Student Life Procedures for Handling Reports of Sexual Misconduct

General Information

Whittier College encourages reporting of Sexual Misconduct. All complaints of alleged Sexual Misconduct will be investigated by a trained Title IX Investigator(s). The investigation procedures described below will apply to all complaints involving a student as the Respondent, and when students, administrators, staff, or faculty members are the Complainant.

When the Respondent is faculty, administrator or staff, procedures described in the Faculty (in the case of a faculty-Respondent) and Employee (in the case of a staff or administrator-Respondent) Handbooks shall take precedence over this policy.

As necessary, the College reserves the right to initiate a complaint, to serve as Complainant, and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the alleged victim of Sexual Misconduct. The College shall investigate alleged incidents of Sexual Misconduct that it knew or reasonably should have known about.

Upon receipt of a complaint of conduct that could be considered Sexual Misconduct under this Policy, or the initiation of such a complaint by the College, the Title IX Coordinator shall open a formal case file and assign Title IX Investigators who will direct the investigation and confer with the Title IX Coordinator on any interim action that may be needed.

The College aims to complete the complaint process within 60 days, unless multiple Complainants, incidents, or an appeal are involved. At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, the process may be extended when necessary. 

Interim Actions

When a complaint of alleged Sexual Misconduct is reported to a Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Investigator(s), the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) may provide interim remedies intended to address the short-term or long-term effects of the conduct on the Complainant and the community, and to attempt to prevent future victimization. Interim remedies may be used when, in the judgment of the Title IX Coordinator (or designee), the safety or well-being of any member(s) or the College community may be jeopardized by the presence on campus of the Respondent or of the ongoing activity of a student organization whose behavior is in question.

Interim actions may include, but are not limited to, referral to counseling and health services or the Employee Assistance Program, education to the community, altering housing or work arrangements, providing campus escorts, implementing contact limitations between parties, offering adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc.

The College may impose an interim suspension on a student, employee or organization pending the completion of the investigation, issuance of findings or appeal. In all cases in which an interim suspension is imposed, the student, employee, or student organization will be given the opportunity to meet with the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) prior to the suspension being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the suspension should not be implemented. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) has sole discretion to implement or stay an interim suspension under this Policy. Violation of an interim suspension may result in expulsion or termination.

During an interim suspension, a student or employee may be denied access to College housing and/or campus facilities, privileges and events, and a student may be denied the ability to attend classes. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will use his or her best efforts to determine if alternative coursework options are available for a student not allowed to attend classes. 

Informal Resolution

Informal resolution is not appropriate for Sexual Assault, but may be used for less serious, yet inappropriate, behaviors and is allowed as an alternative to the formal resolution process when desired by the alleged victim. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will determine if informal resolution is appropriate, based on the willingness of the parties, the nature of the conduct at issue and the susceptibility of the conduct to resolution. An informal resolution will involve a dialogue with the parties to determine if an effective resolution can be reached. Sanctions may be imposed and records will be kept of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the agreed-to resolution can result in appropriate responsive actions. It is not necessary to pursue informal resolution first in order to pursue a complaint and anyone participating in an informal resolution can stop that process at any time and request that the formal process proceed.

Title IX Investigation and Adjudication

Upon receipt of a complaint that involves alleged Sexual Misconduct, the following steps will be taken: 

  1. A trained Title IX Investigator will have an initial meeting with the Alleged Victim to discuss the complaint and response,including:
    • Whether or not there is an immediate threat to the Alleged Victim or Campus,
    • When and where the incident occurred,
    • The identity of the Respondent,
    • The identities of potential witnesses,
    • Interim measures to remedy any effects of the incident,
    • Resources for support, including counseling, advising, accomodations, and advocacy,
    • Resources for medical care, inclusing how to preserve evidence,
    • Information on how to report to the police and encouragement to do so, and
    • The desired remedy.
  2. The Title IX Investigator will provide the Complainant a list of rights and resources, as well as the option take time review his or her rights before an interview or waive this right and make an immediate report.
  3. The Title IX investigator will confirm tha the Complainant understands his or her right to have an advisor or support person present at the interview. This advisor or support person may be anyone of the Complainant’s choosing but this person may not speak on behalf of the Complainant at the interview.
  4. The Title IX Coordinator will assign two Title IX Investigators to investigate the case and commence an investigation by the two Title IX Investigators conducting a formal interview of the Complainant.
  5. The Title IX Investigators shall determine the potential Policy violations based on the information provided by the Complainant. If, at this stage, the Title IX Investigators, after consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, determine there is insufficient evidence, even if all of the facts alleged by the Complainant are true, to support a finding that the Policy has been violated, the complaint should be closed with no further action other than to notify the Complainant that there was insufficient evidence to proceed;
  6. Assuming sufficient information exists to proceed with an investigation of the complaint, the Title IX Investigators will provide the Respondent notice of the potential policy violations being considered, a brief summary of the allegations supporting the violations, and a list of rights applicable to the investigation and adjudication.
  7. The Two Title IX Investigators will interview the Respondent, any witnesses, and conduct any follow-up interviews of any persons involved in the process as needed. The Respondent should be interviewed no sooner than 48 hours after he or she has been provided notice of the potential Policy violations being considered and his or her right to have an advisor or support person present at the interview. This advisor or support person may be anyone of the Respondent’s choosing but this person may not speak on behalf of the Respondent at the interview. This right to be interviewed no sooner than 48 hours after having received such notice may be expressly waived by the Respondent should he or she wish to proceed with an interview at an earlier time. Any Respondent may request additional time before being interviewed, which request shall not be unreasonably or arbitrarily denied;
  8. The Title IX Investiators complete the investigation as promptly as possible given the circumstances. Should the complaint be made within 20 business days of the end of the academic year and the complaint involves students or other College constituents who are not available during the summer break, either as Complainant, Respondent or as witnesses, every effort will be made to complete the investigation before the end of the academic year, but if not possible, it will be completed within 30 days after the start of the next academic year unless the Title IX Coordinator determines additional time is needed.
  9. Following the completion of the investigation, the Title IX investigators shall prepare a written report to be submitted to the Board. The Complainat and Respondent shall be notified that the report has been completed, that they may review it, and the date and time of the adjudication Board meeting.
  10. The Complainant and Respondent will be given the opportunity to review the Title IX Investigators’ report 48 hours prior to the Board meeting.
  11. Within 24 hours of reviewing the report, the Complainant and Respondent may submit written questions to the Title IX Investigators to be asked of the Complainant or Respondent or of any witness. The Title IX Investigators will submit these questions to the person to whom they are directed and request a response be submitted within two hours before the scheduled adjudication Board meeting.
  12. Also, after reviewing the report, the Complainant and Respondent may submit three additional documents electronically or in person to the Title IX Investigators or a Board member not later than two hours before the Board meeting:
    • A formal written response to the information included in the report;
    • A statement of any additional factual information or evidence; and
    • An impact statement that will be be read by the Board only if the Respondent is found responsible for a Policy violation.
  13. The Board will meet to determine, based on a preponderance of the evidence standard, whether a Policy violation has occurred. Preponderance of the evidence means whether it was more likely than not, based on the information presented, that a violation occurred;
  14. If a determination is made by the Board that there was no Policy violation, the Board should present the findings in writing, including a summary of the facts to the Complainant and Respondent, simultaneously if possible. Upon doing so, the process will end unless there is an appeal as set forth below.
  15. If a determination is made by the Board  that there has been a violation of the Policy, the Board should present the findings in writing, including a summary of the facts and legal basis, and the sanctions imposed, to the Complainant and Respondent, simultaneously if possible. Should a Respondent wish to have any sanctions stayed pending an appeal, the Respondent must make such request to the Title IX or Deputy Title IX Coordinator assigned to the matter.

If the imposition of sanctions on the Respondent is not sufficient to end the Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Board Officers, will determine and implement any additional actions needed to prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects on the Complainant and the College community.

Sanctions

The Board will determine the appropriate sanctions in all cases adjudicated under this Policy. Generally speaking, the College considers Sexual Assault involving the use of force or threats of intimidation to be the most serious violations, and therefore typically imposes the most severe sanctions, including but not limited to suspension or expulsion. However, the College reserves the right to impose any level of sanction, ranging from a reprimand up to and including suspension or expulsion/termination, for any act of Sexual Misconduct based on the totality of the facts and circumstances of the particular incident(s).

The following are the usual sanctions that may be imposed for violation of this Policy. If an appeal is filed, the Board and Appellate Officer, if an appeal is filed, reserve the right to impose any sanction(s), based on the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to how egregious the behavior, prior disciplinary record, and any mitigating circumstances.

  1. Warning: A formal statement that the behavior was unacceptable and a warning that further infractions of any College policy, procedure or directive will result in more severe sanctions/responsive actions.
  2. Censure: Notice that violation of any College policy within a stated period of time may result in a referral to the Title IX Investigators and Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Board for disciplinary action and is likely to result in a more severe sanction such as suspension or expulsion. Students on censure may not be able to hold any positions in student leadership, such as Student Senate, Clubs, Organizations, Societies or Resident Advisor. Additional restrictions on involvement in campus activities may also be applied as part of the sanctioning process.
  3. Probation: A written reprimand for violation of this Policy, providing for more severe disciplinary sanctions in the event that the student or organization is found in viola­tion of any College Policy, procedure or directive within a specified period of time. Terms of the probation will be specified and may include denial of specified social privileges, exclusion from co-­curricular activities, non-contact orders, and/or other measures deemed appropriate.
  4. No Contact Order: An order that one student refrain from direct or indirect contact, or a certain distance from another student or students when on campus, on property leased or controlled by the College, or at off-campus College-sponsored activities or events. This may also be an interim measure taken before there is any finding of responsibility.
  5. Residence hall relocation: The student is reassigned to another residence hall room or building. Residence Life Personnel, in consultation with a Title IX Coordinator will decide on the reassignment details. This may also be an interim measure taken before there is any finding of responsibility,
  6. Residence hall suspension: Separation of the student from the residence halls for a definite period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified. Students removed from the residence halls will not be eligible for a refund or proration of housing and/or meal fees.
  7. Suspension: Termination of student status for a definite period of time not to exceed two years, and/or until specific criteria is met. Students who return from suspension are automatically placed on probation through the remainder of their tenure at the College. Students suspended from the College are not eligible for a refund of tuition, housing, board, or other fees.
  8. Expulsion: Permanent termination of student status and revocation of rights to be on campus for any reason or to attend College-sponsored events without prior permission from the Dean of Students. This sanction will be noted as a Conduct Expulsion on the student’s official transcript. Students expelled from the College are not eligible for a refund of tuition, housing, board, or other fees.
  9. Withholding Diploma. The College may withhold a student's diploma for a specified period of time and/or deny a student the right to participate in commencement activities if the student has a complaint pending, or as a sanction if the student is found responsible for an alleged violation.
  10. Revocation of Degree. The College reserves the right to revoke a degree awarded from the College for fraud, misrepresentation or other violation of College policies, procedures or directives in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to graduation.
  11. Organizational Sanctions. Deactivation, de-recognition, loss of all privileges (including registration), for a specified period of time.
  12. Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above sanctions, the College may assign any other sanctions as deemed appropriate.

Withdrawal by a Student While Charges Pending

The College does not permit a student to formally withdraw if that student has a complaint pending for violation of this Policy, the Policy on Nondiscrimination, or for charges under the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Should a student decide to leave the College and not participate in the investigation and adjudication phase of this process, the process will nonetheless proceed in the student’s absence to a reasonable resolution and that student will not be permitted to return to the College unless all sanctions have been satisfied. 

Notification of Outcome

As set forth above, the parties will be notified in writing of the outcome of any investigation or adjudication under this Policy. The outcome of a campus investigation, however, is part of the educational record of the accused student, and is protected from release under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). If there is a direct conflict, however, between the requirements of FERPA and the requirements of Title IX, such that enforcement of FERPA would interfere with the primary purpose of Title IX to eliminate sex-based discrimination in schools, the requirements of Title IX override any conflicting FERPA provisions. For example, if a sanction (final or interim) is imposed on the Respondent and the sanction directly relates to the Alleged Victim such as the Respondent being required to stay away from the Alleged Victim or the Respondent is transferred to other classes or another residence hall, that limited information may be provided to the Alleged Victim. Additionally, the College observes the following legal exceptions to non-disclosure of information:

  • Persons complaining of Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Stalking, and Domestic/Dating Violence incidents have an absolute right to be informed of the outcome of the investigation and sanctions, in writing, without condition or limitation.
  • The College may release publicly, and will release to the Alleged Victim, the name, nature of the violation and the sanction for any student who is found in violation of a College policy that is a “crime of violence,” including arson, burglary, robbery, criminal homicide, sex offenses, assault, destruction/damage/vandalism of property and kidnapping/abduction. 

Appeals

The Complainant and/or Respondent may appeal the finding of  responsibility or non-responsibility and/or the sanctions imposed by the Board. The appeal must be in writing (which can include email) and submitted to the Appellate Officer specified in the Notification of Outcome letter, within seven (7) calendar days of the delivery of the Notification of Outcome letter.

 

General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the decision made is not grounds for appeal. Instead, appeals are limited to the following four reasons:

  1. A procedural error, omission or irregularity in the investigative or adjudicative process  that undermined the Complainant’s or Respondent’s ability to present his or her allegations or defense; 
  2. New information sufficient to alter the decision or sanction, provided that the information was unknown or unable to be discovered during the time of the original investigation and adjudication. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included in the appel.
  3. Bias or conflict of interest by an investigator or member of the Board; or
  4. The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.

Once the time for appeal has run, if no appeal has been filed, the Board shall notify the Complainant and Respondent that its decision and the sanctions, if any, are final.  If an appeal has been filed, the Appellate Officer shall, within two (2) business days of  the expiration of the appeal period, notify the Complainant and Respondent that an appeal has been filed, which notice shall specify which of the four grounds stated above are being asserted.  The notice shall also specify that the Appellate Officer intends to make his or her decision on the appeal by a certain date.  Generally, the Appellate Officer will use his or her best efforts to make a decision within seven (7) business days of notification to the Complainant and Respondent that an appeal has been filed.

The Appellate Officer has the discretion to decide whether any interim measures taken and the sanctions imposed by the Board, if any, shall remain in effect pending the appeal.

Generally, the appellate process does not require a hearing or that the Appellate Officer make contact with the Complainant or Respondent but the Appellate Officer has the discretion to do so. The Appellate Officer has the discretion to decide an appeal on any of the four bases stated above, even if those bases are not specifically raised by the person who filed the appeal.

The Appellate Officer shall  make his or her final decision based on the submitted information and any other information he or she deems relevant.  The Appellate Officer shall affirm, deny or modify the decision of the Board and may refer the matter back to the Title IX Investigators or the Board if he or she determines further investigation and/or adjudication are necessary. 

The Appellate Officer’s decision shall be final and effective immediately upon notification to the Complainant and Respondent unless otherwise stated.

An appeal is not a rehearing of the case. Deference shall be given to the original decision, making changes only if there is a compelling justification to do so. Once an appeal is decided, the outcome is final; further appeals are not permitted.

Failure to Complete Sanctions/Comply with Responsive Actions

All Respondents are expected to comply with conduct sanctions or responsive/corrective actions within the time frame specified. Failure to do so, whether by refusal, neglect or any other reason, may result in additional sanctions or responsive/corrective actions and/or suspension, expulsion and/or termination from the College. A suspension can only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the Title IX Coordinator or his or her designee.

Records

If the investigation following any complaint does not result in a finding of a violation of this Policy, the records relating to the complaint and the investigation will not become a part of any individual’s personnel or student record. If the Respondent is found to have violated this Policy, those records of the case will become part of the permanent student or personnel file of the Respondent. Written documentation generated as a result of a complaint, as well as the resolutions, will be kept by the Title IX Coordinator for seven years. Student records will be kept for seven years in a locked, confidential location in the Dean of Students Office. Access to personnel and student files and the records maintained by the Title IX Coordinator, is limited by Title IX, FERPA and various state statutes and common law. These restrictions on the disclosure are designed to protect students, employees, and the College. Questions regarding access to records may be directed to the Title IX Coordinator. In implementing this Policy, a record of all complaints and the final resolution will be kept by the Title IX Coordinator indefinitely in the Title IX Coordinator database located in the Human Resources Office. 

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