Procedures for Handling Reports of Sexual Misconduct

External Complaints Regarding Title IX Issues

All students, staff, and faculty have the right to submit inquiries or complaints concerning the application of Title IX to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights:

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
50 Beale Street, Suite 7200
San Francisco, CA 94105

Customer Service Hotline #: 415.486.5555
Facsimile: 415.486.5570 TDD#:  877.521.2172
Email:  OCR.SanFrancisco@ed.gov

General Information

Whittier College encourages reporting of Sexual Misconduct. All complaints of alleged Sexual Misconduct will be investigated and adjudicated by trained Title IX Investigator(s) and may include, depending on the circumstances, an investigation conducted by an external investigator not employed by the College. The investigation procedures described below will apply to all complaints involving students as the Alleged Victim and the Accused/Respondent. 

When the Alleged Victim is a student and the Accused/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.

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 conduct the investigation and confer with the Title IX Coordinator on any interim action or other matters as needed.

The College aims to complete the complaint process within 60 days, unless circumstances warrant additional time.

Interim Actions

When a complaint of alleged Sexual Misconduct is reported to a Title IX Coordinator or the Lead Title IX Investigator, interim actions may be provided to meet the needs of all involved.  The Title IX Coordinator or Lead Title IX Investigator (or designee) may provide interim remedies intended to address the short-term or long-term effects of the conduct on the Alleged Victim and the community, and to prevent future victimization.

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 or organization pending the completion of the investigation, issuance of findings or appeal.  During an interim suspension, a student may be denied access to College housing and/or campus facilities, privileges and events, and may be denied the ability to attend classes. The Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will use best efforts to determine if alternative coursework options are available for a student not allowed to attend classes.  In all cases in which an interim suspension is imposed, the student 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.

Interim Actions, depending on the nature of the request and the circumstances involved, are available to and may be requested by an Alleged Victim and a Respondent. All Interim Actions must be approved by the Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee. 

Title IX Investigation and Adjudication

Informal Resolution

Informal resolution is rarely 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 requested by the Alleged Victim, which request may be withdrawn during the informal resolution process. When Sexual Assault is the misconduct complained of, the Alleged Victim must request in writing that informal resolution is desired.  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.  Even if an informal resolution is pursued, the College will make the ultimate decision as to the appropriateness of such a process and of the sanctions imposed.

Informal resolution will involve a dialogue with the parties to determine if a mutual agreement can be reached. Sanctions may be imposed and records will be kept of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the accord 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.

Formal Investigation/Adjudication Process (Cases involving students) 

If the case is not appropriate for informal resolution or if that process fails, upon receipt of a complaint that involves alleged Sexual Misconduct, the following steps will be taken:

  1. Two trained Title IX Investigators will be assigned to handle the matter.  They will have an initial meeting with the Alleged Victim to informally discuss the facts relating to the incident, interim actions and the desired remedy.  At this meeting, the Complainant will be given a list of rights (see below) which includes the right to have 48 hours to review those rights before being formally interviewed.  The 48 hour period may be waived by the Complainant. 
  2. After this initial meeting, if it is determined the investigation should proceed, the Title IX Coordinator has the discretion to determine if the matter is one that should be handled by a trained Title IX external investigator (non-College employee; one such investigator is sufficient in this instance).  If so, the Complainant/Alleged Victim will be so notified and the process below shall proceed. 
  3. The Investigator(s) will conduct a formal interview of the Alleged Victim/Complainant (with a support person present if desired).  Following this interview and after consultation with the Title IX Coordinator responsible for the matter, if the determination is made that there is insufficient evidence to support a finding that the Policy has been violated, the complaint will be closed with no further action other than to notify the Complainant that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
  4. If there is sufficient evidence to proceed with further investigation of the Complainant’s report, the Respondent will be interviewed no sooner than 48 hours after she/he has been provided notice of the potential Policy violation(s), a summary of the facts supporting the potential violation(s), as well as a list of rights (see below).  The Respondent has the right to have an approved advisor or support person present at the interview. The approved advisor or support person may be someone of the Respondent’s choice, but may not speak to the Investigator (s) on her/his behalf.  The Respondent may waive the right to wait at least 48 hours before being interviewed.  She/he may also request additional time before being interviewed which will not be unreasonably or arbitrarily denied.
  5. Interview any witnesses and gather any other information or documentation the Investigator(s) determine is necessary to conduct an adequate, reliable and impartial investigation.
  6. Following the completion of the investigation, the Investigator(s) will prepare an initial written report that contains the pertinent information obtained from the investigation.  This report will then be made available to the Complainant/Alleged Victim and the Respondent for review with the Investigator(s).  Within 24 hours of this review, any additional information or information needed to correct or clarify information in the report may be submitted orally or in writing by the Complainant/Alleged Victim and Respondent.  The report will not be released to the students but an adviser or support person may be present during the review.  
  7. Once there has been an opportunity to review the report and any additional/correcting/clarifying information has been submitted within the time frame allotted, within 72 hours (unless otherwise not practical) a final report will be prepared by the Investigator(s) and a determination as to whether there has been a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, based on a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not), will be included in the report.  After the Title IX Coordinator assigned to the matter has reviewed the report, if it was determined that there has been a violation of the Policy, the matter will be submitted to the Lead Title IX Investigator to determine the appropriate sanctions.  Regardless of the decision, the Complainant/Alleged Victim and Respondent shall be sent notice in writing (including electronic transmission) simultaneously of the decision. The College attempts to send this notification within five (5) calendar days after the initial report was reviewed by the Complainant/Alleged Victim and Respondent.  In the case where the decision is that there has been a Policy violation, this notification shall also include information regarding the timing of the sanctioning process.
  8. As part of the process of determining sanctions, the Lead Title IX Investigator will review the final report and hold separate meetings with the Victim and Respondent and review any additional evidence the Lead Title IX Investigator deems necessary.  The Victim and Respondent can waive their right to meet with the Lead Title IX Investigator.  Within five (5) calendar days of having received the final report and decision from the Investigators or two (2) calendar days after the meeting with the Victim and Respondent, whichever occurs later, the Lead Title IX Investigator shall send notification simultaneously to the Victim and Respondent of the sanctions imposed (see Notification of Outcome below).
  9. A Notification of Outcome that there has been no Policy violation or a Notification of Outcome that there has been a Policy violation and the sanctions imposed, shall contain information regarding the right to and the timing for filing an appeal.  The Alleged Victim may appeal a decision finding no Policy violation, a Respondent may appeal the decision finding there was a Policy violation and the nature and severity of the sanctions imposed.  Should a Respondent wish to have any sanctions stayed (postponed) pending filing an appeal, the Respondent must make such request to the Appellate Officer within 48 hours of receipt of the Notification of Outcome.  In the event one of the parties decides to file an appeal, the final Investigation Report may be reviewed with the Investigator(s) in order to prepare the appeal.  The final Investigation Report shall not be released to either party or his/her adviser.

The investigation and adjudication as outlined above shall be completed 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 that 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.

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

Sanctions

The College considers Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse involving the use of force or threats of intimidation to be serious violations, and therefore may decide to impose 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 or warning up to and including suspension or expulsion/termination, for any act of Sexual Misconduct based on the totality of the facts and circumstances.  These sanctions include but are not limited to:  Written Warning, Probation, No Contact Order, Residence Hall Relocation or Suspension, Suspension, Expulsion, Withholding of Diploma.  In cases involving Student Organizations as a Respondent, deactivation, de-recognition, loss of privileges for a period of time, are some of the sanctions that may be imposed.  

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 findings 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 decision reached. The outcome of an 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 Victim such as the accused student being required to stay away from the alleged victim or the accused student is transferred to other classes or another residence hall, limited information may be provided to the Victim. Additionally, the College observes the following legal exceptions:

  • 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 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. The College will release this information to the Victim of any of these offenses regardless of the outcome.

Appeals

The Complainant/Alleged Victim may appeal a finding that there has been no Policy violation, which appeal must be filed within seven (7) calendar days after receipt of the Notice of Outcome regarding the decision finding no Policy violation. The Respondent may appeal a finding that there has been a Policy violation as well as the severity of the sanctions imposed, which appeal must be filed within seven (7) calendar days after receipt of the Notice of Outcome regarding the sanctions being imposed. A request for additional time to appeal may be submitted to the Appellate Officer so long as it is requested within 72 hours of receipt of the applicable Notice of Outcome letter. The Appellate Officer will determine if reasonable cause exists for granting additional time and will send notice simultaneously to the parties if an extension is granted.

At the close of the period of time in which to file an appeal, the Appellate Officer will notify the other party that an appeal has been filed.  If there has been a request by the Respondent and decision made to stay any sanctions pending appeal, the Appellate Officer will notify the Victim of that decision as well. 

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

  1. A procedural error, omission or irregularity that undermined the Complainant’s or Respondent’s ability to present their allegations or defense to the Title IX Investigators or Lead Title IX Investigator relating to determination of sanctions.
  2. New information sufficient to alter the decision or sanction that was unknown or unavailable during the time of the investigation and determination. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.  Information that could have become known with the exercise of reasonable care during the investigation and determination phase, is not considered “new information” for purposes of appeal.
  3. Bias or conflict of interest that inappropriately affected the decisions made by any of the following persons involved in the matter:  Title IX Investigator(s), Lead Title IX Investigator and Title IX Coordinator. 
  4. The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.

Before making a decision on the appeal, the Appellate Officer may request a meeting with the parties involved and will consider requests for such a meeting by the parties.  Any such requests should be made within 48 hours of receiving notice that an appeal has been filed.  The Appellate Officer is not required to meet with either party.  A non-appealing party may submit a written statement for consideration by the Appellate Officer so long as it is submitted within 72 hours of being notified of the fact that an appeal has been filed and which of the four bases for appeal are being pursued.  

The Appellate Officer will use her/his best efforts to decide the appeal within seven (7) calendar days of its submission or meeting with the parties, if any. This timeframe may be longer depending on the totality of the circumstances.

Where the Appellate Officer finds that at least one of the four grounds for appeal have been met, he/she has the following options:

  1. Where the appeal is granted based on ground 1above, the matter should normally be remanded to the original Title IX investigator(s) or Lead Title IX Investigator (if the irregularity was in the sanctioning phase) to conduct a new complete, or partial (depending on the circumstances) investigation/determination to insure proper procedure was followed.  If, however, the Appellate Officer determines fairness can be achieved by not conducting a new investigation, she/he has the discretion to implement other solutions dictated by the circumstances of the case.
  2. Where the Appellate Officer grants the appeal on the basis of ground 2 above, the Appellate Officer may remand the matter to the original Investigators to consider the new information and reconsider the ultimate decision regarding whether there was or was not a Policy violation or, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the new information, may reverse the decision of the Investigators and impose sanctions if the original decision was that there was no Policy violation.
  3. In the event the Appellate Officer determines there was bias or prejudice that inappropriately affected the decisions made (ground 3 above), the Appellate Officer shall ask the Title IX Coordinator to select one or more new investigators to conduct a new investigation to be conducted in accordance with the procedures above, or to select a different sanctioning officer in the event the bias or prejudice was on the part of the sanctioning officer.
  4. Where the Appellate Officer determines that the sanctions imposed were substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation, the Appellate Officer may impose more, less or different sanctions.     

Deference shall be given to the original decision, 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. 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 sanctions within the time frame specified. Failure to do so by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect or any other reason, may result in additional sanctions including, but not limited to suspension, expulsion and/or termination from the College and may be noted on a student’s official transcript. A suspension can only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the Title IX Coordinator or his/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 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. 

Student Rights: Complainant/Alleged Victim

Subject to other provisions in this Policy, alleged victims of Sexual Misconduct have the following rights:

  • The right to an impartial, prompt investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible complaints of Sexual Misconduct made in good faith to College officials;
  • The right to be treated with respect and dignity by College officials;
  • The right to be informed of and have access to on and off campus resources for medical, counseling, mental health, advocacy, and advisory services, including the Whittier College Counseling Center, Student Health and Wellness Center, and Support Person Program;
  • The right to one advisor or support person present during all interviews conducted as part of the investigation process although that person cannot not speak for the alleged victim. This advisor can be anyone of their choosing;
  • The right to notification of and options for, and available assistance in, changing academic and living situations after an alleged harassment, discrimination or sexual assault incident, if so requested by the alleged victim and if such changes are reasonably available (no formal complaint or investigation, campus or criminal, need occur before this option is available). Resolution may include:
    • Change of an on-campus student’s housing to a different campus location;
    • Assistance from the College support staff in completing the relocation;
    • Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund;
    • Exam (paper, assignment) rescheduling;
    • Taking an incomplete in a class;
    • Transferring class sections;
    • Temporary withdrawal;
    • Assistance with financial or financial aid issues that occur as a result of the alleged policy violation or complaint;
    • Alternative course completion options.
  • The right to request a campus restraining order against another person who has engaged in or threatens to engage in stalking, threatening, harassing or other improper behavior that presents a danger to the welfare of the complaining individual or others;
  • The right to be informed by College officials of options to notify proper law enforcement authorities, including on-campus and local police, and not discouraged from doing so, and the option to be assisted by campus authorities in notifying such authorities, if the student so chooses. This also includes the right not to report, if this is the alleged victim’s desire; 
  • The right to be fully informed of the nature, rules and procedures of the campus investigative process, including the nature of the violation and possible sanctions;
  • The right to have complaints involving Sexual Misconduct  investigated and heard by trained Title IX Investigator(s) who have received annual sexual misconduct adjudication training, including the impact of trauma;
  • The right to present relevant witnesses to be interviewed by Title IX Investigators, including expert witnesses;
  • The right to have the College compel the presence of student, faculty and staff witnesses (although the College cannot compel such persons to talk) and the right to challenge documentary evidence in writing;
  • The right to have College policies and procedures followed without material deviation;
  • The right to review all documentary evidence available regarding the complaint including witness statements except in cases where a witness has requested anonymity and providing the statement would necessarily identify the witness, or in cases where the reviewing of the statement may present safety concerns for the witness or other involved in the process. In those cases, a summary of the information provided by the witness will be conveyed to the alleged victim. The statement or summary will be available to be reviewed with the alleged victim at least 48 hours prior to the meeting/proceeding at which the decision is made;
  • The right not to have unrelated prior sexual history considered as part of the decision-making process
  • The right not to have any complaint of Sexual Misconduct mediated or decided by informal resolution (as opposed to using the Formal Investigation/Adjudication process outlined above);
  • The right to write an impact statement to be considered by the person determining sanctions;
  • The right to be informed in writing of the outcome and sanctions following adjudication by the Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Board, usually within 24 hours of the decision; 
  • The right to appeal the decision by the Title IX Investigator(s), in accordance with the standards for appeal established by the College;
  • The right to protection under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); 
  • The right to the preservation of privacy, restricting access to information to those with a legitimate need to know;
  • The right to petition that the persons investigating, making the decisions regarding whether a violation has occurred, any sanctions imposed and the Appellate Officer be removed on the basis of demonstrated bias;
  • The right to a fundamentally fair process, as defined in these procedures;
  • The right to be informed in advance of any public release of information regarding the complaint;
  • The right not to have released to the public (those persons other than those with a need to know) any personal information about the alleged victim, without their consent.

Student’s Rights: Respondent 

Subject to other provisions in this Policy, persons accused of Sexual Misconduct have the following rights:

  • The right to an impartial, prompt investigation and appropriate resolution of all credible complaints of Sexual Misconduct made in good faith to College officials;
  • The right to be treated with respect and dignity by College officials;
  • The right to be informed of and have access to on and off campus resources for medical, counseling, mental health, advocacy, and advisory services, including the Whittier College Counseling Center, Student Health and Wellness Center, and Support Person Program;
  • The right to one approved advisor or support person present during all interviews conducted as part of the investigation process although that person may not speak for the accused/Respondent. 
  • The right to be fully informed of the nature, rules and procedures of the campus investigative process, including the nature of the violation and possible sanctions;
  • The right to have complaints involving Sexual Misconduct  investigated and heard by trained Title IX Investigator(s) who have received annual sexual misconduct adjudication training, including the impact of trauma;
  • The right to present relevant witnesses to be interviewed by Title IX Investigators, including expert witnesses;
  • The right to have the College compel the presence of student, faculty and staff witnesses (although the College cannot compel the person to talk) and the right to challenge documentary evidence in writing;
  • The right to have College policies and procedures followed without material deviation;
  • The right to review all documentary evidence available regarding the complaint including witness statements except in cases where a witness has requested anonymity and providing the statement would necessarily identify the witness, or in cases where the reviewing of the statement may present safety concerns for the witness or other involved in the process. In those cases, a summary of the information provided by the witness will be conveyed to the accused/Respondent. The statement or summary will be available to be reviewed with the accused/Respondent at least 48 hours prior to the meeting/proceeding at which the decision is made;
  • The right not to have irrelevant prior sexual history considered as part of the decision making process;
  • The right not to have any complaint of Sexual Misconduct mediated or decided by informal resolution (as opposed to using the Formal Investigation/Adjudication process outlined above);
  • The right to write an impact statement to be considered by the person determining sanctions;
  • The right to be informed in writing of the outcome and sanctions following adjudication by the Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Board, usually within 24 hours of the decision; 
  • The right to appeal the decision by the Title IX Investigator(s), in accordance with the standards for appeal established by the College;
  • The right to protection under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); 
  • The right to the preservation of privacy, restricting access to information to those with a legitimate need to know;
  • The right to petition that the persons investigating, making the decisions regarding whether a violation has occurred, any sanctions imposed and the Appellate Officer be removed on the basis of demonstrated bias;
  • The right to a fundamentally fair process, as defined in these procedures;
  • The right to be informed in advance of any public release of information regarding the complaint;
  • The right not to have released to the public (those persons other than those with a need to know) any personal information about the accused/Respondent, without their consent.

Revisions/Applicable to Allegations of Misconduct

This Policy will be reviewed on an annual basis and updated or modified as needed.  The provisions of this Policy pertaining to what constitutes sexual misconduct in effect at the time of any alleged misconduct shall apply.  The investigation and adjudication of any complaint of sexual misconduct shall be handled in accordance with those procedures in effect at the time a person is notified of their alleged misconduct.  All updates or edits to this Policy shall be published on the College’s website with a date of the last revision.
 

This policy was edited on August 6, 2018.