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Resolution Processes for Sexual Misconduct Allegations

St. John Fisher College is committed to providing a prompt, thorough, equitable, and impartial resolution of all reported violations of this policy.

The College uses two processes to resolve reports of Prohibited Conduct under this policy:

  • Informal Resolution, a framework that includes informal or restorative options for resolving reports that typically do not involve disciplinary action against a Respondent.
  • Disciplinary Resolution, formal procedures that involve an investigation, adjudication and, if appropriate, the imposition of sanctions.

The Title IX coordinator will determine the appropriate resolution process after conducting an Initial Review of the reported information, consulting with the Reporting Individual/Complainant, considering campus safety, and evaluating the College's obligation to maintain an environment free from harassment and discrimination.

Time Frame for Resolution

The College will seek to complete the appropriate resolution process as promptly as possible, consistent with the need to conduct sensitive and informed fact-gathering to ensure an equitable resolution. This policy designates reasonably prompt timeframes for the major stages of the investigation and resolution process (typically set forth in business days), but the College may extend any timeframe in this policy for good cause. An extension may be required for good cause to ensure the integrity and thoroughness of the investigation; to comply with a request by law enforcement; in response to the unavailability of the parties or witnesses; or for other legitimate reasons, such as intervening breaks in the College calendar, College finals periods, the complexity of the investigation, the volume of information, number of witnesses, length of the written record, and/or the severity and extent of the alleged misconduct.

While requests for delays by the parties may be considered, the College cannot unduly or unreasonably delay the prompt resolution of a report under this policy. Reasonable requests for delays by the parties may serve to extend the time period for resolution of the report. The Title IX coordinator has the authority to determine whether an extension is required or warranted by the circumstances. The College will notify the parties in writing of any extension of the timeframes for good cause, the reason for the extension and the length of the extension.

Advisor of Choice

Throughout an Informal or Disciplinary Resolution, each party has the right to consult with an advisor of their choosing. The advisor may be any person, including an attorney, who is not otherwise a party or witness involved in the investigation or whose role in the process does not otherwise create a conflict of interest. The parties may be accompanied by their respective advisor at any meeting or proceeding related to the resolution of a report under this policy. While the advisor may provide support and advice to the parties at any meeting and/or proceeding, they may not speak on behalf of the parties or otherwise participate in, or in any manner delay, disrupt or interfere with meetings and/or proceedings.

The College will not unduly delay the scheduling of meetings or proceedings based on an advisor's unavailability. An advisor may be asked to meet with the Title IX coordinator in advance of any proceedings to understand the expectations of the role, privacy considerations, and appropriate decorum.

Initial Review

The Title IX coordinator is responsible for an Initial Review of disclosures and/or reports of potential violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. The goal of this Initial Review is to provide an integrated and coordinated response to reports of sexual misconduct. The Initial Review will consider the nature of the report, the safety of the individual and of the campus community, and the Reporting Individual’s expressed preference for resolution. The Initial Review will proceed to the point where a reasonable assessment of the safety of all involved parties and the community can be made.

In order to protect the safety of the campus community, the Title IX coordinator may need to proceed with an investigation even if a Reporting Individual specifically requests that the matter not be pursued. The Title IX coordinator may also initiate an investigation of potential violations of this policy even absent a formal report or identified Complainant or Respondent and even if a report has been withdrawn. In such a circumstance, the Title IX coordinator will take into account the Reporting Individual’s articulated concerns, the safety of the campus community, fairness to all individuals involved, and the College's obligations under Title IX. The Title IX coordinator will balance the Reporting Individual's request against the following factors in reaching a determination on whether the request can be honored:

  • The totality of the known circumstances;
  • Whether the Accused/Respondent has a history of violent behavior or is a repeat offender;
  • Whether the incident represents escalation in unlawful conduct on behalf of the Accused/Respondent from previously noted behavior;
  • The increased risk that the Accused/Respondent will commit additional acts of violence;
  • Whether the Accused/Respondent used a weapon or force;
  • Whether the Reporting Individual is a minor; and
  • Whether the College possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence such as security footage;
  • Whether available information reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location or by a particular group;
  • Fairness considerations for both the Reporting Individual and the Accused;
  • The College's obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment; and
  • Any other available and relevant information.

At the conclusion of the Initial Review, the College will proceed with one of the following options:

  • Proceed with an investigation under the Disciplinary Resolution process. This will occur when a Reporting Individual requests an investigation, where the Title IX coordinator determines to proceed with an investigation even when a Reporting Individual requests that no investigation be pursued, or where Informal Resolution is not appropriate or available.
  • Proceed with Informal Resolution. This will always require the consent of the Complainant. The consent of the Respondent is also required when the form of resolution involves the Respondent.
  • If outside the scope of this policy, refer the matter to another appropriate office or department for resolution under the relevant policy.
  • If the Reporting Individual expresses a preference to share information, but not pursue any further action at this time, and there is no immediate or continuing threat to an individual or the campus community, the disclosure will be documented with the Title IX coordinator only.
Informal Resolution

If all parties voluntarily agree to participate in an Informal Resolution that does not involve a full investigation and adjudication after receiving full disclosure of the allegations and their options for Disciplinary Resolution and if the College determines that the particular Title IX complaint is appropriate for such a process, the College may facilitate an Informal Resolution, including mediation, to assist the parties in reaching a voluntary resolution.

Disciplinary Resolution

A Disciplinary Resolution includes formal procedures that involve an investigation, adjudication and, if appropriate, the imposition of sanctions.

This is an overview of the components of the Disciplinary Resolution process. For complete details of the Disciplinary Resolution Process, refer to the Sexual Misconduct Policy [pdf].

Investigation

The College will conduct a prompt and equitable investigation to gather information relevant to the determination of whether there is sufficient information, by a preponderance of the evidence, to determine that a policy violation occurred. The investigation will be impartial and will be conducted by trained individuals who have no actual bias or conflict of interest.

The Title IX coordinator has the discretion to consolidate multiple reports into a single investigation if evidence relevant to one incident is relevant to the others. Consolidation might involve multiple Complainants and a single Respondent, multiple Respondents, or conduct that is temporally or logically connected.

In the investigation process, a Complainant and Respondent should expect that:

  • A notice of investigation will be delivered to the Respondent regarding the nature of the incident and the alleged violation, along with their rights and resources relevant to College processes and support.
  • The investigation will be prompt, thorough, and equitable.
  • The investigation will include interviews with all available involved parties, including witnesses and other persons with first-hand knowledge.
  • The Complainant and Respondent will have the opportunity to ask questions of each other and witnesses ("cross-examine") via the investigators.
  • There will be a complete review of any related, relevant documents.
  • The disclosure of facts to parties and witnesses will be limited to what is reasonably necessary to conduct a fair and thorough investigation.
  • Participants in the investigation will be advised of the importance of maintaining privacy throughout the process.
  • At any time during the investigation, the investigator will make recommendations to appropriate College officials for Interim Measures for the Complainant, Respondent, and/or witnesses.
  • An investigation will result in a written report that, at a minimum, includes a statement of the allegations, the issues, and a summary of the information being forwarded to the Title IX coordinator.
  • The College will inform the parties at regular intervals of the status or progress of the process.

Review of Case Materials

When the investigation is complete, the investigators complete a Report of Investigation for the Title IX coordinator. Upon receipt of the report, the Title IX coordinator with notify the Respondent and the Complainant of the conclusion of the Investigation phase of the Disciplinary Resolution process and their right to review the entirety of the case file (subject to appropriate redaction, including as permitted and/or required by law) and review and comment on their respective statements and evidence prior to the hearing.

Title IX Committee Hearing

A Sexual Misconduct Committee Hearing (hereafter referred to as the "Hearing") takes place between the Respondent, Complainant, the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Committee (hereafter referred to as the "Committee") and any witnesses with first-hand knowledge of the relevant facts. Hearings are private and closed to everyone except the involved persons. At their discretion, the Committee chair may request that a representative from the Office of Safety and Security be present throughout the hearing as well to ensure the safety of the proceedings and participants.

Barring unusual circumstances, the Complainant and Respondent will be served the appearance letter within five (5) business days prior to the hearing date. Both parties will be served the appearance letter through their College email address. It is the responsibility of the parties involved to check their College email address for this and all official communication from the College.

Procedure for Determining Responsibility

In order to determine responsibility regarding any alleged violations, the Committee reviews all information presented through the investigation and hearing processes. The Committee does not consider a Respondent’s previous findings of responsibility when determining responsibility in the current matter.

The determination of responsibility for a violation of this policy and/or the student code of conduct will be made if in the judgment of the Committee that the conduct was more likely than not to have occurred (i.e. "the preponderance of the evidence").

Potential Outcomes

When there is a finding of responsibility, College sanctions will be assigned. These may include, but are not limited to: written warnings, disciplinary probation, suspension, expulsion, as well as educational assignments and referrals. The complete list of College sanctions is listed on the .

If the Hearing results in suspension, the student may not re-enroll at the College for a prescribed period of time. Before re-enrollment at the College, the student will need to meet with the Title IX coordinator to discuss the student’s progress in completing any assigned sanctions associated with the suspension and eligibility to resume enrollment at St. John Fisher College. Upon any re-enrollment, the student will be placed on Disciplinary Probation for the remainder of the academic career. The student’s transcript will reflect "W" (withdrawn) for all courses in which the student was enrolled for the semester. Tuition, room and board charges, as applicable, will be prorated based on the College Refund Policy. The date used to determine any refund is the date of this finding or the date of any interim action related to this finding, whichever date is earlier. Persons suspended from the College are considered to be Persona Non Grata (PNG) from the College until any successful re-enrollment at the College.

Appeal Process

Both parties have the right to one level of appeal. Requests for an appeal should be made by completing an Appeal Request Form. The Appeal Request Form must be received within five business days of the receipt of the written notification of outcome letter.

When requesting an appeal, the appealing party must demonstrate in writing that one or more of the following applies to their situation:

  • Procedural error(s) that had a material impact on the final outcome
  • The sanction imposed was not in keeping with the gravity of the violation
  • New information is available now that was not available at the time of the hearing, which may substantially change the outcome

Both parties are notified when an appeal is requested, and notified again within five business days if the appeal request has been granted. At the time of the request, both parties have seven business days the opportunity to review and respond to the request.

An impartial review panel, free from conflicts of interest, reviews the Appeal Request Form. The Appeal Panel will can dismiss the appeal for failing to state a grounds for appeal, affirm the original findings, amend the original sanctions, send the case back to the Hearing Committee, or convene a new Hearing Committee. In cases where sanction(s) are amended or rejected, a rationale will be specified. The Respondent and Complainant will be notified simultaneously of the outcome of the appeal request within five business days. The review panel does not rehear cases.

Effect of Withdrawal and Transcript Notation

For those crimes of violence, as defined by the Clery Act, that St. John Fisher College is required by federal law to include in its Annual Security Report, the transcripts of students found responsible after a hearing and appeal, if any, shall include the following notation:

  • "Suspended after a finding of responsibility for a code of conduct violation"
  • "Expelled after a finding responsibility for a code of conduct violation"

Additionally, the transcript of any student who withdraws from the College following the receipt of a notice of investigation and declines to complete the disciplinary process shall include the following notation:

  • "Withdrew with conduct charges pending"

Transcript Notation Review Process

When a student is suspended from the College, a notation has been placed on her/his transcript and the student may request a review of the notation for removal.

To request a review, the student must submit a letter to the Title IX coordinator requesting the removal of the notation which also includes the following information:

  • A personal statement detailing the student’s time away from the College and outlining both positive contributions the student has made to the community and personal growth.
  • Two (2) character reference letters. (Letters from family members are not acceptable.)

The Title IX coordinator will review the request and may require additional information. Following a review of the request, the Title IX coordinator may subsequently require speaking to or meeting with the student regarding the request before making a decision.

If a notation is removed from a transcript this does not erase the student's conduct history; it modifies the student's transcript upon the request being granted. In no case shall the transcript notation for suspension be removed prior to one year after the conclusion of the suspension. Notations for expulsion shall not be removed from transcripts.