Procedures for Resolution of Complaints Against Students
Procedural Options | Title IX Assessment |
Remedies-based Resolution | Investigation | Judicial Resolution
As outlined in the reporting section of the Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy, an individual who wishes to make a report of sexual assault or harassment is encouraged to make a report directly to the Title IX coordinator, the Dean of Students Office, or Public Safety Department. In every report of sexual assault or harassment, the College, through the coordinated efforts of the Title IX team, will conduct an initial Title IX assessment. At the conclusion of the Title IX assessment, the report will be referred for remedies-based resolution or investigation to determine if there is sufficient information to proceed with judicial resolution. Remedies-based resolution does not involve disciplinary action against a respondent. Judicial resolution is a sanctions-based approach that may involve discipline up to and including expulsion.
Upon receipt of a report, the College, through the coordinated efforts of the Title IX team, will conduct an initial Title IX assessment. The first step of the assessment will usually be a preliminary meeting with the complainant with the Title IX coordinator or a member of the Title IX team. The purpose of the preliminary meeting is to gain a basic understanding of the nature and circumstances of the report; it is not intended to be a full forensic interview. At this meeting, the complainant will be provided with information about resources, procedural options, and interim remedies.
This initial review will proceed to the point where a reasonable assessment of the safety of the individual and of the campus community can be made. Thereafter, an investigation may continue depending on a variety of factors, such as the complainant’s wish to pursue disciplinary action, the risk posed to any individual or the campus community by not proceeding, and the nature of the allegation.
In the course of this assessment, the College will consider the interest of the complainant and the complainant’s expressed preference for the manner of resolution. Where possible and as warranted by an assessment of the facts and circumstances, the College will seek action consistent with the complainant’s request.
As part of the initial assessment of the facts, the Title IX team will:
- assess the nature and circumstances of the allegation;
- address immediate physical safety and emotional well-being of the complainant;
- notify the complainant of the right to contact law enforcement and seek medical treatment;
- notify the complainant of the importance of preservation of evidence;
- enter the report into the College’s daily crime log;
- assess the reported conduct for the need for a timely warning under the Clery Act;
- provide the complainant with information about on- and off-campus resources;
- notify the complainant of the range of interim accommodations and remedies;
- provide the complainant with an explanation of the procedural options, including remedies-based resolution and judicial resolution;
- identify an adviser, advocate, and/or support person for the complainant;
- assess for pattern evidence or other similar conduct by respondent;
- discuss the complainant’s expressed preference for the manner of resolution and any barriers to proceeding; and
- explain the College’s policy prohibiting retaliation.
Where a complainant requests that a name or other identifiable information not be shared with the respondent or that no formal action be taken, the College will balance this request with its dual obligations to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all College community members and to afford a respondent fundamental fairness by providing notice and an opportunity to respond before action is taken against a respondent.
In the event that a complainant does not wish to proceed with an investigation or judicial resolution, the Title IX coordinator, in consultation with the Title IX team, will determine, based on the available information, including any investigative report, whether the investigation or judicial resolution proceedings should nonetheless go forward. In making this determination, the College will consider, among other factors, whether the complainant has requested confidentiality; whether the complainant wants to participate in an investigation or judicial hearing; the severity and impact of the sexual assault or harassment; the respective ages of the parties; whether the complainant is a minor under the age of 18; whether the respondent has admitted to the sexual assault or harassment; whether the respondent has a pattern of committing sexual assault or harassment; the existence of independent evidence; and the extent of prior remedial methods taken with the respondent.
The College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation, but its ability to do so may be limited based on the nature of the request by the complainant. The College will assess any barriers to proceeding, including retaliation, and will inform the complainant that Title IX prohibits retaliation and the College will take strong responsive action to protect the complainant. Where the College is unable to take action consistent with the request of the complainant, a member of the Title IX team will communicate with the complainant about the College’s chosen course of action.
At the conclusion of the Title IX assessment, the Title IX team will determine the appropriate manner of resolution and, if appropriate, refer the report for remedies-based resolution or investigation to determine if there is sufficient information to pursue judicial resolution.
The determination as to how to proceed will be communicated to the complainant in writing. Depending on the circumstances and requested resolution, the respondent may or may not be notified of the report or resolution. A respondent will be notified when the College seeks action that would impact a respondent, such as protective measures that restrict the respondent’s movement on campus, the initiation of an investigation or the decision to involve the respondent in remedies-based resolution.
Even if judicial resolution is not pursued, the College will have the discretion to require the respondent to participate in remedial measures that ensure sufficient education and counseling of the College’s policies.
Remedies-based resolution is a non-judicial approach designed to eliminate a hostile environment without taking disciplinary action against a respondent. Where the Title IX assessment concludes that remedies- based resolution may be appropriate, the College will take immediate and corrective action through the imposition of individual and community remedies designed to maximize the complainant’s access to the educational and extracurricular activities at the College.
Examples of potential individual remedies are provided in the interim measures section of this policy. Other potential remedies include targeted or broad-based educational programming or training, direct communication with the respondent by the complainant, communication with the respondent by the interim Title IX coordinator or a College administrator, or other forms of restorative justice. Depending on form of remedies-based resolution used, it may be possible for a complainant to maintain anonymity.
The College will not compel a complainant to engage in mediation, to directly communicate with the respondent, or to participate in any particular form of remedies-based resolution. Mediation, even if voluntary, may not be used in cases involving sexual violence or assault. The decision to pursue remedies-based resolution, which may occur at any time, will be made when the College has sufficient information about the nature and scope of the conduct. Participation in remedies-based resolution is voluntary, and a complainant can request to end remedies-based resolution at any time.
The Title IX coordinator will maintain records of all reports and conduct referred for remedies-based resolution. Remedies-based resolution will typically be completed within thirty (30) business days.
Where the Title IX assessment concludes that judicial resolution (disciplinary action) may be appropriate, the College will initiate an investigation. The College may designate an investigator of its choosing, provided that the investigator has specific training and experience investigating allegations of sexual assault and harassment. Any investigator chosen to conduct the investigation must be impartial and free of any conflict of interest. The College will designate a deputy Title IX coordinator or a member of the Department of Public Safety, although the College may also choose to engage an external investigator at its discretion.
The investigator will conduct the investigation in a manner appropriate in light of the circumstances of the case. The investigator will coordinate the gathering of information from the complainant, the respondent, and any other individuals who may have information relevant to the determination. The investigator will also gather any available physical or medical evidence, including documents, communications between the parties, and other electronic records as appropriate. The investigator may consider prior allegations of, or findings of responsibility for, similar conduct by the respondent. The complainant and respondent will have an equal opportunity to be heard, to submit evidence, and to identify witnesses who may have relevant information.
The investigation is designed to provide a fair and reliable gathering of the facts. The investigation will be thorough, impartial, and fair, and all individuals will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect. As described in the privacy section of this policy (see section IV), the investigation will be conducted in a manner that is respectful of individual privacy concerns.
The investigation will usually be completed within 30 (thirty) business days of receiving the complaint, but this time frame may be extended depending on the complexity of the circumstances of each case. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will prepare a report setting forth the facts gathered. The report will be factual in nature and will not make a finding of responsibility or an assessment of credibility. The complainant and respondent will have the opportunity to file a written response to the investigation report.
The student conduct administrator, in consultation with the Title IX team, will review the investigation report and make a threshold determination as to whether the allegations, if proven, would provide sufficient information upon which a hearing panel could find a violation of this interim sexual assault and harassment policy. The student conduct administrator is typically the senior class dean and judicial affairs coordinator, although another dean may serve as the designee. If the student conduct administrator determines that this threshold has been reached, a notice of charge will be issued to begin the judicial resolution process.
If the student conduct administrator determines that this threshold has not been reached, the complainant and respondent will be notified in writing. The complainant will have the opportunity to seek review by the dean of students by filing a written request for review within five (5) business days. The dean of students may affirm the threshold finding of the student conduct administrator, reverse the finding of the student conduct administrator, or remand the matter for additional investigation, as warranted. The dean of students will render a decision in writing, to both parties, within five (5) business days of receipt of the request for review. The decision of the dean of students is final.
Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy will occur through the use of an administrative hearing, a sexual assault and harassment hearing panel, or an external adjudicator.
Administrative Hearing | Hearing Panel | External Adjudicator |
Pre-Hearing Procedures | Hearing Procedures | Appeals | Records
A complaint under this policy will typically be resolved by a Sexual Assault and Harassment Panel hearing. A complainant or respondent, however, may request resolution through an administrative hearing, in which the student conduct administrator will meet with the complainant and respondent to determine responsibility and render a decision as to what sanctions, if applicable, may be implemented. Both parties must agree to resolution by administrative hearing. The investigative report will serve as the primary evidence in making a determination of responsibility. Both parties must have notice, the opportunity to review the investigative report in advance, and the opportunity to present relevant information to the student conduct administrator.
An administrative hearing is particularly appropriate when the respondent has admitted to the harassment or misconduct and there is no discernible dispute in the relevant facts of the investigation report; however, at the discretion of the student conduct administrator, it may also be used when the facts are in dispute. In reaching a determination as to whether the Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy has been violated, the student conduct administrator will reach a determination by a preponderance of the evidence— that is, whether the conduct was more likely than not to have occurred as alleged. Depending upon the nature and severity of the allegations, the student conduct administrator may decline to handle the matter administratively and refer the case to a hearing panel at any time.
A Sexual Assault and Harassment Hearing Panel (which will be referred to here as hearing panel) is a fact-finding board comprised of trained students, faculty, and staff. Each hearing panel will have a minimum of three (3) panelists. The individuals who serve as panelists are chosen from a pool of eligible Judicial resolution of a complaint under the Interim panel members. Faculty members of the hearing panel pool are elected by the faculty. Staff members of the hearing panel pool are selected and appointed by the
Dean of Students Office. Student panel members are selected through the Student Council appointments process.
The hearing panel is supported by the student conduct administrator, who will serve as the convener and the observer. The student conduct administrator will be present at hearing panel meetings but will not be a voting member of the panel. The student conduct administrator will meet with all involved parties prior to the hearing, be present during the hearing to serve as a resource for the hearing panel on issues of policy and procedure, and to see that policy and procedure are appropriately followed throughout the hearing.
All hearing panelists must participate in annual training on non-discrimination, the dynamics of sexual harassment, sexual violence and intimate-partner violence, the factors relevant to a determination of credibility, the appropriate manner in which to receive and evaluate sensitive information, the manner of deliberation, evaluation of consent and incapacitation, the application of the preponderance of the evidence standard (as required by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights), sanctioning, and the College’s policies and procedures. The training will be coordinated by the interim Title IX coordinator in conjunction with campus and external partners.
At the discretion of the student conduct administrator, in consultation with the dean of students and others, the College may retain an external adjudicator, whenever, in the exercise of judgment, doing so will best serve the fair and equitable resolution of the complaint. In such cases, unless otherwise stated in the Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy, the external adjudicator will assume the role of convener of a hearing panel. In making the determination to select an external adjudicator, the student conduct administrator will consider, among factors, the nature of the allegations, the complexity of the case, whether there is any issue of conflict of interest, the availability of trained panel members for the hearing, whether the College is in session or on break, and any other appropriate factors.
The external adjudicator, if selected, will be a neutral party, usually an attorney, who is familiar with dispute resolution, the dynamics of sexual assault and harassment, and is trained in the College’s policies and procedures. The external adjudicator is supported by the student conduct administrator, who will meet with all involved parties prior to the hearing, be present during the hearing to serve as a resource for the external adjudicator on issues of policy and procedure, and to see that policy and procedure are appropriately followed throughout the hearing.
If the external adjudicator determines, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the respondent has violated the Interim Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy, the student conduct administrator, in consultation with the external adjudicator, will determine the appropriate sanction.
1. Initiation of Charges
The College is responsible for investigating allegations of sexual assault and harassment, determining if a threshold has been reached, and initiating charges. If the student conduct administrator makes the threshold determination to resolve the complaint through a panel hearing, the student conduct administrator will also issue a letter to both parties requesting a pre-hearing meeting.
The complainant is not required to write a complaint in preparation for the hearing. Both the complainant and the respondent will be given notice of the specific charges and the opportunity to be heard before a final determination is reached.
2. Group Infractions
When members of a student group, organization, or team or individuals acting collusively operate in concert in violation of the Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy, they may be charged as a group or as individuals, and a hearing may proceed against the group as joint respondents or against one or more involved individuals as appropriate given available information and the circumstances.
3. Advisers and Support Persons
Adviser. In any hearing, the complainant and respondent have the right to be assisted by a trained adviser, who will be a person made available by and through the College. The adviser may accompany the student to any meeting with a College employee and to the hearing. The adviser may not speak during the hearing.
Support person. The complainant and respondent have the right to be assisted by a support person of her/his choice. The person must be a member of the Swarthmore College community (current student, faculty member, staff member, or administrator).
To serve as a support person, the individual will be required to meet with the student conduct administrator in advance of any participation in the proceedings.
The support person cannot be a witness in the proceedings. The support person is a silent and non-participating presence who is there solely to observe and provide moral support during the pre- hearing itself. This person is not to address the panel, except to ask for a short recess if one of the parties requires some time to compose her/himself or collect her/his thoughts. The student conduct administrator has the right at all times to determine what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of a support person and whether the person may remain at the proceedings. While the support person may be present to hear testimony, no written materials are to be shared with a support person.
Absent extenuating circumstances, witnesses and others involved in an investigation or hearing are not entitled to have a support person.
4. Role of the Attorney/Outside Agreements
The College prohibits outside attorneys from participating in proceedings under this policy. A complainant or respondent may choose to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney at their own expense, but the attorney may not participate in investigatory interviews, remedies-based resolution proceedings, or judicial resolution via an administrative hearing, a panel hearing, or an external adjudicator. Similarly, the College will not recognize or enforce agreements between the parties reached outside of these procedures.
5. Pre-Hearing Meeting with Complainant and Respondent
When a hearing is deemed necessary based on the review of the investigation report, the student conduct administrator will contact the complainant and respondent to schedule separate meetings with each party. At this pre-hearing meeting, each party will receive an explanation of the hearing process and have the opportunity to ask any questions before the hearing occurs. If the complainant and/or respondent have elected to have advisers throughout the hearing process, the adviser is encouraged to be present at this initial meeting.
6. Notice of Hearing
Once each party has met with the student conduct administrator, a notice of hearing is sent to the complainant and the respondent. The notice of hearing provides each party with a statement of the policy violation(s) that are alleged to have taken place and a summary of the facts underlying the allegations. In addition, the notice provides the parties with the designated manner of adjudication (administrative hearing, panel hearing, or external adjudicator), the name of the adjudicator or panel members, and the date, time, and place of the hearing.
In general, the hearing will be scheduled approximately fifteen (15) business days after the notice of hearing is sent. Under extenuating circumstances, this time frame may be extended.
7. Composition of the Hearing Panel
The complainant and the respondent may submit a written request to the student conduct administrator to remove a member of the hearing panel or contest the external adjudicator, if there are reasonable articulable grounds to suspect bias, conflict of interest, or an inability to be fair and impartial. This challenge must be raised within four (4) business days of receipt of the notice of hearing. All objections must be raised prior to the commencement of the hearing. The student conduct administrator will make the determination whether to remove the panelist or seek an alternative external adjudicator.
8. Pre-Hearing Review of Documents
The complainant and the respondent will each have the opportunity to review all investigative documents, subject to the privacy limitations imposed by state and federal law, at least ten (10) business days prior to the hearing. The investigative documents will include the investigation report, any witness statements, and any other documentary information that will be presented at the hearing.
The complainant, respondent, and hearing panel (or adjudicator) all have the right to call witnesses. Witnesses must have observed the acts in question or have information relevant to the incident and cannot be participating solely to speak about an individual’s character.
In general, neither party will be permitted to call as a witness anyone who was not interviewed by the investigator as part of the College’s investigation. If either party wishes to call witnesses, whether or not they were previously interviewed as part of the College’s investigation, the following must be submitted no later than ten (10) business days before the hearing to the student conduct administrator by email or in hardcopy format:
- The names of any witnesses that either party intends to call;
- A written statement and/or description of what each witness observed, if not already provided during the investigation;
- A summary of why the witness’ presence is relevant to making a decision about responsibility at the hearing; and
- The reason why the witness was not interviewed by the investigator, if applicable.
The student conduct administrator will determine if the proffered witness(es) have relevant information and if there is sufficient justification for permitting a witness who was not interviewed by the investigator. The student conduct administrator may also require the investigator to interview the newly identified witness.
If witnesses are approved to be present, the complainant and respondent are provided with a list of witnesses and any relevant documents related to their appearance at the hearing no later than five (5) business days before the hearing. All parties have the opportunity to pose questions of witnesses (through the panel), regardless of who called them to the hearing.
The student conduct administrator will review the investigation report, any witness statements, and any other documentary evidence to determine whether the information contained therein is relevant and material to the determination of responsibility given the nature of the allegation. In general, the student conduct administrator may redact information that is irrelevant, more prejudicial than probative, or immaterial. The student conduct administrator may also redact statements of personal opinion, rather than direct observations or reasonable inferences from the facts, and statements as to general reputation for any character trait, including honesty.
In cases where an external adjudicator will hear the case, the student conduct administrator may forego redaction of investigative materials to allow the external adjudicator to determine the relevance and/ or weight to give to any information.
11. Prior Sexual History and/or Pattern Evidence
Prior sexual history of a complainant. In general, a complainant’s prior sexual history is not relevant and will not be admitted as evidence at a hearing. Where there is a current or ongoing relationship between the complainant and the respondent, and the respondent alleges consent, the prior sexual history between the parties may be relevant to assess the manner and nature of communications between the parties. As noted in other sections of the Interim Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy, however, the mere fact of a current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Any prior sexual history of the complainant with other individuals is typically not relevant and will not be permitted.
Pattern evidence by a respondent. Where there is evidence of a pattern or conduct similar in nature by the respondent, either prior to or subsequent to the conduct in question, regardless of whether there has been a finding of responsibility, this information may be deemed relevant and probative to the panel’s determination of responsibility and/or assigning of a sanction. The determination of relevance will be based on an assessment of whether the previous incident was substantially similar to the present allegation or information and indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern by the respondent. Where there is a prior finding of responsibility for a similar act of sexual assault or harassment, there is a presumption of relevance and the finding may be considered in making a determination as to responsibility and/or assigning of a sanction.
Any party seeking to introduce information about prior sexual history or pattern evidence should bring this information to the attention of the investigator at the earliest opportunity. The College, through the student conduct administrator (or, if the student conduct administrator deems appropriate, through the external adjudicator), may choose to introduce this information, with appropriate notice to the parties. A party who has provided this information to the investigator may submit a written request to the student conduct administrator seeking its admission at the hearing. If this information was not previously submitted, the College will refer the new information to the investigator, which may cause the scheduling of the hearing to be delayed.
Where a sufficient informational foundation exists, the student conduct administrator, in consultation with the Title IX coordinator, will assess the relevance, form, and reliability of the information (hearsay will not be permitted) and determine if it is appropriate for inclusion at the hearing. (In cases heard by an external adjudicator, the student conduct administrator may decide to have the external adjudicator make this decision.)
To aid in an advance determination of relevance, the following must be submitted to the student conduct administrator via email or in hardcopy format no later than five (5) business days after the notice of the charge has been made:
- a written statement and/or description of the proposed information, if not already provided during investigation;
- a summary of the relevance of this information to making a decision of responsibility at the hearing; and
- if not provided during the investigation, a brief explanation of why this information was not shared with the investigator.
If this information is approved as appropriate for presentation at the hearing, the respondent and complainant will be provided with a brief description of the approved information no later than five (5) business days before the hearing.
12. Request to Reschedule Hearing
Either party can request to have a hearing rescheduled. Absent extenuating circumstances, requests to reschedule must be submitted to the student conduct administrator at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing. A request to reschedule a hearing must be supported by a compelling reason for the delay. The student conduct administrator may also reschedule the hearing, without a request by the parties, when there is reasonable cause to do so.
13. Consolidation of Hearings
The student conduct administrator has the discretion to consolidate multiple reports against a respondent in one hearing if the evidence related to each incident would be relevant and probative in reaching a determination on the other incident.
1. Attendance at Hearing
If a party misses a hearing for any non-emergency or non-compelling reason, the hearing may be held in the individual’s absence at the discretion of the student conduct administrator.
If a respondent chooses to withdraw from the College prior to the conclusion of an investigation or judicial resolution under the Interim Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy, for non-medical- or non-disability-related reasons, the student must go through the re-entry process coordinated by the Dean’s Office and, except where the dean in her/his sole discretion finds exceptional circumstances, the case must be heard prior to the student’s readmission to the College.
A complainant or respondent may request participation by other suitable means that would not require physical proximity to the other party. This can include, but is not limited to, partitioning a hearing room or using technology, such as Skype, to facilitate participation. Any proposed alternative must be reviewed in advance to ensure that it is consistent with the goals of a fair and equitable process.
2. Participants in Hearing Procedures
The hearing is closed, meaning it is not open to the public. The complainant, the respondent, any individuals serving as advisers, and any individuals who are witnesses may appear before the hearing panel. Witnesses may only be present for their own testimony. Attorneys are not permitted.
3. Safeguarding of Privacy
All parties involved in a hearing are required to keep the information learned in preparation for the hearing and at the hearing private. Consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, the parties, panel members, and external adjudicators may not share any copies of documents. All copies provided must be returned to the College at the conclusion of the hearing and any appeals. Any breach of this duty is subject to disciplinary action by the College.
4. Hearing Procedures
A hearing is intended to provide a full and fair opportunity for the complainant and respondent to present their account of events and for the panelists to determine the facts of the case, make a determination regarding the alleged violations of College regulations, and to recommend appropriate sanctions, if necessary.
The hearing panel/external adjudicator is expected to review all information pertinent to the incident in question. The investigative report will be made available for the external adjudicator/panel members to review at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. Other relevant information supporting the violation(s) alleged may be offered in the form of written statements, documents, items, or oral information from the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses.
A hearing will be called to order by the student conduct administrator, who will explain the hearing process and will provide an opportunity for all parties to ask procedural questions prior to initial statements and the presentation of information.
The investigator will provide a brief opening statement summarizing the investigation. The opening statement should focus on the areas of agreement and disagreement in order to assist the panelists in prioritizing areas of inquiry. The external adjudicator/ panelists, complainant, or respondent may make brief inquiries of the investigator at this juncture, as there will be additional opportunity to ask questions of the investigator after the hearing panel has heard from the complainant, the respondent, and any witnesses.
The complainant may present a brief narrative statement. The external adjudicator/hearing panel may pose questions to the complainant. The respondent is encouraged to compile a written list of questions to pose to the complainant. The list will be provided to the external adjudicator/hearing panel, who will determine the relevance of the questions and ask the complainant those questions deemed relevant and appropriate.
After the complainant is finished, the respondent may present a brief narrative statement. The external adjudicator/hearing panel may pose questions to the respondent. The complainant is encouraged to compile a written list of questions to pose to the respondent. The list will be provided to the external adjudicator/hearing panel, who will determine the relevance of the questions and ask the respondent those questions deemed relevant and appropriate.
Witnesses on behalf of the complainant and the respondent may then be proffered. Each witness will be permitted to give a brief narrative statement but need not do so. Each witness will then be questioned by the external adjudicator/hearing panel. The complainant or respondent may present a list of written questions to be posed to the witness to the external adjudicator/hearing panel, who will determine the relevance of the questions and pose any questions deemed relevant.
The external adjudicator/hearing panel, complainant, and respondent may then question the investigator.
At the conclusion of the presentation of all witnesses, the complainant and respondent will each be given the opportunity to give a brief closing statement.
5. Questioning of Witnesses
It is the responsibility of the external adjudicator/ hearing panel to assure that the information necessary to make an informed decision is presented. The external adjudicator/panel members may play an active role in questioning both parties and witnesses involved in the case. At times, the external adjudicator/panel members may need to ask difficult or sensitive questions in order to understand areas of factual dispute or gain a full understanding of the context.
At no time will the complainant or the respondent be permitted to directly question one another. As outlined above, the parties may submit questions to the external adjudicator/hearing panel in writing, which may be posed at the discretion of the external adjudicator/hearing panel. Similarly, the external adjudicator/panel members are under no obligation to allow either party to directly question witnesses, and the external adjudicator/panel may require that questions to witnesses be submitted in writing.
Parties and other individuals who offer information at a hearing are expected to respond honestly and to the best of their knowledge. The external adjudicator/ panel reserves the right to recall any party or witness for further questions and to seek additional information necessary to make a decision. A complainant, respondent, or witness who intentionally provides false or misleading information may be subject to discipline under this policy.
After all of the information has been presented, all parties will be dismissed from the hearing room so that the external adjudicator/hearing panel may deliberate in private. The student conduct administrator may remain for deliberations but may not participate in the deliberations and may not vote. In the case of an external adjudicator, the external adjudicator will make a decision. In the case of a panel, the hearing panel will first try to reach a determination by consensus, but a simple majority vote as to responsibility will suffice. Only the decision on responsibility will be shared with the complainant and the respondent. The vote itself shall not be shared with the parties.
The findings of the external adjudicator/hearing panel will be reduced to writing by the external adjudicator or hearing panel. The findings will detail the findings of fact and determination of responsibility, making reference to the evidence that led to the finding.
7. Preponderance of the Evidence
The external adjudicator/hearing panel will determine a respondent’s responsibility by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the external adjudicator/hearing panel will decide whether it is “more likely than not,” based upon the information provided at the hearing, that the respondent is responsible for the alleged violation(s).
The complainant and respondent will each have the opportunity to present a written statement about the impact of the violation and/or requested sanctions. The external adjudicator/hearing panel will review these statements only if the external adjudicator/ panel finds the respondent responsible for one or more violations.
A hearing panel that finds a student, group, or organization responsible for a violation of the Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy will decide on appropriate sanctions. The hearing panel will make the determination of sanctions in consultation with the student conduct administrator.
If the external adjudicator finds a student, group, or organization responsible for a violation of the Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy, the student conduct administrator, in consultation with the external adjudicator, will determine the appropriate sanction.
The sanctions may include, but are not limited to, those set forth in the Student Handbook. In particular, a violation of this policy may result in suspension or expulsion from the College. The sanctions may include remedial or corrective actions as warranted. In general:
- Any student who is determined to have committed sexual assault (involving sexual intercourse) may receive a sanction ranging from suspension to expulsion.
- Any student who is determined to have committed sexual assault (involving sexual contact) may receive a sanction ranging from conduct warning to expulsion.
- Any student who is determined to have engaged in any other prohibited form of conduct may receive a sanction ranging from conduct warning to expulsion.
The hearing panel (or student conduct administrator when an external adjudicator is used) may broaden or lessen any range of recommended sanctions based on serious mitigating circumstances or egregiously offensive behavior. The hearing panel (or student conduct administrator) will not deviate from the range of recommended outcomes unless compelling justification exists to do so. The hearing panel or student conduct administrator may issue a single sanction or a combination of sanctions.
In considering the appropriate sanction within the recommended outcomes, the hearing panel or student conduct administrator will consider the following factors:
(1) the respondent’s prior discipline history; (2) how the College has sanctioned similar incidents in the past; (3) the nature and violence of the conduct at issue;
(4) the impact of the conduct on the complainant; (5) the impact of the conduct on the community, its members, or its property; (6) whether the respondent has accepted responsibility;
(7) whether the respondent is reasonably likely to engage in the conduct in the future; (8) the need to deter similar conduct by others; and (9) any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances, including the College’s values.
Absent compelling justifications, if the respondent has engaged in the same or similar conduct in the past, the sanction will be expulsion.
The hearing panel or student conduct administrator should also consider other remedial actions that may be taken to address and resolve any incident of discrimination or harassment and to prevent the recurrence of any discrimination, including strategies to protect the complainant and any witnesses from retaliation; provide counseling for the complainant; other steps to address any impact on the complainant, any witnesses, and the broader student body; and any other necessary steps reasonably calculated to prevent future occurrences of harassment..
A full list of the range of sanctions is contained in the Student Handbook.
9. Notice of Outcome
The student conduct administrator will communicate the finding of the hearing panel to the respondent and the complainant simultaneously. The notice will be in writing and will include notification of appeal options. Any change in the outcome that occurs prior to the time that the outcome becomes final will also be communicated simultaneously in writing. Generally, the outcome of the hearing will be final and communicated to the parties within five (5) business days from the date the hearing is concluded.
The respondent will be informed of any sanctions, the date by which the requirements must be satisfied (if applicable), and the consequences of failure to satisfy the requirements. The complainant will be informed of any sanctions that directly relate to the complainant.
The imposition of sanctions will take effect immediately and will not be stayed pending the resolution of the appeal.
10. Recording of Proceedings
The College will not audio record the judicial proceedings or deliberations, nor is any other individual permitted to record the proceedings.
Either party may appeal the determination of responsibility or sanction(s) in writing to the dean of students or designee. The appeal must be filed within five (5) business days of receiving the written notice of outcome.
The complainant and/or respondent may appeal only the parts of the determination of responsibility or sanctions directly relating to him/her. Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the hearing is not grounds for appeal. The limited grounds for appeal are as follows:
- new evidence that could affect the finding of the hearing and that was unavailable at the time of the hearing;
- procedural error(s) that had a material impact on the fairness of the hearing; and
- the sanctions imposed were grossly disproportionate to the violation committed.
The appeal shall consist of a plain, concise, and complete written statement outlining the grounds for the appeal. Upon receipt of an appeal, the dean of students will notify both parties. Each party has an opportunity to respond in writing to the appeal. Any response to the appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days from receipt of the appeal.
The appeal will be conducted in an impartial manner by an impartial decision-maker. In any request for an appeal, the burden of proof lies with the party requesting the appeal, as the original determination and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The appeal is not a new review of the underlying matter. The dean of students shall consider the merits of an appeal only on the basis of the three (3) grounds for appeal and supporting information provided in the written request for appeal and the record of the original hearing. The dean of students can affirm the original findings, alter the findings, and/or alter the sanctions, depending on the basis of the requested appeal.
If the appeal is based on procedures not having been followed in a material manner, the dean of students can ask that a new hearing occur before a newly constituted hearing panel.
In the case of new and relevant information, the dean of students can recommend that the case be returned to the original hearing panel/external adjudicator to assess the weight and effect of the new information and render a determination after considering the new facts.
The dean of students will communicate the result of the appeal to the complainant and respondent within ten (10) business days from the date of the submission of all appeal documents by both parties. Appeal decisions are final.
The Title IX coordinator will retain records of all reports, allegations, and complaints, regardless of whether the matter is resolved by Title IX assessment, remedies-based resolution, or judicial resolution. Complaints resolved by Title IX assessment or remedies-based resolution are not part of a student’s conduct file or academic record.
Affirmative findings of responsibility in matters resolved through judicial resolution are part of a student’s conduct record. Such records shall be used in reviewing any further conduct or in developing sanctions and shall remain a part of a student’s conduct record.
The conduct files of students who have been suspended or expelled from the College are maintained in the Dean of Students Office for no fewer than seven years after their departure from the College. Further questions about record retention should be directed to the dean of students.
Medical and law schools and some governmental agencies may require disclosure by the College of any judicial findings. Students who transfer to other schools or participate in off-campus study programs may also be required to provide such information.
At the end of the academic year the judicial affairs coordinator will produce a summary of case dispositions summarizing the outcome of all cases that were heard that year, without revealing the identity of any of the participants in the proceedings.