Resolving a Concern
Rights of the Complainant and the Respondent
The Complainant and a Respondent can expect the College to respect the rights of all involved by following the appropriate stated College sexual misconduct resolution process.
Availability of Formal and Informal Resolution Options
When a Complainant or the College chooses to move forward with a complaint, there are two avenues for resolution of an alleged policy violation; formal and informal resolution. The Complainant or the College has the option to proceed informally when permissible. If a complaint is processed informally, the Complainant, Respondent, or College has the option to move the complaint to the formal process at any time. The Informal Process and/or mediation are never permissible in cases involving sexual violence.
Each resolution 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 guidance throughout the investigation and resolution of the complaint. These resources are maintained by the Title IX Team and available through the Student Life, Human Resources, and Academic Affairs offices.
While the resolution processes for students, faculty, and staff might differ from one another, each process will include the following, essential attributes:
• The parties will have an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence;
• In any resolution process involving a burden of proof, the College will use the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard (that is, more likely than not that sexual misconduct occurred);
• If either party is allowed to introduce third-party expert testimony, both parties will be allowed to do so on the same basis;
• Where appeals are allowed, each party will have the same opportunity to appeal as the other; and
• Both parties will be notified, in writing at the same time, of the outcome of both the complaint and any appeal.
The informal process is an opportunity to bring resolution to an informal complaint through awareness, education, and/or a facilitated discussion. During an informal process, written statements are not taken from the Complainant or the Respondent, and no hearing is conducted. *Note: The Informal Process will not be utilized in the case of sexual violence.
Step 1: Facilitate Resolution
This process utilizes the information gathered during the initial inquiry to facilitate an appropriate resolution to the informal complaint. The following are examples of possible options, one or more of which may be used to bring resolution to an informal complaint.
Potential Informal Actions:
1. Distribute a copy of the Sexual Misconduct Policy as a reminder to the person, group, or area where behavior is being questioned;
Step 2: Document Informal Resolution
At the conclusion of the informal process, a letter summarizing the outcome(s) of the process will be sent by the College official leading the process to the accuser and accused and other appropriate College officials to bring closure to the matter (see Retention of Documents section in this Policy).
If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the accuser or the accused utilizing the informal process, and/or the College determines the matter should be resolved through the formal process, the accuser, the accused and/or the College may pursue the formal process. In such an instance, the accuser, the accused and/or the College may pursue the formal process within 5 business days of the date on the informal outcome letter.
The College offers a formal process leading to resolution of a complaint if: the complaint involves sexual violence; the informal resolution is not agreed upon or fails to satisfactorily resolve a concern; and/or the College determines the formal process is appropriate or necessary.
The investigator will require the Complainant or College representative making the complaint to complete Step 1. Steps 2-4 will follow.
Step 1: Accuser’s Written Statement
1. Complete a written statement of the sexual misconduct complaint. The statement should be as specific as possible, including dates, times, locations, a description of the alleged misconduct and the name(s) of the Respondent(s).
Step 2: College’s Response
The investigator will contact the Respondent, provide him/her with a copy of the written statement, and ask that a written response to the complaint be submitted by a specified date within a reasonable period of time necessary to keep the process moving forward. The investigator will meet with the Respondent to ask questions and to hear his or her version of the incident.
The investigator will also meet with the Complainant to hear his or her complaint and to ask any clarifying questions from the written report. The investigator will make sure that the Complainant has been adequately advised of available immediate measures (such as housing reassignments, security escorts, or class schedule changes) that are appropriate prior to a hearing on the complaint.
Step 3: Respondent’s Response
1. Submit a written response to the complaint to the investigator. The response will be forwarded to the Complainant or the College representative bringing the complaint, as the case may be; and
The investigator will collect any witness statements he or she deems important to help assess whether sexual misconduct has occurred.
The function of this hearing is to hear from the Complainant, the Respondent, and/or any other witness the investigator deems necessary to determine whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent is responsible for the misconduct alleged, whether the conduct violated the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, and, if so, to determine an appropriate sanction.
Hearing Procedure (Students)
1. The Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the date, time and location of the hearing.
Appeal Process (Students)
The Respondent or the Complainant each may appeal the decision and/or sanction to the President. Appeals are only available on the bases for appeal set out below. Appeals must be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator within (5) five business days of receipt of the written decision and must specify the grounds for the appeal.
The grounds on which an appeal may be filed with the President are limited to the following:
1. New information not available to the hearing officer which, if available at the time of the hearing, may have affected the decision;
2. Evidence that established procedures were not followed in a manner that may have affected the decision, and/or;
3. The sanction was disproportionate for the violation.
Any appeal filed pursuant to this Policy shall be shared with the other party(ies) within 2 business days of the receipt of the appeal. The other party will have 3 business days to respond in writing, sending the response to the Title IX Coordinator.
The President shall review the report and sanctions to be imposed, and may review any documents, materials, or statements obtained during the investigation or presented during the hearing. In addition, the President shall review the appeal document and any response received from the non-appealing party(ies).
The President may accept, reject, or modify the finding and/or sanctions based on one of the three, above-listed grounds for appeal.
The President will, under normal circumstances, make a final decision on the appeal within 10 business days of receiving the timely-filed appeal and timely-filed responses. The President will communicate his/her decision, in writing, to the Title IX Coordinator, who will forward the decision to the Respondent, the Complainant, and the College Hearing Officer who conducted the underlying hearing in the case.
The Title IX Coordinator shall forward the President’s decision to the Respondent’s department chair, dean/supervisor, and appropriate vice president(s).
The President’s decision shall be final.
Should disciplinary action be required, it will be taken by the following College officials, after consultation with appropriate Centre personnel:
• Students: Disciplinary action will be taken by the Vice President and Dean of Student Life.
• Staff: Disciplinary action will be taken by the supervisor and Director of Human Resources and Administrative Services.
• Faculty: Disciplinary action will be taken by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
The sanctions available under these processes are intended to reflect the facts and circumstances of a particular case as best they can be determined. Sanctions also are premised on the College’s role as an educational institution. Sanctions may be issued individually, or a combination of sanctions may be imposed. The determination of sanctions is based upon a number of factors, including: the harm suffered by the Complainant; any ongoing risk to either the Complainant or the community posed by Respondent; the impact of the violation on the community, its members, or its property; any previous conduct violations; and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances
Depending upon the severity of the misconduct and other factors pertinent to the situation and the parties involved, for a student, the sanctions range from a warning to expulsion, and could include a requirement of counseling or education. For faculty and staff, the sanctions range from a warning to termination of appointment/employment, and could include a requirement of counseling or education.
Upon completion of a sexual misconduct investigation, the file containing all documentation relating to the complaint will be maintained in the Human Resources Department in a separate confidential file.
A copy of the final outcome or determination letter from any formal disciplinary action will be maintained in accordance to the following guidelines:
• Students: In the Student’s file, maintained by the Vice President and Dean of Student Life.
• Staff: In the Staff member’s personnel file, maintained in the Human Resources Department.
• Faculty: In the Faculty member’s personnel file, maintained in the Human Resources Department, and within the office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs.
As required by law, Centre College Department of Public Safety collects and annually reports statistical information concerning sexual misconduct that occurs within its jurisdiction.