For ease of reference, here is a flowchart [pdf] explaining the available resolution options through the Title IX and Gender Equity Office.
The Informal Resolution Process
An informal resolution is a remedies-based resolution process that does not involve an investigation, hearing, or appeal. It is an alternative to the formal resolution process and may take a variety of customizable forms that can include, but is not limited to, shuttled mediation, a facilitated conversation(s), or the submission of impact and mitigation statements. An informal resolution process may only be initiated with the consent of the Complainant, Respondent, and the university.
The Title IX and Gender Equity Office handles the informal resolution process just as carefully as the formal resolution process; every informal resolution is overseen by a trained and impartial facilitator, and trained support advisors are available to assist both the Complainant and Respondent throughout the process. Generally, the outcome of an informal resolution does not include an admission of responsibility. However, the outcome focuses on the harm caused to the Complainant and may include agreement by the Respondent to participate in appropriate and reasonable remedies. These remedies could be similar to measures imposed as disciplinary sanctions, but they are always determined through mutual agreement.
The Formal Resolution Process
Step 1: Complete a Formal Complaint
The formal resolution process generally involves three stages—an investigation, hearing, and possible appeal—and is initiated when the Complainant files a formal complaint requesting this process. An Incident Report From can be completed online.
Step 2: The Initial Intake Meeting
The Complainant will be invited to participate in an initial intake meeting with a representative from the Title IX and Gender Equity Office. The Complainant may attend the meeting with an advisor of their choice. An advisor is essentially a support person and can be a friend, relative, coach, attorney, professor, or anyone else.
The purpose of the intake meeting is to ensure that the Complainant has information about their options and other ways in which we canhelp (e.g., supportive measures). Stated another way, the intake meeting is intended to be informational only; participating in an intake meeting will not obligate the Complainant to pursue any university process. The aim is to give the Complainant information to help them make an informed decision about whether or not they wish to pursue any services from the Title IX and Gender Equity Office. During the meeting, the Complainant will not be required to share any details about their experience if they are not comfortable doing so.
Step 3: Written notice issued to the Complainant and Respondent
The Title IX and Gender Equity Office will issue a written Notice of Investigation that includes important information such as the identities of the individuals involved in the incident, a summary of the reported conduct, the potential policy violations, the name of the assigned investigator, and the university’s policy against retaliation.
Step 4: The Investigation
The Title IX and Gender Equity Office will appoint a trained and impartial investigator free of any conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally, or the individual Complainant or Respondent involved in the investigation.
Both Parties are encouraged to participate in an interview(s) during the investigation, but are not required to do so. As part of the investigation, the Parties may present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence regardless of whether the Party participates in an investigative interview. The Parties will not be restricted from gathering and presenting relevant evidence to the investigator.
The investigator will be tasked with obtaining any information that is reasonably available and relevant to the allegations in the formal complaint. After the investigator has gathered all reasonably available and relevant information, the Complainant and Respondent will receive a preliminary version of the investigation report and all relevant evidence for review and comment. The investigator will consider the Parties’ comments to the preliminary report and evidence and determine whether to conduct any additional investigation. The investigator will then prepare a final investigation report and share it with the Parties and their advisors.
For certain matters, the investigation report will include a determination of responsibility. However, for most matters, the determination of responsibility is made by an independent decision maker, or hearing officer, following a live hearing.
Step 5: The Hearing
The hearing is an opportunity for the Complainant and Respondent to present relevant information to an independent decision-maker (“hearing officer”) for consideration. Attendance at the hearing is not required and the hearing officer will not draw any negative inference from a Party’s decision to not participate. The Complainant and Respondent will not be required to be physically present in the same room; the hearing will take place using videoconferencing technology, so the Parties can participate in the hearing from wherever they choose. Additionally, the Complainant and Respondent may be accompanied by one advisor and one support person.
The hearing will follow one of two formats, which are both fully described in the University's Procedures. The hearing format is determined by:
- the nature of the allegations at issue
- the location of the incident(s), and
- the Respondent’s connection to the university
Regardless of the hearing format, the Complainant and Respondent should expect that they will be asked relevant questions posed by the hearing officer and the other Party—either in writing or directly through their advisor.
Following the hearing, the hearing officer will determine, using a preponderance of the evidence standard, whether the information is sufficient to find the Respondent responsible for any of the policy violations at issue.
- If the hearing officer determines that the Respondent is responsible for violating
any university policy, the Parties will be given the opportunity to submit written
impact statements that will be considered before any sanction(s) are imposed or remedy(ies)
- The hearing officer will then prepare a written outcome letter describing the outcome of the hearing, including any sanction(s) imposed or remedy(ies) implemented, and the Parties’ appeal rights.
- If the hearing officer determines that the Respondent is not responsible for violating any university policy, the Parties will receive written notice of the outcome along with their appeal rights.
Step 6: The Availability of an Appeal
Both Parties have the right to appeal the determination of responsibility and/or sanction, in writing, on any of the following grounds:
- There was no reasonable basis for the findings or conclusions that resulted in the investigation or hearing outcome.
- Procedural errors occurred that would have likely changed the outcome of the investigation or hearing.
- New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of the investigation or hearing and would have likely affected the investigation outcome or hearing officer's decision about whether the Respondent violated the Policy.
- For certain matters, the sanction(s) imposed was objectively unreasonable, or arbitrary based on substantiated conduct.
The appeal will not be decided by the Title IX and Gender Equity Officer, investigator, nor hearing officer; rather, the appeal will be decided by an independent university official free of any conflict of interest or bias. Both Parties will receive written notice of the appeal outcome, after which the matter will be considered closed.