INTERIM SEXUAL MISCONDUCT POLICY

XI. SUMMARY OF TITLE IX REVIEW, INVESTIGATION, AND RESOLUTION ALTERNATIVES

Although a report may come in through many sources, the Colleges are committed to ensuring that all reports of sexual assault or harassment are referred to the Title IX Coordinator, which ensures consistent application of the Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy to all individuals and allows the Colleges to respond promptly and equitably to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and eliminate its effects. The Title IX Coordinator and the Title IX Team oversee the resolution of the reported misconduct through the Colleges’ complaint processes.

Everyone who participates in the HWS Title IX review, investigation, and resolution processes receives annual training on: (1) issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking; (2) how to conduct an investigation to protect the safety of victims and to promote accountability; and (3) the Colleges’ policies, procedures, resources, and supports.

Overview of Procedural Options

Upon receipt of a sexual misconduct report, the Colleges’ Title IX Team will conduct an initial Title IX assessment. The goal of this assessment is to provide an integrated and coordinated response to reports of sex discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence, and sex- or gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature. The assessment will consider the nature of the report, the safety of the individual and of the campus community, and the Complainant’s expressed preference for resolution.

Following this assessment, the Colleges may:

  • seek a remedies-based response that does not involve disciplinary action against a Respondent; OR
  • refer the matter for investigation. The goal of the investigation is to gather all relevant facts and determine if there is sufficient information to refer the report for disciplinary action using the Colleges’ hearing procedures described below.

The process followed will be determined by the relationship of the Respondent to the Colleges:

  • Complaints against a student will be addressed under the procedures for resolution of complaints against students, which is set forth in the Procedures for Resolution of Complaints Against Students section of this Policy.
  • Complaints against a staff member will be addressed under the Colleges’ Harassment and Non-discrimination Policy set forth in the Employee Handbook.
  • Complaints against a member of the faculty will be addressed under the Colleges’ policy governing instructional staff and related grievance procedures, which can be found in the Faculty Handbook.

Each process is guided by the same principles of fairness and respect for all parties. Resources are available for both students and employees, whether as Complainants or Respondents, to provide support and guidance throughout the investigation and resolution of the complaint.

Role of the Title IX Coordinator

Title IX Coordinator Susan Lee oversees the Colleges’ centralized review, investigation, and resolution of reports of sexual assault and harassment. The Coordinator also coordinates the Colleges’ compliance with Title IX. The Title IX Coordinator is:

  • responsible for oversight of the investigation and resolution of all reports of sexual assault and harassment;
  • knowledgeable and trained in relevant state and federal laws and Colleges’ policy and procedure;
  • trained in sexual assault response;
  • available to provide information to any individual, including a complainant, a respondent, or a third party, about the courses of action available at the Colleges, both informally and formally, and the courses of action available externally, including reports to law enforcement;
  • available to provide assistance to any Colleges’ community member regarding how to respond appropriately to reports of sexual assault and harassment;
  • responsible for monitoring full compliance with all requirements and timelines specified in the complaint procedures; and
  • responsible for compiling required reports.

Time Frames for Addressing Reports Made Under this Policy

The Colleges seek to conclude all reports of sexual misconduct within sixty (60) days (exclusive of any appeal) and, in general, a Complainant and Respondent can expect that the process will proceed according to the time frames provided in this Policy. However, because circumstances may arise that require the extension of time frames—possibly beyond the overall sixty (60) day timeline—all time frames expressed in this Policy are meant to be guidelines rather than rigid requirements. Such circumstances may include the complexity of the allegations, the number of witnesses involved, the availability of the parties or witnesses, the effect of a concurrent criminal investigation, any intervening school break or vacation or other unforeseen circumstances. The Colleges will provide written notice to all parties of the reason for the delay and the expected adjustment in time frames. The Colleges will make their best efforts to complete the process in a timely manner by balancing principles of thoroughness and fundamental fairness with promptness.

At the request of law enforcement, the Colleges may agree to defer their fact-gathering until after the initial stages of a criminal investigation. The Colleges will nevertheless communicate with the Complainant regarding Title IX rights, procedural options, and the implementation of interim measures to ensure safety and well-being. The Colleges will promptly resume its fact-gathering as soon as law enforcement has completed their initial investigation.

Initial Title IX Review and Assessment

Risk of Harm

In every report of sex discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence or sex- or gender-based harassment that does not involve conduct of a sexual nature, the Title IX Coordinator, along with the Title IX Team, will make an immediate assessment of any risk of harm to individuals or to the campus community and will take steps necessary to address those risks. These steps may include interim protective measures to provide for the safety of the individual and the campus community. As necessary, one or more additional campus officials may also be included in the initial assessment.

The 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, the 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.

Appropriateness of Disciplinary Action or Hearing Process

Where the Title IX assessment concludes that the Colleges’ hearing process or disciplinary action may be appropriate, the Colleges will provide notice to the parties and initiate an investigation.

Notice to the Parties and Investigation

At the outset of the Investigation, the Colleges will issue a notice to the parties describing the date, time, location and factual allegations concerning the alleged violation of this Policy, references to the specific forms of Prohibited Conduct alleged to have been violated, and possible sanctions.

The Colleges must conduct an investigation whether or not a Complainant decides to make a report to law enforcement. In the event that a Complainant makes a report to law enforcement, the Colleges must continue their independent investigation while law enforcement’s investigation proceeds. However, the Colleges and law enforcement will coordinate their investigations, including sharing information to the extent it is prudent and feasible. The Colleges’ investigation is designed to provide a fair and reliable gathering of the facts.

The Colleges may designate an investigator (or investigators) of their choosing, provided the investigator has specific training and experience investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. The Colleges will provide annual training for all investigators, and any investigator chosen to conduct the investigation must be impartial and free of any conflict of interest. The investigator may be an employee of the College, an external investigator engaged to assist the Colleges in their fact-gathering or a team of investigators that pairs an external investigator with a Colleges’ employee related to the roles of the parties on campus (student, staff, or faculty). The Title IX Coordinator will determine who serves as the investigator for a particular case.

The investigator will conduct the investigation in a manner appropriate in light of the circumstances of the case, which will typically include interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, and any witnesses. The interviews will be supplemented by the gathering of any physical, documentary, or other evidence, as appropriate and available. The investigator(s) will decide which individuals to interview; however, as part of the investigation, the Colleges will provide an opportunity for the parties to suggest witnesses and present other evidence. The investigation will be conducted with the goal of being thorough, impartial, and fair; all individuals will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and respect. The investigation will be conducted in a manner that is respectful of individual privacy concerns. To be clear, however, confidentiality cannot be promised during an investigation because, for example, it may be necessary for members of the Title IX Team to participate in discussions regarding accommodations and interim measures, and for the investigator to speak with witnesses.

The Colleges will seek to complete the investigation within thirty (30) business days of receiving the complaint, but this time frame may be extended depending on the complexity of the circumstances of each case. Even some complex cases, however, can be investigated within thirty (30) days or less.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will prepare a report setting forth the facts gathered. The Colleges will share the report with the Complainant and Respondent, and each party will have the opportunity to prepare and submit a written response. The investigator may find it necessary to follow up on information provided in a written response submitted by any party and supplement her or his prior report accordingly. All of these written submissions and all information gathered during the investigation will collectively be considered the investigative report.

Upon receipt of the investigative report, the Colleges will notify all parties that the investigation is complete and provide information about next steps in the process.

Information gathered during the investigation will be used to evaluate the responsibility of the Respondent, provide for the safety of the Complainant and the Colleges’ campus community, and impose (additional) remedies as deemed necessary to address the effects of the alleged conduct.

Based on the information gathered in the initial Title IX assessment and/or investigation, the Title IX Coordinator and appropriate members of the Title IX Team will take appropriate measures designed to end the misconduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.

The Title IX Coordinator will document each report or request for assistance in resolving a case involving charges of sexual misconduct, whether by the Complainant, Respondent, a third party or anonymously, and will review and retain copies of all reports generated as a result of investigations. These records will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.

Remedies-based Resolution

Remedies-based resolution does not involve disciplinary action against a respondent. Where the Title IX assessment concludes that a remedies-based resolution may be appropriate, the Colleges, in consultation with the Complainant, 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 of the Colleges. Examples of potential remedies for individuals are provided in Section IX: Interim Measures. Potential remedies for the community include targeted or broad-based educational programming or training.

In cases that do not involve sexual violence, mediation and other restorative justice programming may be an appropriate form of a remedies-based response. The Colleges will not compel a Complainant to engage in mediation, to directly confront the Respondent or to participate in any particular form of a remedies-based response. Mediation, even if voluntary, may not be used in cases involving sexual violence or assault.

The Colleges will make the decision to pursue a remedies-based response when the Colleges have sufficient information about the nature and scope of the conduct. The Colleges can reach this decision at any time. Participation in a remedies-based response is voluntary, and a Complainant can request to end a remedies-based response at any time.

At all times, the Colleges’ administrator or team working to address the report will stay in close contact with the Complainant regarding options and possible remedies.

Complaint Resolution Process

Disciplinary action against a Respondent may only be taken following the completion of a complaint resolution process. Because the relationship of students, staff, and faculty to the Colleges differ in nature, the procedures that apply when seeking disciplinary action necessarily differ as well. Each of the procedures, however, is guided by the same principles of fundamental fairness and respect for all parties, which require notice, an equitable opportunity to be heard, and an equitable opportunity to respond to a report under this Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The Procedures for Resolution of Complaints Against Students are provided as part of this Policy. Complaints against a staff member will be addressed under the Colleges’ Harassment and Non-discrimination Policy set forth in the Employee Handbook. Complaints against a member of the faculty will be addressed under the Colleges’ policy governing instructional staff and related grievance procedures, which can be found in the Faculty Handbook.

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.