The Grievance Process
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the University’s grievance process?
The grievance process is the University’s formal process for investigating and adjudicating reports of prohibited conduct. It includes an investigation by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA), a potential for informal resolution, an opportunity for a live hearing, and an opportunity for an appeal.
- Who can explain the grievance process to me?
EOAA or your campus Title IX office can explain the grievance process to you. You can ask the EOAA or your campus Title IX office about the grievance process without sharing any information about your experience.
Initiating a Grievance Process
- How do I initiate a University grievance process?
You can initiate a University grievance process by filing a formal complaint. A formal complaint is a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator that: 1) alleges that an individual engaged in prohibited conduct toward a complainant; and 2) requests that the University investigate the allegation of prohibited conduct.
A complainant files a formal complaint by submitting such a document to the campus Title IX office that contains the complainant’s physical or digital signature or otherwise indicates that the complainant is the individual filing the formal complaint. A formal complaint may be filed with the campus Title IX office in person, by mail, by e-mail, or through an online portal. However, we recommend that you contact EOAA to set-up a meeting with an EOAA associate if you would like to file a formal complainant.
- Do I have to initiate a University grievance process if I have experienced prohibited conduct?
No, you do not need to initiate a grievance process if you have experienced prohibited conduct.
- Is there a time limit for initiating a grievance process?
No. There is no time limit for initiating a grievance process. However, the University is limited in the responsive action it can take once a respondent is no longer a University member. Moreover, the amount of evidence that the University is able to gather about the prohibited conduct incident may decrease as time passes. In some cases, the University may be unable to effectively address prohibited conduct due to the passage of time and unavailability of evidence.
- Is it possible for a complainant to remain anonymous during a grievance process?
No. Federal law requires that the University provide the respondent with the name of the complainant at the beginning of a grievance process.
- I am not affiliated with the University. Can I initiate a grievance process against a University member?
Yes, if the alleged prohibited conduct occurred on University property, in the context of a University employment or education program or activity, or if the allegation indicates that the respondent may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of University members. The campus Title IX office will consider the following factors, among others, in determining whether an allegation indicates that the respondent may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of University members: the nature and severity of the alleged conduct, whether the respondent is alleged to have used a weapon while committing prohibited conduct;; and whether the respondent has been alleged or found to have committed sexual assault, relationship violence or stalking against multiple complainants.
- Can I report prohibited conduct to the campus Title IX office if the respondent is not a University member?
Yes. Although the University may not be able to initiate a grievance process and hold the respondent accountable, the campus Title IX office may be able to assist you in other ways, including providing information about the resources and support services available to you, helping you file a complaint with the respondent’s institution or taking other appropriate steps to protect the University community.
- If I do not want to initiate a grievance process, does that mean nothing will happen?
Not necessarily. Even when a complainant does not initiate a grievance process, the University may initiate an informal problem-solving process and take other action. Depending on the particular situation, such action might include:
- providing supportive measures related to academics, housing or employment;
- providing training or education;
- making campus or facility safety improvements;
- reviewing policies or procedures with employees; or
- conducting a grievance process, in limited cases where the Title IX Coordinator signs a formal complaint.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Questions Related to Investigations
- I am a complainant. What will happen after I file a formal complaint?
EOAA will review the formal complaint to determine whether, as alleged, the conduct would violate this policy. If so, a complainant’s filing of a formal complaint initiates the University’s grievance process. The first step in the grievance process is an investigation conducted by EOAA. An EOAA staff member will meet with the complainant to learn about the complainant’s report. Then EOAA will notify the respondent about the reported prohibited conduct, the identity of the complainant, and the initiation of the grievance process.
- Who conducts investigations into prohibited conduct reports?
The University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) conducts prohibited conduct investigations system-wide.
- I am a complainant or respondent in a grievance process. What will happen during my meeting with EOAA?
During your meeting with EOAA, an EOAA staff member will share information about the investigation and other parts of the grievance process, and you will have an opportunity to ask questions.
The EOAA staff member will ask you to provide your account of what happened (or what did not happen), and will ask follow-up questions to make sure that they understand your perspective and account.
EOAA understands that it can be uncomfortable to talk about private matters, and we strive to gather this information in the most sensitive and considerate way possible. However, the EOAA staff member will need to ask specific questions about the sexual conduct that occurred or was reported to have occurred that are relevant to determining whether a policy violation occurred.
During the meeting, the EOAA staff member may need to ask you difficult or challenging questions. For example, if the information you provided is different from that provided by another individual, the EOAA staff member may share this discrepancy with you and offer you an opportunity to provide further explanation. If you are confused about why the EOAA staff member is asking any particular question, you can ask the staff member to provide an explanation for why the information is needed.
The EOAA staff member will also share the information provided by the other party, and other information gathered during the investigation, and will give you the opportunity to respond to this information.
The EOAA staff member will ask you to identify other individuals who might have relevant information and to provide any other relevant evidence, such as text messages, videos, pictures, voicemails and other electronic communications or posts.
EOAA recognizes that the subject matter of these meetings can be difficult and stressful to discuss. EOAA aims to provide a non-intimidating environment that allows you to fully share your account. You can bring an advisor and support person to meetings with EOAA. You can ask questions of the EOAA staff member throughout the meeting. You can also take breaks and/or confer with your advisor or support person during the meeting.
If you recall additional information after the meeting, you can contact the EOAA staff member to schedule a follow-up meeting or phone call. Our goal is to gather all relevant information so that we can best assess what occurred, and multiple meetings are often needed to meet this goal.
- Can I bring someone to my meeting with EOAA?
Yes. You may be accompanied to meetings with EOAA by: 1) an advisor of your choice; and 2) a support person who cannot be a fact witness in the case.
Other individuals may be permitted to attend these meetings to support you for good reason, such as to accommodate a disability or to provide language interpretation services.
- Should I hire an attorney?
The decision to hire an attorney is a personal one that should be made in consultation with trusted individuals who can help you weigh your options. For more information about how an advisor, such as an attorney, may assist you through this process, please see Appendix D.
- Am I required to participate in the EOAA investigation?
No. Parties and witnesses are not required to participate in the investigation or any other portion of the grievance process.
- Will EOAA interview all witnesses that a complainant or respondent identifies?
EOAA will interview witnesses who are identified as having relevant information relating to the allegations. EOAA will determine which potential witnesses fall into this category. EOAA will assign little weight, if any, to character evidence concerning any party and to evidence of a party’s prior bad acts that are not substantially related to the conduct at issue. It will assign this evidence the same weight whether it concerns a complainant or a respondent.
- I am a student. Will my parents find out about a grievance process that involves me?
The University does not contact your parents when you initiate an grievance process or when a grievance process is initiated against you. If you are under eighteen, however, and have disclosed prohibited conduct, the University may be obligated to contact your parents or legal guardians.
- If, during a grievance process, I disclose that I was using alcohol or drugs, will I get in trouble?
No. The University will not discipline individuals for violations of the University’s prohibition on the personal use of drugs or alcohol, when such a violation occurred in connection with a possible prohibited conduct violation and was discovered as a result of a prohibited conduct report. This amnesty policy aims to facilitate reporting and thorough investigations of prohibited conduct.
The University may also offer leniency with respect to other violations by informal problem-solving or grievance process participants that emerge as a result of a prohibited conduct report, depending on the circumstances involved.
- I am a complainant. Will my medical information, such as the results of my sexual assault evidentiary examination, be shared during the course of the grievance process?
If this information is relevant to the investigation, EOAA will ask the complainant if they would like to provide the information. Complainants may then decide to whether to provide this information to EOAA. EOAA will not access or consider a party’s records that were made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other professional in connection with the provision of treatment to the party, unless that party provides voluntary, written consent. If EOAA obtains medical information, it will be shared with others, including the respondent, as part of the grievance process.
- May information disclosed in the context of a request for an order for protection be used as evidence?
Yes. Testimony and other evidence provided in a hearing or documents related to a request for an order for protection may be used as evidence in a University grievance process. However, the University will not consider information protected under a legally recognized privilege, or questions seeking disclosure of this information, unless the person holding the privilege waives it.
Reports to the Police
- Can I file a police report if I have reported prohibited conduct to the campus Title IX office?
Yes. If you have experienced prohibited conduct, you are encouraged to file a police report. However, whether to file a police report is your choice. The University grievance process is separate from a police investigation.
- Do I have to file a police report if I have experienced prohibited conduct?
No. If you have experienced prohibited conduct, you are encouraged to file a police report. However, whether to file a police report is your choice. You can initiate an University grievance process without filing a police report.