University Community Standards Board

Pre-Hearing Procedure

Prior to the board hearing, the chairperson will:

  1. Determine available and appropriate hearing panel members from the Sexual Misconduct Panel.  Generally,  the hearing panel will include panel members representing the constituencies of the complainant and the respondent, except that the chairperson may determine that based on the nature and/or complexity of a case, student representation on the hearing panel is not appropriate.  During certain times of the academic year (e.g. during break periods, final exam times etc.), the panel may not include student representation;
  2. Consult with the complainant, the respondent and potential panel members to determine any personal and/or professional conflicts of interest that may make the panel member unable to render an unbiased decision.  All panel participants are required to disclose any personal and/or professional conflicts of interest to the chairperson prior to agreeing to participate in a board hearing.  The chairperson will determine whether a member should not serve on the panel because of a conflict of interest;
  3. Advise the complainant and respondent of their right to have an advisor of their choice at the hearing, whose function is to provide support and advice for the complainant or the respondent.  During the hearing, the advisor may talk quietly with the complainant or the respondent or pass notes in a non-disruptive manner.  The advisor may not, in any way, intervene in the hearing or address the panel. 

    An advisor may be a current member of the university community (i.e. student, full-time faculty or full-time staff member) or may be an individual from outside the university community or from an off-campus resource (e.g. Rape Crisis Center).    An advisor may not be an attorney from the Office of General Counsel, a witness in the matter, or an individual that otherwise has a conflict of interest in serving as an advisor as determined by the chairperson.  An advisor from within or from outside the university community may be an attorney by training, but is only permitted to act as an advisor (as described above) during the hearing.  The chair will assist in advising the complainant and respondent on how to obtain an advisor;
  4. Notify all panel members, the complainant, the respondent, the witnesses and all those involved in the hearing process that the hearing is closed and confidential and should not be discussed outside the hearing proceedings, except as provided in the Confidentiality section of this policy;
  5. Provide  the panel members access to the information to be considered by the panel.  The information shall include the file compiled by the Sexual Misconduct Investigator/ Title IX Coordinator, which shall include the items compiled by the Sexual Misconduct Investigator/ Title IX Coordinator (see listing above), as well as:
    1. Any other information submitted by the complainant or respondent as deemed relevant to the complaint.  The chairperson, in consultation with the Sexual Misconduct Investigator/ Title IX Coordinator, will make determinations as to the relevance of information submitted ;
    2. Any other information that may be relevant to the complaint;
    3. Witness list and witness accounts/statements. The Sexual Misconduct Investigator/ Title IX Coordinator will confer with both the complainant and the respondent regarding which of their identified witnesses will be included in the hearing.  The chairperson, in consultation with the Sexual Misconduct Investigator/ Title IX Coordinator, will make the final determination as to which witnesses have relevant information. 
  6. Provide complainant, respondent, and advisors an opportunity to review all information prior to the hearing;
  7. Arrange a hearing date, time, and location and notify all hearing participants;
  8. Advise panel members about the complaint and the hearing procedures.
Hearing Procedure
  1. The chairperson will convene the hearing by introducing the participants and explaining the sexual misconduct hearing purpose, procedures and Standard of Proof.  Standard of Proof is the preponderance of evidence, which means that the panel must be convinced, in light of all the information presented, that it is more likely than not that the sexual misconduct policy was violated.
  2. An audio recording of the hearing will be made by the university only.
  3. The chairperson may determine that a complainant and/or the respondent may participate by telephone or video conference.
  4. The complainant will be invited to make a statement to the panel.
  5. The respondent will be invited to make a statement to the panel.
  6. Panel members will be permitted to ask questions at the conclusion of each statement.  The complainant and the respondent may then ask questions of each other by submitting written questions to the chair.
  7. Witnesses are invited to make a statement before the panel.  The panel members, the complainant and the respondent are invited to ask questions of each witness.
  8. The complainant, the respondent and their advisors will be permitted to sit in the hearing during all statements and questioning. Witnesses will be permitted to attend only during their own statements and questioning. The Investigator/ Title IX Coordinator who investigated the matter shall be present at the hearing to answer questions from the panel.
  9. The panel may ask further questions of the complainant and the respondent after it has heard from all witnesses.
  10. After all statements and questioning are completed, the panel will dismiss the complainant, the respondent and their advisors from the hearing and meet to discuss the finding.
  11. The panel will consider all information received as part of the hearing process. The panel will issue one of the following findings, based on a preponderance of the evidence:
    1. The University Sexual Misconduct Policy was not violated or;
    2. The University Sexual Misconduct Policy was violated.

    In addition, the panel may determine that the respondent’s actions may violate some other university policy.  The chairperson will refer the matter and all relevant information to the appropriate university process.

  12. If the panel determines that the sexual misconduct policy was violated, the panel members will determine sanctions.  Sanctions will be based on the nature and severity of the offense and/or on prior violations of university policy. The panel may consider the statements of the complainant and respondent regarding the impact of the behavior/incident during the sanction process.  In general, sanctions may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
  13. Apology;
  14. Participation in educational, skills or management training;
  15. Written warning, or letter of reprimand;
  16. Institute alternative work and/or living arrangements, class schedules, advisor/supervisor arrangements;
  17. Limit contact between respondent and complainant;
  18. Limit contact between the respondent and other members of the university community
  19. Faculty and staff may face suspension without pay, consideration of or denial of advancement or pay raise, demotion, removal or suspension from administrative or honorary duties or appointments, or termination for cause;
  20. Students may be suspended from the university, university housing, selected activities or organizations; placed on probation; or expelled from the university.
  21. Prior to determining a sanction, the panel will normally consult with the following individuals depending on the constituency of the respondent:
    • When a student is the respondent:  Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee
    • When a faculty member is the respondent:  Provost or his/her designee
    • When a staff member is the respondent:   Vice President for Human Resources or his/her designee
Report of Findings
  1. The chairperson, in consultation with the panel, will draft a written report that includes the panel’s finding that:
  2. The Sexual Misconduct Policy has been violated and the type of sexual misconduct violated as defined in this policy, or
  3. The University Sexual Misconduct Policy has not been violated.
  4. The report will also include the reason for the finding, and sanctions (if applicable).
  5. The chairperson, or his/her designee, will distribute, at the same time or as near the same time as feasible, a copy of the report to the complainant and the respondent.  The chairperson, or his/her designee, will also distribute a copy of the report to the respondent's department chair, dean/supervisor, and appropriate vice president(s) or his/her designee.  A copy of the report will be kept on file in the Office of Title IX. A student complainant or respondent has the right to re-disclose the outcome of the formal process under FERPA and/or Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) laws, as provided in the Confidentiality provision in this policy.
  6. The chairperson, or his/her designee, will identify and notify the appropriate individuals to carry out the respondent’s sanctions, if applicable.
  7. The chairperson, or his/her designee, will notify the complainant and respondent of the right to appeal the determination and/or sanction, as provided in the Appeal Process below.
  8. Sanctions are imposed immediately unless the chairperson stays their implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal.
Appeal Process

Either the respondent or the complainant may appeal the panel’s decision and/or the sanction to an Appeals Board. The Appeals Board shall consist of three (3) members of the Sexual Misconduct Panel, selected by the  Title IX Coordinator, or his/her designee who has not been involved in the particular matter, being appealed.   The members of the Appeals Board shall not have served as a member of the hearing panel.  The Appeals Board shall not rehear or make a redetermination of the facts of the matter, but will review only whether the decision erred in one of three limited grounds on which an appeal may be filed, which are as follows:

  1. New information not available to the panel which, if available at the time of the hearing, would  have significantly affected the decision;
  2. Evidence that established procedures were not followed in a manner that would  have significantly affected the decision, and/or;
  3. The sanction(s) are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.

Appeals must be submitted to the  Title IX Coordinator within three (3) business days of receipt of the written decision and must specify the grounds for the appeal. The  Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee shall determine whether the appeal submitted falls within one of the three grounds for appeal of a decision.  The appeal statement shall be provided to the other party.  The other party shall be entitled to file an opposing statement responding to the appeal within three (3) business days of receipt of the appeal statement.  In addition, the chairperson of the panel shall be entitled to submit a responsive statement as well.

In reviewing the appeal, the Appeals Board shall review the panel’s report and sanctions to be imposed, and may review any documents or statements presented to the panel.  The Appeals Board shall also review the appeals statement and any opposing and/or responsive statements.  The  Title IX Coordinator, or his/her designee who has not been involved in the particular matter being appealed, will serve as a non-voting facilitator for the Appeals Board to advise on procedural issues involving the appeal.  Prior to issuing a decision, the Appeals Board also shall confer with the appropriate Vice President(s) or his/her designee for the constituencies of the complainant or the respondent. 

Generally, if an Appeals Board finds that an appeal is valid in that either appeal basis #1 (substantial new evidence was not available to the panel that would have affected the decision) or #2 (evidence that established procedures were not followed in a manner that would have affected the decision), the Appeals Board will refer the appeal back to the Sexual Msiconduct Panel to rehear the matter and remedy the issue.  As for appeal basis #3 (the sanction was substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation), the Appeals Board will make the final decision regarding the finding and the sanction based on a review of the existing written record.   The sanction imposed by the Appeals Board may be different than the sanction imposed by the Sexual Misconduct Panel, including a sanction that is  greater than or lesser than the sanction imposed by the panel. The  Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee  will communicate the decision, in writing, to the respondent, the complainant, the panel members and to the appropriate administrators (i.e. respondent’s department chair, dean/supervisor, and appropriate vice president).   The University generally attempts to make a determination on appeals within ten (10) business days following the submission of an appeal. 

The Appeals Board’s decision shall be final with the exception of certain faculty sanctions described in “Additional Faculty Sanction Process.”

Additional Faculty Sanction Process

If the sanction issued to a faculty member, following any appeals, is (1) termination of a tenured faculty member's appointment or (2) demotion in academic rank of a faculty appointment (professor, associate professor, assistant professor, or instructor), then the procedures in Section IV of the Faculty Handbook are initiated.  The factual findings and conclusions of the Sexual Misconduct Panel and/or the Appeals Boardshall be determinative as to whether the university's sexual misconduct policy has been violated.  The Section IV of the Faculty Handbook proceedings shall be limited to a determination of whether the finding constitutes just cause for termination of the tenured faculty appointment or for demotion in academic rank.