A report of sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence can also be resolved through a Formal Resolution process. The Formal Resolution process will be used in instances in which the Informal Resolution was not successful; the option to pursue resolution via an Informal Resolution was declined by either party; or at the discretion of the University. The formal resolution process involves the following steps:
The Formal Resolution process includes a prompt, thorough, impartial and fair investigation into the allegations of sex discrimination, sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence. Throughout the investigation and process, reporting parties and responding parties will be treated fairly and equitably.
The Title IX Coordinator will assign an internal investigator who has been trained in the investigation of, and other issues related to sex discrimination, sexual misconduct, and interpersonal violence. It is common practice, but not required, for the assigned investigator to select another trained investigator to participate in the investigation process in a secondary role. The investigators shall not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against any parties involved in the potential policy violation. In addition, all investigators shall receive 8 to 10 hours of annual training regarding the investigation of, and other issues related to, sex discrimination, sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence. The investigator(s) will undertake an Investigation for the purposes of adjudicating whether the responding party is responsible for the alleged violation(s) of the Policy.
The Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice to both parties that a grievance has been filed. The written notice provided to the respondent will include the following information: (1) the identity of the parties involved; (2) the specific section of the University’s policy allegedly violated; (3) the precise conduct allegedly constituting the alleged violation; and (4) the dates and location of the alleged incident. and provide notification of the assigned University investigator(s). The Title IX Coordinator will notify the parties of any secondary investigator if and when that assignment is made. If either the party has any concerns about a potential conflict of interest on the part of the assigned University investigator or secondary investigator, the reporting party or responding party should notify the Title IX Coordinator in writing within three calendar days of receiving notice of the referral of the grievance to a disciplinary process. If additional allegations are raised or the substance of the allegations changes, the parties will receive additional notice.
The University is committed to the prompt and equitable resolution of all alleged or suspected violations of this Policy about which the University knows or reasonably should know, regardless of whether a report alleging a violation of this Policy has been filed, as set forth in Section I. Should the institution require more time to complete the fair, impartial and thorough investigation as a result of extenuating circumstances, both parties will be provided written notice of the circumstances contributing to the need of additional time, as well as an estimated date of completion of the investigation and hearing process.
The nature and extent of the investigation will vary depending upon the circumstances. As part of the investigation, the investigator(s) will review any information gathered during the Initial Assessment and will seek to interview the reporting party and the responding party. The University will also seek to identify and interview any potential witnesses and gather and review physical, documentary, and/or other relevant evidence. To help ensure a prompt and thorough investigation, the reporting party and responding party are expected to provide as much information as possible in connection with the investigation. Both parties will be updated periodically during the investigation about the progress of the investigation and anticipated time for resolution of the investigation. Additional information regarding the investigation is as follows:
- The University investigator(s) will conduct individual interviews with the reporting party, responding party and any potential witnesses in an effort to gain as much information as possible. Interviews may take place in person, by phone, or through electronic means.
- Timely notice will be provided to Reporting and Responding Parties of all interviews/meetings at which they may/must be present, and both parties will be provided with timely and equal access to information. For interviews, a minimum of 48 hour notice of the interview date, time and location will be provided to the interviewee.
- The investigator(s) will make every effort to be sensitive to the needs of the interviewee while remaining committed to gaining a thorough understanding of the incident and any precipitating events.
- The reporting party and responding party have the right to be accompanied to any interview or other meeting related to this process by the advisor/support person of their choice. The support person may attend but shall not participate in the hearing, interview or related meeting.
- All parties will be encouraged to suggest questions to be posed by the University investigator to other participating parties and respond to the other party, and to submit other evidence on their own behalf.
- The use of any recording devices (photo, video or audio) is prohibited.
- Questions about the reporting party’s sexual history with anyone other than the responding party, or vice versa, are prohibited. Moreover, a prior consensual dating or sexual relationship between the parties by itself does not imply consent or preclude a finding of sexual misconduct.
- Character witnesses will not be allowed.
- In addition to conducting interviews, the University investigator will seek to collect and review any relevant evidence pertaining to the grievance, such as text/email /voicemail messages, social media messages and postings, written communications, law enforcement records, hospital reports, and other relevant evidence.
- The University investigator will notify the reporting party and responding party of the date upon which no additional evidence will be accepted (i.e. close of evidence).
- Review of the Preliminary Investigation Report
Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator(s) will produce a Preliminary Investigation Report that summarizes and analyzes the allegations, the relevant facts, the Investigator’s credibility determinations and rationale for those determinations, and any supporting documentation. The Preliminary Investigation Report will be provided to the Title IX Coordinator and shared with the parties (to the extent permitted by FERPA or other applicable law). Both parties will have an opportunity to review the Preliminary Investigation Report and provide in writing to the Title IX Coordinator their comments on the report identifying any factual inaccuracies or misunderstandings within 48 hours of review of the report. The investigator(s) will address any identified factual inaccuracies or misunderstandings as appropriate prior to determining an outcome of the investigation.
Based all information gathered during the investigation, including the comments received from both parties after Review of the Preliminary Investigation Report with the Title IX Coordinator, the investigator(s) will make a finding as to whether the University’s Policy has been violated (i.e. make a finding as to whether the responding party is Responsible or Not Responsible for any policy violation(s)). If the complaint presents more than a single allegation of misconduct, a finding will be made separately as to each allegation.
Standard of Proof: The standard used to determine whether the Policy has been violated is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. In other words, in order to find that the responding party is “Responsible” for a Policy violation in the matter, the investigator(s) must conclude that based on the information obtained during the investigation it is more likely than not that the responding party violated this Policy.
- Sanctioning and Corrective Actions
If the Formal Resolution process concludes with a finding based on a preponderance of the evidence that the responding party is responsible for a violation of the Policy, sanctions shall be determined and/or recommended as follows:
- When the responding party is a student who has been found responsible for a violation of University Policy, the sanctions shall be determined by the investigator(s).
- When the responding party is a faculty member who has been found responsible for a violation of University Policy, the investigator(s) shall make a recommendation of sanctions which shall be immediately reviewed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Disciplinary sanctions, up to and including dismissal, may be imposed consistent with the provisions of the Faculty Handbook then in effect. Where the matter being investigated involves an allegation of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, the University may modify timelines and procedures set forth in the applicable Faculty Handbook in order to achieve a prompt and equitable resolution of the matter.
- When the responding party is a staff member who has been found responsible for a violation of University Policy the Vice President of Human Resources will determine the appropriate sanction and any other corrective actions, unless a different process is required under any applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Each person involved in the sanctioning process will receive 8-10 hours of annual training regarding issues related to sex discrimination, sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence, as well as sanctioning guidelines consistent with relevant federal and state law and regulations.
The University will take reasonable steps to prevent the recurrence of any violations of the Policy and to correct the discriminatory effects on the reporting party (and others, if appropriate). The range of disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed along with other corrective actions for a finding of a Policy violation are as follows. One or more of the following sanctions may be imposed at the discretion of the assigned University investigator. Sanctions imposed will be proportionate with the violation. In imposing disciplinary sanctions, the investigator will consider the impact of separating a student from his or her education.
- Expulsion/Termination of Employment: Permanent separation from the University Students who have been expelled or employees whose employment has been terminated may not be on campus without specific written permission of the Title IX Coordinator, Vice President for Human Resources or designee. If an expelled student or terminated employee is found on campus without permission for any reason, the local area Police Department will be called and he/she will be charged with criminal trespass.
- Suspension: Separation of the student or employee from the University for a specified period of time. The student or employee will not participate in University-sponsored activities and may not be on campus without specific written permission of the Title IX Coordinator, Vice President for Human Resources or designee. If any suspended student or employee is found on campus for any reason without permission, the local area Police Department will be called and he/she will be charged with criminal trespass. Employment suspensions may be made without pay or benefits during the period of suspension. In addition, entry upon campus during the suspension without prior permission constitutes a separate disciplinary offense and may form the basis for further discipline, including expulsion. Upon completion of a student’s suspension, , the student may be eligible to petition the University in writing for readmission. As part of this process, the suspended student may be asked to meet with the Dean of Student Life or designee, take responsibility for the student’s prior conduct, and otherwise demonstrate to the University’s satisfaction that the student is ready to return to the Aurora University community. Any such petition will be granted or denied in the University’s sound discretion.
- Loss of On-Campus Housing: The student is suspended from the residence halls, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Normally, a student who receives this sanction by the appropriate hearing body or disciplinary hearing officer is entitled to a reasonable time, not to exceed 48 hours, to vacate his/her University housing facility. If, however, there is reason to believe that the student poses a substantial threat to harm oneself or others, damage University property, or disrupt the stability and continuance of normal University operations and functions, the University reserves the right to accelerate this process.
- Loss of Extracurricular Privileges: The student may lose the privilege of participating in extracurricular activities and/or running for or holding office in any student group or organization as part of a disciplinary sanction. This includes, but is not limited to, participation in athletic, music, and dramatic events, programs, groups, and teams.
- Residence Hall Reassignment: The student will be involuntarily reassigned to another residence hall. Normally, a student who receives this sanction by the appropriate hearing body or disciplinary hearing officer is entitled to a reasonable time, not to exceed 48 hours, to relocate to the new room assignment. If, however, there is reason to believe that the student presence may disrupt the room, floor community or residence hall, this process can be accelerated.
- No Contact Order : The student or employee will be prohibited from initiating contact with another member of the University community. Contact includes direct interactions in person, through technology, or through a third-person. This may include limiting access to areas to avoid incidental contact. A No Contact Order may be imposed at a student’s or employee’s request without conduct proceedings if it does not involve any accommodation changes. A No Contact Order is not limited by location and would remain in place for the duration of enrollment or employment; it would only be considered terminated if all parties agree to have it terminated through the coordination of the Title IX Coordinator.
- University Referral: The student is assigned a mandatory referral to a campus resource, such as the Counseling Center, Wellness Center, and/or alcohol and drug education programs. The employee is assigned to a mandatory referral to a University resource, such as the university’s Employee Assistance Program.
- Parental Notification: If the University determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation relating to a forcible or non-forcible sex offense, the University may disclose the final results of the Investigation and Resolution process. The final results include the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the institution against the student. Other information, including the name of any alleged or suspected victim who is a student, may not be disclosed without the prior written consent of the student victim. (Refer to Policy Statement D at the close of this document for the Aurora University Parental Notification Policy.)
- Restitution Fines: A student or organization is required to make payment to the University or to another specified person(s) or group(s) for damages incurred as a result of a violation of this Policy.
- Restitution Service: The student is required to perform service to assist in developing increased awareness of the impact of their decisions and raise awareness of more appropriate behavior(s).
- Educational Activity: The student will complete a research project, paper, community program, bulletin board, etc. The employee will participate in a University-identified training program.
- Restriction of Privileges or No-Trespass Directive: The student or employee is restricted from entering certain buildings, attending certain events or using specific programs due to their behavior. Residence hall students may have their visitation privileges restricted or revoked for a certain time period, or specific guests may not be allowed into a residence hall. Participation in University organizations or holding office in organizations or other privileges can also be included under this sanction as deemed appropriate by the investigator(s) based on the incident. Students or employees may also be barred from campus pursuant to a No-Trespass directive.
- Suspension of Group Recognition: Withdrawal of official recognition of a group for a stated period of time, which will include conditions for reinstatement of recognition.
- Revocation of Group Recognition: Permanent cancellation of the official University recognition and privileges of a group found in violation of University regulations.
- Registration Hold: A hold will be placed on a student’s registration if the student fails to complete a sanction or withdraws prior to official resolution of an allegation. Holds are intended to be temporary until either the sanction or the conduct process is complete. A student who fails to complete a sanction or withdraws prior to resolution of an allegation does not remain in good disciplinary standing, is not entitled to readmission pending further proceedings, and also may be limited in his or her ability to access transcripts and other official documentation.
- Disciplinary Probation: A specified period of time during which the student is removed from good disciplinary standing. Any additional violations during the probationary period will result in more severe consequences, up to and including expulsion. Students on disciplinary probation are in jeopardy of losing the privilege of living in the residence halls for the following academic year.
- Disciplinary Admonition: A written warning to the student or employee that the cited behavior is not in accordance with the Aurora University Sexual Misconduct Policy. The student or employee is warned that further misconduct may result in more severe disciplinary action.
Additional corrective actions for the reporting party may include but are not limited to support services and accommodations such as escorts, counseling and medical services, academic or residential accommodations and support. Corrective actions and remedies at the level of the institution may include but are not limited to, providing and/or requiring appropriate forms of counseling and training, developing educational materials and programming, implementation of revised policies and procedures, undertaking climate surveys and other mechanisms to identify and address patterns of violations.
In no event will the reporting party in matters involving an alleged violation of the Policy be required to abide by a nondisclosure agreement that would prevent disclosure of the outcome. If the University is unable to take disciplinary or other corrective action in response to a violation of this Policy, the University will nonetheless pursue other steps to limit the effects of the conduct at issue and prevent its recurrence.
A responding party may also be subject to prosecution under relevant local and/or federal law. The reporting party may pursue criminal/civil action against the responding party regardless of the University’s action.
The finding(s) of responsibility or non-responsibility for any policy violation(s), the rationale for the finding(s), and any resulting sanctions or corrective actions will be determined by the investigator(s) and provided to the Title IX Coordinator within seven calendar days of the close of Review of Investigation Report, unless additional time is needed by the investigator(s). The Title IX Coordinator will subsequently notify both parties of the outcome simultaneously/contemporaneously to the greatest extent possible. Each party will be notified in writing of the finding(s), sanction(s) and any other corrective action(s), the rationale for the finding(s), sanction(s), and any other corrective action(s), and information regarding appeal rights and timelines.
- For allegations of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking: Written notification will be provided to the reporting party and the responding party of the finding(s) and applicable sanctions or corrective actions within seven calendar days, unless the University determines that additional time is required.
- For all other allegations of sex discrimination, including harassment: Written notification will be provided to the reporting party of the findings and the responding party of the finding(s) within seven calendar days, unless the University determines that additional time is required. Consistent with the limitations upon disclosure set forth in FERPA, any applicable sanctions or corrective actions related to a finding of “responsible” for allegations in this category will be communicated only to the responding party.
Once written notification of the resolution has been provided, either party has the right to submit an appeal of the finding and/or of the sanctions or corrective actions imposed.
- Grounds for Appeal: Appeals of a finding or sanction may be submitted solely upon one or more of the following three grounds:
- Allegations that the investigator(s) deviated from the investigation and resolution process outlined in the Policy in a way that substantially altered the outcome of the case;
- Substantive new evidence or information that was not available or known to the appellant/party during the investigation process and that is sufficient to alter a decision;
- The sanction is disproportionate to the violation.
Reporting parties shall have the same rights as responding parties with respect to appealing a finding and/or sanction or corrective action imposed under this Policy. Appeals must be submitted in writing to the Vice President for Student Life within five calendar days after the party pursuing the appeal receives notice of the outcome of the Investigation and Resolution procedure. Failure to appeal within the allotted time will render the original decision and any sanction final and conclusive.
- Appeal Process:
The appeal process has two steps. First, within seven calendar days of receiving an appeal of either finding or sanction, the appeals officer will determine whether the appeal satisfies the grounds for appeals and will notify the parties simultaneously (to the greatest extent possible) in writing of his or her decision regarding this issue. The appeals officer will be the Vice President for Student Life (VPSL) or designee. If the VPSL determines that the grounds for appeal are not satisfied, he or she may deny the appeal without further consideration.
If the VPSL determines that the appeal request satisfies the grounds for appeal, he or she will give notice of the appeal to the other party. The party that did not initiate the appeal will then have three business days after receiving notice of the appeal to submit a written response (but any such response must be limited to the issues raised by the party making the appeal and cannot constitute a counter-appeal). If both parties have filed appeals, they shall both be permitted to file written responses to the other's appeal document within the same three business day period of time. Any such responses must be submitted to the VPSL.
Any such appeal(s) will then be reviewed by the VPSL. The VPSL will review the Investigation Report and may, in his or her discretion, interview the investigator(s) or any other person who participated in the investigation or sanctioning process. The VPSL will deliver his or her written decision to the parties within 45 days of receiving the appeal unless there are extenuating circumstances that require an extension. The VPSL may: (1) uphold the original decision, (2) remand the finding and/or sanction for further investigation or reconsideration, or (3) modify, augment, or eliminate the sanction. Within seven days of the VPSL's review and determination of the outcome of the appeal, the VPSL will notify the parties contemporaneously/simultaneously (to the greatest extent possible) in writing of the outcome of the appeal and the rationale for the decision. Appeal decisions by the VPSL are final.
If upon appeal a decision is remanded or an investigation is reopened, the results of the remanded investigation and determination are not appealable unless an additional appeal is permitted in the sole discretion of the VPSL.
All sanctions will be in effect during any appeal. A request may be made to the VPSL to delay implementation of a sanction until the appeal is decided, but parties should presume unless otherwise informed that any sanction(s) will go into effect immediately. Graduation, study abroad, internships/externships, etc. do NOT in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances, and students may be barred from participating in those activities during an appeal. In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the university or resumption of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student to his or her prior status.
- Grounds for Appeal: Appeals of a finding or sanction may be submitted solely upon one or more of the following three grounds: