Student Handbook - Sexual Misconduct
Reporting and Complaint Process
Filing a Complaint
A student who wants to make a complaint alleging that he or she has been the victim of sexual misconduct may contact the Dean of Students or his/her designee at 388-6116, Campus Safety at 388-6911, or the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator. The individual who receives the complaint will review with the complainant the options available to address the incident.
More information is available at our Sexual Assault Resources website.
The College offers both informal and formal resolution options. Generally, the College seeks to follow the complainant’s wishes as to which procedure to pursue. However, there may be a situation in which, due to the nature of the allegations, informal resolution is inappropriate. This decision will be based on factors such as the egregiousness of the allegations (e.g., complaints alleging a sexual assault), whether the accused student is a repeat offender, or whether there is otherwise reason to believe that the safety or interests of the campus community demand adjudication. In those instances, the College will apply the formal procedure only.
In cases involving allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or sexual exploitation, the Dean of Students (or designee), regardless of whether the complainant wishes to pursue a formal or informal resolution or no resolution, after making a reasonable effort to meet with the parties involved, if appropriate to do so, may issue a “no contact” directive. A “no contact” directive typically will include a directive that the parties refrain from having contact with one another, directly or through proxies, whether in person or via electronic means, pending the investigation and, if applicable, the hearing. The Dean of Students (or designee) shall make the “no contact” directive available to the parties as soon as it is issued. In the event the Dean of Students (or designee) is notified of a violation of the terms of a “no contact” directive, the party in alleged violation of the “no contact” directive shall be provided an opportunity to review the matter with the Dean of Students (or designee). If the Dean of Students (or designee), based upon the information available, decides that the “no contact” directive has been violated, the Dean of Students (or designee) may suspend the party temporary pending the resolution of the underlying complaint. The Dean of Students (or designee) may also take further protective action that he/she deems appropriate concerning the interaction of the parties pending the hearing, if any, including without limitation directing the Dean of Studies to alter the student’s academic schedule and/or the Director of Campus Housing to alter the student’s housing.
Sexual Misconduct Investigation
Notification of Incident or Charges
The Dean of Students or designee will inform the accused that he/she has been named in a sexual misconduct incident report and he/she is being investigated. If formal charges have been filed, the Dean of Students or designee will notify the accused that the incident is being formally investigated.
Cooperation with Investigator
Should the accused who has been notified of an investigation fail to cooperate with the investigator, the investigation may proceed, a finding may be reached, and a sanction may be imposed based on the information that is available.
Leniency Regarding Other Policy Violations
If prior to or during the investigation the College becomes aware that additional College policies may have been violated, additional charges may be added to, and resolved through, this investigation. While not condoning infractions of any kind, the College considers reporting incidents of sexual misconduct to be of paramount importance. Therefore, to encourage reporting, the College may, where appropriate, offer leniency with respect to other policy violations that may be revealed as a result of a report. The nature and scope of leniency will depend on the particular circumstances involved. The Dean of Students or designee will have sole discretion in determining the appropriate course of action. In the event that additional charges are added to the investigation, the Dean of Students or designee will notify the student of those charges promptly and in writing.
The College may choose to terminate the investigation at any time. The complainant may request that charges be withdrawn at any time. The College will attempt to honor the wishes of the complainant. However, to accommodate cases where compelling evidence suggests there is significant individual or community safety concerns, the decision to discontinue an investigation or dismiss charges is within the sole discretion of the College.
The Dean of Student, or designee, in conjunction with the Director of Campus Safety will appoint an investigator. The investigation will be conducted as promptly and equitable as possible without compromising thoroughness. The investigator is expected to:
o Conduct the investigation in a thorough, impartial, and expeditious manner.
o Make all findings in a fair and objective manner.
o Submit a written investigation report to the Dean of Students or designee in a timely manner.
The investigator is authorized to contact any and all individuals. The College recognizes, however, that individuals who are bound by legal privileges may not be able to disclose privileged information unless an exception applies. The investigator is authorized to access all relevant records except those legally protected as confidential or privileged and may involve local law enforcement to collect any additional evidence relevant to the charges.
Local Law Enforcement
Campus Safety will be prompted to notify local law enforcement if a violent felony is suspected to have occurred and/or when physical evidence of the sexual misconduct incident is available and/or offered; to the fullest extent permitted by law, the identity of the survivor/complainant will not be disclosed without his/her permission being given. Physical evidence must be properly documented and stored by local law enforcement to maintain the ability for it to be presented as evidence and used in a legal case if a complaint is filed by the survivor/complainant with local law enforcement.
Information regarding Campus Safety’s Emergency Response Protocol can be found at:http://www.union.edu/offices/safety/
Evidence and Witnesses
The complainant and accused will be asked to identify all relevant evidence that they would like the investigator to review, as well as witnesses they would like the investigator to interview. Both parties may provide, if they wish, a list of questions they would like the investigator to ask of particular witnesses or of each other. The investigator is not required to consider the evidence submitted or interview any particular witness, even if identified by one of the parties, nor to ask questions provided by either party. However, in determining whether to interview witnesses or review evidence, the investigator will consider such factors as equity, fairness, thoroughness, and impartial treatment of both parties.
Expectations about Information and Statements
All participants in an investigation are expected to cooperate fully by providing complete, accurate, and truthful information. They may also be expected to sign statements or other documents memorializing the information they provide and may be asked to keep the substance of the interview confidential. Failure to cooperate fully with the investigator may subject the student to a full range of disciplinary actions, as applicable.
Rulings on Evidence and Procedures
Formal rules of evidence do not apply in College disciplinary proceedings. The Chair of the Judicial Board will make rulings on evidentiary or procedural questions related to the adjudication process.
Response by Parties to Investigation
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Dean of Students (or designee) and the investigator will share the witness statements and other relevant materials with the complainant and the accused. Both will have an opportunity to respond to this information in writing within seven (7) days.
New Relevant Evidence
If at any stage following the submission of these responses new relevant evidence is gathered, it will be shared with the complainant and accused who will then have an opportunity to submit a written response within a time frame to be determined by the Dean of Students or designee.
When the final responses, if any, from the complainant and accused have been received, the Dean of Students or designee will share each student’s response with the other student.
The investigator will submit a final report to the Dean of Students or designee. The final report will include all investigation materials, all written evidence (e.g., notes, emails, and/or text messages), the complainant’s and accused’s responses, both parties’ character references*, and the investigator’s interview notes reflecting judgments about witnesses and the factual findings.
*NOTE: In accordance with Student Conduct Code procedures, only one (1) character witness per party may present testimony at a hearing.
Informal resolution is designed to assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. An individual wishing to employ an informal resolution of a complaint will meet with the Dean of Students or designee who will explain the process and options available to the student.
In certain situations, a formal understanding is reached between the parties. This agreement is formalized in writing and is subject to approval by the Dean of Students or designee. The terms may include a pledge that the parties will have no further contact with each other, known as a “No Contact Agreement.” Once a student has signed a contractual agreement, it may not be revoked, and the terms may not be appealed. A student’s failure to adhere to any term of the agreement may result in referral to the Dean of Students Office for an Administrative Review or Conduct Code Hearing.
Mutually Agreed Upon Sanction
If the accused student elects to acknowledge his/her actions and take responsibility for the alleged sexual misconduct, the Dean of Students will propose a resolution to the complaint and a sanction. If both parties agree in writing to such proposed sanction, the complaint is resolved without a hearing and without any further right of appeal by either party
Mediation (not to be used for complaints of sexual misconduct)
Mediation sessions will be held only if the complainant and the accused both agree to mediate and if the Dean of Students or designee determines that mediation is appropriate under the circumstances. The Dean of Students or designee will act as mediator or will designate another person to act as mediator. The goal of mediation is to facilitate the parties’ discussions with each other such that a mutually acceptable resolution can be reached. At any point in the process, or if no mutual resolution is reached, the complaining party may move the complaint to the formal adjudication process described above.
Formal Adjudication Procedure
Formal procedures are designed to determine the merits of the allegations through adjudication in accordance with the Student Conduct Code and, where appropriate, to determine a disciplinary consequence for the accused student.
An individual wishing to have a complaint formally adjudicated will be asked to submit a written statement of complaint to the Dean of Students or his/her designee, who will forward the statement to a Campus Safety officer. The Dean of Students or his/her designee will meet with the complaining student and explain the process.
- The Campus Safety officer will meet with the parties separately and provide each party with the opportunity to be heard and to offer evidence. The Campus Safety officer may also speak to witnesses or others with relevant information. The investigation shall be concluded within fourteen (14) days or within a reasonable amount of time required to complete the investigation. The College shall strive to keep the parties apprised of the progress of the investigation.
- The College may proceed with an investigation and/or formal adjudication whenever the Dean of Students or his/her designee determines this to be appropriate. This includes situations in which the complainant has not filed a written statement of complaint but the Dean of Students or his/her designee nevertheless has notice of the incident (for example, through the on-line report process) and determines that investigation and/or adjudication is warranted.
- A hearing will be scheduled within fourteen (14) days of the conclusion of the investigation outlined above.
- The hearing will be held in accordance with the College’s hearing procedures, which are outlined in the Student Conduct Code with the exceptions noted above under “The Rights of Both the Complainant and Accused” and the following condition: evidence of a victim’s sexual conduct shall not normally be admissible at a Hearing unless fairness to the accused student requires consideration of such evidence.
- All sanctions defined in the College’s Student Conduct Code are available. In the most serious cases, if the accused is found to be responsible, the usual sanction is suspension or expulsion.
- At the conclusion of the hearing process, the College will provide written notification to the complainant and accused of the outcome and resolution of the hearing within ten (10) calendar days.
- Once written notification of the resolution of the hearing has been received, the parties involved have the opportunity to appeal in accordance with the appeal procedures set forth in the Student Conduct Code procedures.
- The appeal process is the same as that for a Student Conduct Code Hearing and is described in the Student Conduct Code.
Concerns about the Implementation of this Policy
The College has appointed a Title IX Coordinator, the Chief Diversity Officer at Union College, to oversee all aspects of the College’s Title IX compliance efforts. An individual who believes that any aspect of this policy has not been properly followed should contact the Title IX Coordinator at x8327 (518-388-8327) or pursue a complaint by contacting the Title IX Coordinator in accordance with the College’s Discrimination Grievance Procedures contained in the Student Handbook. Retaliation against any person who files a complaint of alleged discrimination is prohibited.
C:\ August 30, 2013