Complaint Resolution Process
It is important for any who has experienced Harassment or Discrimination to understand the available options. The University recognizes that deciding whether to make a report and choosing how to proceed can be difficult decisions. The Office of Institutional Equity has both formal and informal resolution processes available under the University's Anti-Harassment and Equal Access, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action policies.
Investigations are either initiated by the impacted individual (Complainant) or by the University. A third party such as a faculty member, friend, or parent can never initiate an investigation on behalf of the Complainant.
The Complainant-initiated Complaint process starts when a person who believes that they have personally experienced Harassment or Discrimination files a formal Complaint with the Office of Institutional Equity. If you believe you have experienced Harassment or Discrimination, you can file a formal complaint here.
The Complaint should include the names of those involved (including your own), the location of the incident, a description of the incident or conduct, and the date when the incident occurred. In the event of a pattern of incidents, the report should indicate the date of the most recent incident. Complaints of Harassment or Discrimination must be filed within 120 days of the incident's occurence. The Complaint should give OIE enough information about what happened to determine whether the facts could indicate that there was a policy violation.
Please be aware that the Complaint will be shared with the accused (called the Respondent) even if the Complaint is dismissed prior to an investigation. The Complaint as shared with the Respondent will include the name of the Complainant unless the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance agrees to a Complainant's request for anonymity. For more information on requests for anonymity, see the FAQs.
Occasionally, the University will elect to initiate an investigation absent a formal Complaint by a Complainant. The University will only initiate investigations where the behavior poses a threat to health and safety of the overall campus community. Violence, theft, destruction of property and assault are examples of behaviors that might prompt a university-initiated investigation.
The Vice President for Ethics and Compliance (VPEC) is the sole decision maker for whether the University initiates an investigation. Information that might prompt a University-Initiated investigation is typically gathered from mandatory reporters, police reports, or impacted individuals.
OIE will notify impacted individuals if the University is considering a University initiated investigation. Impacted parties will have the chance to provide input that will help the University decide whether to move forward. If you have been asked for your input because the University is considering an investigation and you wish to discuss the process with a confidential advocate, please click here.
The Respondent will be notified of a Formal Complaint upon its receipt and a University Initiated investigation upon its initiation.
Unless the Complaint is dismissed (as describe below) the Respondent will have no more than ten (10) days to provide a written response to the allegations.
Complainant-initiated investigations first go through a mandatory dismissal review. During this phase of the process, OIE tries to determine whether the incident reported could constitute a policy violation. In making this evaluation, the Director of Institutional Equity or Dean of Students will view the information in the light most favorable to you.
Within five days of a Complaint, the Director or Dean of Students will notify the Complainant and the Respondent of the outcome of her review. If the Complaint moves forward, the Director or Dean of Students will assign the case to Investigators and the Investigation process will begin.
When a case is initiated, the University assigns two Investigators to conduct the investigation. The Investigators will typically meet first with the Complainant and then the Respondent.
The initial meetings are quite long and are likely go into significant detail. You may bring a support person with you to these meetings, but that person may not speak on your behalf. The Investigators will ask specific and detailed questions about the allegations, your experience, your response, etc. They may also ask for specific evidence such as text messages, photos, videos, emails, and screen shots. At the end of the meeting, the Investigators will ask you for a list of people they should speak to for the investigation. Investigator will then reach out to individuals that might be able to contribute to the investigation.
The Investigators may reach out to you again with additional questions or to set up additional meetings. It is not uncommon to meet with Investigators at least twice over the 45 day investigation period.
During this process, it is the Complaint's responsibility to demonstrate to Investigators that the Respondent violated a University Policy. The Respondent is not required to participate in the Investigation, but must attend at least one meeting with the Investigators. The purpose of this meeting is to review the process with the Respondent and answer any questions about the process. If the Complaint alleges conduct that might be criminal in nature, the Respondent is not required to answer any questions.
- Respond to Investigators' requests to schedule a meeting
- Answer Investigator questions
- Provide statements, witness names, and documentation sufficient to demonstrate that the Respondent violated a Policy
- Respond to Investigators' requests to schedule a meeting
- Attend one meeting with investigators
- If participating in the process, answer Investigators' questions
- If participating in the process, provide documentation as appropriate and available
Within 10 days of the conclusion of the Investigation, the Investigator(s) will share the Investgation report and all cooresponding evidence with the parties and the decision maker. The report will include the Investigators' summary of the facts, a credibility assessment of the parties and witnesses, and the Investiators' conclusions. The report is final.
Within ten days of the receipt of the final report, the Director or Dean of Students will convene a three person advisory panel to assist in making a determination. The Complainant and Respondent are not required nor expected to attend, but either party may request to attend to make a brief statement and answer any questions the panel members may have. Although the panel is there to assist, the Director or Dean of Students is the sole decision maker.