Title IX Proceedings
The WBU Sexual Misconduct, Title IX & Discrimination Policy governs students and employees and additional information regarding the investigation and adjudication process may be accessed online at https://www.wbu.edu/about/title-ix/rights-and-confidentiality.htm Of note, the intake and investigation of complaints involving students and employee as the respondent are the same. The process bifurcates when it comes to how the case is resolved. The procedures for the major timeframes of the process are explained below.
The WBU Sexual Misconduct, Title IX & Discrimination Policy governs students and employees and additional information regarding the investigation and adjudication process may be accessed online at https://www.wbu.edu/about/title-ix/rights-and-confidentiality.htm. Of note, the intake and investigation of complaints involving students and employee as the respondent are the same. The process bifurcates when it comes to how the case is resolved. The procedures for the major timeframes of the process are explained below.
Upon receipt of a complaint or notice to the Title IX Administrator of an alleged violation of the Policy, Wayland Baptist University initiates a prompt initial assessment to determine the next steps Wayland Baptist University needs to take.
Wayland Baptist University will initiate at least one of three responses:
1) Offering supportive measures because the Complainant does not want to proceed formally; and/or
2) An informal resolution; and/or
3) A Formal Grievance Process including an investigation and a hearing.
The investigation and grievance process will determine whether or not the Policy has been violated. If so, Wayland Baptist University will promptly implement effective remedies designed to ensure that it is not deliberately indifferent to harassment or discrimination, their potential recurrence, or their effects.
In order to start the Formal Grievance Process, a Formal Compliant must be filed. A Formal Complaint means a document filed/signed by the Complainant or signed by the Title IX Administrator alleging a policy violation by a Respondent and requesting that Wayland Baptist University investigate the allegation(s). A complaint may be filed with the Title IX Administrator in person, online, by electronic mail, by using the contact information in the section immediately above, or as described in this section. As used in this paragraph, the phrase “document filed by a Complainant” means a document or electronic submission (such as by electronic mail or through an online portal provided for this purpose by Wayland Baptist University that contains the Complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing the complaint.
If notice is submitted in a form that does not meet this standard, the Title IX Administrator will contact the Complainant to ensure that it is filed correctly.
Following receipt of notice or a complaint of an alleged violation of this Policy, the Title IX Administrator engages in an initial assessment, which is typically one to five business days in duration. The steps in an initial assessment can include:
- If notice is given, the Title IX Administrator seeks to determine if the person impacted wishes to make a formal complaint, and will assist them to do so, if desired.
- If they do not wish to do so, the Title IX Administrator determines whether to initiate a complaint because a violence risk assessment indicates a compelling threat to health and/or safety.
- If a formal complaint is received, the Title IX Administrator assesses its sufficiency and works with the Complainant to make sure it is correctly completed.
- The Title IX Administrator reaches out to the Complainant to offer supportive measures.
- The Title IX Administrator works with the Complainant to ensure they are aware of the right to have an Advisor.
- The Title IX Administrator works with the Complainant to determine whether the Complainant prefers a supportive and remedial response, an informal resolution option, or a formal investigation and grievance process.
- If a supportive and remedial response is preferred, the Title IX Administrator works with the Complainant to identify their wishes and then seeks to facilitate implementation. No Formal Grievance Process is initiated, though the Complainant can elect to initiate one later, if desired.
- If an informal resolution option is preferred, the Title IX Administrator assesses whether the complaint is suitable for informal resolution, and may seek to determine if the Respondent is also willing to engage in informal resolution.
- If a Formal Grievance Process is preferred, the Title IX Administrator determines if the misconduct alleged falls within the scope of Title IX:
- If it does, the Title IX Administrator will initiate the formal investigation and grievance process, directing the investigation to address:
- an incident, and/or
- a pattern of alleged misconduct, and/or
- a culture/climate issue, based on the nature of the complaint.
- If it does not, the Title IX Administrator determines that Title IX does not apply (and will “dismiss” that aspect of the complaint, if any), assesses which policies may apply, which resolution process is applicable, and will refer the matter accordingly. Please note that dismissing a complaint under Title IX is just procedural, and does not limit Wayland Baptist University’s authority to address a complaint with an appropriate process and remedies.
- Dismissal (Mandatory and Discretionary)
Wayland Baptist University must dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing, it is determined that:
- The conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defined in the Policy hereinabove, even if proved; and/or
- The conduct did not occur in an educational program or activity controlled by Wayland Baptist University (including buildings or property controlled by recognized student organizations), and/or Wayland Baptist University does not have control of the Respondent; and/or
- The conduct did not occur against a person in the United States; and/or
- At the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant is not participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of the Wayland Baptist University.
Wayland Baptist University may dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein if, at any time during the investigation or hearing:
- A Complainant notifies the Title IX Administrator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein; or
- The Respondent is no longer enrolled in or employed by Wayland Baptist University; or
- Specific circumstances prevent Wayland Baptist University from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.
Upon any dismissal, Wayland Baptist University will promptly send written notice of the dismissal and the rationale for doing so simultaneously to the parties.
This dismissal decision is appealable by any party under the procedures for appeal below. The decision not to dismiss is also appealable by any party claiming that a dismissal is required or appropriate. A Complainant who decides to withdraw a complaint may later request to reinstate it or refile it.
Wayland Baptist University is obligated to ensure that the grievance process is not abused for retaliatory purposes. Wayland Baptist University permits the filing of counterclaims but uses an initial assessment, described above, to assess whether the allegations in the counterclaim are made in good faith. Counterclaims by the Respondent may be made in good faith, but are, on occasion, also made for purposes of retaliation. Counterclaims made with retaliatory intent will not be permitted.
Counterclaims determined to have been reported in good faith will be processed using the grievance procedures below. Investigation of such claims may take place after resolution of the underlying initial allegation, in which case a delay may occur.
Counterclaims may also be resolved through the same investigation as the underlying allegation, at the discretion of the Title IX Administrator. When counterclaims are not made in good faith, they will be considered retaliatory and may constitute a violation of this policy.
Right to an Advisor
The parties may each have an Advisor of their choice present with them for all meetings and interviews within the resolution process, if they so choose. The parties may select whoever they wish to serve as their Advisor as long as the Advisor is eligible and available.
- Who Can Serve as an Advisor
The Advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney, or any other individual a party chooses to advise, support, and/or consult with them throughout the resolution process. The parties may choose Advisors from inside or outside of the Wayland Baptist University community.
The Title IX Administrator will also offer to assign a trained Advisor for any party if the party so chooses. If the parties choose an Advisor from the pool available from Wayland Baptist University, the Advisor will be trained by Wayland Baptist University and be familiar with Wayland Baptist University’s resolution process.
If the parties choose an Advisor from outside the pool of those identified by Wayland Baptist University, the Advisor may not have been trained by Wayland Baptist University and may not be familiar with Wayland Baptist University policies and procedures.
Parties also have the right to choose not to have an Advisor in the initial stages of the resolution process, prior to a hearing.
Wayland Baptist University generally expects an Advisor to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend Wayland Baptist University meetings when planned, but may change scheduled meetings to accommodate an Advisor’s inability to attend, if doing so does not cause an unreasonable delay.
Wayland Baptist University may also make reasonable provisions to allow an Advisor who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, video conferencing, or other similar technologies as may be convenient and available.
Advisor Violation of Wayland Baptist University Policy
All Advisors are subject to the same Wayland Baptist University policies and procedures, whether they are attorneys or not. Advisors are expected to advise their advisees without disrupting proceedings. Advisors should not address Wayland Baptist University officials in a meeting or interview unless invited to (e.g., asking procedural questions). The Advisor may not make a presentation or represent their advisee during any meeting or proceeding and may not speak on behalf of the advisee to the Investigator(s) or other Decision-maker(s) except during a hearing proceeding, during cross-examination.
Resolution proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the resolution process are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accordance with Wayland Baptist University policy. While there is an expectation of privacy around what Investigators share with parties during interviews, the parties have discretion to share their own knowledge and evidence with others if they so choose. Wayland Baptist University encourages parties to discuss this with their Advisors before doing so.
Informal Resolution can include three different approaches:
- When the parties agree to resolve the matter through an alternate resolution mechanism.
- When the Respondent accepts responsibility for violating policy, and desires to accept a sanction and end the resolution process; or
- When the Title IX Administrator can resolve the matter informally by providing supportive measures to remedy the situation.
To initiate Informal Resolution, a Complainant needs to submit a formal complaint, as defined above. If a Respondent wishes to initiate Informal Resolution, they should contact the Title IX Administrator to so indicate.
It is not necessary to pursue Informal Resolution first in order to pursue a Formal Grievance Process, and any party participating in Informal Resolution can stop the process at any time and begin or resume the Formal Grievance Process.
Prior to implementing Informal Resolution, Wayland Baptist University will provide the parties with written notice of the reported misconduct and any sanctions or measures that may result from participating in such a process, including information regarding any records that will be maintained or shared by Wayland Baptist University.
Wayland Baptist University will obtain voluntary, written confirmation that all parties wish to resolve the matter through Informal Resolution before proceeding and will not pressure the parties to participate in Informal Resolution
Alternate Resolution is an informal process by which a mutually agreed upon resolution of an allegation is reached. All parties must consent to the use of Alternate Resolution.
The Title IX Administrator may look to the following factors to assess whether Alternate Resolution is appropriate, or which form of Alternate Resolution may be most successful for the parties:
- The parties’ amenability to Alternate Resolution;
- Likelihood of potential resolution, taking into account any power dynamics between the parties;
- The parties’ motivation to participate;
- Civility of the parties;
- Cleared violence risk assessment/ongoing risk analysis;
- Disciplinary history;
- Whether an emergency removal is needed;
- Skill of the Alternate Resolution facilitator with this type of complaint;
- Complaint complexity;
- Emotional investment/intelligence of the parties;
- Rationality of the parties;
- Goals of the parties;
- Adequate resources to invest in Alternate Resolution (time, staff, etc.)
The ultimate determination of whether Alternate Resolution is available or successful is to be made by the Title IX Administrator. The Title IX Administrator maintains records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution agreement may result in appropriate responsive/disciplinary actions. Results of complaints resolved by Informal Resolution or Alternate Resolution are not appealable
Respondent Accepts Responsibility for Alleged Violations
The Respondent may accept responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations at any point during the resolution process. If the Respondent indicates an intent to accept responsibility for all of the alleged misconduct, the formal process will be paused, and the Title IX Administrator will determine whether Informal Resolution can be used according to the criteria in that section above.
If Informal Resolution is applicable, the Title IX Administrator will determine whether all parties and Wayland Baptist University are able to agree on responsibility, sanctions, and/or remedies. If so, the Title IX Administrator implements the accepted finding that the Respondent is in violation of Wayland Baptist University policy and implements agreed-upon sanctions and/or remedies, in coordination with other appropriate administrator(s), as necessary.
This result is not subject to appeal once all parties indicate their written assent to all agreed upon terms of resolution. When the parties cannot agree on all terms of resolution, the Formal Grievance Process will resume at the same point where it was paused.
When a resolution is accomplished, the appropriate sanction or responsive actions are promptly implemented in order to effectively stop the harassment or discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct, both on the Complainant and the community.
The Title IX Administrator, with the consent of the parties, may negotiate and implement an agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and the Wayland Baptist University. Negotiated Resolutions are not appealable.
Grievance Process Pool
The Formal Grievance Process relies on a pool of administrators (“the Pool”) to carry out the process.
Members of the Pool are trained annually, and can serve in in the following roles, at the direction of the Title IX Administrator:
- To investigate complaints
- To serve as a hearing facilitator (process administrator, no decision-making role)
- To serve as a Decision-maker regarding the complaint
- To serve as an Appeal Panel and Appeal Decision-maker
Pool Member Appointment
The Title IX Administrator in consultation with the President appoints the Pool, which acts with independence and impartiality. While members of the Pool are typically trained in a variety of skill sets and can rotate amongst the different roles listed above in different cases, Wayland Baptist University can also designate permanent roles for individuals in the Pool, using others as substitutes or to provide greater depth of experience when necessary. This process of role assignment may be the result of particular skills, aptitudes, or talents identified in members of the Pool that make them best suited to particular roles.
Pool Member Training
The Pool members receive annual training jointly OR based on their respective roles. This training includes, but is not limited to:
- The scope of Wayland Baptist University’s Title IX Policy
- How to conduct investigations and hearings that protect the safety of Complainants and Respondents, and promote accountability
- Implicit bias
- Disparate treatment and impact
- Reporting, confidentiality, and privacy requirements
- Applicable laws, regulations, and federal regulatory guidance
- How to implement appropriate and situation-specific remedies
- How to investigate in a thorough, reliable, and impartial manner
- How to uphold fairness, equity, and due process
- How to weigh evidence
- How to conduct questioning
- How to assess credibility
- Impartiality and objectivity
- How to render findings and generate clear, concise, evidence-based rationales
- The definitions of all offenses
- How to apply definitions used by Wayland Baptist University with respect to consent (or the absence or negation of consent) consistently, impartially, and in accordance with policy
- How to conduct an investigation and grievance process including hearings, appeals, and informal resolution processes
- How to serve impartially by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias
- Any technology to be used at a live hearing
- Issues of relevance of questions and evidence
- Issues of relevance to create an investigation report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence
- How to determine appropriate sanctions in reference to all forms of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation allegations
All Pool members are required to attend these trainings annually. The materials used to train all members of the Pool are publicly posted on the Wayland Baptist University Title IX Website.
Formal Grievance Process: Notice of Investigation and Allegations
The Title IX Administrator will provide written Notice of The Investigation and Allegations (the “NOIA”) to the Respondent upon commencement of the Formal Grievance Process. This facilitates the Respondent’s ability to prepare for the interview and to identify and choose an Advisor to accompany them. The NOIA is also copied to the Complainant, who is to be given advance notice of when the NOIA will be delivered to the Respondent.
The NOIA will include:
- A meaningful summary of all of allegations,
- The identity of the involved parties (if known),
- The precise misconduct being alleged,
- The date and location of the alleged incident(s) (if known),
- The specific policies implicated,
- A description of the applicable procedures,
- A statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result,
- A statement that Wayland Baptist University presumes the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the evidence supports a different determination,
- A statement that determinations of responsibility are made at the conclusion of the process and that the parties will be given an opportunity to inspect and review all directly related and/or relevant evidence obtained during the review and comment period,
- A statement about the Wayland Baptist University policy on retaliation,
- Information about the privacy of the process,
- Information on the need for each party to have an Advisor of their choosing and suggestions for ways to identify an Advisor,
- A statement informing the parties that Wayland Baptist University’s Policy prohibits knowingly making false statements, including knowingly submitting false information during the resolution process,
- Detail on how the party may request disability accommodations during the interview process,
- The name(s) of the Investigator(s), along with a process to identify, in advance of the interview process, to the Title IX Administrator any conflict of interest that the Investigator(s) may have, and
- An instruction to preserve any evidence that is directly related to the allegations.
Amendments and updates to the NOIA may be made as the investigation progresses and more information becomes available regarding the addition or dismissal of various charges.
Notice will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address(es) of the parties as indicated in official Wayland Baptist University records, or emailed to the parties’ Wayland Baptist University-issued email or designated accounts. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
Wayland Baptist University will make a good faith effort to complete the resolution process within a sixty-to-ninety (60-90) business day time period, including appeal, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX Administrator who will provide notice and rationale for any extensions or delays to the parties as appropriate, as well as an estimate of how much additional time will be needed to complete the process.
Appointment of Investigators
Once the decision to commence a formal investigation is made, the Title IX Administrator appoints Pool members to conduct the investigation using a team of two Investigators, usually within two (2) business days of determining that an investigation should proceed.
Any individual materially involved in the administration of the resolution process including the Title Administrator, Investigator(s), and Decision-maker(s) may neither have nor demonstrate a conflict of interest or bias for a party generally, or for a specific Complainant or Respondent.
The Title IX Administrator will vet the assigned Investigator(s) to ensure impartiality by ensuring there are no actual or apparent conflicts of interest or disqualifying biases. The parties may, at any time during the resolution process, raise a concern regarding bias or conflict of interest, and the Title IX Administrator will determine whether the concern is reasonable and supportable. If so, another Pool member will be assigned and the impact of the bias or conflict, if any, will be remedied.
The Formal Grievance Process involves an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence obtained, including evidence which supports that the Respondent engaged in a policy violation and evidence which supports that the Respondent did not engage in a policy violation. Credibility determinations may not be based solely on an individual’s status or participation as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness.
Wayland Baptist University operates with the presumption that the Respondent is not responsible for the reported misconduct unless and until the Respondent is determined to be responsible for a policy violation by the applicable standard of proof.
Investigations are completed expeditiously, normally within thirty (30) business days, though some investigations may take weeks or even months, depending on the nature, extent, and complexity of the allegations, availability of witnesses, police involvement, etc.
Wayland Baptist University will make a good faith effort to complete investigations as promptly as circumstances permit and will communicate regularly with the parties to update them on the progress and timing of the investigation.
Delays in the Investigation Process and Interactions with Law Enforcement
Wayland Baptist University may undertake a short delay in its investigation (several days to a few weeks) if circumstances require. Such circumstances include, but are not limited to: a request from law enforcement to temporarily delay the investigation, the need for language assistance, the absence of parties and/or witnesses, and/or accommodations for disabilities or health conditions.
Wayland Baptist University will communicate in writing the anticipated duration of the delay and reason to the parties and provide the parties with status updates if necessary. Wayland Baptist University will promptly resume its investigation and resolution process as soon as feasible. During such a delay, Wayland Baptist University will implement supportive measures as deemed appropriate.
Wayland Baptist University action(s) are not typically altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the underlying incident(s) have been filed or that criminal charges have been dismissed or reduced.
Steps in the Investigation Process
All investigations are thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt, and fair. Investigations involve interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses; obtaining available, relevant evidence; and identifying sources of expert information, as necessary.
All parties have a full and fair opportunity, through the investigation process, to suggest witnesses and questions, to provide evidence and expert witnesses, and to fully review and respond to all evidence on the record.
The Title IX Administrator typically take(s) the following steps, (not necessarily in this order):
- Determine the identity and contact information of the Complainant
- Initiate or assist with any necessary supportive measures
- Identify all policies implicated by the alleged misconduct and notify the Complainant and Respondent of all of the specific policies implicated
- Conduct a prompt initial assessment to determine if the allegations indicate a potential policy violation
- Commence a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation by identifying issues and developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended investigation timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the parties
- Prepare the initial Notice of Investigation and Allegation (NOIA). TheNOIA may be
amended with any additional or dismissed allegations
- Notice should inform the parties of their right to have the assistance of an Advisor, who could be a member of the Pool or an Advisor of their choosing present for all meetings attended by the party
- Provide each interviewed party and witness an opportunity to review and verify the Investigator’s summary notes (or transcript) of the relevant evidence/testimony from their respective interviews and meetings
- Make good faith efforts to notify the parties of any meeting or interview involving the other party, in advance when possible
- When participation of a party is expected, provide that party with written notice of the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as the expected participants and purpose
The Investigator(s) typically take(s) the following steps, if not already completed (not necessarily in this order):
- Allow each party the opportunity to suggest witnesses and questions they wish the Investigator(s) to ask of the other party and witnesses, and document in the report which questions were asked, with a rationale for any changes or omissions.
- Interview all available, relevant witnesses and conduct follow-up interviews as necessary
- Meet with the Complainant to finalize their interview/statement, if necessary
- Complete the investigation promptly and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline
- Provide regular status updates to the parties throughout the investigation.
- Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) with a list of witnesses whose information will be used to render a finding
- Write a comprehensive investigation report fully summarizing the investigation, all witness interviews, and addressing all relevant evidence. Appendices including relevant physical or documentary evidence will be included
- The Investigator(s) gather, assess, and synthesize evidence, but make no conclusions, engage in no policy analysis, and render no recommendations as part of their report
- Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) a secured electronic or hard copy of the draft investigation report as well as an opportunity to inspect and review all of the evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the reported misconduct, including evidence upon which Wayland Baptist University does not intend to rely in reaching a determination, for a ten (10) business day review and comment period so that each party may meaningfully respond to the evidence. The parties may elect to waive the full ten days. Each copy of the materials shared will be watermarked on each page with the role of the person receiving it (e.g., Complainant, Respondent, Complainant’s Advisor, Respondent’s Advisor).
- The Investigator(s) may elect to respond in writing in the investigation report to the parties’ submitted responses and/or to share the responses between the parties for additional responses
- The Investigator(s) will incorporate relevant elements of the parties’ written responses into the final investigation report, include any additional relevant evidence, make any necessary revisions, and finalize the report. The Investigator(s) should document all rationales for any changes made after the review and comment period
- The Investigator(s) shares the report with the Title IX Administrator and/or legal counsel for their review and feedback
- The Investigator will incorporate any relevant feedback, and the final report is then shared with all parties and their Advisors through secure electronic transmission or hard copy at least ten (10) business days prior to a hearing. The parties are also provided with a file of any directly related evidence that was not included in the report
Role and Participation of Witnesses in the Investigation
Witnesses (as distinguished from the parties) who are employees of Wayland Baptist University are expected to cooperate with and participate in the Wayland Baptist University’s investigation and resolution process. Failure of such witnesses to cooperate with and/or participate in the investigation or resolution process constitutes a violation of policy and may warrant discipline.
While in-person interviews for parties and all potential witnesses are ideal, circumstances may require individuals to be interviewed remotely. Zoom or similar technologies may be used for interviews if the Investigator(s) determine that timeliness or efficiency dictate a need for remote interviewing. Wayland Baptist University will take appropriate steps to reasonably ensure the security/privacy of remote interviews.
Witnesses may also provide written statements in lieu of interviews or choose to respond to written questions, if deemed appropriate by the Investigator(s), though not preferred. If a witness submits a written statement but does not intend to be and is not present for cross examination at a hearing, their written statement may not be used as evidence.
Recording of Interviews
No unauthorized audio or video recording of any kind is permitted during investigation meetings. If Investigator(s) elect to audio and/or video record interviews, all involved parties must be made aware of audio and/or video recording.
Evidentiary Considerations in the Investigation
The investigation does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) the character of the parties; or 3) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Referral for Hearing
Provided that the complaint is not resolved through Informal Resolution, once the final investigation report is shared with the parties, the Title IX Administrator will refer the matter for a hearing.
The hearing cannot be less than ten (10) business days from the conclusion of the investigation when the final investigation report is transmitted to the parties and the Decision-maker–unless all parties and the Decision-maker agree to an expedited timeline.
The Title IX Administrator will select an appropriate Decision-maker or Decision-makers from the Pool depending on whether the Respondent is an employee or a student. Allegations involving student-employees will be directed to the appropriate Decision-maker depending on the context of the alleged misconduct.
Hearing Decision-maker Composition
Wayland Baptist University will designate a single Decision-maker or a three-member panel from the Pool, at the discretion of the Title IX Administrator. The single Decision-maker will also Chair the hearing. With a panel, one of the three members will be appointed as Chair by the Title IX Administrator.
The Decision-maker(s) will not have had any previous involvement with the investigation. The Title IX Administrator may elect to have an alternate from the Pool sit in throughout the resolution process in the event that a substitute is needed for any reason.
Those who have served as Investigators will be witnesses in the hearing and therefore may not serve as Decision-makers. Those who are serving as Advisors for any party may not serve as Decision-makers in that matter.
The Title IX Administrator may not serve as a Decision-maker or Chair in the matter but may serve as an administrative facilitator of the hearing if their previous role(s) in the matter do not create a conflict of interest. Otherwise, a designee may fulfill this role. The hearing will convene at a time determined by the Chair or designee.
Evidentiary Considerations in the Hearing
Any evidence that the Decision-maker(s) determine(s) is relevant and credible may be considered. The hearing does not consider: 1) incidents not directly related to the possible violation, unless they evidence a pattern; 2) the character of the parties; or 3) questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior, unless such questions and evidence about the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the conduct alleged by the Complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the Complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the Respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Previous disciplinary action of any kind involving the Respondent may be considered in determining an appropriate sanction upon a determination of responsibility. This information is only considered at the sanction stage of the process.
The parties may each submit a written impact statement prior to the hearing for the consideration of the Decision-maker(s) at the sanction stage of the process when a determination of responsibility is reached.
After post-hearing deliberation, the Decision-maker renders a determination based on the preponderance of the evidence; whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Policy as alleged.
Notice of Hearing
No less than ten (10) business days prior to the hearing, the Title IX Administrator or the Chair will send notice of the hearing to the parties. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
The notice will contain:
- A description of the alleged violation(s), a list of all policies allegedly violated, a description of the applicable procedures, and a statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result.
- The time, date, and location of the hearing and a reminder that attendance is mandatory, superseding all other campus activities.
- Any technology that will be used to facilitate the hearing.
- Information about the option for the live hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms using technology that enables the Decision-maker(s) and parties to see and hear a party or witness answering questions. Such a request must be raised with the Title IX Administrator at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing.
- A list of all those who will attend the hearing, along with an invitation to object to any Decision-maker on the basis of demonstrated bias. This must be raised with the Title IX Administrator at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing.
- Information on how the hearing will be recorded and on access to the recording for the parties after the hearing.
- A statement that if any party or witness does not appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearing may be held in their absence, and the party’s or witness’s testimony and any statements given prior to the hearing will not be considered by the Decision-maker(s). For compelling reasons, the Chair may reschedule the hearing.
- Notification that the parties may have the assistance of an Advisor of their choosing at the hearing and will be required to have one present for any questions they may desire to ask. The party must notify the Title IX Administrator if they do not have an Advisor, and Wayland Baptist University will appoint one. Each party must have an Advisor present. There are no exceptions.
- A copy of all the materials provided to the Decision-maker(s) about the matter, unless they have been provided already.
- An invitation to each party to submit to the Chair an impact statement pre-hearing that the Decision-maker will review during any sanction determination.
- An invitation to contact the Title IX Administrator to arrange any disability accommodations, language assistance, and/or interpretation services that may be needed at the hearing, at least seven (7) business days prior to the hearing.
- Whether parties can/cannot bring mobile phones/devices into the hearing.
Hearings for possible violations that occur near or after the end of an academic term (assuming the Respondent is still subject to this Policy) and are unable to be resolved prior to the end of term will typically be held immediately after the end of the term or during the summer, as needed, to meet the resolution timeline followed by Wayland Baptist University and remain within the 60-90 business day goal for resolution.
In these cases, if the Respondent is a graduating student, a hold may be placed on graduation and/or official transcripts until the matter is fully resolved (including any appeal). A student facing charges under this Policy is not in good standing to graduate.
Alternative Hearing Participation Options
If a party or parties prefer not to attend or cannot attend the hearing in person, the party should request alternative arrangements from the Title IX Administrator or the Chair at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing.
The Title IX Administrator or the Chair can arrange to use technology to allow remote testimony without compromising the fairness of the hearing. Remote options may also be needed for witnesses who cannot appear in person. Any witness who cannot attend in person should let the Title IX Administrator or the Chair know at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing so that appropriate arrangements can be made
The Chair, after any necessary consultation with the parties, Investigator(s) and/or Title IX Administrator, will provide the names of persons who will be participating in the hearing, all pertinent documentary evidence, and the final investigation report to the parties at least ten (10) business days prior to the hearing.
Any witness scheduled to participate in the hearing must have been first interviewed by the Investigator(s) or have proffered a written statement or answered written questions, unless all parties and the Chair assent to the witness’s participation in the hearing. The same holds for any evidence that is first offered at the hearing. If the parties and Chair do not assent to the admission of evidence newly offered at the hearing, the Chair will delay the hearing and instruct that the investigation needs to be re-opened to consider that evidence.
The parties will be given a list of the names of the Decision-maker(s) at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. All objections to any Decision-maker must be raised in writing, detailing the rationale for the objection, and must be submitted to the Title IX Administrator as soon as possible and no later than three days prior to the hearing. Decision-makers will only be removed if the Title IX Administrator concludes that their bias or conflict of interest precludes an impartial hearing of the allegation(s).
The Title IX Administrator will give the Decision-maker(s) a list of the names of all parties, witnesses, and Advisors at least five (5) business days in advance of the hearing. Any Decision-maker who cannot make an objective determination must recuse themselves from the proceedings when notified of the identity of the parties, witnesses, and Advisors in advance of the hearing. If a Decision-maker is unsure of whether a bias or conflict of interest exists, they must raise the concern to the Title IX Administrator as soon as possible.
During the ten (10) business day period prior to the hearing, the parties have the opportunity for continued review and comment on the final investigation report and available evidence. That review and comment can be shared with the Chair at the pre-hearing meeting or at the hearing and will be exchanged between each party by the Chair.
The Chair may convene a pre-hearing meeting(s) with the parties and/or their Advisors to invite them to submit the questions or topics they (the parties and/or their Advisors) wish to ask or discuss at the hearing, so that the Chair can rule on their relevance ahead of time to avoid any improper evidentiary introduction in the hearing or provide recommendations for more appropriate phrasing. However, this advance review opportunity does not preclude the Advisors from asking at the hearing for a reconsideration based on any new information or testimony offered at the hearing. The Chair must document and share their rationale for any exclusion or inclusion at this pre-hearing meeting.
The Chair, only with full agreement of the parties, may decide in advance of the hearing that certain witnesses do not need to be present if their testimony can be adequately summarized by the Investigator(s) in the investigation report or during the hearing.
At each pre-hearing meeting with a party and their Advisor, the Chair will consider arguments that evidence identified in the final investigation report as relevant is, in fact, not relevant. Similarly, evidence identified as directly related but not relevant by the Investigator(s) may be argued to be relevant. The Chair may rule on these arguments pre-hearing and will exchange those rulings between the parties prior to the hearing to assist in preparation for the hearing. The Chair may consult with legal counsel and/or the Title IX Administrator or ask either or both to attend pre-hearing meetings.
The pre-hearing meeting(s) will not be recorded.
At the hearing, the Decision-maker(s) has the authority to hear and make determinations on all allegations of discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation and may also hear and make determinations on any additional alleged policy violations that have occurred in concert with the discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation.
Participants at the hearing will include the Chair, any additional panelists, the hearing facilitator, the Investigator(s) who conducted the investigation, the parties (or three (3) organizational representatives when an organization is the Respondent, Advisors to the parties, any called witnesses, the Title IX Administrator and anyone providing authorized accommodations or assistive services.
The Chair will answer all questions of procedure. Anyone appearing at the hearing to provide information will respond to questions on their own behalf.
The Chair will allow witnesses who have relevant information to appear at a portion of the hearing in order to respond to specific questions from the Decision-maker(s) and the parties and will then be excused.
In hearings involving more than one Respondent or in which two (2) or more Complainants have accused the same individual of substantially similar conduct, the default procedure will be to hear the allegations jointly.
However, the Title IX Administrator may permit the investigation and/or hearings pertinent to each Respondent to be conducted separately if there is a compelling reason to do so. In joint hearings, separate determinations of responsibility will be made for each Respondent with respect to each alleged policy violation.
The Order of the Hearing – Introductions and Explanation of Procedure
The Chair explains the procedures and introduces the participants. This may include a final opportunity for challenge or recusal of the Decision-maker(s) on the basis of bias or conflict of interest. The Chair will rule on any such challenge unless the Chair is the individual who is the subject of the challenge, in which case the Title IX Administrator will review and decide the challenge.
The Chair AND/OR hearing facilitator then conducts the hearing according to the hearing script. At the hearing, recording, witness logistics, party logistics, curation of documents, separation of the parties, and other administrative elements of the hearing process are managed the Title IX Administrator or by a non-voting hearing facilitator appointed by the Title IX Administrator. The Title IX Administrator or hearing facilitator may attend to: logistics of rooms for various parties/witnesses as they wait; flow of parties/witnesses in and out of the hearing space; ensuring recording and/or virtual conferencing technology is working as intended; copying and distributing materials to participants, as appropriate, etc.
Investigator Presents the Final Investigation Report
The Investigator(s) will then present a summary of the final investigation report, including items that are contested and those that are not, and will be subject to questioning by the Decision-maker(s) and the parties (through their Advisors). The Investigator(s) will be present during the entire hearing process, but not during deliberations.
Neither the parties nor the Decision-maker(s) should ask the Investigator(s) their opinions on credibility, recommended findings, or determinations, and the Investigators, Advisors, and parties will refrain from discussion of or questions about these assessments. If such information is introduced, the Chair will direct that it be disregarded.
Testimony and Questioning
Once the Investigator(s) present their report and are questioned, the parties and witnesses may provide relevant information in turn, beginning with the Complainant, and then in the order determined by the Chair. The parties/witnesses will submit to questioning by the Decision-maker(s) and then by the parties through their Advisors (“cross-examination”).
All questions are subject to a relevance determination by the Chair. The Advisor, who will remain seated during questioning, will pose the proposed question orally, electronically, or in writing (orally is the default, but other means of submission may be permitted by the Chair upon request or agreed to by the parties and the Chair), the proceeding will pause to allow the Chair to consider it, and the Chair will determine whether the question will be permitted, disallowed, or rephrased.
The Chair may explore arguments regarding relevance with the Advisors, if the Chair so chooses. The Chair will then state their decision on the question for the record and advise the party/witness to whom the question was directed, accordingly. The Chair will explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant, or to reframe it for relevance.
The Chair will limit or disallow questions on the basis that they are irrelevant, unduly repetitious (and thus irrelevant), or abusive. The Chair has final say on all questions and determinations of relevance, subject to any appeal. The Chair may consult with legal counsel on any questions of admissibility. The Chair may ask advisors to frame why a question is or is not relevant from their perspective but will not entertain argument from the advisors on relevance once the Chair has ruled on a question.
If the parties raise an issue of bias or conflict of interest of an Investigator or Decision-maker at the hearing, the Chair may elect to address those issues, consult with legal counsel, and/or refer them to the Title IX Administrator, and/or preserve them for appeal. If bias is not in issue at the hearing, the Chair should not permit irrelevant questions that probe for bias.
Refusal to Submit to Cross-Examination and Inferences
If a party or witness chooses not to submit to cross-examination at the hearing, either because they do not attend the meeting, or they attend but refuse to participate in questioning, then the Decision-maker(s) may not rely on any prior statement made by that party or witness at the hearing (including those contained in the investigation report) in the ultimate determination of responsibility. The Decision-maker(s) must disregard that statement. Evidence provided that is something other than a statement by the party or witness may be considered.
If the party or witness attends the hearing and answers some cross-examination questions, only statements related to the cross-examination questions they refuse to answer cannot be relied upon. However, if the statements of the party who is refusing to submit to cross-examination or refuses to attend the hearing are the subject of the allegation itself (e.g., the case is about verbal harassment or a quid pro quo offer), then those statements are not precluded from admission. Similarly, statements can be relied upon when questions are posed by the Decision-maker(s), as distinguished from questions posed by Advisors through cross-examination.
The Decision-maker(s) may not draw any inference solely from a party’s or witness’s absence from the hearing or refusal to answer cross-examination or other questions.
If charges of policy violations other than sexual harassment are considered at the same hearing, the Decision-maker(s) may consider all evidence it deems relevant, may rely on any relevant statement as long as the opportunity for cross-examination is afforded to all parties through their Advisors, and may draw reasonable inferences from any decision by any party or witness not to participate or respond to questions.
If a party’s Advisor of choice refuses to comply with the Wayland Baptist University’s established rules of decorum for the hearing, Wayland Baptist University may require the party to use a different Advisor. If a Wayland Baptist University-provided Advisor refuses to comply with the rules of decorum, Wayland Baptist University may provide that party with a different Advisor to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party.
Hearings (but not deliberations) are recorded by Wayland Baptist University for purposes of review in the event of an appeal. The parties may not record the proceedings and no other unauthorized recordings are permitted.
The Decision-maker(s), the parties, their Advisors, and appropriate administrators of Wayland Baptist University will be permitted to listen to the recording in a controlled environment determined by the Title IX Administrator No person will be given or be allowed to make a copy of the recording without permission of the Title IX Administrator.
Deliberation, Decision-making, and Standard of Proof
The Decision-maker(s) will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question. If a panel is used, a simple majority vote is required to determine the finding. The preponderance of the evidence standard of proof is used. The hearing facilitator may be invited to attend the deliberation by the Chair, but is there only to facilitate procedurally, not to address the substance of the allegations.
When there is a finding of responsibility on one or more of the allegations, the Decision-maker(s) may then consider the previously submitted party impact statements in determining appropriate sanction(s).
The Chair will ensure that each of the parties has an opportunity to review any impact statement submitted by the other party(ies). The Decision-maker(s) may – at their discretion – consider the statements, but they are not binding.
The Decision-maker(s) will review the statements and any pertinent conduct history provided by the appropriate administrator and will recommend/determine the appropriate sanction(s)in consultation with other appropriate administrators, as required.
The Chair will then prepare a written deliberation statement and deliver it to the Title IX Administrator, detailing the determination, rationale, the evidence used in support of its determination, the evidence disregarded, credibility assessments, and any sanctions or recommendations.
This report typically should not exceed three (3) to five (5) pages in length and must be submitted to the Title IX Administrator within two (2) business days of the end of deliberations, unless the Title IX Administrator grants an extension. If an extension is granted, the Title IX Administrator will notify the parties.
Notice of Outcome
Using the deliberation statement, the Title IX Administrator will work with the Chair to prepare a Notice of Outcome. The Notice of Outcome will then be reviewed by legal counsel. The Title IX Administrator will then share the letter, including the final determination, rationale, and any applicable sanction(s) with the parties and their Advisors within 7 business days of receiving the Decision-maker(s)’ deliberation statement.
The Notice of Outcome will then be shared with the parties simultaneously. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official Wayland Baptist University records, or emailed to the parties’ Wayland Baptist University-issued email or otherwise approved account. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
The Notice of Outcome will identify the specific policy(ies) reported to have been violated, including the relevant policy section, and will contain a description of the procedural steps taken by Wayland Baptist University from the receipt of the misconduct report to the determination, including any and all notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to obtain evidence, and hearings held.
The Notice of Outcome will specify the finding on each alleged policy violation; the findings of fact that support the determination; conclusions regarding the application of the relevant policy to the facts at issue; a statement of, and rationale for, the result of each allegation to the extent Wayland Baptist University is permitted to share such information under state or federal law; any sanctions issued which Wayland Baptist University is permitted to share according to state or federal law; and any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to ensure access to Wayland Baptist University’s educational or employment program or activity, to the extent Wayland Baptist University is permitted to share such information under state or federal law (this detail is not typically shared with the Respondent unless the remedy directly relates to the Respondent).
The Notice of Outcome will also include information on when the results are considered by Wayland Baptist University to be final, any changes that occur prior to finalization, and the relevant procedures and bases for any available appeal options.
Loss of Privileges
Entails any or all of the following sanctions:
- Removal from preferred university housing.
- Restriction from attending designated university events.
- Restriction from the lobbies of residence halls and/or other public gathering places on campus such as Pete’s Place or the Laney Center.
- Loss of dorm visitation privileges.
- Restriction from eating meals in the cafeteria.
Eviction entails the following: immediate removal from university housing. Removal from housing due to disciplinary sanction will not remove in any way the student’s responsibility to pay housing charges for the semester in which this sanction is administered.
Community Service may be required of a student as a sanction for violating the student conduct policy. Community Service would entail participation in for the designated number of hours for a designated community service organization in Plainview or the surrounding area, or for the university on a designated Wayland campus.
Restitution entails reimbursement for the university or other affected parties for damages to property, or for the replacement of lost or stolen articles.
Formal Reprimand entails the following sanctions: a stern warning that any further violation of university rules and regulations during the probationary period could result in disciplinary probation, suspension or expulsion.
Disciplinary Probation may entail any or all the following sanctions:
- Restriction from representing the university in any fashion. This sanction includes all public performances or appearances under the auspices of the
- Restriction from any university-sponsored
- Restriction from holding offices in any university
- Restriction from receipt of any university scholarship assistance and/or institutional
aid (federal financial aid, state aid, or gifts directly to students from outside entities are not affected by this sanction).
Disciplinary Suspension entails the following sanctions:
- The student will be restricted from enrollment during the period of
- Re-enrollment after disciplinary suspension will be contingent upon the approval of the Executive Director of Student Services or the Vice President of Enrollment Management and acceptance through the Admissions Committee
Disciplinary Expulsion permanently restricts the student from enrollment in the University.
Range of Protective Measures Available to a Victim/complainant Alleging Misconduct
There are a range of protective measures that a victim/complainant can request of WBU upon alleging sexual misconduct. This includes no contact directives between the parties, changes in work locations, housing, academic course sections or location, changes to where a person parks, or social restrictions.
University-Initiated Protective Measures
In addition to those protective measures previously described, the Title IX Administrator or their designee will determine whether interim interventions and protective measure should be implemented, and, if so, take steps to implement those protective measures as soon as possible. Examples of interim protective measures include, but are not limited to:
- a University no contact order,
- residence hall relocation,
- adjustment of course schedules,
- a leave of absence,
- or reassignment to a different supervisor or position.
These remedies may be applied to one, both, or multiple parties involved. Violations of the Title IX Administrator’s directives and/or protective measures will constitute related violations that may lead to additional disciplinary action. Protective measures imposed may be temporary pending the results of an investigation or may become permanent as determined by Wayland Baptist University.
Transcript Notation / Student Withdrawal or Graduation Pending Disciplinary Charges
If a student is ineligible to reenroll at Wayland Baptist University for a reason other than an academic or financial reason, Wayland Baptist University will include on that student’s transcript a notation stating that the student is ineligible to reenroll for a reason other than an academic or financial reason.
If a student withdrawals or graduates from Wayland Baptist University pending disciplinary charges that may result in the student becoming ineligible to reenroll in Wayland Baptist University, Wayland Baptist University will not end the disciplinary process until there is a final determination of responsibility. If, as a result of the process, the student is ineligible to reenroll at Wayland Baptist University for a not academic or financial reason, a notation stating such will be placed on that student’s transcript.
The Transcript may be removed if: 1) the student is eligible to reenroll in Wayland Baptist University or 2) Wayland Baptist University determines that good cause exists to remove the notation.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION
The Federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, enacted on October 28, 2000, requires institutions of higher education to issue a statement advising the campus community where law enforcement agency
information provided by a State concerning registered sex offenders may be obtained. Wayland Baptist University issues this statement to the campus community on an annual basis in the Annual Security Report. https://www.wbu.edu/university-police/campus-safety-reports.htm.
It also requires sex offenders already required to register in a State to provide notice, as required under State law, of each institution of higher education in that State at which the person is employed, carries on a vocation, volunteer’s services or is a student.
TITLE IX RIGHTS OF APPEAL
Both parties, the victim/complainant and the respondent, have equal rights to an impartial appeal. The request for an appeal, including the grounds upon which the request is based, should be submitted in writing to the Title IX Administrator within five (5) business days following the date on the Title IX Incident/Case Notification of Findings. If either party files an appeal, the Title IX Administrator will notify the other party in writing. The Title IX Administrator will coordinate the appeal and will have primary responsibility for interactions with the parties, gathering information needed for the appeal, and notifying both parties in writing of the outcome of the appeal. The Appeal review should be completed within 20 business days.
All appeals will be referred from the Title IX Administrator to the University President or designee. The University President, or designee, may decide the appeal themselves or may convene a panel to decide the appeal. If an appeal panel is convened, the panel will consist of three members of the Title IX investigation team who were not involved in the case being appealed. Any individual hearing an appeal will be impartial and unbiased. The decision rendered by the President/designee/committee is considered final and will complete the appeal process.
A victim/complainant or respondent may file a written appeal on the grounds that the appealing party believes:
- there is substantial, relevant information that was not presented, and reasonably could not have been presented during the investigation, which may change or affect the outcome of the decision;
- that the severity of the sanction in relation to the details of the case is substantially disproportionate; or
- there was a procedural error(s) during the disciplinary
The adjudicating officer/committee’s findings of fact, findings of responsibility, the rationale, and any sanctions will only be reviewed under one of the three grounds listed above. The President/Designee/committee hearing the appeal may decide:
- to uphold the original decision of the adjudicating officer/committee,
- to alter the imposed sanction, or
- to remand the case to the adjudicating officer/committee for additional proceedings or other action
TITLE IX APPEAL OF SANCTIONS
Sanctions imposed by the Title IX Office or the Office of the President can be appealed by any party according to the grounds below. Post-hearing, any party may appeal the findings and/or sanctions only under the grounds described below.
All sanctions imposed by the original hearing body will be in effect during the appeal. A request may be made to the University President for special consideration in exigent circumstances, but the presumptive stance of the institution is that the sanctions will stand. Graduation, study abroad, internships/externships, etc. do NOT in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances, and students or employees may not be able to participate in those activities during their appeal. In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student or employee to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term.
The decision of the Title IX Office may be appealed by petitioning a Title IX Administrator. Accused students or victim/complainant’s must petition within 5 business days of receiving the written decision for a review of the decision or the sanctions imposed. Any party who files an appeal must do so in writing to the Title IX Office. The Title IX Office will share the appeal with the other party (e.g., if the accused appeals, the appeal is shared with the victim/complainant, who may also wish to file a response), and then the Title IX Office will draft a response memorandum (also shared with all parties). All appeals and responses are then forwarded to the appeals officer/committee for initial review to determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and is timely. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision is final. If the appeal has standing, the documentation is forwarded for consideration. The party requesting appeal must show error as the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:
- A procedural or substantive error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the investigation (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, );
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included;
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the
If the appeals officer or committee determines that new evidence should be considered, it will return the complaint to the original investigative body to reconsider in light of the new evidence, only. The reconsideration of the investigative body is not appealable.
If the appeals officer or committee determines that a material procedural [or substantive] error occurred, it may return the complaint to the original investigative body with instructions to reconvene to cure the error. In rare cases, where the procedural [or substantive] error cannot be cured by the original investigative officers (as in cases of bias), the appeals officers or committee may order a new investigation on the complaint with a new body of investigative officers. The results of a reopened investigation cannot be appealed. The results of a new investigation can be appealed once, on the three applicable grounds for appeals.
If the appeals officer or committee determines that the sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation, the appeals officer or committee will return the complaint to the Title IX Office, which may then increase, decrease or otherwise modify the sanctions. This decision is final.
The procedures governing the hearing of appeals include the following:
- All parties should be timely informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision;
- Every opportunity to return the appeal to the original hearing body for reconsideration (remand) should be pursued;
- Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the complaint (de novo). In most cases,
appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original investigation, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal;
- This is not an opportunity for appeals officers to substitute their judgment for that of the original hearing body merely because they disagree with its finding and/or sanctions. Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original hearing body, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so;
- Sanctions imposed are implemented immediately unless the University President stays their implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal;
- The appeals committee or officer will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within seven (7) business days from hearing of the appeal. The committee’s decision to deny appeal requests is final.