Procedure and Practice Guide

 

University of Texas at Austin

Institutional Equity Procedure and Practice Guide for Nondiscrimination, Non-harassment, Consensual Relationships, and Retaliation

Effective Date: January 1, 2013            
Last Revised Date: April 4, 2013

Procedure and Practice Guide:

Investigation Guidelines - Procedures for
Investigating Complaints and Clarification for the Application of Policies Enforced by The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE)

I. Purpose

The University of Texas’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) establishes this practice guide to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities in administering and enforcing applicable federal and state law and University and/or Board of Regents’ policies related to nondiscrimination, non-harassment, consensual relationships, misconduct and retaliation. The Office of Institutional Equity may, from time to time, amend these procedures as necessary.  This practice guide is created to provide clarity to OIE’s investigation process and to describe OIE procedures in light of UTS 178 and developing best practices. 

II. Reason for Practice Guide

To provide the institutional framework for the prompt reporting and resolution of claims of discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact, consensual relationships, or retaliation. 

III. Scope & Audience

These Guidelines apply to visitors, applicants for admission to or employment with the University, students and employees of the University who allege discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact or retaliation by University employees, students, visitors, or contractors.

IV. Definitions

Complaint: A written charge filed in accordance either with these or other University procedures that alleges a violation of federal or state law or University policies related to discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, genetic information and veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expressionA complaint may also be verbal if accepted and acknowledged by OIE in writing.

Complainant: A person who submits a complaint alleging discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation under a policy enforced by OIE.

Discrimination: Conduct directed at a specific individual or a group of identifiable individuals that subjects the individual or group to treatment that adversely affects their employment or education because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, genetic information and veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Finding: A determination made by an investigator of the Office of Institutional Equity regarding whether sufficient evidence exists to conclude a violation of University policies. A finding made by OIE does not equate to a finding of wrongdoing under the standards used for establishing harassment, discrimination, or retaliation under federal and/or state law. 

Harassment: Verbal or physical conduct that is directed at an individual or group because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression when such conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to have the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's or group's academic or work performance; or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic or work environment.

Respondent: The person designated to respond to a complaint. Generally the respondent would be the person alleged to be responsible for the prohibited discrimination, harassment, or retaliation alleged in a complaint. The term "Respondent" may be used to designate persons with direct responsibility for a particular action or those persons with administrative responsibility for procedures and policies in those areas covered in a complaint.

Retaliation: Any action that adversely affects the academic, employment or other institutional status of a faculty, staff, or student (including dismissal, discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or in any other manner discrimination against faculty, staff, or students in the terms and conditions of academic or work environment) that is taken by the institution or its employee because an individual has, in good faith, made an allegation concerning the violation of a law, rule, policy, or procedure, or of inadequate institutional response thereto, has cooperated in good faith with an investigation of such allegation, has raised civil rights concerns, participated in a civil rights investigation, or reported suspected university-related misconduct when business related reasons do not exist for the action or the action is outside of the regular university practice.

Sexual contact: Unwanted or offensive physical contact of a sexual nature.  Direct (skin-to-skin contact) is not required.  For example, sexual contact is not limited to direct contact with the Complainant’s body, but also extends to anything closely connected with the Complainant’s body, such as the touching of Complainant’s clothing by the Respondent’s hand or an item carried in the Respondent’s hand.

Sexual Harassment: A form of sex discrimination that can occur when:

  1. the submission to unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature, or to unwelcome requests for sexual favors or other verbal conduct of a sexual nature, is made an implicit or explicit term or condition of employment or education; or
  2. the submission or rejection to unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature, or to unwelcome requests for sexual favors or other verbal conduct of a sexual nature, is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions or evaluations; or
  3. unwelcome physical acts of a sexual nature, or unwelcome requests for sexual favors or other verbal conduct of a sexual nature, have the effect of creating an objectively individuating, hostile or offensive environment that interferes with employment or education on account of sex.

Examples of Sexual Harassment:

Physical conduct that, depending on the totality of circumstances present, including frequency and severity, may constitute sexual harassment includes, but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome intentional touching; or
  • Deliberate physical interference with or restriction of movement.

Verbal conduct is defined as oral, written, or symbolic expressions that:

  • Personally describe or are personally directed at a specific individual or group of identifiable individuals; and
  • Are not necessary to an argument for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea.

Verbal conduct that, depending on the totality of circumstances present, may constitute sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Explicit or implicit propositions to engage in sexual activity;
  • Gratuitous comments, jokes, questions, anecdotes or remarks of a sexual nature about clothing or bodies;
  • Gratuitous remarks about sexual activities or speculation about sexual experiences;
  • Persistent, unwanted sexual or romantic attention;
  • Subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors;
  • Exposure to sexually suggestive visual displays such as photographs, graffiti, posters, calendars or other materials;
  • Deliberate, repeated humiliation or intimidation based upon sex. 

The examples on this list are rarely, if ever, necessary to an argument for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea.

Sexual misconduct: Behavior or conduct of a sexual nature that is unprofessional and/or inappropriate for the educational and working environment.

Behaviors that may constitute sexual misconduct include but are not limited to:

  • Repeatedly engaging in sexually oriented conversations, comments or horseplay, including the use of language or the telling of jokes or anecdotes of a sexual nature in the workplace, office or classroom, even if such conduct is not objected to by those present.
  • Gratuitous use of sexually oriented materials not directly related to the subject matter of a class, course or meeting even if not objected to by those present.
  • Inappropriate/excessive leering and gestures of a sexual nature. 
  • Failure to observe the appropriate boundaries of the supervisor/subordinate or faculty/student relationship, including the participation of a supervisor, teacher, advisor or coach in an unreported consensual romantic or sexual relationship with a subordinate employee or student.

Verbal harassment: Hostile or offensive speech, oral, written, or symbolic, that:

 a.   personally describes or is personally directed to one or more specific individuals; and

b.   is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent to create an objectively hostile environment that interferes with or diminishes the Complainant’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by the University; and

c.   is not necessary to the expression of any ideas and arguments for or against the substance of any political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or academic idea. 

 Examples of Verbal Harassment:

Verbal harassment may consist of threats, insults, epithets, ridicule, personal attacks, or the categories of harassing sexual speech, and is often based on the Complainant’s appearance, personal characteristics, or group membership, including but not limited to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, sexual orientation, ideology, political views, or political affiliation. 

The verbal harassment that this section prohibits does not exhaust the category of speech that is unnecessary and inappropriate to the vigorous debate in a diverse community of educated people.  An essential part of higher education is to learn to separate substantive argument from personal offense, and to express even the deepest disagreements within standards of civility that reflect mutual respect, understanding, and sensitivity among the diverse population within the University and in the larger society. 

V. Contacts

CONTACT DETAILS:

Office of Institutional EquityPhone:  512-471-1849

Email: equity@utexas.edu

VI. Responsibilities & Procedures

Chapter 1:  MANAGEMENT OF COMPLAINTS

 In carrying out the applicable policies set forth in The University of Texas at Austin Handbook of Operating Procedures, the Office of Institutional Equity is responsible for conducting formal investigations of complaints against University employees, including, faculty, staff, and student workers, visitors, or contractors regarding allegations of discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact, retaliation, or consensual relationships in violation of University policy.  The Office of the Dean of Students is responsible for conducting formal investigations of complaints against students in accordance with Institutional Rules.

Complaints or concerns of employee or student safety will be handled in an expedited manner by the Office of Institutional Equity.  Following receipt of a complaint, the Office of Institutional Equity investigator will act as a neutral fact-finder.

If a complaint is directed against an individual who would otherwise play a role in investigating and attempting to resolve the complaint, the function assigned to that person by these procedures will be delegated to another person.  

 A. Filing a Complaint

1.  By an individual

 The Office of Institutional Equity investigates all claims, allegations, and complaints of discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact, and retaliation at The University of Texas.  Consistent with federal and state law and The University of Texas at Austin Handbook of Operating Procedures, the Office of Institutional Equity investigates complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. OIE also investigates concerns related to the Consensual Relationships Policy.

2.  Departmental Complaints

The Office of Institutional Equity also conducts investigations based upon requests for Administrative Reviews from Human Resources representatives, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, Vice Presidents, and the President when those administrators believe that discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact or retaliation in violation of federal or state law or University policies may be occurring in their units. OIE also investigates concerns related to the Consensual Relationships Policy.  The process for resolution of departmental complaints will be resolved between that department and the Office of Institutional Equity.  All Ethics and Compliance Hotline concerns brought to OIE will be handled through the Departmental Process.

3.  Office of Institutional Equity

The Office of Institutional Equity may also initiate and file a complaint should the office receive sufficient notice to believe that discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact, or retaliation in violation of federal or state law or University policies may be occurring in a unit, department, or portfolio.  OIE will also initiate investigations in response to concerns brought to OIE as a result of UTS 178 or the Consensual Relationships Policy.  The process for resolution of OIE initiated complaints will be investigated and resolved on a case-by-case approach depending on the factual allegations presented to OIE. 

 B.Complaints Filed with Outside Agencies

The University acknowledges that individuals have rights to file complaints with external agencies at any time within that agency’s deadlines, and that those complaints may be filed concurrently with complaints that are filed with the Office of Institutional Equity. The fact that a complaint has been filed with an external agency will in no way deter an investigation at The University of Texas concerning the same or similar events, so long as the complaint is filed in a timely manner within the University’s policies and procedures.

Chapter 2: COMPLAINT OVERVIEW AND RESPONSIBLITIES

A.  Time Limit for Filing a Complaint.

An allegation of discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact, or retaliation against University employees, including, faculty, staff, and student workers, visitors, or contractors should be submitted to the Office of Institutional Equity as soon after the offending conduct as possible.  An allegation against students, in accordance with the University’s Institutional Rules, should be submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students as soon after the offending conduct as possible. 

To be timely, a complainant must submit a written complaint to the Office of Institutional Equity within ninety (90) calendar days of the occurrence of the alleged violation. In the case of a currently enrolled student, if the last day for filing a complaint falls prior to the end of the academic semester in which the alleged violation occurred, then the complaint may be filed within thirty (30) calendar days after the start of the following semester.  The Office of Institutional Equity reserves the right to extend all timelines based on extenuating circumstances, on a case by case basis, as deemed appropriate for the effective enforcement of these guidelines.

The limitation of time is intended to encourage complaints to come forward as soon as possible after the offending conduct.  If the nature of the allegation or complaint is particularly egregious, as determined by the Office of Institutional Equity, this office has the authority to act as Complainant beyond the proscribed time limitations provided that the Office of Institutional Equity has evidence to support an effective investigation. 

B.  Confidentiality and Documentation

The University of Texas at Austin recognizes that confidentiality is important.  Breaches of confidentiality compromise the ability of the University to resolve claims under investigation.  The University of Texas at Austin will attempt to protect the confidentiality of all investigative proceedings to the extent reasonably possible. All participants in the process are expected to respect the confidentiality of the proceedings and circumstances giving rise to the dispute. Until resolution has been achieved, participants are expected to discuss the matter only with those persons who have a genuine need to know.

Although the University is committed to respecting the confidentiality and privacy of all parties involved in the process, it cannot guarantee complete confidentiality. Examples of situations in which confidentiality cannot be maintained include:

  • when the University is required by law to disclose information (such as in response to legal process)
  • when disclosure of information is determined by the Office of  Institutional Equity and/or the department to be necessary for conducting an effective investigation of the claim
  • when confidentiality concerns are outweighed by the University’s interest in protecting the safety or rights of others or furthering other legitimate University processes.

The University shall maintain documents related to complaints under policies enforced by OIE as required by law. The Office of Institutional Equity shall be primarily responsible for records related to complaints. The confidentiality of a complaint under policies enforced by OIE and all documents, correspondence, interviews and discussions relating to the investigation of the information contained in a complaint will be maintained on a need to know basis to the extent permitted by law. Any person who knowingly and intentionally makes an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information contained in a complaint or otherwise relating to the investigation of a complaint under the policies covered by these Guidelines are subject to disciplinary action.

C.  Representation

During the complaint process, the Complainant and the Respondent may designate and thereafter be accompanied by an advisor of his or her choosing at meetings and interviews at which he or she is present; however, no representative may examine witnesses or otherwise actively participate in a meeting or interview.

Chapter 3: PROCEDURES FOR EVALUATION AND RESOLUTION OF COMPLAINTS

A. Resolution Options

A person who believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination, harassment (not including Title VII and Title IX sexual harassment), and/or retaliation violation of a policy enforced by OIE and seeks to take action may use either the informal resolution process or the formal complaint process, or both. Where applicable, the informal resolution and formal complaint resolution process described in these guidelines are not mutually exclusive and neither is required as a pre-condition for choosing the other; however, they cannot both be used at the same time.

B. Informal vs. Formal Process for Managing Complaints

 Complaints of discrimination, harassment (not including Title VII and Title IX sexual harassment), and retaliation may be resolved through either the informal or formal process as described below. Use of the informal process is generally more expeditious and less polarizing than the formal process. The Office for Institutional Equity will discuss with the Complainant the options for handling the complaint through either the informal or formal process.

When appropriate, the University may take interim preventive measures to insure the safety of the individual(s) submitting the complaint. These measures may be taken during the investigation, as a follow-up or prior to any determination regarding whether there has been a violation of University policies.

Regardless of whether the informal or formal complaint handling process is used, substantive and, when warranted, procedural developments regarding an investigation will be communicated to the parties.

In cases in which the matter clearly falls outside the purview of the Office of Institutional Equity, this office shall make the appropriate referrals.

C. Informal Resolution

Informal resolution may be an appropriate choice when the conduct involved is not of a severe or repetitive nature and disciplinary action is not required to remedy the situation. No formal investigation is involved in the informal resolution process.

A request for informal resolution must be made within the applicable timeframe for filing a complaint.  The Office of Institutional Equity shall determine whether the nature of the problem is such that it can be resolved on an informal basis. A request for informal resolution will not extend the 90-day time limit for filing a formal complaint.

The University shall document any informal resolution. Such documentation shall be retained by the Office of Institutional Equity as appropriate and will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.

D. Range of Possible Mechanisms for Informal Resolution

This list is not exhaustive. Actions taken utilizing any of these mechanisms do not necessarily constitute a finding of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

  1. One-on-One Meeting. The OIE, alone or with a human resources representative and/or management, may choose to meet with the individual whose behavior is allegedly in violation of university policy, discuss the situation and make it clear that the behavior is unwanted and should cease.
  2. Intervention by Supervisor. The OIE may contact an individual with supervisory authority and request assistance in addressing the behavior.
  3. Coaching.  The OIE may work with the appropriate department in which the Respondent works and see if the department can provide coaching to the person and directly address a situation which is causing a problem;

Other examples of the types of remedial action that may be recommended in the informal resolution, include, but are not limited to:

  • coaching the Complainant on how to directly address a situation which is causing a problem;
  • facilitating the dispute with the parties;
  • aiding in the modification of a situation in which the offensive conduct occurred;
  • assisting a department, unit or division with the resolution of a real or perceived problem;
  • providing training and educational opportunities to address and correct both current and future concerns;
  • arranging a documented meeting with the alleged Respondent that involves a discussion of the requirements of applicable University policies;
  • participation of the Respondent in counseling;
  • prohibition of the Respondent from participating in grading, honors, recommendations, reappointment and promotion decisions, or other evaluations of the Complainant;
  • documentation of the concerns placed in the Respondent’s personnel file; and/or
  • restrictions on the Respondent’s access to University facilities; 

In addition to the aforementioned disciplinary action, the resolution of the complaint shall include an examination by the responsible official of what actions may be taken to reasonably remedy any negative consequences flowing from a violation of the University policy, as well as what actions can be taken to reasonably minimize the recurrence of such conduct.

Chapter 4: PROCEDURES FOR EVALUATION AND RESOLUTION OF FORMAL COMPLAINTS

A. Requirements of a Complaint

Although not required to be accepted for filing, a complaint submitted by an individual should be on a form provided by the Office of Institutional Equity.

Elements: Each complaint shall include the following:

  1. The full name and address of Complainant, who must be the individual claiming to be harmed by the discrimination;
  2. The name of Respondent(s);
  3. A clear and concise written statement of the facts that constitute the alleged discriminatory act(s), including pertinent dates and sufficient information to identify any other individuals who may provide information during the course of an investigation conducted under these procedures and to bring the matter within the jurisdiction of the Office of Institutional Equity to investigate;
  4. A statement by Complainant verifying that the information supporting the allegations of discrimination is true and accurate to the best of Complainant’s knowledge; and
  5. Complainant’s signature.

B. Failure to Meet Requirements of a Complaint

The Office of Institutional Equity may not proceed with a complaint investigation under a variety of circumstances, for instance:

  • a person fails to meet the elements and requirements for filing a complaint;
  • the conduct described in the complaint is not covered by a policy enforced by OIE;
  • a person alleges facts that, if true, would not constitute a violation of federal or state law, or a policy enforced by OIE;
  • a complaint is not timely;
  • the Complainant declines to cooperate in the University's investigation;
  • the complaint has been withdrawn; or
  • an appropriate resolution or remedy has already been achieved, or has been offered and rejected.

If it is determined that the Office of Institutional Equity will not proceed with a complaint investigation, the Office of Institutional Equity will send notification explaining the reason(s) to the Complainant. The notification will also include a statement informing the Complainant that, within ten (10) working days of the notification, he or she may appeal the determination not to proceed with a complaint investigation to the appropriate executive official.  The request for appeal must be signed, written document articulating why the decision to dismiss the complaint was in error. 

The appropriate executive official will respond within twenty (20) working days of the receipt of the appeal.  If the decision to dismiss is upheld, that decision is final.  If the decision to dismiss is overturned, the complaint is sent back to the Office of Institutional Equity for investigation in accordance with the procedures outlined below.

C. Withdrawal of Complaints

Once filed, the Office of Institutional Equity has an obligation to investigate complaints raising significant claims of discrimination, harassment (including Title VII and Title IX harassment), sexual misconduct, sexual contact, or retaliation.  However, in appropriate circumstances, and at the discretion and judgment of the Office of Institutional Equity it may be determined that upon a written and signed request to do so by the Complainant, that withdrawal of a complaint is the appropriate course of action in that case. The Office of Institutional Equity shall notify the Respondent of such withdrawal.

D. Complaint Processing

  1. Intake Interview: At or after the time a Complainant initiates a complaint, a representative from the Office of Institutional Equity shall conduct an interview with the Complainant. A formal investigation will be initiated if a complaint is complete, timely, within the scope of an applicable University policy and articulates sufficient specific facts, which, if determined to be true, would support a finding that University policy was violated.If it is determined that the University will not proceed with a complaint investigation, The Office of Institutional Equity or the Office of the Dean of Students, as appropriate, will send a notification explaining the reason(s) to the Complainant.
  2. Notice to Respondent: A Respondent shall be given reasonable notice of the complaint and the allegations contained therein, as well as the opportunity to provide information and to be heard concerning the allegations of the complaint. The notification letter will include a statement advising the Respondent that retaliation against the Complainant is prohibited and will subject the Respondent to appropriate disciplinary action.  In addition to notifying the Respondent, the Office of Institutional Equity will provide the Respondent’s supervisor, head of unit, or other appropriate designee within the Respondent’s chain of command with notification of the complaint investigation.
  3. Submission of Evidence: During the complaint investigation process, the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s) will provide the Office of Institutional Equity with all documents relied upon regarding the issues raised in the complaint.
  4. Access to Information Regarding the Investigation: Complainants and Respondents, upon inquiry and during the course of an investigation, shall be advised of the status of the investigation.
  5. Amending a Complaint: If, during the course of an investigation, a staff member from the Office of Institutional Equity determines that more information is required to enable a meaningful investigation, the staff member may request Complainant to clarify or amplify allegations in the complaint. Complainants may also be allowed to add a new Respondent or a new charge of discrimination related to the original complaint. The Office of Institutional Equity reserves the right to determine whether the expansion or amendment of a complaint forms the basis of a new complaint.  The amendment to the complaint must be in writing as determined by the Office of Institutional Equity. 
  6. Investigative Process and Findings: The investigator may interview any persons who are considered to have pertinent factual information related to the complaint. The investigator shall assemble statements, documents, and other relevant evidence from Complainant, Respondent, witnesses, and other identified individuals who have or may have information concerning the allegations set forth in the complaint. The investigator shall also gather and examine other documents, evidence, facts, or information relevant to the complaint. Facts will be considered on the basis of what is reasonable to persons of ordinary sensitivity and not on the particular sensitivity or reaction of an individual. Findings will be based on the totality of circumstances surrounding the conduct complained of, including but not limited to: the context of that conduct, its severity, frequency, whether it was physically threatening, humiliating, or was simply offensive in nature.

E. Findings and Recommendations

  1. Upon completion of an investigation, the investigator may evaluate the evidence in accordance with standards set forth in applicable federal and state law, including case law, and University policies, procedures, and codes of conduct, if applicable, and shall make a finding regarding the allegations. A finding of a violation of University policy does not necessarily equate to a violation of applicable federal and/or state law.  The investigator will issue a letter of determination, which shall include a finding of whether or not a policy or code violation occurred, to the Complainant and the Respondent. Deans, department heads, directors, or vice presidents who may have an obligation to monitor the environment to ensure that retaliatory actions do not occur as a result of the investigative process, and who may be required to implement recommendation of the Office of Institutional Equity shall receive a copy of the letter of determination and any other information deemed appropriate.
  2. If the investigator finds a policy or code violation, the investigator shall also issue a separate recommendation regarding sanctions up to and including termination and/or other corrective action deemed appropriate, such as education and training. In cases involving complaints where hostile work environment, discriminatory or sexual harassment is found, the investigator shall make recommendations of steps reasonably calculated to end any harassment and to prevent recurrence.

G. Report of Findings and Recommendation - Complaints Against Non-Students (Including Student Workers):

  1.  The investigator will provide a proposed statement of findings, copies of relevant documents and any physical evidence considered to the appropriate vice president within thirty (30) working days of receipt of the Respondent's statement, unless unusual circumstances require more time. The appropriate vice president to act on complaints against faculty and staff will be the vice president over  the area where the Respondent is employed.  The appropriate vice president to act on complaints against contractors and visitors will be the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement. If a complaint is directed against a vice president who would otherwise act on a complaint, the function assigned to that vice president will be delegated to another person.
  2.  The appropriate vice president will promptly notify the Complainant and the Respondent that the investigation has been completed and attach a copy of the proposed statement of findings. Student identifiable information, if any, which is confidential by law, will be redacted. Within ten (10) working days from the date of notification, the Complainant and Respondent may each submit, for consideration by the appropriate vice president, such comments and corrections as they may have
  3.  Within fifteen (15) working days of the notification to the Complainant and Respondent that the investigation has been completed, the appropriate vice president and the investigator shall meet to discuss the findings, and review the record, along with any comments and proposed corrections submitted by the Complainant and Respondent.
  4.  Within fifteen (15) working days from that meeting, the vice president shall take one of the following actions: a) request further investigation into the complaint; b) dismiss the complaint if the results of the completed investigation are inconclusive or there is insufficient reasonable, credible evidence to support the allegation(s); or c) find that this policy was violated.
  5.  If the vice president determines that this policy was violated, he or she, following consultation with the investigator or other knowledgeable persons as appropriate, shall determine a disciplinary action that is appropriate for the severity of the conduct. Disciplinary actions can include, but are not limited to, written reprimands, the imposition of conditions, reassignment, suspension without pay, and termination.
  6.  The vice president shall inform the Complainant and Respondent, and the appropriate unit head in writing of his or her decision, and shall attach a copy of the final statement of findings. Copies of the vice president's letter, the attached statement of findings, and relevant documents shall also be sent to The Office of Institutional Equity.

H.  Report of Findings and Recommendation - Complaints Against Students:

  1. The investigator will provide a proposed statement of findings, copies of relevant documents and any physical evidence considered to the Dean of Students within thirty (30) working days of receipt of the Respondent's statement, unless unusual circumstances require more time. The Dean of Students and the investigator shall meet within fifteen (15) working days to discuss the findings, and review the record.
  2. Within fifteen (15) working days from that meeting, the Dean of Students shall take one of the following actions: a) request further investigation into the complaint; b) dismiss the complaint if the results of the completed investigation are inconclusive or there is insufficient reasonable, credible evidence to support the allegation(s); or c) find that this policy was violated.
  3. If the Dean of Students determines that this policy was violated, the Dean, following consultation with the investigator or other knowledgeable persons as appropriate, shall determine whether to initiate a disciplinary action appropriate to the severity of the conduct pursuant to the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities (Chapter 11, Appendix C of the General Information Catalogue). Disciplinary actions can include, but are not limited to, a documented warning, the imposition of conditions, probation, suspension, and dismissal.
  4. As required by federal law, any disclosure of the findings and decision of the Office of the Dean of Students will be governed by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

F. Retaliation Prohibited

A student, faculty, or staff member who retaliates in any way against an individual who has brought a complaint pursuant to this policy or participated in good faith in an investigation of such a complaint, is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University.

Chapter 5: MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

A. Relationship of Complaint Process to Outside Agency Time Limits.

The filing of a complaint under a policy enforced by OIE does not excuse the Complainant from meeting the time limits of outside agencies.

B.The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

As required by federal law, any disclosure of the findings and decision of the Office of Institutional Equity and the Office of the Dean of Students will be governed by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

C. Effect on Pending Personnel Actions

The filing of a nondiscrimination, harassment or retaliation complaint will not stop or delay any evaluation or disciplinary action related to a Complainant who is not performing up to acceptable standards or who has violated University rules or policies.

D. Relationship to Grievance Procedure

This complaint procedure shall also constitute the grievance procedure for complaints alleging unlawful discrimination. As used herein, "complaint" is synonymous with "grievance." 

E. Time Frames

Time frames mentioned in these procedures may be extended for good cause, such as holidays or when classes are not in session, or when it is necessary to complete an investigation due to difficulties reaching witnesses or parties to the complaint.

For Assistance: Questions regarding this procedure and practice guide should be directed to The Office of Institutional Equity.