It is a violation of College policy to retaliate against any person making a complaint of sexual misconduct or against any person involved in the investigation of (including testifying as a witness to) any allegation of sexual misconduct. For these purposes, “retaliation” includes intimidation, threats or harassment against any such complainant or third party. Retaliation should be reported promptly to Campus Safety or the Administrator and may result in disciplinary action independent of the sanction or interim measures imposed in response to the underlying allegations of sexual misconduct.
Because the standards for finding a violation of criminal law are different from the standards for finding a violation of the Sexual and Gender-based Misconduct Policy, criminal investigations or reports are not determinative of whether sexual misconduct, for purposes of this Policy, has occurred. In other words, conduct may constitute sexual misconduct under this Policy even if law enforcement agencies lack sufficient evidence of a crime and therefore decline to prosecute. The filing of a complaint of sexual misconduct under this Policy is independent of any criminal investigation or proceeding, and the College will not wait for the conclusion of any criminal investigation or proceedings to commence its own investigation and take interim measures to protect the Complainant and the College Community, if necessary.
The College will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws.
The College Community encourages the reporting of misconduct and crimes. Students should not hesitate to report sexual misconduct to College Officials or participate in resolution processes because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interests of the College Community that parties report to College Officials, and that witnesses come forward to share what they know. To encourage reporting, the College pursues a policy of offering Complainants of misconduct and witnesses amnesty from minor policy violations related to the incident.
Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others for fear that they may get themselves in trouble. The College pursues a policy of amnesty for students who offer help to others in need. While certain policy violations cannot be overlooked, the College will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.
The College reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status or conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations. The College may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under age 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations. Where a student is non-dependent, the College will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant and articulable health and/or safety risk. The College also reserves the right to designate which College officials have a need to know about individual conduct reports pursuant to the FERPA.
Information about investigation and adjudication procedures for sexual and gender-based misconduct allegations against students can be found in the Student Code of Conduct in the Ursinus Student Handbook, 2017-18.
When a faculty or staff member is accused of sexual or gender-based misconduct, the following procedures apply. Allegations of Sexual Misconduct are to be reported to the Title IX Coordinator, the Dean of Students, the Dean of the College or Human Resources. A lead Administrator will be designated to coordinate an intake meeting with the Complainant in order to provide a general understanding of this policy and to identify forms of support or immediate interventions available to the Complainant, including referrals to appropriate law enforcement agencies, referrals for medical treatment and/or counseling at Wellness Center, and/or the Victim Services Center of Montgomery County. The intake meeting will include a discussion of any accommodations that may be appropriate concerning the Complainant’s academic, College housing, and/or College employment arrangements. The Administrator will notify and update the Title IX Coordinator throughout the process.
Informal Adjudication with Faculty/Staff
A Complainant who wishes to file a formal complaint but who does not wish to pursue Formal Adjudication may request a less formal proceeding, known as “Informal Adjudication.” Informal Adjudication is an adjudicative process; it is not mediation.
- Purpose of Informal Adjudication: Informal Adjudication provides an opportunity for the Complainant to confront the Respondent in the presence of and facilitated by a presiding officer, as described below, and communicate their feelings and perceptions regarding the incident, the impact of the incident and his or her wishes and expectations regarding protection in the future. The Respondent will have an opportunity to respond.
- Presiding Officer: The Title IX Coordinator or designee will act as Presiding Officer, and may elect to be assisted by another College administrator.
- Advisor: Both the Complainant and the Respondent may each choose one individual to accompany them throughout the hearing as their Advisor. The Advisor may submit questions/statements to the Presiding Officer prior to the hearing, and the Advisor may provide support and guidance to the Complainant and the Respondent during the hearing.
- Outcome of Informal Adjudication: The outcome may include protective actions agreed upon by the parties. Without such agreement, the Presiding Officer may impose protective actions based on information derived from the proceedings, taken together with any other relevant information known to the College at the time of the Informal Adjudication. The outcome may also include sanctions, as outlined by Human Resources. Both parties will be notified in writing about the outcome of the informal adjudication.
- Election of Formal Adjudication: The Complainant may, at any time prior to the conclusion of the Informal Adjudication, elect to end such proceedings and initiate Formal Adjudication instead.
- Confidentiality of Informal Adjudication: In order to promote honest, direct communication, information disclosed during Informal Adjudication will remain , except where disclosure may be required by law or authorized in connection with duties on behalf of the College.
Formal Adjudication with Faculty/Staff
In the event the Complainant or College wants to proceed with formal adjudication, the Title IX Coordinator will appoint a trained investigator to conduct the investigation of the alleged misconduct. All investigations will be thorough, reliable, and impartial and will entail interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses and collection of available evidence. If the investigation shows possibility of a policy violation, the Title IX Coordinator will convene an ad hoc committee of three faculty or staff members to hear the case. One member will be designated to chair the proceedings. The ad hoc committee will consider the complaint, hear from both parties, consider other pertinent evidence, and will issue findings of facts and recommendations in writing.
- Recording: The Chair will arrange for the hearing to be recorded and may arrange for the preparation of any transcript of the recording that they deem appropriate or which a party requests (upon prompt payment by the requester of the transcription fee). Such recording will be arranged through the Dean of Students’ Office.
- Advisor: Both the Complainant and the Respondent may each choose one individual to accompany them throughout the hearing as their Advisor. The Advisor may submit questions/statements to the Chair prior to the hearing, and the Advisor may provide support and guidance to the Complainant and the Respondent during the hearing.
- Presence: Both the Complainant and the Respondent may be present throughout the hearing.
- Right of Challenge: The parties may challenge the presence of any ad hoc committee member on the basis of bias or preformed judgment. Such challenge shall be presented in writing to the Title IX Coordinator no less than 24 hours before the formal adjudication meeting. The committee chair, in conjunction with the Vice President of Academic Affairs (faculty proceedings) or Vice President of Finance & Administration (staff proceedings), will consider challenges. An alternate will replace any member removed from the committee.
- Evidentiary Standard: The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has interpreted Title IX to require schools to evaluate evidence of alleged Sexual Misconduct under a “preponderance of the evidence” standard and that is the standard adopted by this Policy. A preponderance of the evidence means that the conduct in question “more likely than not” occurred.
- Determination Letter: Following the hearing, the ad hoc committee will issue a determination letter to the Respondent, the Respondent’s supervisor, and the Complainant. The determination letter will include following information: the name of the Respondent; whether the Respondent has been found responsible or not responsible for Sexual or Gender-Based Misconduct; and explanation of the reasoning for the determination; the sanction imposed, if any, and information about the appeal process. Sanctions take effect immediately at the conclusion of the hearing and remain in effect, pending an appeal outcome. As guaranteed by Federal law, both the Respondent and the Complainant have a right to this information.
- Outcome: The supervisor, after consultation with the ad hoc committee, will inform both parties in writing of the outcome on the complaint.
- Timeline: The Investigation and Formal Adjudication together typically conclude within sixty (60) days of receiving the complaint.