What to expect during an investigation
A University investigation begins when a person reports a potential policy violation such as discrimination or sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator and the EO/Title IX staff determines there is jurisdiction and the reporting person states that they would like to begin a formal University investigation. Trained EO/TIX staff serve as unbiased, thorough, impartial investigators. Every attempt is made to conduct an investigation within 60 days. You will be notified if the investigation will take longer. The investigator will gather as much evidence as possible before making a determination about whether there was a policy violation.
EO determines whether there is a preponderance of the evidence showing that an individual engaged in a policy violation. This means that individuals are presumed not to have engaged in an alleged policy violation(s) unless a “preponderance of the evidence” supports a finding that the violation(s) has occurred. This “preponderance of the evidence” standard requires that the evidence supporting each finding be more convincing than the evidence in opposition to it.
Prior to concluding the investigation, both parties will have an equitable opportunity to review relevant information gathered so they can ask questions, provide feedback, and possibly suggest other witnesses.
At the close of the investigation, both parties are simultaneously notified of the outcome and both parties have a right to appeal the conclusion. A finding that the policy was violated can lead to student conduct code sanctions or employee personnel action.
What should I expect?
Making a report and initial meeting
You can make a report online by using the University of Montana Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Reporting Form You may also make a report by email firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone 243-5710 or in-person Main Hall room 006.
At the initial meeting, some basic information will be requested about what occurred. You will be advised about options and asked what you would like to see happen. The answer to that question can help you to choose the option that is right for you.
When you meet, you can usually expect two individuals from the EO/TIX office. One person is there to take internal notes for the EO/TIX office to reference. No voice recordings are made.
During the initial meeting, EO/TIX staff will determine whether the office has jurisdiction over the complaint; if not, we will work to determine the best place for you to report or seek assistance. (For example, a dispute with no evidence that there is any sex-based discrimination involved may be referred to the Office of Community Standards.)
As a party to the investigation, you have the right to have someone accompany you when you meet with EO/TIX staff. The support person may be a friend, a trusted faculty member, an attorney, or a SARC employee.
You should not experience retaliation for making a report or participating in an investigation. Please contact EO/TIX right away if you experience retaliation.
Please try to preserve and bring any physical or electronic evidence regarding the complaint, such as emails, text messages, handwritten notes or photographs.
Investigation and confidentiality
During the investigation, the investigator will seek in-person meetings with the individuals involved in the report as well as witnesses. The purpose of the meetings is to gather as much information as possible about the incident or incidents that occurred. Typically the impacted individuals will be asked to share what they are comfortable sharing and then will be asked more detailed, follow-up questions by the investigator. Both the complainant and the respondent will be interviewed one or more times to gather as much information as possible. In addition, the investigator will interview other people, including any potential witnesses or anyone who may have additional information about the reported violation.
Parties have the right to bring a support person such as a friend, professor, parent, SARC employee, union representative, or attorney.
No person will get in trouble for disclosing that you or a witness used alcohol or drugs during the time of the occurrence being investigated.
Right to Provide Witnesses and Evidence
Parties will be asked to provide the names of potential witnesses. Such people may be interviewed if they have knowledge of the occurrence. The investigator will determine who to interview. Parties will also be asked to provide any evidence they may have such as text messages, photos, physical evidence, medical records or anything else.
EO/TIX keeps the investigation as confidential as possible and asks all participants to keep to themselves any information they learn through the investigation, although no one is under a gag order and everyone is free to talk about their own experiences. Asking to refrain from broadly discussing the investigation ensures the integrity of the process. When a final report is written, the names of parties and witnesses are not used. EO/TIX will keep confidential the complaint, report, witness statements, and any other information provided by individuals and will disclose this information only those involved in the investigation as necessary to give fair notice of the allegations and to conduct the investigation. If you have questions about confidentiality please ask. The Discrimination Procedures describe confidentiality in detail.
EO/TIX tries to conduct the investigation within 60 days, but there may be delays in coordinating meetings and gathering evidence. We will contact the parties if the investigation is taking longer than 60 days.
Prior to the close of the investigation, both the complaint and respondent have an equitable opportunity to review a summary of the relevant information gathered in the investigation and to ask questions, offer responses or suggest other witnesses or evidence.
Standard of Review
EO/TIX determines whether there is a preponderance of the evidence showing that an individual engaged in a policy violation. This means that individuals are presumed not to have engaged in an alleged policy violation(s) unless a “preponderance of the evidence” supports a finding that the violation(s) has occurred. This “preponderance of the evidence” standard requires that the evidence supporting each finding be more convincing than the evidence in opposition to it.
Communication and Updates from EO/TIX
- Your UM student or employee email will be used for updates about the investigation.
- You can expect emails from EO/TIX after you meet with them and periodic updates from EO/TIX about the progress of the investigation. If you would like more or less frequent updates, just tell EO/TIX.
- You may always write, call or meet to ask questions about the investigation or provide additional information.
At the close of the investigation, the investigator will determine whether there is a violation of University policy based on a preponderance of the evidence—that is, whether it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred. A final investigation report describes a summary of the investigation, the finding and any recommendations. The final investigation report is provided to the complainant and respondent. If there is a finding of policy violation, the investigative report will be sent to the authority responsible for disciplining the respondent.
The EO/TIX investigator does not determine disciplinary sanctions but can make recommendations for sanctions. If there is a finding of policy violation, the authority responsible for disciplining the respondent will determine the sanctions; this will be the Community Standards Office if the respondent is a student, or the supervisor or Dean if the respondent is an employee. Sanctions for students found in violation of policy may include many things including mandated training, suspension, or expulsion. Sanctions for employees found in violation of policy may include mandated training, work reassignment, leave without pay, or termination of employment. More information about sanctions can be found in the Discrimination Grievance Procedures.
Right of Appeal
Both parties have the right to appeal the investigation finding and any sanctions that may be imposed Procedures for appeal are found in the Discrimination Grievance Procedures and will also be explained in the investigative report.
Policy and Procedures
The University investigative process determines whether there has been a violation of University policy. More information on the UM Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Retaliation Policy & Grievance Procedures.