Formal and Informal Resolution

Because the University recognizes that such conduct includes an attack on an individual’s dignity and self-determination rights, as far as possible the University will attempt to let the complainant select the process, an informal resolution process or a formal investigation and resolution process, for addressing their allegations. However, the Title IX Coordinator may sign a formal complaint to initiate an investigation over the wishes of the complainant to protect the campus community.

Formal Resolution Process

  • The University’s formal resolution process is triggered upon receipt of a formal complaint. A formal complaint may be filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator.
    • Formal complaint filed by complainant—is an online form filed by a complainant alleging Sexual Harassment against a respondent and requesting that the school investigate the allegation(s).
    • Formal complaint signed by Title IX Coordinator—is a written document signed by the Title IX Coordinator, which may occur especially in cases that involve pattern, predation, threats or violence.
  • Complaint Filing Requirements—A complainant who desires to make a formal complaint of alleged Sexual Harassment must complete and submit the online Title IX Formal Complaint Form.
    • The formal complaint must (1) contain a concise written statement of the alleged violation; (2) be made by a person who (a) experienced the alleged conduct and (b) is participating or attempting to participate in a program or activity of the University; (3) be a document that is physically or digitally signed or otherwise indicates that the complainant is the person filing; (4) be made against a respondent (as defined above); (5) may request an investigation; and (6) may include the names of any witnesses with relevant information to the allegations.
    • The complainant may be reluctant to identify the respondent; however, this will limit the University’s ability to investigate and respond.
    • The University may consolidate formal complaints as to allegations of sexual harassment against more than one respondent, or by more than one complainant against one or more respondents, or by one party against the other party, where the allegations arise out of the same facts or circumstances.
  • Initial Assessment—When a formal complaint is submitted and received, the Title IX Coordinator will review the formal complaint to evaluate whether any or all of the allegations therein are subject to dismissal under the Dismissal Procedures contained in this policy (see below). Upon completion of the assessment, if one or more allegations are dismissed both parties will be notified in writing of the dismissal and relevant rationale.
  • Notice of Title IX Allegations and Awareness—If the formal complaint is not dismissed, the appropriate Title IX Deputy Coordinator will meet separately with the complainant and the respondent to provide written notice of the allegations and the University’s formal and informal resolution processes, utilizing the Notice of Title IX Allegations Awareness Form. If during the course of an investigation the University decides to investigate allegations about either party that were not included in the Notice of Allegations, the Title IX Deputy Coordinator will provide notice of the additional allegations to the parties.
  • Presumption of Nonresponsibility—The respondent will be presumed to be not responsible for the alleged conduct unless and until a finding of responsibility is made at the conclusion of the resolution process.
  • Respondent’s Written Response to Complaint—The respondent will be given an opportunity to provide a written response to the allegations in the formal complaint and provide the names of any witnesses with relevant information to the allegations.
  • ADA or Disability—The University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified students and employees to ensure equal access to the resolution processes. If the complainant or the respondent has a qualified disability, they should notify the Title IX official at the beginning of the process regarding any requests for accommodations that may be appropriate to the disability.
    • Students should  provide documentation to the Student Success Center at 269-471-3227 and employees to the Office of Human Resources. The request will be reviewed in consultation with the party and the TIX Coordinator, to determine which accommodations are appropriate for equitable participation.
  • Advisor/Support Person—Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to have a single designated advisor or support person of their choice or through appointment by the University, to support them and be present with them throughout the resolution process, either informal or formal (including any appeal process).
    • The advisor/support person chosen by a party may be, but is not required to be, an attorney. If an attorney is retained by a party, the attorney has no additional rights or access than other advisor/support persons and thus the typical attorney-client relationship is not recognized.
    • The University cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an advisor/support person who is an attorney, but the other party does not or cannot afford an attorney, the University is not obligated to provide an attorney.
    • Parties also have the right to choose not to have an advisor/support person in the initial stages of the resolution process. If a party has not selected an advisor/support person by the time of the hearing, the Title IX Coordinator will appoint one.
    • Each party and the party’s advisor/support person (if any) will be given written notice of the time, date, location, participants and purpose of all hearings, investigative interviews or other meetings as to which such party’s participation is invited or expected, with sufficient time to allow for preparation.
    • No advisor/support person for either party will be permitted to participate or speak during any hearing, interview or other meeting, except that an advisor/support person is permitted to ask relevant cross-examination questions and follow-up questions at the live hearing with the Conduct Panel on behalf of the party they are supporting.
    • In K–12 proceedings where there is not a live hearing the advisor/support person may pose written questions to the other party and witnesses. In addition, in a K–12 proceeding, a student’s parent will be allowed to accompany the student to meetings, in addition to the student’s advisor/support person.
    • A party may elect to change an advisor/support person during the process. The parties are expected to inform the Title IX office of the identity of their advisor/support persons at least two business days before the date of a specific meeting.
  • Sharing Information with the Advisor— Parties may share documentation and evidence related to the allegations directly with their advisor/support person if they wish. Doing so at the beginning may help the parties participate more meaningfully in the resolution process.
    • The parties should note that in accordance with federal regulations, the final investigative summary report will be shared electronically to each party and each party’s advisor/support persons.
  • Equitable Treatment—Complainants and respondents are treated equitably. This means that no formal disciplinary sanctions will be imposed against any respondent unless and until the grievance process has been completed and the respondent has been found responsible. Likewise, complainants will be provided notice of the remedies or outcomes after a determination of responsibility has been made against the respondent.

Dismissal of a Formal Complaint

  • Mandatory Dismissal
    • A formal complaint may be subject to a mandatory dismissal. After conducting an initial assessment focused on the allegations set forth in a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator and/or Title IX Deputy Coordinator are/is required to review and dismiss the formal complaint in the following situations:
      (1) where the allegation(s), if proven to be true, would not constitute Sexual Harassment as defined in this policy;
      (2) if the alleged conduct did not occur in an education program or activity of the University;
      (3) if the alleged Sexual Harassment was inflicted upon a person outside the United States.
      (4) ​​where the complainant was not a participant or attempting to participate in the University’s educational program or activities at the time a formal complaint was filed.
  • Discretionary Dismissal
    • A formal complaint may also be subject to a discretionary dismissal. The University may, in its discretion, dismiss a formal complaint or allegations therein in the following situations:
      (1) if the complainant informs the Title IX Coordinator in writing that the complainant desires to withdraw the formal complaint or allegations therein,
      (2) if the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the University which means the University no longer has control of the respondent, or
      (3) if specific circumstances prevent the University from gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination. Note: If the complainant initiates the Title IX process while a student but later leaves the University before the Title IX process has been completed, the complainant may choose to continue to pursue the Title IX resolution, provided that the respondent is still a current student or employee of the University.
    • If the University activates a mandatory or discretionary dismissal, both parties will be notified in writing of the dismissal of the formal complaint, the reason(s) therefore, and their right to appeal the dismissal of the complaint.
    • Allegations that are dismissed under Title IX may still be addressed with supportive measures.
    • When a formal complaint or a specific Title IX allegation is dismissed, the Title IX Coordinator may, nevertheless, offer other non-Title IX investigation and resolution processes and may refer the case directly to the Student Life Conduct Council to be reviewed for inappropriate conduct or a general violation of the Code of Student Conduct and corrective disciplinary action. In cases where the respondent is a faculty, staff or student employee, the case may be referred to Human Resources to be reviewed for inappropriate conduct and a general violation of the University’s “Working Policy” and corrective disciplinary action. Evidence received as part of the Title IX process may be relied upon in the non-Title IX process.
    • In addition, a mandatory dismissal does not preclude the University from offering supportive measures to the parties then participating in the University’s education program or activities.
    • The University may also facilitate an Informal Resolution Process agreed upon by both parties where both parties are participants of the University’s education program or activities.

Informal Resolution Processes

  • Informal processes are available only after a formal complaint has been signed and submitted by the complainant.
  • Upon the voluntary, written consent of both parties, the University will facilitate an informal resolution that does not involve a full investigation, hearing and determination.
  • Informal processes are not available in cases regarding allegations of the misconduct of a faculty or staff respondent and a student complainant.
  • Informal resolution processes provide both parties with the opportunity to develop a mutually agreed-upon resolution that may include acknowledgements and commitments to remedy the situation.
  • The mutually agreed-upon measures may include, but are not limited to:
    • providing information, education, or training
    • community service
    • no contact orders, proximity separations
    • counseling sessions
    • informal meetings with facilitated dialogue or mediation with both parties present or more indirectly with separate meetings
    • a facilitated accountability plan between the respondent and a designated University faculty or staff member, or corrective disciplinary measure agreed upon by both parties.
  • Corrective disciplinary actions are typically recorded in the respondent’s educational or personnel record as a conduct violation, while resolutions void of disciplinary action are not included in the respondent’s record. The University reserves the right, however, to record such actions in an educational or personnel record depending on the nature and severity of the conduct involved.
  • At any time prior to agreeing and signing the resolution agreement, either party may withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the formal resolution process. However, an informal resolution agreement is final when it is signed by both parties and it is not subject to appeal.
  • If the respondent accepts responsibility for all of the alleged misconduct, any investigative process will be paused and the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether an informal resolution can be used according to the criteria above or if the case will be referred directly to a Decision-Maker Panel.

Notice of Investigation

The Title IX Deputy Coordinator  will provide written notice of the investigation (the “NOI”) to the Respondent upon commencement of the Formal Grievance Process. This facilitates the Respondent’s ability to prepare for the interview and to identify and choose an advisor/support person to accompany them. 

Investigation and Hearing ⇒