The college has determined that the president and vice presidents are Officials with Authority to address and correct sexual harassment and/or retaliation. In addition to the Title IX coordinators listed above, these Officials with Authority may also accept notice or complaints on behalf of the college and their contact information is as follows:
The college has also classified all employees as mandated reporters of any knowledge they have that a member of the community is experiencing sexual harassment and/or retaliation. The section below on mandated reporting details which employees have this responsibility and their duties, accordingly.
Notice or complaints of sexual harassment and/or retaliation may be made by filing a complaint with, or giving verbal notice to, a Title IX coordinator. Such a report may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by using the telephone number or email address, or by mail to the office address, listed for each Title IX coordinator or any other official listed.
A formal complaint means a document submitted or signed by the Complainant or signed by the Title IX coordinator alleging a policy violation by a Respondent and requesting that the college investigate the allegation(s).
A complaint may be filed with the Title IX coordinator in person, by mail or by electronic mail, by using the contact information above, or as described in this section. As used in this paragraph, the phrase “document filed by a Complainant” means a document or electronic submission (such as by electronic mail) that contains the Complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing the complaint, and requests that the college investigate the allegations.
If notice is submitted in a form that does not meet this standard, the Title IX coordinator will contact the Complainant to ensure that it is filed correctly.
The college will offer and implement appropriate and reasonable supportive measures to the parties upon notice of alleged sexual harassment and/or retaliation.
Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the parties to restore or preserve access to the college’s education program or activity, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the college’s educational environment, and/or deter sexual harassment and/or retaliation.
A Title IX coordinator promptly makes supportive measures available to the parties upon receiving notice or a complaint. At the time that supportive measures are offered, the college will inform the Complainant, in writing, that they may file a formal complaint with the college either at that time or in the future, if they have not done so already.
The Title IX coordinator works with the Complainant to ensure that their wishes are taken into account with respect to the supportive measures that are planned and implemented.
The college will maintain the privacy of the supportive measures, provided that privacy does not impair the college’s ability to provide the supportive measures. The college will act to ensure as minimal an academic/employment impact on the parties as possible. The college will implement measures in a way that does not unreasonably burden the other party.
The college can act to remove a student Respondent entirely or partially from its education program or activities on an emergency basis when an individualized safety and risk analysis has determined that an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual justifies removal.
In all cases in which an emergency removal is imposed, the student will be given notice of the action and the option to request to meet with the Title IX coordinator prior to such action/removal being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the action/removal should not be implemented or should be modified.
This meeting is not a hearing on the merits of the allegation(s), but rather is an administrative process intended to determine solely whether the emergency removal is appropriate.
When this meeting is not requested, objections to the emergency removal will be deemed waived.
A Complainant and their advisor may be permitted to participate in this meeting if the Title IX coordinator determines it is equitable to do so.
A Respondent may be accompanied by an advisor of their choice when meeting with the Title IX coordinator for the show cause meeting. The Respondent will be given access to a written summary of the basis for the emergency removal prior to the meeting to allow for adequate preparation.
The Title IX coordinator has sole discretion under these procedures to implement or stay an emergency removal and to determine the conditions and duration. Violation of an emergency removal will be grounds for discipline, which may include expulsion.
The college will implement the least restrictive emergency actions possible in light of the circumstances and safety concerns. As determined by the Title IX coordinator, these actions could include, but are not limited to: temporarily re-assigning an employee, restricting a student’s or employee’s access to or use of facilities or equipment, allowing a student to withdraw or take grades of incomplete without financial penalty, authorizing an administrative leave and suspending a student’s participation in extracurricular activities, student employment or student organizational leadership. At the discretion of the Title IX coordinator, alternative coursework options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an academic impact as possible on the parties.
Where the Respondent is an employee, existing provisions for interim action are applicable.
All allegations are acted upon promptly by the college once it has received notice or a formal complaint. Complaints can take 60-90 business days to resolve, typically. There are always exceptions and extenuating circumstances that can cause a resolution to take longer, but the college will avoid all undue delays within its control.
Any time the general timeframes for resolution outlined in college procedures will be delayed, the college will provide written notice to the parties of the delay, the cause of the delay and an estimate of the anticipated additional time that will be needed as a result of the delay.
The college reserves the right to determine which college officials have a legitimate educational interest in being informed about incidents that fall within the sexual misconduct policy, pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Information will be shared as necessary with Investigators, chairs, witnesses and the parties.
The college may contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant and articulable health and/or safety risk, but will usually consult with the student first before doing so.
The sexual misconduct policy applies to the education program and activities of the college, to conduct that takes place on the campus or on property owned or controlled by the college and at college-sponsored events. The Respondent must be a member of the college’s community for its policies to apply.
This policy can also be applicable to the effects of off-campus misconduct that effectively deprive someone of access to the college’s educational program. The college may also extend jurisdiction to off-campus and/or to online conduct when the Title IX coordinator determines that the conduct affects a substantial college interest.
Regardless of where the conduct occurred, the college will address notice/complaints to determine whether the conduct occurred in the context of its employment or educational program or activity and/or has continuing effects on campus or in an off-campus sponsored program or activity. A substantial college interest includes:
If the Respondent is unknown or is not a member of the college community, the Title IX coordinator will assist the Complainant in identifying appropriate campus and local resources and support options and/or, when criminal conduct is alleged, in contacting local law enforcement if the individual would like to file a police report.
Even when the Respondent is not a member of the college’s community, supportive measures, remedies and resources may be accessible to the Complainant by contacting the Title IX coordinator. In addition, the college may take other actions as appropriate to protect the Complainant against third parties, such as barring individuals from college property and/or events.
All vendors serving the college through third-party contracts are subject to the policies and procedures of their employers.
When the Respondent is enrolled in or employed by another institution, the Title IX coordinator can assist the Complainant in liaising with the appropriate individual at that institution, as it may be possible to allege violations through that institution’s policies.
There is no time limitation on providing notice/complaints to the Title IX coordinator. However, if the Respondent is no longer subject to the college’s jurisdiction and/or significant time has passed, the ability to investigate, respond and provide remedies may be more limited or impossible.
Acting on notice/complaints significantly impacted by the passage of time (including, but not limited to, the rescission or revision of policy) is at the discretion of the Title IX coordinator, who may document allegations for future reference, offer supportive measures and/or remedies, and/or engage in informal or formal action, as appropriate.
When notice/complaint is affected by significant time delay, the college will apply the policy in place at the time of the alleged misconduct and the procedures in place at the time of notice/complaint.
The policies of the college are written and interpreted broadly to include online manifestations of any of the behaviors prohibited below, when those behaviors occur in or have an effect on the college’s education program and activities or use college networks, technology or equipment.
Although the college may not control websites, social media and other venues in which harassing communications are made, when such communications are reported to the college, it will engage in a variety of means to address and mitigate the effects.
Members of the community are encouraged to be good digital citizens and to refrain from online misconduct, such as feeding anonymous gossip sites, sharing inappropriate content via social media, unwelcome sexual or sex-based messaging, distributing or threatening to distribute revenge pornography, breaches of privacy or otherwise using the ease of transmission and/or anonymity of the Internet or other technology to harm another member of the college community.
Wor-Wic Community College does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, disability, income level, limited English proficiency or any other characteristic protected by law in the admission and treatment of students, access to educational programs and activities, and the terms and conditions of employment.
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the state of Maryland regard sexual harassment as an unlawful discriminatory practice.
The college has adopted the following definition of sexual harassment in order to address the unique environment of an academic community.
Acts of sexual harassment may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity of those involved.
Sexual harassment, as an umbrella category, includes the actual or attempted offenses of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, and is defined as:
Conduct on the basis of sex or that is sexual that satisfies one or more of the following:
1. Quid Pro Quo: an employee of the college, implicitly or explicitly conditions the provision of an aid, benefit or service of the college, on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct.
2. Sexual Harassment: unwelcome conduct, determined by a reasonable person, to be so severe, and pervasive, and, objectively offensive, that it effectively denies a person equal access to the college’s education program or activity3.
3. Sexual assault, defined as:
a. Sex Offenses, Forcible: Any sexual act directed against another person4 without the consent of the Complainant, including instances in which the Complainant is incapable of giving consent.
b. Sex Offenses, Non-Forcible:
4. Dating Violence, defined as: violence, on the basis of sex, committed by a person, who is in or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the Complainant. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the Complainant’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. For the purposes of this definition—
5. Domestic Violence, defined as: violence, on the basis of sex, committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the Complainant, by a person with whom the Complainant shares a child in common, or by a person who is cohabitating with, or has cohabitated with, the Complainant as a spouse or intimate partner, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the Complainant under the domestic or family violence laws of Maryland, or by any other person against an adult or youth Complainant who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of Maryland.
6. Stalking, defined as: engaging in a course of conduct, on the basis of sex, directed at a specific person, that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety, or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress. For the purposes of this definition—
The college reserves the right to impose any level of sanction, ranging from a reprimand up to and including suspension or expulsion/dismissal, for any offense. As used in the offenses above, the following definitions and understandings apply:
Protected activity under the sexual misconduct policy includes reporting an incident that may implicate this policy, participating in the grievance process, supporting a Complainant or Respondent, assisting in providing information relevant to an investigation and/or acting in good faith to oppose conduct that constitutes a violation of this policy.
Acts of alleged retaliation should be reported immediately to a Title IX coordinator and will be promptly investigated. The college will take all appropriate and available steps to protect individuals who fear that they may be subjected to retaliation.
The college and any member of the college’s community are prohibited from taking materially adverse action by intimidating, threatening, coercing, harassing or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by law or policy, or because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted or participated, or refused to participate, in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under this policy and procedure.
The exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment does not constitute retaliation.
Charging an individual with a student conduct violation for making a materially false statement in bad faith in the course of a grievance proceeding under these procedures does not constitute retaliation, provided that a determination regarding responsibility, alone, is not sufficient to conclude that any party has made a materially false statement in bad faith.
All college employees (faculty, staff, administrators) are expected to report actual or suspected sexual harassment or retaliation to appropriate officials immediately, though there are some limited exceptions.
In order to make informed choices, it is important to be aware of confidentiality and mandatory reporting requirements when consulting campus resources. On campus, some resources may maintain confidentiality and are not required to report actual or suspected sexual harassment or retaliation. They may offer options and resources without any obligation to inform an outside agency or campus official unless a Complainant has requested the information be shared.
If a Complainant expects formal action in response to their allegations, reporting to any mandated reporter can connect them with resources to report crimes and/or policy violations, and these employees will immediately pass reports to a Title IX coordinator (and/or police, if desired by the Complainant), who will take action when an incident is reported to them.
The following sections describe the reporting options for a Complainant or third-party (including parents/guardians when appropriate):
If a Complainant would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, the Complainant may speak with:
All of the above-listed individuals will maintain confidentiality when acting under the scope of their licensure, professional ethics and/or professional credentials, except in extreme cases of immediacy of threat or danger or abuse of a minor/elder/individual with a disability, or when required to disclose by law or court order.
All employees of the college (including student employees), with the exception of those who are designated as Confidential Resources, are mandated reporters and must promptly share with the Title IX coordinator all known details of a report made to them in the course of their employment.
Employees must also promptly share all details of behaviors under the sexual misconduct policy that they observe or have knowledge of, even if not reported to them by a Complainant or third-party.
Complainants may want to carefully consider whether they share personally identifiable details with non-confidential mandated reporters, as those details must be shared with the Title IX coordinator.
Generally, disclosures in climate surveys, classroom writing assignments or discussions, human subjects research or at events do not provide notice that must be reported to the coordinator by employees, unless the Complainant clearly indicates that they desire a report to be made or a seek a specific response from the college. Supportive measures may be offered as the result of such disclosures without formal college action.
Failure of a mandated reporter, as described above in this section, to report an incident of sexual harassment or retaliation of which they become aware is a violation and can be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply.
When a mandated reporter is engaged in harassment or other violations of this policy, they still have a duty to report their own misconduct, though the college is technically not on notice when a harasser is also a mandated reporter unless the harasser does in fact report themselves.
Finally, it is important to clarify that a mandated reporter who is themselves a target of harassment or other misconduct is not required to report their own experience, though they are, of course, encouraged to do so.
19. When a Complainant Does Not Wish to Proceed
If a Complainant does not wish for their name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place, or does not want a formal complaint to be pursued, they may make such a request to the Title IX coordinator, who will evaluate that request in light of the duty to ensure the safety of the campus and to comply with state or federal law.
The Title IX coordinator has ultimate discretion over whether the college proceeds when the Complainant does not wish to do so, and the Title IX coordinator may sign a formal complaint to initiate a grievance process upon completion of an appropriate violence risk assessment.
The Title IX coordinator’s decision should be based on results of the violence risk assessment that show a compelling risk to health and/or safety that requires the college to pursue formal action to protect the community.
A compelling risk to health and/or safety may result from evidence of patterns of misconduct, predatory conduct, threats, abuse of minors, use of weapons and/or violence. The college may be compelled to act on alleged employee misconduct irrespective of a Complainant’s wishes.
The Title IX coordinator must also consider the effect that non-participation by the Complainant may have on the availability of evidence and the college’s ability to pursue a formal grievance process fairly and effectively.
When the Title IX coordinator executes the written complaint, they do not become the Complainant. The Complainant is the individual who is the victim of alleged conduct.
When the college proceeds, the Complainant (or their advisor) may have as much or as little involvement in the process as they wish. The Complainant retains all rights of a Complainant under these procedures irrespective of their level of participation. Typically, when the Complainant chooses not to participate, the advisor may be appointed as proxy for the Complainant throughout the process, acting to ensure and protect the rights of the Complainant, though this does not extend to the provision of evidence or testimony.
Note that the college’s ability to remedy and respond to notice may be limited if the Complainant does not want the college to proceed with an investigation and/or grievance process. The goal is to provide the Complainant with as much control over the process as possible, while balancing the college’s obligation to protect its community.
In cases in which the Complainant requests confidentiality/no formal action and the circumstances allow the college to honor that request, the college will offer informal resolution options (see below), supportive measures and remedies to the Complainant and the community, but will not otherwise pursue formal action.
If the Complainant elects to take no action, they can change that decision if they decide to pursue a formal complaint at a later date. Upon making a formal complaint, a Complainant has the right, and can expect, to have allegations taken seriously by the college, and to have the incidents investigated and properly resolved through these procedures. Please consider that delays may cause limitations on access to evidence or present issues with respect to the status of the parties.
20. Federal Timely Warning Obligations
Parties reporting sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and/or stalking should be aware that under the Clery Act, the college must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that pose a serious or continuing threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community.
The college will ensure that a Complainant’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger.
21. False Allegations and Evidence
Deliberately false and/or malicious accusations are a serious offense and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. This does not include allegations that are made in good faith but are ultimately shown to be erroneous or do not result in a policy violation determination.
Additionally, witnesses and parties knowingly providing false evidence, tampering with or destroying evidence, or deliberately misleading an official conducting an investigation, can be subject to discipline under college policy.
22. Amnesty for Complainants and Witnesses
The college community encourages the reporting of misconduct and crimes by Complainants and witnesses. Sometimes, Complainants or witnesses are hesitant to report to college officials or participate in grievance processes because they fear that they themselves may be in violation of certain policies, such as underage drinking or use of illicit drugs at the time of the incident. Respondents may hesitate to be forthcoming during the process for the same reasons.
It is in the best interests of the college community that Complainants choose to report misconduct to college officials, that witnesses come forward to share what they know, and that all parties be forthcoming during the process. To encourage reporting and participation in the process, the college maintains a policy of offering parties and witnesses amnesty from minor policy violations – such as underage consumption of alcohol or the use of illicit drugs – related to the incident.
Amnesty does not apply to more serious allegations such as physical abuse of another or illicit drug distribution. The decision not to offer amnesty is based on neither sex nor gender, but on the fact that collateral misconduct is typically addressed for all students within a progressive discipline system, and the rationale for amnesty – the incentive to report serious misconduct – is rarely applicable to Respondent with respect to a Complainant.
RESOLUTION PROCEDURE FOR ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
The college will act on any formal or informal notice/complaint of violation of the sexual misconduct policy that is received by the Title IX coordinator or any other Official with Authority by applying these procedures.
The procedures below apply only to qualifying allegations of sexual harassment (including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, as defined above) involving students, administrators, faculty and staff.
If a technical dismissal occurs under this process, employees should consult the policies and procedures applicable to other offenses in the policy and procedures manual. Students should consult policies and procedures applicable to other offenses in the college catalog.
The procedures below may be used to address collateral misconduct arising from the investigation of or occurring in conjunction with reported misconduct (e.g., vandalism, physical abuse of another). All other allegations of misconduct unrelated to incidents covered by the sexual misconduct policy will be addressed for students in the college catalog and for employees in the policy and procedures manual.
Upon receipt of a complaint or notice to the Title IX coordinator of an alleged violation of the sexual misconduct policy, the Title IX coordinator initiates a prompt initial assessment to determine the next steps the college needs to take.
The Title IX coordinator will initiate at least one of three responses:
1) Offering supportive measures because the Complainant does not want to file a formal complaint; and/or
2) An informal resolution (upon submission of a formal complaint); and/or
3) A formal grievance process including an investigation and a hearing (upon submission of a formal complaint).
The college uses the formal grievance process to determine whether or not the policy has been violated. If it has been violated, the college will promptly implement effective remedies, if necessary, designed to ensure that it is not deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment or retaliation, their potential recurrence or their effects.
Following receipt of notice or a complaint of an alleged violation, the Title IX coordinator5 engages in an immediate initial assessment (typically within one to five business days). The steps in an initial assessment can include:
- If notice is given, the Title IX coordinator seeks to determine if the person impacted wishes to make a formal complaint, and will assist them to do so, if desired.
- If they do not wish to do so, the Title IX coordinator determines whether to initiate a complaint because a violence risk assessment indicates a compelling threat to health and/or safety.
- If a formal complaint is received, the Title IX coordinator assesses its sufficiency and works with the Complainant to make sure it is correctly completed.
- The Title IX coordinator reaches out to the Complainant to offer supportive measures.
- The Title IX coordinator works with the Complainant to ensure they are aware of the right to have an advisor.
- The Title IX coordinator works with the Complainant to determine whether the Complainant prefers a supportive and remedial response, an informal resolution option or a formal investigation and grievance process.
- If a supportive and remedial response is preferred, the Title IX coordinator works with the Complainant to identify their wishes, assesses the request and implements accordingly. No formal grievance process is initiated, though the Complainant can elect to initiate one later, if desired.
- If an informal resolution option is preferred, the Title IX coordinator assesses whether the complaint is suitable for informal resolution, and may seek to determine if the Respondent is also willing to engage in informal resolution.
- If a formal grievance process is preferred, the Title IX coordinator determines if the misconduct alleged falls within the scope of Title IX:
- If it does, the Title IX coordinator will initiate the formal investigation and grievance process, directing the investigation to address:
- an incident, and/or
- a pattern of alleged misconduct, and/or
- a culture/climate concern, based on the nature of the complaint.
- If it does not, the Title IX coordinator determines that Title IX does not apply (and will “dismiss” that aspect of the complaint, if any), assesses which policies may apply which resolution process is applicable, and will refer the matter accordingly. Please note that dismissing a complaint under Title IX is solely a procedural requirement under Title IX and does not limit the college’s authority to address a complaint with another appropriate process and remedies.
Violence Risk Assessment
In many cases, the Title IX coordinator may determine that a Violence Risk Assessment (VRA) should be conducted as part of the initial assessment. A VRA can aid in nine (9) critical and/or required determinations, including:
- Emergency removal of a Respondent on the basis of immediate threat to physical health/safety;
- Whether the Title IX coordinator should pursue/sign a formal complaint absent a willing/able Complainant;
- Whether to put the investigation on the footing of incident and/or pattern and/or climate;
- To help identify potential predatory conduct;
- To help assess/identify grooming behaviors;
- Whether it is reasonable to try to resolve a complaint through informal resolution, and what modality may be most successful;
- Whether to permit a student Respondent to voluntary withdrawal from courses;
- Assessment of appropriate sanctions/remedies (to be applied post-hearing); and/or
- Whether a Clery Act Timely Warning is needed.
Threat assessment is the process of evaluating the actionability of violence by an individual against another person or group following the issuance of a direct or conditional threat. A VRA is a broader term used to assess any potential violence or danger, regardless of the presence of a vague, conditional or direct threat.
VRAs require specific training and are typically conducted by psychologists, clinical counselors, social workers, case managers, law enforcement officers and student conduct officers. Where a VRA is required by the Title IX coordinator, a Respondent refusing to cooperate may result in a charge of failure to comply within the appropriate student or employee conduct process.
A VRA is not an evaluation for an involuntary behavioral health hospitalization nor is it a psychological or mental health assessment. A VRA assesses the risk of actionable violence, often with a focus on targeted/predatory escalations, and is supported by research from the fields of law enforcement, criminology, human resources and psychology.
Dismissal (Mandatory and Discretionary)
The college must dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing, it is determined that:
- The conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defined above, even if proved; and/or
- The conduct did not occur in an educational program or activity controlled by the college, and/or the college does not have control of the Respondent; and/or
- The conduct did not occur against a person in the United States; and/or
- At the time of filing a formal complaint, a Complainant is not participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of the college.
The college may dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing:
- A Complainant notifies a Title IX coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein; or
- The Respondent is no longer enrolled in or employed by the college; or
- Specific circumstances prevent the college from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.
Upon any dismissal, the college will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and the rationale for doing so simultaneously to the parties.
This dismissal decision is appealable by any party under the procedures for appeal below. The decision not to dismiss is also appealable by any party claiming that a dismissal is required or appropriate. A Complainant who decides to withdraw a complaint may later request to reinstate it or refile it.
The college is obligated to ensure that the grievance process is not abused for retaliatory purposes. The college permits the filing of counterclaims but uses an initial assessment, described above, to assess whether the allegations in the counterclaim are made in good faith. Counterclaims by a Respondent may be made in good faith, but are, on occasion, also made for purposes of retaliation. Counterclaims made with retaliatory intent will not be permitted.
Counterclaims determined to have been reported in good faith will be processed using the grievance procedures below. Investigation of such claims may take place after resolution of the underlying initial allegation, in which case a delay may occur. Counterclaims may also be resolved through the same investigation as the underlying allegation, at the discretion of the Title IX coordinator. When counterclaims are not made in good faith, they will be considered retaliatory.
Right to an Advisor
The parties may each have an advisor of their choice present with them for all meetings, interviews and hearings within the resolution process, if they so choose. The parties may select whomever they wish to serve as their advisor as long as the advisor is eligible and available. The advisor cannot have institutionally-conflicting roles.
Choosing an advisor who is also a witness in the process creates potential for bias and conflict-of-interest. A party who chooses an advisor who is also a witness can anticipate that issues of potential bias will be explored by the hearing chair.
a. Who Can Serve as an Advisor
The advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney or any other individual a party chooses to advise, support and/or consult with them throughout the resolution process. The parties may choose advisors from inside or outside of the college community.
The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) makes advisors available to the parties at no cost. More information about obtaining MHEC advisors can be found on their website (https://mhec.maryland.gov/Pages/Title-IX-Campus-Sexual-Assault-Proceedings.aspx). Advisors provided by MHEC do not fall under the supervision authority of the college and the college cannot guarantee these advisors will be familiar with college specific policy and procedures.
The Title IX coordinator will also offer to assign a trained advisor for any party if the party so chooses. If the parties choose an advisor from the Grievance Process Pool available from the college, the advisor will be trained by the college and be familiar with the college’s resolution process.
If the parties choose an advisor from outside the Grievance Process Pool, the advisor may not have been trained by the college and may not be familiar with college policies and procedures.
Parties also have the right to choose not to have an advisor in the initial stages of the resolution process, prior to a hearing.
b. Advisor’s Role in Meetings and Interviews
The parties may be accompanied by their advisor in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present, including intake and interviews. Advisors should help the parties prepare for each meeting and are expected to advise ethically, with integrity and in good faith.
The college cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an advisor who is an attorney, but the other party does not or cannot afford an attorney, the college is not obligated to provide an attorney.
c. Advisors in Hearings/College-Appointed Advisor
Under U.S. Department of Education regulations under Title IX, a form of indirect questioning is required during the hearing but must be conducted by the parties’ advisors. The parties are not permitted to directly question each other or any witnesses. If a party does not have an advisor for a hearing, the college will appoint a trained advisor for the limited purpose of conducting any questioning of the other party and witnesses.
A party may reject this appointment and choose their own advisor, but they may not proceed without an advisor. If the party’s advisor will not conduct questioning, the college will appoint an advisor who will do so, regardless of the participation or non-participation of the advised party in the hearing itself. Extensive questioning of the parties and witnesses may also be conducted by the chair during the hearing.
d. Pre-Interview Meetings
Advisors may request to meet with the administrative officials conducting interviews/meetings in advance of these interviews or meetings. This pre-meeting allows advisors to clarify and understand their role and the college’s policies and procedures.
e. Advisor Violations of College Policy
All advisors are subject to the same college policies and procedures, whether they are attorneys or not. Advisors are expected to advise their advisees without disrupting proceedings. Advisors should not address college officials in a meeting or interview unless invited to (e.g., asking procedural questions). The advisor may not make a presentation or represent their advisee6 during any meeting or proceeding and may not speak on behalf of the advisee to the investigator(s) or other chair(s) except during a hearing proceeding, during cross-examination.
The parties are expected to ask and respond to questions on their own behalf throughout the investigation phase of the resolution process. Although the advisor generally may not speak on behalf of their advisee, the advisor may consult with their advisee, either privately as needed, or by conferring or passing notes during any resolution process meeting or interview. For longer or more involved discussions, the parties and their advisors should ask for breaks to allow for private consultation.
Any advisor who oversteps their role as defined in these procedures will be warned only once. If the advisor continues to disrupt or otherwise fails to respect the limits of the advisor role, the meeting will be ended, or other appropriate measures implemented. Subsequently, the Title IX coordinator will determine how to address the advisor’s non-compliance and future role.
f. Sharing Information with the Advisor
The college expects that the parties may wish to have the college share documentation and evidence related to the allegations with their advisors. Parties may share this information directly with their advisor or other individuals if they wish. Doing so may help the parties participate more meaningfully in the resolution process.
The college also provides a consent form that authorizes the college to share such information directly with their advisor. The parties must either complete and submit this form to the Title IX coordinator or provide similar documentation demonstrating consent to a release of information to the advisor before the college is able to share records with an advisor.
g. Privacy of Records Shared with Advisor
Advisors are expected to maintain the privacy of the records shared with them. These records may not be shared with third parties, disclosed publicly or used for purposes not explicitly authorized by the college. The college may seek to restrict the role of any advisor who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by the college’s privacy expectations.
h. Expectations of an Advisor
The college generally expects an advisor to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend college meetings when planned, but may change scheduled meetings to accommodate an advisor’s inability to attend, if doing so does not cause an unreasonable delay.
The college may also make reasonable provisions to allow an advisor who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, video conferencing or other similar technologies as may be convenient and available.
i. Expectations of the Parties with Respect to Advisors
A party may elect to change advisors during the process and is not obligated to use the same advisor throughout. The parties are expected to inform the Title IX coordinator of the identity of their advisor at least two (2) business days before the date of their first meeting. The parties are expected to provide timely notice to the Title IX coordinator if they change advisors at any time. It is assumed that if a party changes advisors, consent to share information with the previous advisor is terminated, and a release for the new advisor must be secured. Parties are expected to inform the Title IX coordinator of the identity of their hearing advisor at least two (2) business days before the hearing.
Resolution Processes Before Hearing
Resolution proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the resolution process are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accordance with college policy. Although there is an expectation of privacy around what Investigators share with parties during interviews, the parties have discretion to share their own knowledge and evidence with others if they so choose, with the exception of information the parties agree not to disclose related to informal resolution, discussed below. The college encourages parties to discuss any sharing of information with their advisors before doing so.
a. Informal Resolution
Informal resolution can include three different approaches:
- When the Title IX coordinator can resolve the matter informally by providing supportive measures (only) to remedy the situation.
- When the parties agree to resolve the matter through an alternate resolution mechanism as described below, usually before a formal investigation takes place.
- When the Respondent accepts responsibility for violating policy and desires to accept a sanction and end the resolution process.
To initiate informal resolution, a Complainant needs to submit a formal complaint, as defined above. A Respondent who wishes to initiate informal resolution should contact the Title IX coordinator.
It is not necessary to pursue informal resolution first in order to pursue a formal grievance process, and any party participating in informal resolution can stop the process at any time and begin or resume the formal grievance process.
Prior to implementing informal resolution, the college will provide the parties with written notice of the reported misconduct and any sanctions or measures that may result from participating in such a process, including information regarding any records that will be maintained or shared by the college.
The college will obtain voluntary, written confirmation that all parties wish to resolve the matter through informal resolution before proceeding and will not pressure the parties to participate in informal resolution.
Informal resolution is not available to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student.
b. Alternate Resolution Mechanism
Alternate resolution is an informal mechanism by which the parties reach a mutually agreed upon resolution of an allegation. All parties must consent to the use of an alternate resolution mechanism.
The Title IX coordinator may look to the following factors to assess whether alternate resolution is appropriate, or which form of alternate resolution may be most successful for the parties:
- The parties’ amenability to alternate resolution;
- Likelihood of potential resolution, taking into account any power dynamics between the parties;
- The parties’ motivation to participate;
- Civility of the parties;
- Results of a violence risk assessment/ongoing risk analysis;
- Disciplinary history;
- Whether an emergency removal is needed;
- Skill of the alternate resolution facilitator with this type of allegation;
- Complaint complexity;
- Emotional investment/capability of the parties;
- Rationality of the parties;
- Goals of the parties.
The ultimate determination of whether alternate resolution is available or successful is to be made by the Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive/disciplinary actions. Results of complaints resolved by informal resolution or alternate resolution are not appealable.
c. Respondent Accepts Responsibility for Alleged Violations
The Respondent may accept responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations at any point during the resolution process. If the Respondent indicates an intent to accept responsibility for all of the alleged misconduct, the formal process will be paused, and the Title IX coordinator will determine whether informal resolution can be used according to the criteria above.
If informal resolution is applicable, the Title IX coordinator will determine whether all parties and the college are able to agree on responsibility, sanctions and/or remedies. If so, the Title IX coordinator implements the accepted finding that the Respondent is in violation of college policy and implements agreed-upon sanctions and/or remedies, in coordination with other appropriate administrators, as necessary.
This result is not subject to appeal once all parties indicate their written assent to all agreed upon terms of resolution. When the parties cannot agree on all terms of resolution, the formal grievance process will resume at the same point where it was paused.
When a resolution is accomplished, the appropriate sanction or responsive actions are promptly implemented in order to effectively stop the sexual harassment or retaliation, prevent its recurrence, and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct, both on the Complainant and the community.
d. Negotiated Resolution
The Title IX coordinator, with the consent of the parties, may negotiate and implement an agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and the college. Negotiated resolutions are not appealable.
Grievance Process Pool
The formal grievance process relies on a pool of administrators (“the pool”) to carry out the process. Members of the pool are announced in an annual distribution of the sexual misconduct policy and procedures to all students, parents/guardians of students, employees, prospective students and prospective employees.
The list of pool members and a description of the pool can be found on the Title IX page of the college website.
a. Pool Member Roles
Members of the pool are trained annually, and can serve in in the following roles:
- To provide appropriate intake of and initial guidance pertaining to complaints
- To act as an advisor to the parties
- To investigate complaints
- To serve as a chair regarding the complaint
- To serve as an appeal chair
Some members of the pool are specifically trained to undertake particular roles in the formal grievance process.
b. Pool Member Appointment and Training
The president, in consultation with Title IX coordinators, appoints the pool, which acts with independence and impartiality.
The pool members receive annual training and this training may include (depending on the role), but is not limited to:
- The scope of the college’s sexual misconduct policy and procedures
- How to conduct investigations and hearings that protect the safety of Complainants and Respondents, and promote accountability
- Implicit bias
- Disparate treatment and impact
- Reporting, confidentiality and privacy requirements
- Applicable laws, regulations and federal regulatory guidance
- How to implement appropriate and situation-specific remedies
- How to investigate in a thorough, reliable and impartial manner
- How to uphold fairness, equity and due process
- How to weigh evidence
- How to conduct questioning
- How to assess credibility
- Impartiality and objectivity
- How to render findings and generate clear, concise evidence-based rationales
- The definitions of all offenses
- How to apply definitions used by the college with respect to consent (or the absence or negation of consent) consistently, impartially, and in accordance with policy
- How to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals and informal resolution processes
- How to serve impartially by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest and bias
- Any technology to be used at a live hearing
- Issues of relevance of questions and evidence
- Issues of relevance to create an investigation report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence
- How to determine appropriate sanctions in reference to all forms of harassment and/or retaliation allegations
All pool members are required to attend these trainings annually. The materials used to train all members of the pool are publicly posted on the Title IX page of the college website.
Grievance Process: Notice of Investigation and Allegations
The Title IX coordinator will provide written Notice of the Investigation and Allegations (the “NOIA”) to the Respondent upon commencement of the formal grievance process. This facilitates the Respondent’s ability to prepare for the interview and to identify and choose an advisor to accompany them. The NOIA is also copied to the Complainant, who is to be given advance notice of when the NOIA will be delivered to the Respondent.
The NOIA will include:
- A meaningful summary of all of allegations,
- The identity of the involved parties (if known),
- The precise misconduct being alleged,
- The date and location of the alleged incident(s) (if known),
- The specific policies implicated,
- A description of the applicable procedures,
- A statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result,
- A statement that the college presumes the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the evidence supports a different determination,
- A statement that determinations of responsibility are made at the conclusion of the process and that the parties will be given an opportunity to inspect and review all directly related and/or relevant evidence obtained during the review and comment period,
- A statement about the college’s policy on retaliation,
- Information about the privacy of the process,
- Information on the need for each party to have an advisor of their choosing and suggestions for ways to identify an advisor,
- A statement informing the parties that the college’s policy prohibits knowingly making false statements, including knowingly submitting false information during the resolution process,
- Detail on how the party may request disability accommodations during the interview process,
- A link to the college’s VAWA Brochure,
- The name(s) of the Investigator(s), along with a process to identify, in advance of the interview process, to the Title IX coordinator any conflict of interest that the Investigator(s) may have, and
- An instruction to preserve any evidence that is directly related to the allegations.
Amendments and updates to the NOIA may be made as the investigation progresses and more information becomes available regarding the addition or dismissal of various charges.
Notice will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the address of the parties as indicated in official college records or emailed to the parties’ college-issued email. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
The college will make a good faith effort to complete the resolution process within a 60-90 business day time period, including appeal, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX coordinator, who will provide notice and rationale for any extensions or delays to the parties as appropriate, as well as an estimate of how much additional time will be needed to complete the process.
Any individual materially involved in the administration of the resolution process may neither have nor demonstrate a conflict of interest or bias for a party generally, or for a specific Complainant or Respondent.
The formal grievance process involves an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence obtained, including evidence that supports that the Respondent engaged in a policy violation and evidence that supports that the Respondent did not engage in a policy violation. Credibility determinations may not be based solely on an individual’s status or participation as a Complainant, Respondent or witness.
The college operates with the presumption that the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the Respondent is determined to be responsible for a policy violation by the applicable standard of proof.
Investigations are completed expeditiously, normally within 30 business days, though some investigations may take weeks or even months, depending on the nature, extent and complexity of the allegations, availability of witnesses, police involvement, etc.
The college will make a good faith effort to complete investigations as promptly as circumstances permit and will communicate regularly with the parties to update them on the progress and timing of the investigation.
Delays in the Investigation Process and Interactions with Law Enforcement
The college may undertake a brief delay in its investigation if circumstances require. Such circumstances include, but are not limited to, a request from law enforcement to temporarily delay the investigation, the need for language assistance, the absence of parties and/or witnesses, and/or accommodations for disabilities or health conditions.
The college will communicate in writing the anticipated duration of the delay and reason to the parties and provide the parties with status updates if necessary. The college will promptly resume its investigation and resolution process as soon as feasible. During such a delay, the college will implement supportive measures as deemed appropriate.
College action(s) or processes are not typically altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the underlying incident(s) have been filed or that criminal charges have been dismissed or reduced.
Steps in the Investigation Process
All investigations are thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt and fair. Investigations involve interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses; obtaining available, relevant evidence; and identifying sources of expert information, as necessary.
All parties have a full and fair opportunity, through the investigation process, to suggest witnesses and questions, to provide evidence and expert witnesses, and to fully review and respond to all evidence on the record.
Investigations are conducted at the college by a Title IX coordinator. Deputy Title IX coordinators may assist with an investigation. The investigator typically takes the following steps (not necessarily in this order).
- Determine the identity and contact information of the Complainant.
- In coordination with campus partners, initiate or assist with any necessary supportive measures.
- Identify all policies implicated by the alleged misconduct and notify the Complainant and Respondent of all of the specific policies implicated.
- Commence a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation by identifying issues and developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended investigation timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the parties.
- Meet with the Complainant to finalize their interview/statement, if necessary.
- Prepare the initial Notice of Investigation and Allegation (NOIA). The NOIA may be amended with any additional or dismissed allegations. The notice should inform the parties of their right to have the assistance of an advisor, who could be a member of the pool or an advisor of their choosing present for all meetings attended by the party.
- Provide each interviewed party and witness an opportunity to review and verify the Investigator’s summary notes of the relevant evidence/testimony from their respective interviews and meetings.
- Make good faith efforts to notify the parties of any meeting or interview involving the other party, in advance when possible.
- When participation of a party is expected, provide that party with written notice of the date, time and location of the meeting, as well as the expected participants and purpose.
- Interview all available, relevant witnesses and conduct follow-up interviews as necessary.
- Allow each party the opportunity to suggest witnesses and questions they wish the Investigator(s) to ask of the other party and witnesses, and document in the report which questions were asked, with a rationale for any changes or omissions.
- Complete the investigation promptly and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline.
- Provide regular status updates to the parties throughout the investigation.
- Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective advisors (if so desired by the parties) with a list of witnesses whose information will be used to render a finding.
- Write a comprehensive investigation report fully summarizing the investigation, all witness interviews, and addressing all relevant evidence. Appendices including relevant physical or documentary evidence will be included.
- Investigators gather, assess and synthesize evidence, but make no conclusions, engage in no policy analysis and render no recommendations as part of their report.
- Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective advisors (if so desired by the parties) a secured electronic or hard copy of the draft investigation report as well as an opportunity to inspect and review all of the evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the reported misconduct, including evidence upon which the college does not intend to rely in reaching a determination, for a ten (10) business day review and comment period so that each party may meaningfully respond to the evidence. The parties may elect to waive the full ten (10) days. Each copy of the materials shared will be watermarked on each page with the role of the person receiving it (e.g., Complainant, Respondent, Complainant’s advisor, Respondent’s advisor).
- Investigators may elect to respond in writing in the investigation report to the parties’ submitted responses and/or to share the responses between the parties for additional responses.
- Investigators will incorporate relevant elements of the parties’ written responses into the final investigation report, include any additional relevant evidence, make any necessary revisions and finalize the report. The investigator(s) should document all rationales for any changes made after the review and comment period.
- The investigator will incorporate any relevant feedback, and the final report is then shared with all parties and their advisors through secure electronic transmission or hard copy at least ten (10) business days prior to a hearing. The parties are also provided with a file of any directly related evidence that was not included in the report.
Role and Participation of Witnesses in the Investigation
Witnesses (as distinguished from the parties) who are employees of the college are expected to cooperate with and participate in the college’s investigation and resolution process. Failure of such witnesses to cooperate with and/or participate in the investigation or resolution process constitutes a violation of policy and may warrant discipline. Student witnesses and witnesses from outside the college community are encouraged to cooperate with college investigations and to share what they know about a complaint.
Although in-person interviews for parties and all potential witnesses are ideal, circumstances may require individuals to be interviewed remotely via Zoom or similar technology. The college will take appropriate steps to reasonably ensure the security/privacy of remote interviews.
Witnesses may also provide written statements in lieu of interviews or choose to respond to written questions, if deemed appropriate by the Investigator(s), though not preferred. If a witness submits a written statement but does not intend to be and is not present for cross examination at a hearing, their written statement may not be used as evidence.
Recording of Interviews
No unauthorized audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during investigation meetings. If an investigator elects to audio and/or video record interviews, all involved parties must be made aware of and consent to audio and/or video recording.
Evidentiary Considerations in the Investigation
The investigation does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Referral for Hearing
Provided that the complaint is not resolved through informal resolution, once the final investigation report is shared with the parties, the Title IX coordinator will refer the matter for a hearing. The hearing cannot be less than ten (10) business days from the conclusion of the investigation – when the final investigation report is transmitted to the parties and the chair – unless all parties and the chair agree to an expedited timeline.
The college will designate a single chair from the pool, at the discretion of the Title IX coordinator, to serve as hearing chair.
The chair will not have had any previous involvement with the investigation. The Title IX coordinator may elect to have an alternate from the pool sit in throughout the hearing process in the event that a substitute is needed for any reason.
Those who have served as investigators will be witnesses in the hearing and therefore may not serve as chairs. Those who are serving as advisors for any party may not serve as chairs in that matter. The Title IX coordinator may not serve as a chair in the matter but may serve as an administrative facilitator regarding set up and facilitation of the hearing.
Evidentiary Considerations in the Hearing
Any evidence that the chair determines is relevant and credible may be considered. The hearing does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Previous disciplinary action of any kind involving the Respondent may be considered in determining an appropriate sanction upon a determination of responsibility. This information is only considered at the sanction stage of the process and is not shared until then.
The parties may each submit a written impact statement prior to the hearing for the consideration of the chair at the sanction stage of the process when a determination of responsibility is reached.
After post-hearing deliberation, the chair renders a determination based on the preponderance of the evidence; whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the policy as alleged.
Notice of Hearing
No less than ten (10) business days prior to the hearing, the Title IX coordinator will send notice of the hearing to the parties. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
The notice will contain:
- A description of the alleged violation(s), a list of all policies allegedly violated, a description of the applicable procedures and a statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result.
- The time, date and location of the hearing and a reminder that attendance is mandatory, superseding all other campus activities.
- Any technology that will be used to facilitate the hearing.
- Information about the option for the live hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms using technology that enables the chair and parties to see and hear a party or witness answering questions. Such a request must be raised with the Title IX coordinator at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing.
- A list of all those who will attend the hearing, along with an invitation to object to the chair on the basis of demonstrated bias. This must be raised with the Title IX coordinator at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
- Information on how the hearing will be recorded and how to access the recording for the parties after the hearing.
- A statement that if any party or witness does not appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearing may be held in their absence, and the party’s or witness’s testimony and any statements given prior to the hearing will not be considered by the chair. For compelling reasons, the chair may reschedule the hearing.
- Notification that the parties may have the assistance of an advisor of their choosing at the hearing and will be required to have one present for any questions they may desire to ask. The party must notify the Title IX coordinator if they do not have an advisor, and the college will appoint one. Each party must have an advisor present. There are no exceptions.
- A copy of all the materials provided to the chair about the matter, unless they have been provided already.
- An invitation to each party to submit to the chair an impact statement pre-hearing that the chair will review during any sanction determination.
- An invitation to contact the Title IX coordinator to arrange any disability accommodations, language assistance and/or interpretation services that may be needed at the hearing, at least seven (7) business days prior to the hearing.
- Information on whether the parties can bring cell phones/devices into the hearing.
Hearings for possible violations that occur near or after the end of an academic term (assuming the Respondent is still subject to the policy) and are unable to be resolved prior to the end of term will typically be held immediately after the end of the term or during the summer, as needed, to meet the resolution timeline followed by the college and remain within the 60-90 business day goal for resolution.
In these cases, if the Respondent is a graduating student, a hold may be placed on graduation and/or official transcripts until the matter is fully resolved (including any appeal). A student facing charges under the sexual misconduct policy is not in good standing to graduate.
Alternative Hearing Participation Options
If a party or parties prefer not to attend or cannot attend the hearing in person, the party should request alternative arrangements from the Title IX coordinator at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing.
The Title IX coordinator can arrange to use technology to allow remote testimony without compromising the fairness of the hearing. Remote options may also be needed for witnesses who cannot appear in person. Any witness who cannot attend in person should let the Title IX coordinator know at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
The Title IX coordinator will provide the names of persons who will be participating in the hearing, all pertinent documentary evidence and the final investigation report to the parties at least ten (10) business days prior to the hearing.
Any witness scheduled to participate in the hearing must have been first interviewed by an investigator, unless all parties and the chair assent to the witness’s participation in the hearing. The same holds for any evidence that is first offered at the hearing. If the parties and chair do not assent to the admission of evidence newly offered at the hearing, the chair may delay the hearing and instruct that the investigation needs to be re-opened to consider that evidence.
The parties will be given the name of the chair at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. All objections to the chair must be raised in writing, detailing the rationale for the objection, and must be submitted to the Title IX coordinator as soon as possible and no later than one day prior to the hearing. Chairs will only be removed if the Title IX coordinator concludes that their bias or conflict of interest precludes an impartial hearing of the allegation(s).
The Title IX coordinator will give the chair a list of the names of all parties, witnesses and advisors at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. A chair who cannot make an objective determination must recuse themselves from the proceedings when notified of the identity of the parties, witnesses and advisors in advance of the hearing. If a chair is unsure of whether a bias or conflict of interest exists, they must raise the concern to the Title IX coordinator as soon as possible.
During the ten (10) business day period prior to the hearing, the parties have the opportunity for continued review and comment on the final investigation report and available evidence. That review and comment can be shared with the chair at the pre-hearing meeting or at the hearing and will be exchanged between each party.
The chair may convene a pre-hearing meeting(s) with the parties and/or their advisors to invite them to submit the questions or topics they (the parties and/or their advisors) wish to ask or discuss at the hearing, so that the chair can rule on their relevance ahead of time to avoid any improper evidentiary introduction in the hearing or provide recommendations for more appropriate phrasing. However, this advance review opportunity does not preclude the advisors from asking a question for the first time at the hearing or from asking for a reconsideration based on any new information or testimony offered at the hearing. The chair must document and share with each party their rationale for any exclusion or inclusion at a pre-hearing meeting.
The chair, only with full agreement of the parties, may decide in advance of the hearing that certain witnesses do not need to be present if their testimony can be adequately summarized by the investigator in the investigation report or during the hearing.
At each pre-hearing meeting with a party and their advisor, the chair will consider arguments that evidence identified in the final investigation report as relevant is, in fact, not relevant. Similarly, evidence identified as directly related but not relevant by the Investigator may be argued to be relevant.
The chair may rule on these arguments pre-hearing and will exchange those rulings between the parties prior to the hearing to assist in preparation for the hearing. The chair may consult the Title IX coordinator and ask the Title IX coordinator to attend pre-hearing meetings. Pre-hearing meetings with the chair will be recorded.
At the hearing, the chair has the authority to hear and make determinations on all allegations of sexual harassment and/or retaliation and may also hear and make determinations on any additional alleged policy violations that have occurred in concert with the sexual harassment and/or retaliation, even though those collateral allegations may not specifically fall within the policy.
Participants at the hearing will include, and are limited to, the chair, the Title IX coordinator and other investigators who conducted the investigation, the parties, advisors to the parties, any called witnesses and anyone providing authorized accommodations or assistive services.
The chair will answer all questions of procedure. Anyone appearing at the hearing to provide information will respond to questions on their own behalf.
The chair will allow witnesses who have relevant information to appear at a portion of the hearing in order to respond to specific questions from the chair and the parties, and then witnesses will be excused.
In hearings involving more than one Respondent or in which two (2) or more Complainants have accused the same individual of substantially similar conduct, the default procedure will be to hear the allegations jointly.
However, the Title IX coordinator may permit the investigation and/or hearings pertinent to each Respondent to be conducted separately if there is a compelling reason to do so. In joint hearings, separate determinations of responsibility will be made for each Respondent with respect to each alleged policy violation.
The Order of the Hearing – Introductions and Explanation of Procedure
The chair explains the procedures and introduces the participants. This may include a final opportunity for challenge or recusal of the chair on the basis of bias or conflict of interest. The Title IX coordinator will review and decide the challenge.
Investigator Presents the Final Investigation Report
The Title IX coordinator and other investigators will then present a summary of the final investigation report, including items that are contested and those that are not, and will be subject to questioning by the chair and the parties’ advisors. The Title IX coordinator and other investigators will be present during the entire hearing process, but not during deliberations.
Neither the advisors nor the chair should ask the Title IX coordinator and other investigators opinions on credibility, recommended findings or determinations, and the Title IX coordinator and other investigators, advisors and parties will refrain from discussion of or questions about these assessments. If such information is introduced, the chair will direct that it be disregarded.
Testimony and Questioning
Once the Title IX coordinator and other investigators present their report and are questioned, the parties and witnesses may provide relevant information in turn, beginning with the Complainant, and then in the order determined by the chair. The parties/witnesses will submit to questioning by the chair and then by the parties through their advisors (“cross-examination”).
All questions are subject to a relevance determination by the chair. The advisor, who will remain seated during questioning, will pose the proposed question orally, electronically or in writing (orally is the default, but other means of submission may be permitted by the chair upon request if agreed to by all parties and the chair), the proceeding will pause to allow the chair to consider it (and state it if it has not been stated aloud), and the chair will determine whether the question will be permitted, disallowed or rephrased.
The chair may invite explanations or persuasive statements regarding relevance with the advisors, if the chair so chooses. The chair will then state their decision on the question for the record and advise the party/witness to whom the question was directed. The chair will explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant or to reframe it for relevance.
The chair will limit or disallow questions on the basis that they are irrelevant, unduly repetitious or abusive. The chair has final say on all questions and determinations of relevance. The chair may ask advisors to frame why a question is or is not relevant from their perspective but will not entertain argument from the advisors on relevance once the chair has ruled on a question.
If the parties raise an issue of bias or conflict of interest of a Title IX coordinator, other investigators or the chair at the hearing, the chair may elect to address those issues, and/or refer them to the Title IX coordinator, and/or preserve them for appeal. If bias is not in issue at the hearing, the chair should not permit irrelevant questions that probe for bias.
Refusal to Submit to Cross-Examination and Inferences
Cross-examination is an all or nothing proposition, meaning that if any question is refused, no statements of that party or witness are admissible. Only if a party or witness is willing to submit to cross-examination, and answers all questions, will their statements prior to or at the hearing be fully admissible. If a party or witness chooses not to submit to cross-examination at the hearing, either because they do not attend the meeting, or they attend but refuse to participate in questioning, then the chair may not rely on any prior statement made by that party or witness at the hearing (including those contained in the investigation report) in the ultimate determination of responsibility. The chair must disregard all statements. Evidence provided that is something other than a statement by the party or witness may be considered.
Whether a party or witness does or does not answer questions from the chair, their statements will be admissible as long as they are willing to submit to cross-examination questions, even if they are not asked such questions. The chair may not draw any inference solely from a party’s or witness’s absence from the hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.
If charges of policy violations other than sexual harassment are considered at the same hearing, the chair may consider all evidence it deems relevant, may rely on any relevant statement as long as the opportunity for cross-examination is afforded to all parties through their advisors, and may draw reasonable inferences from any decision by any party or witness not to participate or respond to questions.
Hearings (but not deliberations) are recorded by the college for purposes of review in the event of an appeal. The parties may not record the proceedings and no other unauthorized recordings are permitted.
The chair, the parties, their advisors and appropriate administrators of the college will be permitted to listen to the recording in a controlled environment determined by a Title IX coordinator. No person will be given or be allowed to make a copy of the recording without permission of a Title IX coordinator.
Deliberation, Decision-Making and Standard of Proof
The chair will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question. The preponderance of the evidence standard of proof is used.
When there is a finding of responsibility on one or more of the allegations, the chair may then consider the previously-submitted party impact statements in determining appropriate sanction(s).
The chair will ensure that each of the parties has an opportunity to review any impact statement submitted by the other party(ies). The chair may – at their discretion – consider the statements, but they are not binding. The chair will review the statements and any pertinent conduct history provided by administrators and will recommend the appropriate sanction(s) in consultation with other appropriate administrators, as required.
The chair will then prepare a written deliberation statement and deliver it to the Title IX coordinator, detailing the determination, rationale, the evidence used in support of its determination, the evidence not relied upon in its determination, credibility assessments and any sanctions.
This report must be submitted to the Title IX coordinator within two (2) business days of the end of deliberations, unless the Title IX coordinator grants an extension. If an extension is granted, the Title IX coordinator will notify the parties.
Notice of Outcome
Using the deliberation statement, the Title IX coordinator will work with the chair to prepare a Notice of Outcome. The Title IX coordinator will then share the letter, including the final determination, rationale and any applicable sanction(s) with the parties and their advisors within five (5) business days of receiving the chair’s deliberation statement.
The Notice of Outcome will then be shared with the parties simultaneously. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the permanent address of the parties as indicated in official college records or emailed to the parties’ college-issued email. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
The Notice of Outcome will articulate the specific policy(ies) reported to have been violated, including the relevant policy section, and will contain a description of the procedural steps taken by the college from the receipt of the misconduct report to the determination, including any and all notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to obtain evidence and hearings held.
The Notice of Outcome will specify the finding on each alleged policy violation; the findings of fact that support the determination; conclusions regarding the application of the relevant policy to the facts at issue; a statement of, and rationale for, the result of each allegation to the extent the college is permitted to share such information under state or federal law; any sanctions issued which the college is permitted to share according to state or federal law; and any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to ensure access to the college’s educational or employment program or activity, to the extent the college is permitted to share such information under state or federal law (this detail is not typically shared with the Respondent unless the remedy directly relates to the Respondent).
The Notice of Outcome will also include information on when the results are considered by the college to be final, any changes that occur prior to finalization, and the relevant procedures and bases for any available appeal options.
Factors considered when determining a sanction/responsive action may include, but are not limited to:
- The nature, severity of and circumstances surrounding the violation(s)
- The Respondent’s disciplinary history
- Previous allegations or allegations involving similar conduct
- The need for sanctions/responsive actions to bring an end to the sexual harassment and/or retaliation
- The need for sanctions/responsive actions to prevent the future recurrence of sexual harassment and/or retaliation
- The need to remedy the effects of the sexual harassment and/or retaliation on the Complainant and the community
- The impact on the parties
- Any other information deemed relevant by the chair
The sanctions will be implemented as soon as is feasible, either upon the outcome of any appeal or the expiration of the window to appeal without an appeal being requested.
The sanctions described are not exclusive of, and may be in addition to, other actions taken or sanctions imposed by external authorities.
a. Student Sanctions
The following are the usual sanctions that may be imposed upon students:
- Warning: A formal statement that the conduct was unacceptable and a warning that further violation of any college policy, procedure or directive will result in more severe sanctions/responsive actions.
- Required Counseling: A mandate to meet with and engage in either college-sponsored or external counseling to better comprehend the misconduct and its effects.
- Probation: A written reprimand for violation of institutional policy, providing for more severe disciplinary sanctions in the event that the student is found in violation of any institutional policy, procedure or directive within a specified period of time. Terms of the probation will be articulated and may include denial of specified privileges, exclusion from co-curricular activities, exclusion from designated areas of campus, no-contact orders and/or other measures deemed appropriate.
- Suspension: Termination of student status for a definite period of time not to exceed two years and/or until specific criteria are met. Students who return from suspension are automatically placed on probation through the remainder of their tenure as a student.
- Expulsion: Permanent termination of student status and revocation of rights to be on campus for any reason or to attend college-sponsored events. This sanction will be noted permanently as a Conduct Expulsion on the student’s official transcript.
- Withholding Diploma: The college may withhold a student’s diploma as a sanction if the student is found responsible for an alleged violation.
- Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions, the college may assign any other sanctions as deemed appropriate.
b. Employee Sanctions/Responsive Actions
Responsive actions for an employee who has engaged in harassment and/or retaliation include:
- Warning – Verbal or Written
- Performance Improvement Plan
- Enhanced supervision, observation or review
- Required Counseling
- Required Training or Education
- Denial of Pay Increase/Pay Grade
- Loss of Oversight or Supervisory Responsibility
- Assignment to new supervisor
- Restriction of professional development resources
- Suspension with pay
- Suspension without pay
- Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions/responsive actions, the college may assign any other responsive actions as deemed appropriate.
Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges Pending
The following process should apply when there is a withdrawal or resignation while charges are pending:
Should a student decide to not participate in the resolution process, the process proceeds absent their participation to a reasonable resolution. Should a student Respondent permanently withdraw from the college, the resolution process ends, as the college no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the withdrawn student.
However, the college will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues or concerns, variables that may have contributed to the alleged violation(s) and any ongoing effects of the alleged sexual harassment and/or retaliation. The student who withdraws or leaves while the process is pending may not return to the college and the registrar will be notified that they cannot be readmitted. A hold will be placed on their ability to be readmitted. They may also be barred from college property and/or events.
If the student Respondent only withdraws or takes a leave for a specified period of time (e.g., one semester or term), the resolution process may continue remotely and that student is not permitted to return to college unless and until all sanctions have been satisfied.
Should an employee Respondent resign with unresolved allegations pending, the resolution process ends, as the college no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the resigned employee.
However, the college will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues or concerns, variables that contributed to the alleged violation(s) and any ongoing effects of the alleged harassment or retaliation.
The employee who resigns with unresolved allegations pending is not eligible for rehire with the college, and the records retained by the Title IX coordinator will reflect that status.
All college responses to future inquiries regarding employment references for that individual will include that the former employee resigned during a pending disciplinary matter.
Any party may file a request for appeal (“Request for Appeal”), but it must be submitted in writing to the Title IX coordinator within five (5) days of the delivery of the Notice of Outcome.
An appeal chair is responsible for the appeal. The appeal chair will not have been involved in the process previously, including any dismissal appeal that may have been heard earlier in the process.
The Request for Appeal will be forwarded to the appeal chair for consideration to determine if the request meets the grounds for appeal (a Review for Standing). This review is not a review of the merits of the appeal, but solely a determination as to whether the request meets the grounds and is timely filed.
a. Grounds for Appeal
Appeals are limited to the following grounds:
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter;
- New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter; and
- The Title IX coordinator, investigator(s) or chair had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the specific Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.
If any of the grounds in the Request for Appeal do not meet the grounds in these procedures, that request will be denied by the appeal chair and the parties and their advisors will be notified in writing of the denial and the rationale.
If any of the grounds in the Request for Appeal meet the grounds in these procedures, then the appeal chair will notify the other party(ies) and their advisors, the Title IX coordinator, and, when appropriate, the investigators and/or the original chair.
The other party(ies) and their advisors, the Title IX coordinator, and, when appropriate, the investigators and/or the original chair will be mailed, emailed and/or provided a hard copy of the request with the approved grounds and then be given seven (7) business days to submit a response to the portion of the appeal that was approved and involves them. All responses will be forwarded by the chair to all parties for review and comment.
The non-appealing party (if any) may also choose to raise a new ground for appeal at this time. If so, that will be reviewed to determine if it meets the grounds in these procedures by the appeal chair and either denied or approved. If approved, it will be forwarded to the party who initially requested an appeal, the investigator(s) and/or original chair, as necessary, who will submit their responses in seven (7) business days, which will be circulated for review and comment by all parties.
Neither party may submit any new requests for appeal after this time period. The appeal chair will collect any additional information needed and all documentation regarding the approved grounds and the subsequent responses, and the chair will render a decision in no more than seven (7) business days, barring exigent circumstances.
A Notice of Appeal Outcome will be sent to all parties simultaneously including the decision on each approved ground and rationale for each decision. The Notice of Appeal Outcome will specify the finding on each ground for appeal, any specific instructions for remand or reconsideration, any sanctions that may result which the college is permitted to share according to state or federal law and the rationale supporting the essential findings to the extent the college is permitted to share under state or federal law.
Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the permanent address of the parties as indicated in official institutional records or emailed to the parties’ college-issued email. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
b. Sanctions Status During the Appeal
Any sanctions imposed as a result of the hearing are stayed during the appeal process. Supportive measures may be reinstated, subject to the same supportive measure procedures above.
If any of the sanctions are to be implemented immediately post-hearing, but pre-appeal, then emergency removal procedures (detailed above) for a hearing on the justification for doing so must be permitted within 48 hours of implementation.
The college may still place holds on official transcripts, diplomas, graduations and course registration pending the outcome of an appeal when the original sanctions included separation.
c. Appeal Considerations
- Decisions on appeal are to be deferential to the original decision, making changes to the finding only when there is clear error and to the sanction(s)/responsive action(s) only if there is a compelling justification to do so.
- Appeals are not intended to provide for a full re-hearing (de novo) of the allegation(s). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing and pertinent documentation regarding the specific grounds for appeal.
- An appeal is not an opportunity for an appeal chair to substitute their judgment for that of the original chair merely because they disagree with the finding and/or sanction(s).
- The appeal chair may consult with the Title IX coordinator on questions of procedure or rationale, for clarification, if needed. Documentation of all such consultation will be maintained.
- Appeals granted based on new evidence should normally be remanded to the original investigator(s) and/or chair for reconsideration. Other appeals may be remanded at the discretion of the Title IX coordinator or, in limited circumstances, decided on appeal.
- Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final: further appeals are not permitted, even if a decision or sanction is changed on remand (except in the case of a new hearing).
- In rare cases where a procedural or substantive error cannot be cured by the original chair (as in cases of bias), the appeal may order a new hearing with a new chair.
- The results of a remand to a chair cannot be appealed. The results of a new hearing can be appealed, once, on any of the three available appeal grounds.
- In cases in which the appeal results in reinstatement to the college or resumption of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the Respondent to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irreparable in the short term.
Long-Term Remedies/Other Actions
Following the conclusion of the resolution process, and in addition to any sanctions implemented, a Title IX coordinator may implement additional long-term remedies or actions with respect to the parties and/or the campus community that are intended to stop the sexual harassment and/or retaliation, remedy the effects and prevent reoccurrence.
These remedies/actions may include, but are not limited to:
- Referral to counseling services
- Referral to the Employee Assistance Program
- Education to the individual and/or the community
- Permanent alteration of work arrangements for employees
- Provision of campus safety escorts
- Climate surveys
- Recommendations to policy modification and/or training
- Implementation of long-term contact limitations between the parties
- Implementation of adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc.
At the discretion of the Title IX coordinator, certain long-term support or measures may also be provided to the parties even if no policy violation is found.
When no policy violation is found, the Title IX coordinator will address any remedies owed by the college to the Respondent to ensure no effective denial of educational access.
The college will maintain the privacy of any long-term remedies/actions/measures, provided privacy does not impair the college’s ability to provide these services.
Failure to Comply with Sanctions and/or Interim and Long-Term Remedies and/or Responsive Actions
All Respondents are expected to comply with the assigned sanctions, responsive actions and/or corrective actions within the timeframe specified by the final chair (including the appeal chair).
Failure to abide by the sanction(s)/action(s) imposed by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect or any other reason, may result in additional sanction(s)/action(s), including suspension, expulsion and/or termination from the college and may be noted on a student’s official transcript.
A suspension will only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the Title IX coordinator.
The college will maintain for a period of seven (7) years records of:
- Each sexual harassment investigation including any determination regarding responsibility and any audio or audiovisual recording or transcript required under federal regulation;
- Any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the Respondent;
- Any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to restore or preserve equal access to the college’s education program or activity;
- Any appeal and the result therefrom;
- Any Informal Resolution and the result therefrom;
- All materials used to train Title IX coordinators, investigators, chairs and any person who facilitates an Informal Resolution process. The college will make these training materials publicly available on the college’s website; and
- Any actions, including any supportive measures, taken in response to a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment, including:
- The basis for all conclusions that the response was not deliberately indifferent;
- Any measures designed to restore or preserve equal access to the college’s education program or activity; and
- If no supportive measures were provided to the Complainant, document the reasons why such a response was not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.
The college will also maintain any and all records in accordance with state and federal laws.
Disabilities Accommodations in the Resolution Process
The college is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and support to qualified students, employees or others with disabilities to ensure equal access to the college’s resolution process.
Any student needing such accommodations or support should contact the academic and disabilities counselor, and any employee should contact the executive director of human resources. The request will be reviewed and, in consultation with the person requesting the accommodation and the Title IX coordinator, they will determine which accommodations are appropriate and necessary for full participation in the process.
Revision of Policy and Procedures
These sexual misconduct policy and procedures supersede any previous policies and procedures addressing sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and/or retaliation under Title IX and will be reviewed and updated annually by the Title IX coordinator. The college reserves the right to make changes to this document as necessary, and once those changes are posted online, they are in effect.
During the resolution process, the Title IX coordinator may make minor modifications to procedures that do not materially jeopardize the fairness owed to any party, such as to accommodate summer schedules. The Title IX coordinator may also vary procedures materially with notice (on the institutional website, with the appropriate effective date identified) upon determining that changes to law or regulation require policy or procedural alterations not reflected.
If government laws or regulations change – or court decisions alter – the requirements in a way that impacts this document, this document will be construed to comply with the most recent government regulations or holdings.
This document does not create legally enforceable protections beyond the protection of the background state and federal laws which frame such policies and codes, generally.
1 ATIXA 2020 interim model sexual harassment policies and procedures. Use of this model with citation to ATIXA is permitted through a limited license to Wor-Wic Community College. All other rights reserved. ©2020. ATIXA
2 For the purpose of these procedures, privacy and confidentiality have distinct meanings. Privacy means information related to a complaint will be shared with a limited number of college employees who “need to know” in order to assist in the assessment, investigation and resolution of the report. All employees who are involved in the college’s response to notice under this policy receive specific training and guidance about sharing and safeguarding information in accordance with state and federal law. The privacy of student education records will be protected in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), as outlined in Student Records. The privacy of employee records will be protected in accordance with human resources policies. Confidentiality exists in the context of laws that protect certain relationships, including those who provide services related to medical and clinical care, mental health providers, counselors and ordained clergy. The law creates a privilege between certain health care providers, mental health care providers, attorneys, clergy, spouses and others, with their patients, clients, parishioners and spouses. The college has designated individuals who have privileged communications as Confidential Resources. When information is shared by a Complainant with a Confidential Resource, the Confidential Resource cannot reveal the information to any third party except when an applicable law or a court order requires or permits disclosure of such information. For example, information may be disclosed when: (i) the individual gives written consent for its disclosure; (ii) there is a concern that the individual will likely cause serious physical harm to self or others; or (iii) the information concerns conduct involving suspected abuse or neglect of a minor under the age of 18, elders or individuals with disabilities. Non-identifiable information may be shared by Confidential Resources for statistical tracking purposes as required by the Clery Act. Other information may be shared as required by law.
3 Unwelcomeness is subjective and determined by the Complainant (except when the Complainant is younger than the age of consent). Severity, pervasiveness and objective offensiveness are evaluated based on the totality of the circumstances from the perspective of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances (“in the shoes of the Complainant”), including the context in which the alleged incident occurred and any similar, previous patterns that may be evidenced.
4 This would include having another person touch you sexually, forcibly or without their consent.
5 If circumstances require, the president or a Title IX coordinator will designate another person to oversee the process should an allegation be made about the coordinator or the coordinator be otherwise unavailable or unable to fulfill their duties.
6 Subject to the state law provisions or college policy above.