BASED ON POLICY NUMBER AND TITLE:
8-2-0 Sexual Harassment and Unprofessional Conduct
This procedure outlines the processes involved in reporting and resolving sexual harassment or other related unprofessional conduct issues either formally or informally.
- Trident Technical College (TTC) does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, gender, veteran status, pregnancy, childbirth or other categories protected by applicable law in educational programs and activities as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and other applicable laws. Any questions regarding Title IX may be referred to the college’s Title IX Coordinator whose contact information is located on the College’s website.
- Any person, whether or not the person reporting is the alleged victim, may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking. Reports shall be to Title IX Coordinator, any college official who has the authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the College, or by any other means that results in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report. Such a report may be made at any time including during non-business hours. Irrespective of whether a report of sexual harassment is anonymous, the College will respond promptly in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent, meaning not clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.
- In some cases, TTC Public Safety may become aware of allegations of sexual harassment via local law enforcement. These allegations may also be addressed by this procedure. TTC encourages the prompt reporting of sexual assault to TTC Public Safety and local law enforcement. The Complainant may also file a criminal report regarding the alleged conduct. However, Title IX investigations are separate from criminal investigations. In some cases, TTC may need to temporarily delay the fact-finding portion of a Title IX investigation while law enforcement gathers evidence. Contact information for law enforcement and TTC Public Safety is available on the College’s website.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- College Community Members
Any member of the College community who believes TTC Policy 8-2-0 Sexual Harassment and Unprofessional Conduct has been violated may make a complaint. The well-being of the College depends on every member being knowledgeable about the policy, being conscious of his or her own behavior, avoiding intentionally dishonest or malicious complaints, and refusing to retaliate against another member of the College who has filed a complaint.
- Confidential Resources
The President has designated a number of contact persons at each campus to assist individuals who need to discuss a violation of TTC Policy 8-2-0. These persons are available to help individuals better understand the processes related to formal and informal complaints. The names and contact information for the confidential resources at each campus are posted on the College’s Title IX webpage.
In some cases, a student with a sexual harassment complaint may approach an employee who is not a confidential resource. In those cases, the employee should refer the student to a confidential resource or the Title IX Coordinator and notify the Title IX Coordinator of the nature of the complaint.
- Title IX Coordinator
The Title IX Coordinator or his/her designee is responsible for coordinating the College’s responses to reports, informal complaints, and formal complaints.
- Supportive Measures
Upon receiving or being made aware of a complaint alleging sexual harassment, regardless of whether a formal complaint has been filed, the Title IX Coordinator will provide supportive measures to both the complainant and the respondent. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of supportive measures and must consider a complainant’s wishes with respect to measures provided. Measures provided shall be kept confidential unless disclosure is necessary to provide the service, such as in the case of, but not limited to, a no-contact order. Such measures should restore or preserve equal access to the education program or activity without unreasonably burdening either party.
Interim suspension or expulsion of a respondent is not included in the list of supportive measures. Emergency removal of a respondent from an educational program or activity is allowable only after conducting a safety and risk analysis and determining there is an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations of sexual harassment that justifies removal. The respondent must be provided with notice of the removal and an opportunity to challenge the decision immediately following the removal. A respondent may not be subject to an emergency removal without full and appropriate consideration of applicable disability laws.
- Confidentiality and Process
The College must keep confidential the identity of complainants, respondents, third-party reporters, and witnesses, except as may be permitted by FERPA, as required by law, or as necessary to carry out a Title IX proceeding. The College must maintain as confidential any supportive measures provided to the complainant or respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the college to provide the supportive measures. If a formal complaint is made to the Title IX Coordinator, confidentiality of the complainant may not be maintained.
Students or employees should file complaints in a timely manner to ensure that investigations can be accurate and thorough. Reports may be made via the reporting form on the College’s website or directly to the Title IX Coordinator. Once the Title IX Coordinator receives a report of alleged prohibited conduct and provides any appropriate supportive measures, the Coordinator will provide information to the complainant about the grievance process. If the complainant chooses to proceed with a formal complaint, the Coordinator will proceed with the grievance process.
- Notice of Allegations
Upon receiving a formal complaint alleging sexual harassment, the Title IX Coordinator provides written notice of the allegation to the both the complainant and the respondent within 5 instructional days. The written notice will be sent via college e-mail and include:
- The identities of the parties involved in the incident,
- The conduct allegedly constituting sexual harassment,
- The date and location of the alleged incident,
- Notice of the College’s grievance process, to include information regarding its informal resolution process,
- A statement that the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility will be made upon conclusion of the grievance process,
- Notice if the College’s code of conduct prohibits knowingly making or submitting false information during the grievance process, and
- Notice that the parties may have an advisor of their choice.
- Dismissal of a Formal Complaint
The College will dismiss formal complaints alleging sexual harassment if the conduct in the complaint does not meet the definition of sexual harassment as defined herein: if the conduct did not occur in the College’s education program or activity; if the conduct did not occur against a person in the United States; or, if at the time of filing a formal complaint, the complainant is not participating in or attempting to participate in the College’s education program or activity. However, the complaint may be investigated under another grievance process if it violates the Student Code or if it is another form of prohibited conduct.
The College may dismiss a formal complaint under Title IX if, at any time: a complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator that the he/she wishes to withdraw the complaint; the respondent is no longer enrolled at the College; or specific circumstances prevents gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination. If a formal complaint is dismissed, the Title IX Coordinator will provide written notification via college e-mail to both parties, to include reason(s) for the dismissal. Dismissal of a formal complaint is subject to appeal.
- Investigative Process
Upon receipt of a formal complaint of allegations of sexual harassment, the Title IX Coordinator will assign an impartial investigator whose purpose is to collect and summarize evidence. The investigation will begin no later than 10 instructional days after the initial complaint is filed with the Title IX Coordinator.
The burden of proof and burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination lies on the College and not the parties involved. Parties will have an equal opportunity to present witnesses and evidence.
The investigator will send written notice to a party via college email when the party’s participation in a meeting with the investigator is invited or expected. The notice will include the date, time, and location of the meeting; the expected participants; the meeting’s purpose; and will allow for sufficient time for the party to prepare to participate. Interviews with parties and witnesses will be recorded. Such recordings may be included in the investigative report, if relevant, either by transcription with irrelevant evidence redacted or by recording with irrelevant audio removed.
The investigator will complete the investigation within 10 instructional days of initiating the investigation.
- Review of Evidence
Before the investigator issues a report, the investigator will send all evidence to both parties. Parties will have ten (10) days to review all evidence gathered by the investigator that is directly related to the allegations raised in the formal complaint. The parties have ten (10) days to submit a written response to the evidence. Such responses may be provided to the other party. Each time new evidence is included into the investigation both parties will be notified and provided ten (10) days to review and respond to the evidence. Privileged information and treatment records of a party may only be provided to the other party with written consent.
- Investigative Report
The investigator will create a report that fairly summarizes all relevant inculpatory and exculpatory evidence and distribute the report to the parties and their advisors at least ten (10) instructional days prior to the scheduled hearing. The investigative report will include a description of procedural steps taken during the investigation and a summary of evidence. Only evidence relevant to the allegations shall be included in the investigative report. Prior sexual history is not deemed relevant unless such questions and evidence about the complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged by the complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent and are offered to prove consent.
Within ten (10) instructional days after receiving the investigative report, parties may provide written responses to the investigative report, which shall be provided to the decision-maker.
Ten (10) days after the investigative report is sent to the parties a live hearing will be scheduled within the next ten (10) instructional days. Both parties will be notified of the hearing via college e-mail with the notice including the date, time, and location of the hearing. The hearing will be a live hearing with cross-examination of parties and witnesses. The hearing may be held before a single decision-maker or panel of decision-makers. The parties may bring an advisor of choice to conduct the cross-examination. Should a party not have an advisor, the College will provide an advisor at no cost. A party who needs an advisor must notify the Title IX Coordinator at least five (5) instructional days prior to the hearing of the need for an advisor.
At the live hearing, the decision-maker will allow the advisor for each party to ask the other party and any witness relevant and follow-up questions. Cross-examination will be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by the party’s advisor and may occur with the parties in separate rooms using technology that enables participants to simultaneously see and hear the person answering questions. Only relevant cross-examination and other questions may be asked of a party or witness. Before a complainant, respondent, or witness answers a cross-examination or other question, the decision-maker must first determine whether the question is relevant and explain any decision to exclude a question as not relevant.
Questions and evidence about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, unless such questions and evidence about the complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged by the complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent and are offered to prove consent.
At the request of either party, the College will provide for the live hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms with technology enabling the decision-maker and parties to simultaneously see and hear the party or the witness answering questions. An audio or visual recording or a transcript of the hearing will be created and made available for review and inspection.
Determinations will be made using the Preponderance of the Evidence standard and will be provided via college e-mail simultaneously to both parties within five (5) instructional days after the hearing. The written determination will include:
- Identification of the allegations of sexual harassment,
- A description of the process of investigation, from receipt of the complaint through the determination, to include any notifications to the parties, interviews, site visits, methods used to gather evidence, and hearings held,
- Findings of fact supporting the determination,
- Conclusions regarding the application of the institution’s code of conduct to the facts, and
- A statement of, and rationale for, the determination regarding each allegation, to include disciplinary sanctions for the respondent, remedies provided to the complainant to restore the complainant’s equal access to the institution’s education program or activity, and information regarding the opportunity to appeal the determination.
A determination is considered final either on the date that the College provides the parties with the written determination of the result of an appeal, if filed, or upon expiration of the option to file an appeal.
Both parties have the right to appeal dismissal of a formal complaint within five (5) instructional days from the notice of the dismissal by sending written notice of the appeal to the Title IX Coordinator via e-mail.
Both parties have the right to appeal a determination regarding responsibility on the following basis:
- A procedural irregularity affecting the outcome,
- New evidence not available at the time of the determination that could affect the outcome,
- Conflict of interest or bias on the part of the Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker/hearing panel members which affected the outcome, and
- Other, as determined by the College and applied equally to both parties.
An appeal of a determination must be filed with the Title IX Coordinator via e-mail within five (5) instructional days of notice of the determination.
If a party files an appeal, the other party will be notified in writing via college e-mail by the Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will send all relevant information to the appeals officer. The appeals officer will decide on the appeal and provide the rationale for the determination to the Title IX Coordinator who will notify both parties of the appeals decision and rationale via college e-mail within five (5) instructional days of the filing of the appeal.
- Informal Resolution
Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the parties may choose the option of a voluntary informal resolution process. Informal resolution may include a range of conflict resolution strategies. The College will not offer or facilitate an informal resolution process to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student.
If the parties agree to an informal resolution process, the Title IX Coordinator will send a written notice via college e-mail that includes the following information:
- The allegations,
- The requirements of the informal resolution process including the circumstances under which it precludes the parties from resuming a formal complaint arising from the same allegations,
- Any party has the right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the grievance process with respect to the formal complaint,
- Any consequences resulting from participating in the informal resolution process, including the records that will be maintained or could be shared, and
- Statement verifying written consent by the parties to the informal resolution process.
The Title IX Coordinator, or designee, may, where appropriate, terminate or decline to initiate informal resolution and proceed with formal resolution instead. In such cases, statements or disclosures made by the parties in the course of the informal resolution process may be considered in the subsequent formal resolution proceedings.
- Informal Resolution Process
The complainant will meet with the Title IX Coordinator to describe the behavior that is offensive. The Title IX Coordinator will send a notice of allegations to the respondent and schedule a meeting with the respondent once the respondent has had a chance to review the allegations but no more than ten (10) instructional days after the notice of allegations. The complainant, the respondent, and the Title IX Coordinator will separately discuss and consider a number of options that might resolve the situation, including but not limited to:
- Preparing a letter to the respondent, which describes the offensive behavior and requests that it cease,
- Setting up a meeting between the Title IX Coordinator, TTC Counseling, and the respondent to talk about the offensive behavior, and
- Offering other options to end the offensive behavior or resolve the complainant's concern about the offensive behavior.
Following an investigation of allegations presented before the decision-maker or hearing panel, the following sanctions may be imposed, if the available information indicates that a violation has occurred:
- Reprimand - A written warning documenting that the student violated a student conduct regulation and indicating that subsequent violations could result in more serious disciplinary sanctions.
- Special Conditions - Completion of a variety of educational activities, relating to the nature of the offense may be imposed. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: a formal apology; an essay or paper on a designated topic; or, participation in a special project or activity.
- Disciplinary Probation - A written reprimand documenting that the student violated a student conduct regulation. Probation is for a specified period of time and it serves as a warning that subsequent violations could most likely result in more serious disciplinary sanctions.
- Loss of Privileges - Suspension or termination of particular student privileges.
- Suspension from the College - Separation from the College for a specified period of time. Suspended students will not receive academic credit for the semester in which the suspension was imposed. During the suspension period, the student may not return to the campus unless prior permission by the Vice President for Student Services, or designee, has been granted.
- Expulsion from the College - Permanent separation from the College. An expelled student may not return to the campus unless prior permission by the Vice President for Student Services, or designee, has been granted. An expelled student will not receive academic credit for the semester in which the expulsion was imposed.
- Additional Measures – Minimizing contact between complainant and respondent. This may include, but is not limited to, change in academic and college-related work assignments, as appropriate.
- Any combination of the above.
- A College employee who violates this procedure will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
- Confidentiality and Privacy
The College must keep confidential the identity of complainants, respondents, third-party reporters, and witnesses, except as may be permitted by FERPA, as required by law, or as necessary to carry out a Title IX proceeding. The College must maintain as confidential any supportive measures provided to the complainant or respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the College to provide the supportive measures. If a formal complaint is made to the Title IX Coordinator, confidentiality of the complainant may not be maintained.
- Reports Determined Not to Violate Title IX
In cases that do not meet the criteria for Title IX but still violate TTC Policy 8-2-0 and the respondent is an employee, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the complaint to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources (AVPHR). The AVPHR, in consultation with the President, will name investigators. If the President is involved in a complaint, the Chair of the Area Commission or an outside investigator designated by the Chair will have these responsibilities. The AVPHR will take appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation.
In cases that do not meet the criteria for Title IX but still violate the Student Code, and the respondent is a student, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the complaint to the Vice President for Student Services (VPSS). The VPSS will name investigators. If the investigators find that a violation of the policy has occurred and the VPSS concurs, the VPSS will take the appropriate disciplinary action as described in the Student Code.
Students or employees should file complaints in a timely manner to ensure that investigations can be accurate and thorough. A complaint should be filed no later than 90 days after the incident occurred.
Retaliation against anyone who reports, or who is believed to have reported, sexual harassing behaviors is prohibited. Likewise, retaliation against an individual who is a witness to or otherwise is involved in an informal sexual harassment complaint or a formal investigatory or disciplinary proceeding is also prohibited. Retaliation is considered a serious violation of the policy and will be punished to the fullest extent possible and independent of whether a charge of sexual harassment is ultimately substantiated.
Encouraging others to retaliate is also a serious violation of this policy.