Sexual misconduct policy updated to match Title IX

April 29, 2015 by Emma Zehner, Executive Editor

On April 22, faculty members voted to adopt a new sexual misconduct investigation and adjudication process for cases that involve students and faculty or staff members. This proposal, which will replace the interim policy that was adopted in the fall of 2014, will ensure that the College’s procedures comply with Title IX regulations. 

In the fall, the College implemented the interim rules to adhere to new requirements set out by the Violence Against Women Act and the recommendations from the Office of Civil Rights with regards to Title IX.

According to the rationale outlined in the April 22 Faculty Meeting Agenda, federal rules require that the College “use trained investigators and adjudicators, have a means of proceeding even if the complainant does not wish to participate, not require the complainant and respondent to be in the same room at the same time, use ‘preponderance of evidence’ rather than ‘clear and convincing’ as the standard of evidence, and ensure that any right of appeal accorded to one party to the complaint is similarly accorded to the other party.”

In addition, in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Office of Civil Rights, the new process will not require direct cross examination and will not require the complainant to retell his or her story more than once.

The new policy outlines the process for determining whether sexual misconduct occured.

According to the policy, “The decision about whether there has been a violation of the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policies will be made by a hearing panel of five trained members. Four ‘yes’ votes are necessary for a finding that there has been a violation. If such a violation is found to have taken place, then the same panel recommends an appropriate sanction.”

The new policy also establishes a procuedure to be followed in the case that the panel determines there has been a violation.

“If the panel determines that there has been a violation of the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policies…The panel will then recommend a sanction to the relevant senior officer (Dean of Faculty for respondents who are members of the faculty, the Director of Human Resources for respondents who are members of the staff.) The complainant and respondent will each be informed in writing of the recommended sanction,” according to the new policy.

“This summer we worked on ensuring that the processes for a student reporting behavior with regards to a staff or faculty member were both consistent with Title IX and also consistent with the decisions that students too us would be most helpful to them in sexual misconduct investigation and adjudication processes,”Dean of Students Sarah Bolton said.

Two years ago, the College made similar changes to the handling of sexual misconduct complaints between students. The most recent change will ensure that these same opportunities are extended to cases involving both students and faculty or staff.

In May, the faculty will vote again about extending similar rules to policies regarding sexual misconduct between employees, at which point the three-step process will conclude. 

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