COMPLAINT/GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

 These procedures are intended to apply to all grievances involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and sexual misconduct as described in this Policy, including, but not limited to, those brought by a student against an employee and/or fellow student, employee against fellow employee and/or student, and third party against employee and/or student.  All other grievances by students, employees, or third parties shall be addressed through other grievance procedures.  The University of Arkansas Fort Smith (hereafter the University) benefits from formal and informal procedures that encourage prompt resolution of Complaints and concerns raised by members of the University community.

 

INFORMAL COMPLAINT PROCESS

The University does not require a Complainant to utilize the Informal Complaint Process if doing so is impracticable or unsafe, or if the Complainant believes that the conduct cannot be effectively addressed through informal means.  For example, the Informal Complaint Process should not be used to address allegations of sexual assault.  However, in other circumstances where it is practical and safe to do so, every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve issues with students, faculty, staff, and administrators before pursuing the Formal Complaint Process.  Under the Informal Complaint Process, a Complainant may elect to resolve his/her Complaint by discussing it with the offending party.  A mediated meeting is an option under the informal process, so long as the allegation does not involve a sexual assault.   If the offending party is an employee and satisfactory resolution cannot be reached after discussion, the Complainant may also contact the individual’s direct supervisor to resolve the Complaint.  If these efforts are unsuccessful, the Formal Complaint Process may be initiated. 

 

FORMAL COMPLAINT PROCESS

Upon receiving a report of alleged or possible violation of this Policy, the Title IX Coordinator and/or Deputies (hereafter the Title IX Coordinator) will evaluate the information received and determine what further actions should be taken.  The Title IX Coordinator will follow the procedures described in this Policy.  The Title IX Coordinator will take steps, either directly with the complainant or through a reporting employee, to provide information about the University’s Complaint/Grievance Procedure, as well as available health and advocacy resources and options for criminal reporting.  A packet of information containing all of these materials is available and may be requested by calling the Title IX Coordinator at 788-7310.   

 

Investigation

The Title IX Coordinator will be responsible for overseeing the prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution of Complaints filed with the University.  The Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee(s) will investigate all Complaints of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and sexual misconduct and determine any accommodations or other remedial short-term actions necessary in light of the individual circumstances presented. 

 

The Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee(s) will apprise the Human Resources Director and senior manager in the appropriate division or department of the Complaint, or if the Complaint is against a student, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, before beginning the investigation.

 

The Title IX Coordinator, who will have been properly trained, will:

 

  • identify the correct policies allegedly violated;
  • conduct an immediate initial investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to charge the Respondent(s);
  • meet with the Complainant to finalize the Complaint;
  • prepare the notice of charges on the basis of initial investigation;
  • develop a strategic investigation plan which may include a witness list, an evidence list, an intended timeframe, and an order of interviews for all witnesses, including the Respondent;
  • conduct a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation during which witnesses may or may not be given notice prior to the interview;
  • complete the investigation promptly, and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline;
  • prepare a complete report on the investigation and findings.

 

The investigator(s) will then make a decision as to whether a Title IX violation(s) occurred, based on a preponderance of evidence standard, which indicates that it is more likely than not that a Policy violation occurred or did not occur.  If the determination is that a violation(s) was committed, the investigator(s) will identify appropriate remedies and sanctions, if any. 

 

As noted above, an investigation of the Complaint will be conducted by the Title IX Coordinator unless it is clear from the face of the Complaint or the Title IX Coordinator’s initial meetings with the parties that no reasonable grounds exist for believing that the conduct at issue violates this Policy.

 

In the event that the Complaint was made by someone other than the alleged victim, the Title IX Coordinator will consider the following factors in determining whether it is reasonable to investigate the Complaint:

 

  • the source and nature of the information,
  • the seriousness of the alleged incident,
  • the specificity of the information,
  • the objectivity and credibility of the source of the information,
  • whether the alleged victims can be identified, and
  • whether those individuals wish to pursue the matter.

 

In the event that the Title IX Coordinator determines that an investigation of the Complaint should not be conducted, he/she will determine and document (in consultation, as necessary, with the alleged victim, the Respondent, and any other University administrators) the appropriate resolution of the Complaint and inform the parties of the same.

 

With all Complaints, if the Title IX Coordinator determines that an investigation should be conducted, the Title IX Coordinator will promptly investigate the matter.  The existence of concurrent criminal investigations or proceedings shall not materially delay the investigation of any Complaint filed under this Policy.

 

The Title IX Coordinator may assign one or more investigators to investigate the matter.  The Title IX Coordinator will share the investigators’ name and contact information with the alleged victim and the Respondent and will forward the Complaint to the investigator.  Within three (3) business days of such appointment, the investigator, the alleged victim or the Respondent may identify to the Title IX Coordinator in writing any real or perceived conflicts of interest posed by assigning such investigator to the matter.  The Title IX Coordinator will carefully consider such statements and will assign a different individual as investigator if it is determined that a material conflict of interest exists.

 

Upon receipt of the Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will promptly begin the investigation, which shall include, but is not limited to, the following:

 

  • conducting interviews with the Complainant, the alleged victim (if not the Complainant), the Respondent, and third-party witnesses (including expert witnesses, where applicable) and summarizing such interviews in written  form;
  • visiting, inspecting, and taking photographs at relevant sites; and
  • where applicable, collecting and preserving relevant evidence (in cases of corresponding criminal reports, this step may be coordinated with law enforcement agencies)

 

Throughout the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will remain neutral.  The Title IX Coordinator will obtain, where applicable and where possible, the written consent of any third-party witnesses to the disclosure, as contemplated by this Policy, of any personally identifiable information contained in the Complaint, the Investigative Report, and for any other documents, in order to further the resolution of the Complaints.

 

Initial Meeting with Complainant and/or Alleged Victim

As soon as is practicable, the Title IX Coordinator will contact the Complainant and the alleged victim (if not the Complainant) to schedule an initial meeting to, as applicable:

 

  • provide a copy of this Policy;
  • provide a copy of the Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Complaint Form (a copy of which is attached as Exhibit A) on which the Complainant may, if he or she agrees to, disclose the information, provide details regarding the allegation, including the name of the accused individual and the date, location and general nature of the alleged violation of Policy (the Complaint Form may be completed by Complainant or dictated to the Title IX Coordinator, who will confirm the accuracy of his or her documentation with the Complainant);
  • explain avenues for resolution;
  • explain the steps involved in an investigation under this Policy;
  • discuss confidentiality standards and concerns;
  • determine whether the Complainant or the alleged victim (if not the Complainant) wish to pursue a resolution through the University or no resolution of any kind;
  • refer to law enforcement, counseling, medical, academic or other resources, as appropriate; and
  • discuss, as appropriate, possible interim measures that can be provided during the pendency of the investigative and resolution processes. 

 

Interim Measures 

Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, the Title IX Coordinator will promptly issue a “No Contact” order to all parties upon notice of any violence or sexual assault Complaint.  In all cases, the University may implement any necessary interim measures, deemed appropriate and reasonably available, regardless of whether a Complaint has been filed (with either campus administrators or law enforcement agencies) or whether an investigation has commenced (by either campus administrators or law enforcement agencies).  Interim measures may include, but are not limited to:

 

  • issuing no-contact orders;
  • providing an escort to ensure that an individual can move safely between classes, work, and/or activities;
  • reassigning on-campus housing;
  • dissolving a campus housing contract and offering a pro-rated refund;
  • changing work arrangements or location;
  • rescheduling class work, assignments, and examinations;
  • arranging for the Complainant to take an incomplete in a class;
  • reassigning class sections;
  • permitting a temporary withdrawal from the University;
  • providing alternative course completion options;
  • providing counseling services; and
  • providing academic support services.

 

Following the initial meeting with the Complainant and the alleged victim (if not the Complainant), the Title IX Coordinator will, if applicable, promptly determine the interim measures to be provided to the alleged victim.  Such determination will be promptly communicated to the alleged victim, and no later than the point at which it is communicated to the Respondent. 

 

Initial Meeting with Respondent

If the Complainant or alleged victim (if not the Complainant) wishes to pursue resolution through the University, or if the University otherwise deems that a further investigation is warranted, as soon as is reasonably practicable after the Title IX Coordinator’s initial meeting with the Complainant (and, if applicable, the alleged victim), the Title IX Coordinator will schedule an initial meeting with the Respondent.  During the initial meeting with the Respondent, the Investigator will, as applicable:

 

  • provide sufficient written information, consistent with privacy laws and any request for confidentiality, to allow Respondent to address the allegation (e.g., the name of the Complainant/alleged victim, the date, location, nature of the alleged violation of Policy, etc.);
  • provide a copy of this Policy;
  • explain the University’s procedures for resolution of the Complaint;
  • explain the steps involved in an investigation under this Policy;
  • discuss confidentiality standards and concerns;
  • discuss non-retaliation requirements;
  • inform of any interim measures already determined and being provided to the Complainant and/or the alleged victim that would directly affect the Respondent (e.g., changing his or her class or work schedule,  moving him or her to an alternate residence hall, etc.);
  • refer to law enforcement, counseling, medical, academic or other resources, as appropriate; and
  • discuss, as appropriate, possible interim measures that can be provided to the Respondent during the pendency of the investigative and resolution processes.

 

Investigative Report 

The Title IX Coordinator shall complete a written investigative report (“Investigative Report”) that shall include the following items:

 

  • The name and sex of the alleged victim and, if different, the name and sex of the person reporting the allegation (It should also include any other relevant protected class characteristics if the Complaint involves a violation of this Policy based on a protected status other than gender);
  • a statement of the allegation, a description of the incident(s), and the date(s) and time(s) (if known) of the alleged incident(s);
  • the date that the Complaint or other report was made;
  • the date the Complainant and alleged victim (if not the Complainant) were interviewed;
  • the date the Respondent was interviewed;
  • the names and sex of all persons alleged to have committed the alleged violation of this Policy (It should also include any other relevant protected status characteristics if the Complaint involves a violation of this Policy based on a protected status other than gender);
  • the names and sex of all known witnesses to the alleged incident(s);
  • the dates that any relevant documentary evidence (including cell phone and other records as appropriate) was obtained;
  • any written statements of the Complainant (or victim, if different from the Complainant), the Respondent and any witnesses;
  • summaries of all interviews conducted, photographs, and descriptions of relevant evidence, summaries of relevant electronic records, and a detailed report of the events in question; the policy or policies alleged to be violated.

 

If the investigator(s) determines and documents, based on the investigative report and any additional interviews, that based on a preponderance of the evidence standard the conduct at issue constitutes a violation of this Policy, the investigator(s) will determine the appropriate remedy and/or sanction to be imposed and will forward their decision to the Title IX Coordinator for inclusion in the Investigative Report.  Imposition of the appropriate remedy and/or sanction will typically be imposed only after all appeals have been exhausted.

 

In determining the appropriate remedy and/or sanction, the University will act to end the discrimination, harassment, retaliation or sexual misconduct, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects on the victim and/or University community.  Sanctions will depend upon the nature and gravity of the misconduct, any record of prior discipline for a violation of this Policy, or both.  Sanctions may include, without limitation, withholding a promotion or pay increase, reassigning employment, terminating employment, temporary suspension without pay, compensation adjustments, expulsion or suspension from the University, disciplinary probation, expulsion from campus housing, mandated counseling and/or educational sanctions, as deemed appropriate.  The length of suspensions (for students)
 is up to the investigator, but normally will not exceed the amount of time reasonably needed for the person aggrieved to finish her or his course of study at the university. 

 

After the decision is made, the Title IX coordinator will add to the final investigative report the following):

 

  • the outcome of the hearing and any appeals that transpire;
  • in consultation, as necessary, with the Complainant, alleged victim (if different than the Complainant), Respondent, and other University officials, any remedial and/or disciplinary action deemed appropriate under the circumstances;
  • the response of University personnel and, if applicable, University-level officials, including any interim measures and permanent steps taken with respect to the Complainant, alleged victim (if different than the Complainant) and the Respondent; and
  • a narrative of all action taken to prevent recurrence of any harassing incident(s), including any written documentation.

 

The Title IX Coordinator shall strive to complete and distribute the Investigative Report, concurrently, to the alleged victim and Respondent within thirty (30) calendar days following receipt of a Complaint.  All parties to whom the Investigative Report is distributed pursuant to this Policy should maintain it in confidence.  The Investigative Report may only be disclosed as contemplated by this Policy.

 

If the Title IX Coordinator finds no reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct at issue constitutes a violation of this Policy, then the Title IX Coordinator will determine and document the appropriate resolution of the Complaint in the Investigative Report and will promptly notify the parties of that determination.

 

If the Title IX Coordinator is unable to obtain the consent of third-party witnesses, he or she will redact the Investigative Report to the extent necessary to avoid inappropriate disclosure of such witness’s personally identifiable information, while ensuring that such redaction does not prevent resolution of the Complaint.

 

APPEAL INVOLVING FACULTY/STAFF

All appeals where the Respondent is a University faculty or staff member shall be made to the Chancellor or his/her designee.  Both the alleged victim and the Respondent may appeal any or all of the Title IX Coordinator’s decision (including a finding regarding the Respondent’s responsibility or sanctions) in writing to the Chancellor or his/her designee within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the Investigative Report.  The appealing party must also provide a copy of the appeal to the Title IX Coordinator within the same time period.  The appeal should include a brief statement describing any or all parts of the Investigative Report that is being appealed and the reason for appeal.  Acceptable means of notification include email, facsimile, hand delivered notification or postal delivery.  The Title IX Coordinator will promptly inform the other party of the appeal. 

 

Within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the appeal, the Chancellor or his/her designee will make a final determination as to whether the Complaint should be closed, whether a violation of Policy has occurred, and/or whether any additional or different remedial action or sanctions are warranted. The Chancellor may decide to impose sanctions that are more or less severe than the sanctions imposed by the Title IX Coordinator, even if the Respondent is the person who has taken the appeal.  The Chancellor or his/her designee will concurrently notify the alleged victim and the Respondent of his/her decision. 

 

All non-tenured faculty and staff members of the University are at-will employees who may be terminated at any time, with or without cause.  With regard to such faculty and staff, nothing in this Policy shall create an expectation of continued employment with the University or be construed to prevent or delay the University from taking any disciplinary action deemed appropriate (including suspension and immediate termination of employment) for any violation of state law, federal law or University policy.  When the Respondent is a faculty member with tenure and the sanction imposed or upheld by the Chancellor or his/her designee is dismissal of the Respondent’s employment, the matter shall proceed pursuant to Board Policy 405.1. 

 

APPEAL INVOLVING A STUDENT 

In those instances where the Respondent is a University student, the alleged victim and/or the Respondent may appeal any or all of the investigator’s decision (including a finding regarding the Respondent’s responsibility or sanctions) to an Appellate Panel by providing a written appeal to the Chancellor or his/her designee with a copy also being provided to the Title IX Coordinator.   The appeal must be submitted within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the Investigative Report and must include a brief statement describing any or all parts of the Investigative Report being appealed and the reason for appeal.  Acceptable means of notification include email, facsimile, hand delivered notification or postal delivery.  The Appellate Panel may decide to impose sanctions that are more or less severe than the sanctions imposed by the Title IX Coordinator, even if the Respondent is the person who has taken the appeal. 

 

Within three (3) business days of receiving the appeal, the Chancellor or his/her designee will appoint the members of the Appellate Panel, to include at least three trained faculty and/or staff members.  The Chancellor or his/her designee will select one member of the Hearing Panel to act as the Chair.  The Title IX Coordinator will provide a copy of the Complaint and the Investigative Report to each member of the Appellate Panel and, if only a portion of the Title IX Coordinator’s findings and determinations are appealed, the Title IX Coordinator will specify which part(s) of the alleged misconduct will be the subject of the appeal hearing.

 

Promptly after the appointment of the members of the Appellate Panel, the Title IX Coordinator will provide concurrent written notice to the alleged victim and the Respondent, setting forth the names of the individuals selected to serve on and chair the Appellate Panel.  If only a portion of the findings and determination are appealed, the Title IX Coordinator will also specify in the notice which part(s) of the alleged misconduct will be the subject of the hearing.

 

The parties may challenge the participation of any member of the Appellate Panel by submitting a written objection to the Chancellor or his/her designee within three (3) days of receipt of the notice of the composition of the Appellate Panel.  Any objection must state the specific reason(s) for the objection.  The Chancellor or his/her designee will evaluate the objection and determine whether to alter the composition of the Appellate Panel.  Failure to submit a timely and proper objection will constitute a waiver of any right of objection to the composition of the Appellate Panel.  Any changes in the composition of the Appellate Panel will be provided in writing to both parties prior to the date of the hearing.

 

Submission of Written Materials 

Within five (5) days of receipt of the notice of the initial composition of the Appellate Panel, the alleged victim and the Respondent may provide the Chair of the Appellate Panel with a list of witnesses, if any, that they propose that the Appellate Panel call and a brief description of each proposed witness’s connection to and/or knowledge of the issues in dispute, any supporting documents or other evidence that were unavailable during the original investigation, and a written statement of position or basis for the appeal. Information that was available but not submitted during the initial investigation may or may not be considered during the appeal hearing, at the discretion of the Appellate Panel.

 

Notice of the Appellate Hearings 

The date for the appellate hearing will be set by the Title IX Coordinator.  Not less than five (5) calendar days, but not more than ten (10) calendar days after delivery of notice of the initial composition of the Appellate Panel to the parties, the Appellate Panel chairperson will provide a separate written notice to the alleged victim, respondent and any witnesses or other third parties whose testimony the Appellate Panel deems relevant, requesting such individuals to appear before the Appellate Panel.  The notice should set forth the date, time, and location for the individual’s requested presence.  The Appellate Panel shall provide the names of the witnesses or other third parties that the Appellate Panel plans to call in its notices to the alleged victim and the respondent.  The hearing shall be conducted within twenty (20) calendar but no sooner than ten (10) calendar days of the receipt of the appeal. 

 

Failure to Appear

If any party fails to appear before the Appellate Panel if requested to do so, and such party was provided proper notice of the hearing as set forth above, then absent extenuating circumstances, the Appellate Panel will proceed to determine the resolution of the Complaint.

 

Support Persons 

Both the alleged victim and the respondent may be accompanied by one support person to assist them during the hearing process.  This support person can be anyone, including an attorney, but the support person may not take part in the hearing.  The support person may not address the Appellate Panel, present evidence, make objections or statements, ask questions of any party or witness or otherwise participate in the hearing, beyond privately communicating with the party that he/she is supporting.  EXCEPTION: A student at UAFS who has received a suspension of ten (10) or more days, or an expulsion, through a Student Conduct or Title IX process (not an academic dishonesty process), may request a disciplinary appeal proceeding before the Appellate Panel and choose to be represented (at the student’s expense) by a licensed attorney.  The student may also choose to be represented by a non-attorney advocate.  A student at UAFS may also be represented by an attorney or non-attorney advocate under this exception if there is a significant possibility that the Appellate Panel may impose a sanction of expulsion or suspension of ten or more days. Either the attorney or the non-attorney advocate may fully participate during the disciplinary appeal proceeding, within the rules for appellate hearings established by UAFS. 

 

The Chair must be notified in writing five (5) days in advance of the hearing if a party will be accompanied by a support person.  The Chair may disallow the attendance of any support person if he/she is also a witness or if, in the discretion of the Chair, such person’s presence would be disruptive or obstructive to the hearing or otherwise warrant removal.  All support persons must agree to keep any and all information presented in the hearing confidential in order to attend.  Absent accommodation for disability, the parties may not be accompanied by any other individual during the hearing process except as set forth in this Policy.  University officials may seek advice from the University’s Office of General Counsel on questions of law and procedure at any time during the process. 

 

Evidentiary Matters

The alleged victim and the respondent will have an equal opportunity to present evidence during their hearing.  Formal rules of evidence will not be observed during the hearings.

 

Prior Violent or Sexual Conduct 

Evidence of the prior violent or sexual conduct of the alleged victim and the respondent with others will not be permitted at the hearings, with the following exceptions:

 

  • evidence is permitted to show that the alleged victim has in the past been formally disciplined by the University for falsely filing Complaints alleging a violation of this Policy;
  • evidence is permitted to show that the respondent has in the past been either convicted in a criminal proceeding or formally disciplined by the University for conduct which would violate this Policy, if deemed relevant;
  • evidence regarding the past sexual activity or violent conduct of the respondent (regardless of whether the respondent was formally charged with a violation of the Policy with respect to such conduct) may be permitted to show that the respondent has engaged in a pattern of behavior similar to the alleged violations of policy at issue before the Hearing Panel, provided that (1) the Respondent has not been found “not responsible”  by the University in a proceeding related to such conduct and (2) the Chair has made written findings both that the evidence is reliable and trustworthy and that the conduct is sufficiently and substantially similar to the conduct at issue before the Appellate Panel to suggest a pattern of behavior.

 

Appellate Hearing Procedure

The Appellate Panel will conduct a hearing during which it will interview and question the Complainant, the alleged victim, the Respondent, and any witnesses or other third parties whose testimony the Appellate Panel deems relevant.  The parties will not be allowed to personally question or cross-examine each other during the hearing, but will be allowed to question witnesses by posing questions to the Appellate Panel Chair.  Questions will be required to be submitted to the panel chair in written form 48 hours in advance of the hearing and may be modified at the Chair’s discretion.  Additional questions formulated during the appeal hearing will be considered by the panel chair at appropriate points in the proceedings.  The Chair will resolve all questions concerning procedure or the admission of evidence or testimony, including the relevancy and reliability of the evidence and testimony.

 

All participants at the hearing are expected to provide truthful testimony.  The Complainant and/or alleged victim have the option not to be in the same room with the Respondent during the hearing.  Any party may choose not to testify or appear before the Appellate Panel; however, his/her exercise of that option will not preclude the Appellate Panel from making a determination regarding the Complaint filed against the Respondent.

 

Decision of the Appellate Panel

Following the conclusion of the hearing, the Appellate Panel will confer, and by majority vote, determine whether the evidence (including the information provided in and by the Investigative Report, the parties’ written statements, if any, the evidence presented at the hearings, and the testimony of the parties and witnesses) establishes that it is more likely than not that the Respondent committed a violation of this Policy.  In other words, the standard of proof will be the preponderance of the evidence.  If the Appellate Panel determines that more likely than not the Respondent committed a violation of this Policy, the Appellate Panel will establish sanctions and give consideration as to whether a given sanction will (a) bring an end to the violation in question, (b) reasonably prevent a recurrence of a similar violation, and (c) remedy the effects of the violation.     The Appellate Panel may decide to impose sanctions that are more or less severe than the sanctions imposed by the Title IX Coordinator, even if the Respondent is the person who has taken the appeal. 

 

Sanctions for a finding of responsibility will depend upon the nature and gravity of the misconduct, any record of prior discipline for a violation of this Policy, or both.  Sanctions may include, without limitation, expulsion or suspension from the University, disciplinary probation, expulsion from campus housing, mandated counseling, and/or educational sanctions deemed appropriate by the Appellate Panel.  The length of suspensions (for students) is up to the investigator, but normally will not exceed the amount of time reasonably needed for the person aggrieved to finish her or his course of study at the university. 

 

Ordinarily, sanctions will not be imposed until the resolution of any timely appeal under this Policy. However, if it is deemed necessary to protect the welfare of the victim or the University community, the Appellate Panel may recommend and the Chancellor or his/her designee may determine that any sanctions be imposed immediately and continue in effect until such time as the appeal process is exhausted.

 

At such time that the appeal process is exhausted, the Title IX Coordinator will determine the final accommodations to be provided to the victim, if any, and the Title IX Coordinator will communicate such decision to the victim and the Respondent to the extent that it affects him/her. 

 

The Title IX Coordinator will also take steps to prevent any harassment of or retaliation against the Complainant, the victim (if not the Complainant), or third parties, such as informing them about how to report subsequent problems, following up with them to ensure that there are no subsequent problems, providing training for the campus community, and providing counseling for the Respondent.  The Title IX Coordinator will also take steps to prevent the harassment of or retaliation against the Respondent.

 

Furthermore, the Title IX Coordinator will take prompt corrective action if the Complainant or the victim (if not the Complainant) experiences retaliation or is subjected to further violation of this Policy or if the original sanctions imposed on the Respondent are ineffective to protect the safety and well-being of the Complainant, the victim (if not the Complainant), or other members of the University community.  The Title IX Coordinator will also take reasonable steps to eliminate any hostile environment that has been created, such as conducting trainings and disseminating informational materials.  In taking the above-outlined steps, the Title IX Coordinator will make every reasonable effort to minimize the burden on the Complainant and/or alleged victim.

 

Final Outcome Letter 

Within ten (10) calendar days following the conclusion of the hearings, the Hearing Panel will issue a written decision letter (the “Final Outcome Letter”) concurrently to the Respondent and the alleged victim.  The Final Outcome Letter will, to the extent consistent with FERPA and the Clery Act, set forth (1) the name of the Respondent, (2) the violation(s) of this Policy for which the Respondent was found responsible, if any, (3) the sanctions imposed on the Respondent, if any. The Respondent will always receive notification of all sanctions that have been imposed. The Complainant will be notified of those sanctions that directly relate to the Complainant. However, in those cases involving allegations of sexual violence (as opposed to other harassment or misconduct cases covered by Title IX), the Complainant will be informed of the University’s final determination and any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the perpetrator, including those unrelated to the Complainant.

 

Confidentiality and Disclosure

 In order to comply with FERPA and Title IX and to provide an orderly process for the presentation and consideration of relevant information without undue intimidation or pressure, the hearing process is not open to the general public.  Accordingly, documents prepared in anticipation of the hearings (including the Complaint, the Investigative Report, the notices of hearing, and the pre­hearing submissions referenced above) and documents, testimony, or other information introduced at the hearings may not be disclosed outside of the hearing proceedings, except as may be required or authorized by law.

 

Time Periods

The University will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the investigation and resolution of a Complaint occurs in as timely and efficient a manner as possible.  The University’s investigation and resolution of a Complaint (including an appeal, if applicable) will generally be completed within 60 calendar days of the receipt of the Complaint, absent extenuating circumstances.  Hearings, if they are held, will take place after the conclusion of the investigation.  If hearings have taken place, both the Complainant and the Respondent generally will receive a Final Outcome Letter within ten (10) calendar days of the conclusion of the hearing.

 

Any party may request an extension of any deadline by providing the Title IX Coordinator or his or her respective deputies with a written request for an extension that includes reference to the duration of the proposed extension and the basis for the request. 

 

For purposes of calculating all time periods set forth in this Complaint and Grievance Policy, a business day is defined to mean normal operating hours, Monday through Friday, excluding recognized national and state holidays and University closings.

 

Timelines may be modified in cases where information is not clear, judged to be incomplete, relevant parties are not available for interview, and/or other related circumstances as may arise.  The Title IX Coordinator may also modify any deadlines contained in this Policy as necessary and for good cause. 

 

Acknowledgement of Responsibility

At any time prior to the issuance of the Investigative Report or the date of his/her designated hearing, the Respondent may elect to acknowledge his/her actions and take responsibility for the alleged policy violation.  In such situation, the Title IX Coordinator will propose sanction(s).  If either party objects to the proposed sanction(s), they may appeal the sanction pursuant to this Policy. 

 

No Retaliation

Retaliation against any person who files a Complaint, participates in an investigation, or opposes a discriminatory employment or educational practice or policy is prohibited. A person who believes retaliation has occurred should notify the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.

 

False Reports

Willfully making a false report of sexual harassment is a violation of University policy and is a serious offense.  Any person who willfully makes or participates in making a false or frivolous report of discrimination, harassment, retaliation or sexual misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action.  False reporting may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.

 

 

Office of Civil Rights Complaint 

Although Complainants are encouraged to resolve their grievances related to discrimination by utilizing this Complaint/Grievance Procedure, they have the right to file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  Information regarding applicable timelines and procedures is available from OCR.  You may call 1-800-421-3481 to obtain further information about filing a complaint with OCR.

 

Effective Date

The University reserves the right to make changes and amendments to this Policy as needed, with appropriate notice to the community.  However, the Policy in force at the time that a Complaint is filed will be the Policy used throughout the investigation, hearing and any appeals that are heard. 

 

 

Documentation 

The University will retain documentation (including but not limited to the written Complaint, notifications, the Investigative Report, any written findings of fact, petitions for appeal, any documents or evidence submitted by the parties, hearing transcripts or recordings (if any), and any written communication between the parties), for at least five (5) years.  Documentation pertaining to terminations, expulsions or educational sanctions may be retained indefinitely.