Responding to Complaints of Sexual Harassment
After a formal complaint is filed with the University’s Title IX Coordinator the University will:
- Offer supportive measures available to the complainant and respondent that are designed to support continued access to an education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party.
- The University’s Sexual Harassment Review Committee (SHRC) will convene to:
- Take steps to protect the complainant, including interim measures such as issuing a "no contact order" or a "no trespass order" as the investigation is ongoing.
- Take steps to prevent or address retaliation, which is prohibited under Title IX and the Standards of Student Conduct.
- Determine if enough evidence exists to warrant additional investigation and subsequent adjudication through the Sexual Harassment Board (SHB)
- Conduct a risk analysis to determine if an accused student poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of a student or other individual. Should the SHRC determine a threat is present, the University is allowed to remove such a student from campus, provided that the student receives notice and an opportunity to respond.
- Determine if the alleged violation of student conduct would constitute a felonious charge through Virginia State Law. If the alleged violation meets this criteria, the University is required to contact the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Office. Identifiable information is only shared if an immediate threat to campus is present.
Sexual Harassment Investigation
When the SHRC determines that further investigation is warranted, The University will:
- Provide written notice to both parties (complainant and respondent) of the allegations contained within the formal complaint.
- Upon receipt of written notice, the complainant and respondent will:
- Receive adequate time to prepare for an initial interview.
- Be assigned or select an advisor of the party’s choice.
- Advisors may be present during all interviews to provide support for the complainant or respondent. Advisors may not actively participate in the investigation.
- Evidence directly related to the allegations will be presented to the complainant, respondent, and respective advisors with at least 10 days for parties to respond before a response is required. These materials may be sent in electronic format or hard copy upon request.
- The complainant shall be afforded the opportunity to discuss the alleged harassment with the DTIX Coordinator(s). The purposes of this meeting are to advise the complainant of the hearing procedures, his/her rights in connection with the hearing, and to obtain an initial statement.
- The respondent shall be afforded the opportunity to discuss the alleged harassment with the DTIX Coordinator(s). The purposes of this meeting are to advise the respondent of the hearing procedures, his/her rights in connection with the hearing, and to obtain an initial statement.
- Additional meetings with the complainant, respondent, and if necessary, witnesses will take place if deemed necessary.
- The DTIX Coordinator shall create sufficient copies of an evidence packet containing all submitted information to be considered during the meetings.
- Both the complainant and the respondent will be permitted to view the documents (packet), but will not be allowed to retain a photocopy or otherwise record the information it contains.
- The complainant and respondent, upon this request, will be provided access to view the document within 72 hours prior to the SHB hearing. At this time, the complainant and respondent may begin to formulate and submit questions for submission to the SHB Chair for consideration during proceedings. Upon request, the complainant and respondent will also be provided access to the evidence packet 24 hours prior to the SHB hearing. Questions should be submitted at that time. The advisors for both of the complainant and respondent will be allowed to accompany them.
Sexual Harassment Board
Once an investigation is complete and a determination is made by Title IX/Deputy IX Coordinators that a potential violation of student harassment as it relates to Title IX has occurred, the Sexual Harassment Board (SHB) will meet.
- The SHB shall consist of the Senior Vice President, acting as Chair, and two (2) other non-student voting members.
- The SHB shall maintain a pool of individuals representing the faculty and staff who may be chosen to serve as the two additional members of the SHB. These individuals shall be appointed annually by the Senior Vice President, and will receive annual training on issues related to sexual harassment, the investigative and disciplinary process, and the hearing process. The training of these individuals shall be the responsibility of the TIX Coordinator and the DTIX Coordinators.
- Any member selected to serve on the SHB must recuse him or herself for any bias or conflict of interest. The complainant and the respondent will be notified of the identities of the SHB hearing panelists and may request a change if there is a conflict of interest.
- Meetings of the SHB will not be delayed based on the complainant’s or respondent’s work schedule or the schedule/availability of the mentor(s). The complainant’s and respondent’s class schedule will be considered when scheduling SHB hearings.
- Meetings of the SHB are confidential and shall be closed to the public. Formal rules of process, procedure, and/or technical rules of evidence, such as are applied in a criminal or civil court, are not used in a meeting of the SHB.
- In accordance with the Department of Education, and more Specifically Title IX under the jurisdiction of the Office of Civil Rights, decisions made by the SHB shall be based on evidence that is clear and convincing.
- There shall be a single verbatim record, typically a digital recording, of the SHB hearing (not including deliberations). Deliberations shall not be recorded. The record shall be the property of the University and maintained securely on the University's server.
- If necessary, the Chair of the SHB may order that the proceedings be transcribed in addition to the recording.
- The SHB may accept pertinent records, exhibits, results of or pending information regarding police investigations related specifically to the case, and written statements (including student impact statements) for consideration. Medical records may also be considered. The DTIX Coordinator conducting the investigation will bring these items or information to the Chair's attention. The Chair may confer with other members of the SHB, but shall make all rulings on accepting input for the hearing.
- All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Chair of the SHB.
- If requested by the Chair of the SHB, Counseling Services will be present at SHB hearings as observers.
- Before adjourning, the SHB will meet privately with Counseling Services to address any issues that may have arisen from the meeting.
- After this portion of the SHB hearing concludes, all pertinent information has been reviewed, and all relevant questions have been answered, the SHB shall deliberate, in private, to determine whether the respondent is responsible for one or more violations of prohibited conduct. If found that a violation had occurred, the SHB will determine an appropriate response from the University based on the severity or frequency of violations, including past violations if any, and considering precedent.
- The SHB's determination shall be made based on whether it is more likely than not that the respondent engaged in prohibited conduct. In accordance with the Department of Education/OCR Regulations, the process for investigating and adjudicating matters of alleged sexual harassment will be responded to promptly and in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent.
General Procedural Rules of the Sexual Harassment Board
The Chair shall preside over and conduct the hearing and is specifically empowered to do or assure the following:
- That the rights and responsibilities of the complainant and respondent are observed.
- Control the admission of persons to the hearing. The Chair may order any person in attendance that does not conduct him or herself in an orderly and respectful manner to leave. Obstructive, contemptuous, or disruptive conduct in the presence of the Board by any person, including the complainant and respondent, may result in that person being charged with a violation of prohibited conduct and excluded from the hearing.
- The complainant shall normally be expected to attend the hearing in person and present the basis for his/her accusations. In cases in which one or more complainants cannot be present due to a compelling reason, the case may be postponed until the individual may be present or he/she may participate by telephone, video, or other electronic means. Absence, due to graduation, withdrawal or other separation from the University, shall not be compelling reasons sufficient to justify participation without being present. If the complainant does not attend the hearing, their closing statement will not be delivered during the SHB hearing.
- Control the conduct of the SHB members, the complainant and respondent, as well as witnesses, to protect them from improper questions, insulting treatment, offensive body language, and unnecessary inquiry into their private affairs.
- Exclude witnesses from the hearing room except when they are providing information requested by the SHB.
- All members of the SHB must be present throughout the hearing.
- If a member of the SHB must leave before the hearing is complete with good cause, the Chair may, at his/her sole discretion, place the hearing in recess and reconvene the hearing within 24 hours.
- If a voting member recuses him or herself or for good cause must withdraw from the hearing, the Chair shall select a replacement from the pool of qualified individuals. The Chair shall, after consultation with the respondent and the complainant (if applicable), provide the replacement with a summary of all prior proceedings.
- No person shall address the SHB or submit questions to the Chair for any witness without first being recognized by the Chair.
- Cross examination may not be conducted by a party personally. If a student does not have an advisor to conduct the cross examination, the University will appoint an advisor of its choice.
- Only relevant cross examination and other questions may be asked of a party or witness as determined by the SHB Chair. The Chair must provide reasoning for exclusion of questions during cross examination.
- Cross examination may not include questions about a complainant’s sexual behavior or disposition unless evidence of such behavior is offered to establish consent or to demonstrate that another party is responsible for committing the violation of student conduct.
- At the request of either party, an institution must permit cross examination to occur with the parties located in separate rooms.
- The University is not allowed to rely on statements made by a party or witness who does not submit to cross examination.
- Taking of photographs in the hearing, broadcasting from the hearing (with the exception of videoconferencing per request and discretion of the Chair), or recording the hearing for non-official use or for later release or broadcast to the public, shall not be permitted.
- Failure of individuals to appear at proceedings may render their statements and/or testimony ineligible.
Order of the Hearing
- The Chair will ask the members of the SHB, the respondent, the respondent's mentor, the complainant (if applicable), and the complainant's mentor, witnesses (if applicable), and others in attendance to introduce themselves.
- The Chair reminds all parties that the case will use clear and convincing, whether the respondent is a student or an employee (including faculty member) to determine culpability, meaning that in order to find the respondent responsible, the SHB must find, based on the evidence presented at the proceeding, that it is clear and convincing t the respondent is responsible for the violations charged. It is shared that mentors that accompany the complainant and respondent shall not be provided the opportunity to participate in the meeting or otherwise interfere with the proceedings.
- The DTIX Coordinator shall present the allegations of harassment to the SHB and facilitate the reading of reports.
- The DTIX Coordinator shall present a summary of the alleged harassment based on his/her investigation leading up to the hearing and call on University community members with reported knowledge of the alleged harassment and information deemed relevant to the matter being reviewed.
- Witnesses, and all others participating in the proceedings, shall provide information under affirmation of the The Wesleyan Creed.
- The SHB members shall have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant, respondent, and witnesses. The complainant and respondent may request that the Chair ask a specific question to the other party or a witness.
- Evidence submitted by the complainant or respondent will be received at the discretion of the Chair in consultation with the DTIX Coordinators and others.
- Written statements of witnesses who cannot attend the hearing, such as medical or mental health professionals, must be submitted in advance of the SHB hearing and may be entered per the discretion of the Chair and upon the recommendation of the DTIX Coordinator(s).
- SHB will recess prior to the conclusion of the hearing to discuss matters in executive session, which may include consulting Counseling Services, Campus Security, the Office of Residence Life, and the DTIX Coordinator(s).
- The complainant shall be given the opportunity to make a closing statement.
- The respondent shall be given the opportunity to make a closing statement.
- The hearing will adjourn so that the members of the SHB may deliberate in private and determine the University's response.
- Upon adjourning the meeting, the Chair will schedule a time to meet separately with both the complainant and respondent to deliver the response from the University.
- After deliberations are complete, the Chair will draft a letter containing the findings for both the complainant and respondent.
- The Chair will meet with both the complainant and the respondent in the presence of a Campus Life representative, and the student's mentor if available, at the scheduled time and provide information related to the decision of the SHB and information relative to appealing to the Sexual harassment Committee of Appeals.
Appealing the Decision of the Sexual Harassment Board
When requested by the complainant or respondent, the decisions of the SHB can be reviewed by the Sexual Harassment Committee of Appeals (SHCA):
- The complainant and the respondent have five (5) business days following receipt of outcome to appeal the decision of the SHB.
- Should an individual wish to appeal the decision of the SHB beyond five days after receiving notification of the University’s decision, he/she should bring the matter to the attention of the Senior Vice President citing reasons for the request. This type of appeal is reserved for special circumstances, such as new information that was not available prior to the expiration of the five-day appeal period.
- This appeal must be provided in writing to the Senior Vice President. This appeal must be based on one or more of the following: (a) new evidence relevant to the reviewed matter and a reason why it was not available at the time of the hearing, (b) a perceived violation of due process and justification for the claim, (c) unjust sanctions or a lack there of with an explanation for the reason for such claim. The Senior Vice President will provide the Title IX Coordinator with the appeal and supporting evidence.
- Should the basis for appeal meet the criteria previously mentioned and be deemed valid by the Title IX Coordinator, the matter will be referred to the SHCA.
- The SHCA is comprised of three faculty and staff members, one of whom shall preside as Chair.
- The SHCA is not a hearing body but rather a review committee. Therefore, it will not conduct an additional hearing but will be responsible for reviewing documents, recordings, reports, transcripts, and findings of the SHB for procedural errors pertinent to the SHB hearing or for areas it believes the SHB should reconsider.
- When necessary, the SHCA may contact members of the SHB to discuss their deliberations and the rationale for their findings.
- Upon the completion of the SHCA's review, the Senior Vice President will meet with the respondent or complainant in the presence of a representative from the SHCA and share the findings of the SHCA in writing. Should the original decision of the SHB be amended, both the respondent and complainant will be notified.
- Minor procedural errors, which the SHCA determines did not affect any portion of the outcome of SHB proceedings may be noted, but such errors need not result in a remand to the SHB for modification of its decision.
Appeal Transcript Notation
It is the responsibility of the respondent to appeal to the Senior Vice President when and if new information becomes available. The Senior Vice President, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, will determine if the new information would have changed the outcome. If this is determined to be the case, using clear and convincing as the standard, the notation will be removed from the transcript.
Complainant and Respondent Rights and Responsibilities in SHB Proceedings
Complainant and respondent shall be afforded the following rights and responsibilities throughout the conduct process.
- A hearing conducted in accordance with the policies and practices outlined in the Student Handbook.
- A hearing process and outcome based on reliable evidence and testimony, including reasonable inferences drawn from such evidence and testimony, and reasonable determinations by the DTIX Coordinator(s), who shall serve as the chief investigator(s).
- A copy of the rules and procedures of the University's process for managing instances of alleged Title IX/Sexual Harassment violations.
- The services of a mentor of his/her choice. The mentor may be an attorney, parent, friend, counselor, or a member of the faculty or staff.
- Mentors may attend the preliminary meetings with Title IX investigators and all other related meetings with the complainant or respondent or investigative interviews with the complainant or respondent once the process has commenced.
- The role of the mentor is to provide support, guidance, and advice to the complainant or respondent. The complainant and respondent are responsible for presenting his or her own information, and therefore, other than providing advice and guidance directly to the complainant or respondent, mentors are not permitted to participate in the preliminary meetings, interviews, other investigative matters, or in making oral arguments or statements, questioning witnesses, or raising objections at a SHB hearing. A mentor may request a brief recess of the proceedings to provide advice to the complainant or respondent.
- The complainant and respondent should select as a mentor a person whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for the SHB hearing, as delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of a mentor.
- To remain silent and to be advised that any statement he/she make may be used against him/her.
- To read the complaint during preliminary meetings and investigative processes.
- Seek to have the charge(s) heard and/or the sanctions determined by the SHB in accordance with these procedures.
- The DTIX Coordinator shall prepare and deliver to the complainant and respondent a notice of hearing. The notice may be delivered to the complainant and respondent in person. Based on extenuating circumstances, such as the unavailability of the complainant or respondent, notice of the hearing may be delivered in person, by electronic mail, by U.S. Mail, or by campus mail. The date of the SHB hearing shall not be less than five (5) or more than twenty (20) business days from the date of such notice. The period for conducting the hearing may be extended by the Chair of the SHB for good cause and after consultation with the TIX Coordinator. The DTIX Coordinator, will communicate in writing to the complainant and respondent the reason for the extension
- The notice of hearing shall include:
- The names of the complainant(s) and respondent(s).
- The date, time, and location of the SHB hearing.
- The alleged violations of prohibited conduct as explained in the Student Handbook.
- The time, date, and place of the alleged violation (if known).
- The names of the victim(s), in cases when the complainant is not the same as the individual who had experienced the alleged harassment.
- The name and administrative title of the Chair of the SMB.H
- The names and administrative titles of the voting members of the SHB.
- The names of witnesses, if known.
- To petition that any member of the SHB be removed based on bias or conflict of interest. The complainant or respondent may submit a written petition to the TIX Coordinator, or the DTIX Coordinators, at least seventy-two (72) hours prior to the scheduled hearing seeking removal of a member of the Sexual Harassment Board. This petition must state the reasons for such request. The TIX or DTIX Coordinators shall respond to such request, in writing, within forty-eight (48) hours of receipt of request.
- To receive the list of witnesses that the DTIX Coordinator(s) and/or complainant or respondent intent to call at a SHB hearing at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the scheduled hearing. If the names of the witnesses are known in part or in their entirety in advance of the official notice of the SHB hearing, this should be included in the official notice of the hearing. If the DTIX Coordinator, complainant, or respondent identifies additional witnesses, who were previously unknown to the DTIX Coordinator, complainant, or respondent, within such forty-eight (48) hour period, the DTIX Coordinator shall promptly notify the complainant and respondent prior to commencement of the hearing. No witness shall be called over complainant’s or respondent’s objection if such person’s name is not disclosed at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the start of the hearing. Late disclosure of a witness shall be grounds for a postponement for the taking of that witness’ testimony and possible rebuttal testimony.
- If a witness submits a written statement, the complainant and respondent will be provided an opportunity to review, but not copy, photograph, or otherwise record, such statement at least seventy-two (72) hours prior to the hearing. The mentor for the complainant and respondent may be present during the time of review. Failure to provide a written statement at least seventy-two (72) hours prior to the hearing shall be cause to either exclude such statements in the sound discretion of the SHB Chair or upon request of the complainant or respondent and with the approval of the SHB Chair, for postponement to determine its significance, if any. Following the hearing, the DTIX Coordinator shall permit the complainant or respondent to have access to witness statements to the extent needed should he/she wish to appeal the decision of the SHB.
- Subject to applicable privacy laws, including FERPA, the complainant and respondent have the right to review, but not copy, photograph, or otherwise record, all documentary evidence that the DTIX Coordinator, complainant, or respondent, intend to present at the hearing at least seventy-two (72) hours prior to commencement of the hearing. If the DTIX Coordinator, complainant, or respondent identifies additional documentary evidence previously unknown to the DTIX Coordinator, complainant, or respondent within such seventy-two (72) hour period, the DTIX Coordinator shall notify the complainant or respondent and provide such evidence prior to commencement of the hearing. A request by the complainant or respondent for a postponement due to late identification of evidence less than forty-eight (48) hours prior to a hearing shall be determined in the sound discretion of the SHB Chair.
- To attend, with his/her mentor, the entire SHB hearing except for the deliberations of the members of the Board.
- To offer relevant evidence and oral testimony of witnesses on his/her behalf at a SHB hearing. The Chair may confer with the other members of the SHB and shall then exercise sound discretion in the admission and rejection of evidence and testimony.
- To submit to the DTIX Coordinator a list of questions that the complainant or respondent wishes the Chair of the SHB to ask any witness who gives oral testimony at the hearing. The complainant and respondent must submit their initial list of questions to the DTIX Coordinator at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the hearing. The Chair shall use his or her reasonable discretion in determining the relevance or appropriateness of any proposed question submitted by the complainant or respondent, and the Chair shall not be obligated to ask all of the questions proposed by the complainant or respondent. During the hearing, questions may also be requested by either party. The Chair shall protect witnesses, including the complainant and respondent, from improper or irrelevant questions, insulting treatment and unnecessary or irrelevant inquiry into private affairs, including a witness' dating or sexual history. Where appropriate, the complainant and respondent may request a brief recess of the hearing to prepare such questions. The Chair, in his or her reasonable discretion, may grant or deny such request.
- SHB hearings are closed to the public. Admission of any person not directly connected to the hearing shall be at the sole discretion of the Chair.
- If the complainant or respondent, without valid excuse or authorization from the Chair of the SHB, fails to attend the hearing as scheduled, the SHB may proceed in the complainant or respondent's absence to adjudicate the matter, and, if appropriate, impose sanctions. However, their closing statement will not be part of the SHB hearing.
- To receive written notice of the outcome and sanctions (if applicable) of the SHB hearing, including a brief summary of the rationale for such outcome and sanctions (if any). This notice shall include a brief description of the appeal rights of the complainant and respondent. Notices shall be delivered as simultaneously as feasible.
- To written notice of any change in the outcome or sanctions imposed.
- To preservation of privacy, to the extent possible and allowed by law.
- The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history admitted as evidence in a SHB hearing.
- The right not to have released to the public any personally identifiable information about the complaint or alleged/determined harassment, without his/her consent, except to the extent applicable law, regulation or court order requires such disclosure.
- At the discretion of the Chair of the SHB and after consultation with the TIX Coordinator or DTIX Coordinator(s), and with the permission of both the complainant and respondent, alleged harassment may be managed utilizing the University's Educational Conference process. This may only occur in instances when the Respondent agrees that he/she violated University policy and accepts the sanctions imposed because of the acknowledged harassment. Should an Educational Conference occur, the DTIX Coordinator will identify the University administrator that shall preside over the meeting and he/she will meet jointly with the respondent to respond to the harassment. Should the respondent deny responsibility for the alleged harassment or refuse to accept the proposed sanction(s), the DTIX Coordinator will inform the respondent and complainant that the process will continue with the SHB hearing.