Overview of the Sexual Harassment Disciplinary Process

Purdue University has an obligation to ensure that all University community members, including students, have a safe environment and are able to fully access and enjoy all aspects of the University, including employment, education, and program opportunities. Instances of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking, can have significant negative effects and prevent individuals from accessing their educational and employment opportunities at the University. These behaviors violate the University's Anti-Harassment Policy, and are handled through the Procedures for Resolving Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment.

The University offers both Formal and Informal Resolution Processes; however, mediation is not an appropriate resolution tool for allegations of sexual assault and will not be used in such cases. Most allegations of sexual violence, due to the very serious nature of the reported behavior, are handled through the Formal Resolution Process. Staff members from the Office of Institutional Equity or the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education are available to discuss with you each of these processes in more detail, but a brief overview follows.

Formal Complaints/University-Initiated Investigations

A University investigation may be launched by the filing of a formal complaint or by the University opting to initiate an investigation in the absence of a formal complaint. The Formal process involves a prompt, thorough and equitable investigation conducted by trained staff members, generally from the Office of Institutional Equity ("OIE") or the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities ("OSRR"). Investigators conduct their investigations within 45 (calendar) days from the appointment of the investigator. The investigators then have 10 days to complete a preliminary report for review by both parties. The parties have 7 days from the time of review to provide feedback and additional information. Upon receipt of additional information, investigators are to appropriately address and integrate the additional information into a final report which is to be provided to the Dean of Students (when the Respondent is a student) or the OIE Director (when the Respondent is a staff or faculty member) as soon as reasonably possible. The Dean of Students or OIE Director will then hold a meeting of three-person panel from the Advisory Committee on Equity within 15 days from the final report's submission. Both the Complaining Party and Respondent will be invited to attend the meeting; however, the meeting is optional. The Complaining Party and the Respondent will not be required to meet with one another or the panel at the same time. Within 10 days from the Advisory Committee on Equity meeting, the Dean of Students or OIE Director will issue a decision as to whether or not the Anti-Harassment Policy was violated, and if so, what the sanction is. Both the Complaining Party and the Respondent are given the option to submit an appeal within 10 days from the decision with the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance, who will issue a decision on the appeal within 10 days from the appeal's submission. The decision of the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance is the University's final decision on the matter. 

Formal Process Timeline

  • Investigation: 45 days from initiation of investigation
  • Completion and submission of preliminary report: 10 days from completion of investigation
  • Submission of feedback and/or additional information from parties: 7 days from review of preliminary report
  • Completion and submission of final report: As soon as reasonably possible (investigator determined deadline will be communicated to parties)
  • Panel meeting: 15 days from submission of final report
  • Decision: 10 days from advisory panel meeting

Informal Complaints

The Informal process attempts to reach a resolution short of an investigation and a specific finding of a policy violation. Most often used in less severe allegations, a professionally trained staff member, typically from OIE or OSRR, works with both parties in an attempt to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. For example, a Complainant may simply wish for a Respondent to stop behaving inappropriately (e.g., telling inappropriate jokes, repeated requests for dates or unwanted contact), and an agreement for the Respondent to stop the behavior at issue may be sufficient to resolve the matter. The parties have more flexibility in the Informal process, and the process can be stopped at any time by either party. Finally, a Complainant could choose to start with the Informal process to try to resolve the issue and choose to move to the Formal process if attempts to resolve the matter informally are unsuccessful. Generally speaking, the University attempts to resolve Informal Complaints within 30 days.

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