At the time at which a procedural option is selected, the Complainant will also be asked to make a decision regarding confidentiality. The Institution/OPC will make all reasonable efforts to honor requests for confidentiality, to the extent permitted by law. However, it must be understood that while some concerns or complaints can be resolved without disclosing one's identity, often successful resolution cannot be achieved under such circumstances. Further, individuals who are directly accused of unlawful and/or discriminatory behavior and who, as a result, may be subject to disciplinary action, are entitled to a copy of the formal complaint and/or a summary of the charges against them so that they may prepare a proper defense.
The identity of, and identifying information about, Complainants and victims will not be disclosed in any public safety notices, final determination reports, or statistical reports that may be issued or made publically available as required or permitted by law. If the institution or Office is compelled by law, such as through a subpoena or court order issued in a legal proceeding, or through a public records request, to provide such information to third parties, the institution or Office will make a reasonable effort, prior to complying with the request, to notify the complainant, so the individual may seek a protective order or take other actions deemed appropriate.
This informal procedure is intended to affect the resolution of a complaint by reconciling the parties' differences and/or rectifying the alleged discriminatory action(s). Complaints that the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator determines as involving discrimination against a group or class of individuals, or involves likely criminal violations may not be resolved through use of the informal resolution process. Informal resolution will also not be used in cases involving allegations of sexual violence.
If, after preliminary review of the matter, it is the judgment of the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator that the case should not be addressed by the Affirmative Action Office/Title IX Coordinator, the informal procedure shall be terminated and the case shall, if applicable, be referred to the appropriate office.
Steps in the Informal Resolution Process
The following steps shall be taken in an effort to resolve complaints in an informal manner:
- Step 1: Notifying the parties
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Office of Affirmative Action/Title IX Coordinator shall notify and meet with the Complainant and the Respondent.
- Step 2: Information gathering
In an effort to fully understand the facts and positions of the Complainant and the Respondent, the Investigator shall take steps that he/she deems necessary to gather additional information from the parties or from others perceived to have knowledge of the allegations.
- Step 3: Resolution or Next Steps
If all parties agree to the informal resolution process, the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator will make all reasonable attempts to resolve the matter within thirty (30) days. The specific details of each case will determine the best possible means for achieving a satisfactory resolution.
If the informal resolution process fails to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of both the parties, or the terms of the informal resolution as subsequently broken, either party may request a Formal Resolution/Investigation of the charge within 10 calendar days of concluding the Informal Resolution Process.
Any person(s) who believes they have been the victim of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual harassment or sexual violence, or who witnesses acts of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual harassment or sexual violence against others, may file a formal complaint with the Affirmative Action Office/Title IX Coordinator. Utilizing the informal process is not a prerequisite. A formal review consists of conducting an investigation, fact-finding, determining whether sufficient credible evidence exists to support the allegation(s), and issuing written findings. The formal investigation and related proceedings, which are described below, shall provide a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution of the allegations.
Steps in the Formal Resolution Process
- Step 1: Complainant’s Written Statement
Normally, a signed incident complaint form containing a written statement of allegations initiates the formal process. In order to enable the Investigator to most effectively investigate the complaint, the written statement of allegations should contain a detailed description of the events that took place, the name(s) of the alleged offender(s), the name(s) of the alleged victim(s), the names of any alleged witnesses, and the name of the person filing the complaint. The Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator will provide assistance to anyone for whom completion of the complaint form is difficult or impractical. The person or persons filing the complaint and/or the alleged victim of discrimination shall be referred to hereinafter as the “Complainant.” Anonymous complaints, and complaints filed by individuals who request confidentiality, will be investigated by the Institution/OPC to the extent possible pursuant to the procedures set forth herein.
- Step 2: Notifying the Respondent
The person or persons identified as the alleged offender shall be referred to hereinafter as the “Respondent.” Once the complaint has been filed, the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator will notify the Respondent(s) by written letter of its existence and provide him/her/ them with a copy of the signed complaint.
- Step 3: Respondent’s Written Response
The Respondent(s) will be provided an opportunity to file a formal response. The formal response shall be filed with the Affirmative Action Office/Title IX Coordinator by the Respondent(s) within twenty (20) days from the date the Respondent(s) received the signed complaint.
If the Respondent fails to timely file a formal response and/or elect(s) not to participate in the formal resolution process, the case will proceed and be investigated with or without the involvement of the Respondent. If, during the investigation, the Complainant indicates a desire to withdraw his/her complaint, the Complainant shall sign a written statement of withdrawal containing the reasons for this action and the case may be closed in the discretion of the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator. However, the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator may continue to conduct the investigation and take action to address the issues raised by the Complainant regardless of the Complainant’s wishes.
- Step 4: Investigation Process
The Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator or designee will act as investigator. The investigator is neutral, objective, and does not act as an advocate for either party. The investigator is authorized to contact any and all persons who may have information relevant to the complaint and shall have access to all relevant College/University/OPC records. The investigator shall also collect and evaluate other available records and information relevant to the complaint and investigation (e.g. email communications, medical test results, photographs), as appropriate. The investigator shall maintain a record of the investigation, including any interviews, which shall be retained as an official Affirmative Action Office record.
- Step 5: Final Investigative Report
A final investigative report shall be prepared which sets forth the findings of the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator and the basis and rationale for his/her conclusion(s). Unless otherwise indicated in the report, the date of the report shall be considered the date upon which the results of the investigation become final. In making his/her findings, the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator shall utilize the evidentiary standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” The final investigative report shall normally be issued within sixty (60) days after the complaint is filed. When more than sixty (60) days is needed to complete the investigation, the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator shall notify the parties and proceed as expeditiously as possible. Allegations or evidence of violations of policies and procedures that are discovered during the investigation but which are outside the jurisdiction of the Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator shall be referred to the appropriate office for resolution. The Affirmative Action Officer/Title IX Coordinator will simultaneously provide copies of the report to the Complainant and the Respondent, and will also send a copy to the appropriate Vice President/Provost or Associate Commissioner. The Complainant and Respondent will also be advised of the appeal process at that time. If for any reason the findings in the report are later changed by the investigator, both parties will be simultaneously advised of the change (and of any new appeal period) as well.
Either party (Complainant or Respondent) may appeal the Affirmative Action Officer's/Title IX Coordinator’s findings. Such appeals shall be filed with the Institution’s President or the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education as appropriate. The Appeal may be conducted by the President or the Commissioner or their designee. Parties wishing to file an appeal must do so within ten (10) days after receiving the Affirmative Action Officer's/Title IX Coordinator’s final letter. The appeal process will not involve reinvestigation of the complaint. Appeals must raise specific issues related to the Affirmative Action Officer's findings. Appeal decisions (which shall include a statement of the rationale for the decision) shall be rendered within thirty (30) days after the request for appeal is received unless extended for good cause as reasonably determined by the Appeals Officer. Copies of the appeal decision shall be simultaneously provided to the parties, with a copy also to be sent to the appropriate Vice President/Provost or Associate Commissioner.