University records retention policy. Parties are prohibited from making their own copies or recordings of meetings, hearings, or any documents not submitted by themselves. This includes, but is not limited to, audio, video, and photographic means of duplication.

12.3.5.1. Complaint Intake & Initial Meetings

The Complainant and the Respondent will both be asked to meet with the Title IX Coordinator to discuss a potential grievance process and review any questions they may have. The Title IX Coordinator will provide the Complainant and Respondent with written information about the process, including a statement of rights and information on available support resources. Both parties will be asked to provide written statements to the Title IX Coordinator at or after the initial meeting. The Title IX Coordinator will designate a reasonable timeline for the statements and paperwork to be completed. A complaint may not be considered formally filed until all paperwork is complete.

Once the initial meetings have taken place, and the initial information has been received, the Title IX Coordinator will notify both parties if the University will open an investigation, and provide information in writing containing sufficient details to permit them to prepare for an interview and factual investigation. The Title IX Coordinator will assign an Investigator and share the Investigator’s name and contact information with the Complainant and the Respondent. The complaint and any other relevant information will be forwarded to the Investigator.

12.3.5.2. Investigation

Upon being appointed, the Investigator will promptly begin his or her investigation. The investigation may involve conducting interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, and witnesses; collecting and preserving relevant evidence (in cases of corresponding criminal complaints, this step may be coordinated with law enforcement agencies); reviewing law enforcement investigation documents reviewing student and personnel files; or other appropriate steps taken in an investigation. The investigation will be adequate, reliable, impartial, and prompt, and include the opportunity for both parties to present witnesses and other evidence.

The Complainant and the Respondent will receive written notice in advance of any interview and be provided sufficient time to prepare for meaningful participation (and/or to reschedule within one week). All parties and witnesses are expected to cooperate with the investigation. Failure to attend, failure to reschedule meetings, or undue delay may result in proceeding without participation.

Throughout the investigation, the Complainant and Respondent will be provided periodic status updates where appropriate. During the investigation, all parties will be treated equitably. All investigations will be kept as confidential as possible and any information gathered during the investigation is disclosed only on a “need to know” basis

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will prepare the investigative report. The investigative report will summarize the relevant exculpatory and inculpatory evidences. The report may include, but is not limited to, items such as summaries of all interviews conducted, photographs, descriptions of relevant evidence, summaries of relevant electronic records, and a detailed report of the events in question.

The Investigator will provide both parties with timely and equal access to review the written report with the Investigator to make any necessary modifications/corrections. Both the Complainant and Respondent have the opportunity to respond in writing to the report. The Title IX Coordinator may ask for further clarifying questions of the Complainant, Respondent, or Witnesses to supplement the investigative report.

12.3.5.3. Review of Investigative Report

The Title IX Coordinator will review the final investigative report and determine whether there is sufficient information to support charging the Respondent with a violation(s) of policy. If a determination is made that the available information will not support a violation, then the Respondent will not be charged, and the Complainant and Respondent will simultaneously be provided written notice of that determination.

If the Title IX Coordinator determines that there is sufficient evidence that a Respondent may have committed a violation of this policy, then the Title IX Coordinator will refer the matter to the Hearing Coordinator, who will then begin the process of convening a Hearing Panel. The determination to refer a case to the Hearing Coordinator does not predetermine that the Respondent is or will be found responsible for a policy violation.

The Title IX Coordinator may also offer an Informal Resolution at this point.

12.3.5.4. Hearing Coordinator & General Rules for Hearings

The Hearing Coordinator is charged with coordinating and overseeing the hearing process, appeals process, and resulting sanctions and/or remedies. The Hearing Coordinator has full discretion in the administration of all aspects outlined in this Section through Section 12.3.5.10, and wherever it may be necessary, in order to ensure a fair, orderly, and efficient process.

The Hearing Coordinator will convene a Hearing Panel, which is comprised of three impartial individuals employed by the University. The hearing will be closed to all but the Hearing Coordinator, the Hearing Panel, the Title IX Coordinator, the Complainant, the Respondent, the Advisors and/or Advocates if applicable, the Investigator, and the Witnesses.

The Hearing Coordinator will schedule the hearing in a timely manner and at a date and time where all necessary parties are available. The Hearing Coordinator will secure a space that is appropriate, private, and provides sufficient space for the parties to confer and the witnesses to wait.

The Hearing Coordinator will recognize an individual before they are permitted to speak at the hearing. No interruptions will be tolerated, and the Hearing Coordinator may remove any individual who is speaking out of turn or becoming disruptive. Parties are instructed and expected to submit all relevant evidence during the investigation phase, however if a party requests to introduce a new statement or evidence at the hearing, the Hearing Coordinator will make a determination about whether it is relevant, and whether its introduction at the hearing is for good reason. The Hearing Coordinator may admit the new statement or evidence and if necessary, may grant a recess or reschedule the hearing to allow both parties and the hearing panel time to review the new information. Brief breaks may be requested by either party or the Hearing Panel.

12.3.5.5. Hearing Procedure

The Hearing Panel will typically convene prior to the start of the hearing to review the investigative report and prepare questions. All hearings will generally follow the order of business listed below. Variations may occur depending on the circumstances of an individual case.
• The Hearing Coordinator will make introductions.
• The Hearing Coordinator will explain the hearing process.
• The Complainant may make an opening statement.
• The Respondent may make an opening statement.
• The Hearing Panel will ask questions of the Complainant.
• The Hearing Panel will ask questions of the Respondent.
• The Hearing Coordinator may call for a break where both parties meet privately with their respective Advisor/Advocate and submit any questions that they would like for the Hearing Panel to consider putting forth to the other party.
• The Hearing Coordinator will call any Witnesses to be questioned by the Hearing Panel.
• The Hearing Panel may pose further questions to either party in no particular order.
• The Complainant may make a final statement.
• The Respondent may make a final statement.
• The Hearing Coordinator will dismiss all participants.
• The Hearing Panel will deliberate.

12.3.5.6. Deliberation and Decision Making

At the conclusion of the live hearing, the Hearing Panel will deliberate in private to determine if any violation(s) of policy occurred. If it is not possible for the Panel to make a decision on the same day as the hearing, the Panel will reconvene as soon as possible and shall meet until a decision is reached. The decision of the Hearing Panel shall be decided by majority vote, and responsibility will be determined based on a preponderance of the evidence.
The Hearing Panel will base its decision solely on the participants’ statements, the investigative report, information presented at the hearing, and University policy and procedure. When there is more than one alleged code violation, the hearing panel will evaluate each charge separately. The Hearing Panel will make a finding whether the Respondent is:
• “Not Responsible.” The Respondent will be found not responsible when the Hearing Panel determines that it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior did not occur, and/or the alleged behavior occurred but was not in violation of University policy; or

• “Responsible.” The Respondent will be found responsible when the Hearing Panel determines that it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior did occur and that the behavior was in violation of University policy.
The Hearing Panel will make a determination of appropriate sanctions and/or remedies based on the facts of the case. The Hearing Coordinator and Title IX Coordinator may be present at deliberations to consult and ensure sanctions are consistent with relevant policies and historical institutional practices.

12.3.5.7. Sanctions and Remedies

The Hearing Panel may impose sanctions and/or remedies, including, but not limited to those set forth below. Specific requirements of each sanction will be determined by the Hearing Panel to most appropriately fit each finding. Based on the discretion of the Hearing Coordinator and Title IX Coordinator, the Hearing Panel may also consider prior conduct, complaints, and disciplinary history when determining severity of sanctions. Multiple sanctions may be imposed depending on the number and severity of responsible findings in each case. The Respondent may be imposed:

• Warning.
• Social probation, which may include restriction from particular buildings, areas of campus, and/or University activities.
• Educational requirements focused on substance use, anger management or other issues.
• Behavior contracts.
• Residential restriction or expulsion.
• Academic restriction, which may limit registration time or course selection.
• Suspension from the University with possible re-enrollment requirements or restrictions.
• Expulsion.

12.3.5.8. Notification of Decision

The Hearing Coordinator will provide a simultaneous written decision letter to both parties detailing the findings, sanctions, and remedies as determined by the Hearing Panel. The letter will include the process and deadline for submitting an appeal by either party.
Copies of the hearing decision may also be sent to the Dean of Students, Director of Campus Safety, and Director of Human Resources (in cases involving employees), and others as needed depending on the nature of any sanctions.

12.3.5.9. Appeal

Both the Respondent and Complainant may appeal the Hearing Panel decision. An appeal must be made in writing within five (5) business days of receipt of the decision letter.

The Hearing Coordinator will notify the Complainant or the Respondent if the other party submits an appeal and provide them with a copy of the appeal to be reviewed on campus. If either party is unable to come to campus, the Hearing Coordinator in conjunction with the Advocate/Advisor, may coordinate a remote review of the appeal. The non-appealing party will have five (5) business days from review of the appeal to prepare and submit a written response, if they choose to do so.

Upon receipt of an appeal and any response (or upon exhaustion of the deadline for a party to provide a written response), the Hearing Coordinator will call together an Appeals Committee to review the appeal and any written response. The three-member committee shall consist of the University President, serving as chair, and two members of the hearing panel pool (who did not serve on the original Hearing Panel) as selected by the Hearing Coordinator.
An appeal may be made on one or more of the following grounds only:

a. There was a process or procedural error made that was significantly prejudicial to the outcome of the hearing as it affects the appealing party.

b. New evidence, that was not available or known to the appealing party at the time of the hearing, has arisen, which when considered, may materially alter the outcome. Note: Evidence that the appealing student chose not to present at the time of the investigation is not considered new information.

c. The sanctions were not appropriate for the specific policy violation for which the Respondent was found responsible.

An appeal is not a new hearing and the Appeals Committee will meet alone with the support of the Hearing Coordinator and Title IX Coordinator who can provide any requested information. The Appeals Committee will consider the merits of the appeal based only on the written appeal request, the hearing recording, written records of the case, and the Respondent’s prior disciplinary history (if the appeal is based on the appropriateness of the sanction) in making its decision. Based on these materials, the Appeals Committee will:

a. Reject the appeal if the Committee finds that the grounds for an appeal are unsubstantiated; or

b. Reject the appeal if the Committee finds that any procedural errors were minor in nature and would not have altered the outcome of the hearing or the sanctions imposed; or

c. Modify the sanction(s) if they are found to be inappropriate; or

d. Remand the case to the Hearing Panel for further deliberation if new evidence, as described above, has arisen. In such cases the original Hearing Panel will be reconvened as soon as possible. If a member of the original panel is no longer available, the Hearing Coordinator will select a new member from the hearing panel pool; or

e. Remand the case to the Investigator, or a new Investigator, then to a Hearing Panel for further deliberation if new evidence, as described above, has arisen.

f. Remand the case to a new Hearing Panel for a new hearing when a substantial procedural error is determined to have occurred and has unfairly influenced the original hearing.

Once the Appeals Committee has made its decision, the Chair will notify the Respondent, the Complainant, the Hearing Panel, and the Dean of Students of its decision in writing. The Appeals Committee’s decision is final and there are no further appeals permitted by either party.

12.3.5.10. Record of Process

An audio recording will be made of the hearing for the use of the Hearing Panel and the Appeals Committee. The audio recording and copies of all statements, evidence, and letters associated with the hearing will be maintained by the Hearing Coordinator in a case file in accordance with the University’s record retention policy for a period of seven years after the conclusion of the case.

The hearing decision letter and the appeal decision letter, if applicable, will be kept in the Respondent’s discipline file in accordance with the University’s record retention for a period of seven years after the conclusion of the case. In cases where the sanction is expulsion or suspension, the hearing decision letter and appeal decision letter, if applicable, will be kept in the Respondent’s permanent file.