Title IX

Investigation and Adjudication

All investigations and disciplinary proceedings concerning alleged sexual misconduct will be conducted in a prompt, fair, and impartial manner by individuals who have received appropriate training.

1. Initial Investigation

The Timeframe. Absent extenuating circumstances, the University will strive to conduct a full investigation of a complaint of sexual misconduct and adjudicate the complaint within sixty calendar days after receiving consent to proceed with an investigation from the complainant or within sixty calendar days of deciding to proceed with an investigation absent the complainant’s agreement.

Interim Assistance. While an investigation is pending, the University will take reasonable interim steps to protect complainants. These steps may include, but are not limited to:

  • Modifying class or work schedules as necessary;
  • Making alternate housing or workplace arrangements;
  • Addressing other academic or workplace concerns (e.g. assignments, leaves of absence, or withdrawal); and
  • Providing additional and/or targeted educational programming and training.

The University may also issue orders prohibiting contact between the complainant, the accused, and/or any other member of the University community. While these accommodations are most commonly provided to complainants, the University may also make accommodations for the accused or any other person, where it deems them necessary for a prompt, fair, and impartial resolution. A written description of available accommodations and assistance will be made available upon request.

The Investigator

The Investigator-The Title IX Coordinator will select an appropriate person or persons to conduct the investigation. In exceptional cases, an external investigator may be used. In all cases, the investigator will have received proper training on issues relating sexual misconduct and Title IX. The investigator may regularly consult with the Title IX Coordinator on the progress of the investigation and potential issues that require additional follow-up.

Initial Contact with the Parties

Initial Contact with the Parties- When an investigation begins, the Title IX Coordinator or a designee will schedule a meeting with the complainant. The complainant will be informed about the relevant provisions of this policy, the nature of the investigation, the availability of interim accommodations and assistance, the prohibition on retaliation, the right to report to law enforcement agencies, and the possibility of informal resolution where appropriate. The Title IX Coordinator or a designee also will communicate to the accused party the relevant provisions of this policy, the nature of the investigation, and forms of support or assistance available to him or her.

2. Procedures for Adjudication

The procedures for investigating and adjudicating complaints of sexual misconduct vary depending on the identity of the accused party. Where the accused party is a student, the procedures described below in part (b) will be used. Where the accused party is an employee, the procedures described below in part (c) will be used. In all cases where a student or employee is charged with sexual misconduct in violation of this policy, however, the following general rules in part (a) apply.

a. General Rules for Investigation and Adjudication

i. All parties to a sexual misconduct investigation will have equal rights throughout the resolution process and will have an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence if a hearing is necessary.

ii. Both the complainant and accused have the right to have a non-participating advisor present at any hearing or any meeting related to the investigation or adjudication.

iii. The complainant and accused will be advised of the charges, their rights and the hearing procedure at a pre-hearing conference.

iv. Both parties will be given reasonable advance notice as to who will hear and adjudicate the matter, as well as the identity of any witnesses, and any other evidence to be presented at any hearing.

v. The complainant has the right be present during the entirety of any hearing or can choose to participate by remote means at an off-site location.

vi. The standard of proof for adjudicating any sexual misconduct charge is a preponderance of the evidence standard. In other words, the evidence must show that it is more likely than not that the alleged sexual misconduct occurred.

vii. The complainant and the accused in a sexual misconduct complaint hearing will be allowed to question or provide information responding to any witness’s testimony or other evidence presented during any hearing. However, the complainant and the accused in a sexual misconduct complaint hearing should not directly question or cross-examine each other during the hearing.

viii. The complainant and the accused will be simultaneously informed, in writing, of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding, the procedures to appeal the results, any change in the results that occurs prior to the results becoming final, and the time at which the results become final.

ix. The Title IX Coordinator will oversee all investigations, hearings and disciplinary proceedings under this policy to ensure such proceedings comply with University policy and applicable law. All persons assigned to investigate sexual misconduct charges will have received proper training on issues related to sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and stalking as well as proper methods for ensuring a prompt, thorough and fair investigation. All persons responsible for final adjudication of charges of sexual misconduct will have received proper annual training on the same issues, as well as proper methods of conducting hearings.

x. If any party to a disciplinary hearing under this policy believes that any adjudicator or investigator has a conflict of interest that would prevent him or her from handling the matter fairly and impartially, they should communicate that belief to the Title IX Coordinator as early as possible, and in all events prior to any hearing. The Coordinator will review the matter and take remedial action where appropriate, which may include assigning an alternate investigator or adjudicator. In rare cases, the Coordinator may determine that potential conflicts of interest or other factors warrant the appointment of individuals from outside the University community to investigate and/or adjudicate a charge of sexual misconduct.

b. Where the Accused Person is a Student

i. Where the accused person is a student, adjudication proceedings will be conducted according to the Code of Conduct, as set forth in DSU Student Handbook. Where this policy contains additional requirements or conflicts with the Code of Conduct, this policy will control.

ii. Cases involving alleged student-on-student sexual misconduct will be assigned to the Vice President for Student Affairs. They will not be referred to organization-specific disciplinary bodies.

iii. No student shall sit on any disciplinary committee or other board assigned to hear any charge of sexual misconduct.

iv. In cases of alleged sexual misconduct, the right of appeal described in the Code of Student Conduct shall apply to both the complainant and the accused. Petitions for appeal will be reviewed by the Vice President of Student Affairs in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator.

c. Where the Accused Person is an Employee

i. Where the accused person is an employee, proceedings will be conducted according to the investigation process (Section “a” – General Rules for Investigation and Adjudication) as set forth in this document.

ii. In cases where the accused person is an employee and the complainant is a student and/or a minor, a review by the Director of Human Resources of the outcome and any disciplinary or other remedial action, shall be automatic and mandatory. Petitions for appeal will be reviewed by the Director of Human Resources in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator.

d. Where the Accused Person is neither a Student nor an Employee

i. In some cases, a person accused of sexual misconduct may be someone other than a University student or employee. In these cases, the University normally will not have the ability to impose discipline directly under this policy. However, the University will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the complainant and others, which may include without limitation steps to bar the accused person from campus, exclusion from university programs or activities, and/or referral to appropriate law enforcement agencies.

ii. Nothing in this policy shall be construed as granting any accused person who is not a University student or employee any procedural or substantive rights in relation to the University’s response to alleged sexual misconduct.

3. Informal Resolution

In some instances, a complainant may prefer to address sexual misconduct through informal means, such as mediation. Persons interested in informal resolution should communicate that request to the Title IX Coordinator.

If the complainant requests informal resolution, the University will make reasonable efforts to facilitate it. Informal resolution is strictly voluntary. No one, whether complainant or accused, will be compelled to participate in any mediation or other informal resolution. Further, informal resolution efforts always will be supervised by a properly-trained person, such as an administrator or counselor.

Informal resolution is never appropriate in cases of alleged sexual assault or physical violence. In addition, the University may determine that other claims are sufficiently serious that informal resolution would be inappropriate. In such cases, the matter will be resolved through formal adjudication. If at any point either party wishes to end informal resolution efforts, they should communicate that fact to the Title IX Coordinator and formal adjudication proceedings will begin. If after informal efforts have concluded, either party is not satisfied with the result, they should promptly communicate the same to the Title IX Coordinator and formal adjudication proceedings will begin.

4. Response & Sanctions

The following matrix shall guide the Title IX Coordinator and the Title IX Committee in determining sanctions and provide notice to the University community of the possible sanctions for an individual who is found responsible under this policy. This matrix only provides guidance and is not meant to be exclusive as to other sanctions that can be imposed.

Additionally, prior disciplinary actions of a same or similar nature against an individual may be taken into consideration when imposing sanctions. The sanctions of dismissal, suspension, and probation may apply to academic enrollment, participation in campus activities and organizations, and residence life.

Prohibited Behavior/Conduct Range of Sanctions
Sexual Misconduct Constituting of Sexual Assault Dismissal/Termination
Sexual Misconduct Not Constituting Sexual Assault Dismissal/Termination Suspension Probation
Unwanted Sexual Touching Dismissal/Termination Suspension Probation Community Service Educational/Counseling Consultation
Non-physical Sexual Harassment Dismissal/Termination Suspension Probation Community Service Educational/Counseling Consultation
Discrimination Dismissal/Termination Suspension Probation Community Service Educational/Counseling Consultation
Retaliation False Allegations Dismissal/Termination Suspension Probation Community Service Educational/Counseling Consultation

Sanctioning for Sexual Misconduct

  • Any person found responsible for violating the Non-Consensual Sexual Contact policy (where no intercourse has occurred) will likely receive a sanction ranging from probation to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous disciplinary violations.*
  • Any person found responsible for violating the Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse policy will likely face a recommended sanction of suspension or expulsion (student) or suspension or termination (employee).*
  • Any person found responsible for violating the Sexual Exploitation or Sexual Harassment policies will likely receive a recommended sanction ranging from warning to expulsion or termination, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous disciplinary violations.*

*The decision-making body reserves the right to broaden or lessen any range of recommended sanctions in the case of serious mitigating circumstances or egregiously offensive behavior. Neither the initial hearing officers nor any appeals body or officer will deviate from the range of recommended sanctions unless compelling justification exists to do so.

Amnesty/Immunity for Alcohol or Drug Violations

Amnesty: The University recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time a sexual misconduct incident occurs may be hesitant to report such incident due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. The University strongly encourages students to report incidents of sexual misconduct to campus officials. A bystander reporting in good faith or an alleged victim reporting sexual misconduct to University officials or law enforcement will not be subject to campus conduct action for violations of alcohol and/or drug policies occurring at or near the time of the sexual misconduct.

False Allegations

While the University recognizes the rarity of intentional false reports of sexual misconduct, submitting a deliberately false report or providing false information in bad faith is prohibited under this policy and is grounds for disciplinary action. A report is made in bad faith when the person making it actually knew it was false or made it with reckless disregard for the truth. A report is not made in bad faith merely because an adjudicator finds an accused party not responsible.

Where a false report or statement has been made in bad faith, disciplinary action by the University against the person making it is not retaliation within the meaning of this policy. This exception applies solely to official disciplinary action by the University. It does not authorize other retaliation of any kind by any individual, department or organization, even where bad faith is found.

Retaliation

Retaliation is defined as any adverse action or threat taken against an individual for filing a complaint of sexual misconduct, serving as a witness, or for participating in the investigation or resolution process. The University strictly prohibits retaliation. This includes any form of intimidation, threats, harassment, or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from participating in protected activity, such as reporting sexual misconduct, seeking services, or receiving interim measures and accommodations. Retaliating against a person for participating in protected activity is a basis for disciplinary action, regardless of the outcome of the underlying complaint. Complaints of retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator.

Parental Notification

The University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any safety risk or conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations. The University may also reserve the right to notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under age 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations.  The University also reserves the right to designate which college officials have a need to know about individual conduct complaints pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

What to do if you are sexually assaulted on or off campus:

  • Go to a safe location immediately.
  • To report the crime or request services, notify the DSU Police Department at 662.846.4155 (24 hours), Title IX Corrdinator at 662.846.4690, Student Health Center at 662.846.4630, Campus Counseling Center at 662.846.4690, or Our House, Incorporated 662-332-5683. You can file a formal report with the DSU Police Department
    • The accused may be one of the following:
      • DSU student or non-student
      • Faculty/Staff
      • Administrator
      • DSU Campus Affiliate
  • Preserve all physical evidence of the assault, even if you are unsure whether you want to report the crime. Do not shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, wash your hands or brush your teeth until after you have had a medical examination. Save all the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault and bring them and any other potential evidence to the medical exam. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag (do not use plastic bags). Do not clean or disturb the area where the assault occurred.
  • Call a trusted friend, family member, or someone who can provide support.
  • Get medical care as soon as possible. Go to a hospital, emergency room or a specialized forensic clinic that works with sexual assault survivors. Some options in Cleveland include Bolivar Medical Center, 662.846.0061 (24 hours), and the Domestic Violence Program, 601.948.4495 (24 hours). You may also request medications for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and emergency contraception. If more than one week has passed since the assault, or if you are certain that you do not want the collection of forensic evidence, the Student Health Center, 662.846.4630 can provide medical care. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. For contraception and testing sexually transmitted infections a referral to the Bolivar County Health Department at 662-843-2706 is made. A referral to a local OB/GYN would be made for morning after pill or pregnancy test.
  • If you think you may have been given a rape drug, request that the medical provider collect a urine and blood sample.

Talk to a counselor for emotional support and advocacy. You can speak confidentially with someone on campus at the Campus Counseling Center, 662.846.4690.