University Investigation Process
The University's investigation is intended to be fair, unbiased, and prompt. The investigator will gather as much evidence as possible before making a determination about whether there was a violation of the Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking and Retaliation Policy. A UM investigation is an administrative process and is not the same as a criminal process. A criminal process looks into whether a crime has been committed; the University investigation looks into whether a University policy has been violated. The University investigation uses the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, which weighs whether it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred. This is a much different standard than the criminal standard, "beyond a reasonable doubt." A University investigation may result in a different finding than a criminal process because of the different burdens of proof, among other factors.
A UM investigation is started when a person files a report of a potential policy violation such as sexual misconduct and states that they would like an investigation into the misconduct to occur. In some rare instances, the University may be required to move forward with an investigation without a willing complainant; this would occur if, for example, the University received a third-party report indicating that someone may be perpetrating misconduct on multiple victims and that there is a danger to the campus community.
During the course of an investigation, both parties will have the opportunity to respond to questions and share their experience. The procedures explain that the investigator will make their best effort to conclude the investigation within 60 days. The investigator will meet separately with the reporting party and with the party responding. Both parties can bring a support person with them to their meeting with the investigator. At their meeting, the investigator will ask each party to provide a description of events. They will be asked if they have any evidence they would like to provide such as text messages or photographs. The investigator will ask the parties to name any potential witnesses. If the responding party is banned from campus as an interim measure or due to a court ruling, a statement may be provided in writing. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator writes a report that explains whether there was a preponderance of evidence to conclude that the policy was violated. Both parties have the opportunity to see report and to appeal from the conclusion in the report. The Discrimination Procedures explain these processes.
The responding party is not required to participate in the investigation; if the responding party chooses not to participate, the investigation will continue and a finding will be made based on the information available.
Equitable Rights of Parties to an Investigation
- Both parties have the right to present their description of events and offer potential witnesses and provide evidence.
- Both parties have the right to have someone accompany them at meetings with the investigator, such as a supportive friend, a trusted faculty member, a SARC employee, a parent, or an attorney.
- Both parties will be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation.
- Both parties have the right to appeal the finding.
Find out more about your Title IX rights.