Title IX Procedures
Conduct Process for Title IX Violations
- Reporting and reporting individual’s rights
The following procedures have been adopted by Westchester Community College to respond, investigate, and adjudicate complaints from reporting individuals of non-consensual sexual activity, sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, dating violence or sexual harassment.
- Any person may file a report regarding any student, faculty, staff or community member alleging an incident of non-consensual sexual activity, sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, dating violence or sexual harassment. Reporting individuals shall be directed to the Title IX Coordinator or designee, or appropriate confidential or privacy reporters to file their written report. The report should be submitted as soon as possible after the alleged incident takes place.
- The Title IX Coordinator or designee shall determine if a complaint alleges or addresses a potential violation of a Title IX Code of Conduct and will notify the accused of such allegations, if it does not interfere with a police investigation and/or if the accused can be identified. The decision to continue an investigation and complaint through the conduct process is the decision of the reporting individual, unless the institution determines in good faith that failure to investigate does not adequately mitigate a potential risk of harm to the reporting individual or other members of the community.
- Title IX Coordinator will notify the accused of such allegations, and assign a designee to investigate, schedule a conference with the accused and other individuals as deemed necessary.
- Once the Title IX Coordinator decides to go forward with the investigation, he/she will inform the Vice-President and Dean of Student Access, Involvement, and Success of the need for an investigation. The Vice-President and Dean of Student Access, Involvement, and Success shall then notify the President that such an investigation will commence.
- The College’s procedures seek to ensure a prompt (within 60 days of initial reporting), fair, and impartial investigation and resolution. Procedures will be conducted by college officials who receive annual training on conducting investigations on allegations of non-consensual sexual activity or sexual assault, including domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault, and managing the hearing process that protects victim’s safety and promotes accountability.
Reporting Individual’s Rights
- Reporting individuals have the right emergency access to a Title IX Coordinator or other appropriate official trained in interviewing victims of sexual assault who shall be available upon the first instance of disclosure by a reporting individual to provide information regarding options to proceed, and, where applicable, the importance of preserving evidence and obtaining a sexual assault forensic examination as soon as possible, and detailing that the criminal justice process utilizes different standards of proof and evidence and that any questions about whether a specific incident violated the penal law should be addressed to law enforcement or to the district attorney. Such official shall also explain whether he or she is authorized to offer the reporting individual confidentiality or privacy, and shall inform the reporting individual of other reporting options.
- The reporting individual is also encouraged and has the right to file a report with security or local or state police for legal action if the conduct violates New York State or local laws. Both of these processes can happen simultaneously. Reporting individuals will receive assistance from security, if applicable, or other officials in obtaining an order of protection or, if outside of New York state, an equivalent protective or restraining order. In addition, both the accused/respondent and the reporting individual may receive assistance in how to obtain a copy of the order of protection or equivalent when received by an institution and have an opportunity to meet or speak with an institution representative, or other appropriate individual, who can explain the order and answer questions about it, including information from the order about the accused’s responsibility to stay away from the protected person or persons; an explanation of the consequences for violating these orders, including but not limited to arrest, additional conduct charges, and interim suspension; and to receive assistance from campus security in effecting an arrest by calling on local law enforcement for violating such an order, provided that nothing in this article shall limit current law enforcement jurisdiction and procedures.
- Reporting individuals also have the right to disclose confidentially the incident to institution representatives, who may offer confidentiality pursuant to applicable laws and can assist in obtaining services for reporting individuals; disclose confidentially the incident and obtain services from the state or local government; disclose the incident to institution representatives who can offer privacy or confidentiality, as appropriate, and can assist in obtaining resources for reporting individuals; receive assistance from appropriate institution representatives in initiating legal proceedings in family court or civil court; and withdraw a complaint or involvement from the institution process at any time.
- Should the accused be an employee of the College, the reporting individual has the right to have the incident reported to the institution’s human resources authority or the right to request that a confidential or private employee assist in reporting to the appropriate human resources authority. Once reported, an investigation will ensue and a final report on the findings will be filed with the Human Resources Office. From there the College will follow the appropriate employment grievance procedures in accord with that person’s collective bargaining unit or terms of employment.
- At the first instance of disclosure by a reporting individual to an institution representative, the following information shall be presented to the reporting individual: “You have the right to make a report to university police or campus security, local law enforcement, and/or state police or choose not to report; to report the incident to your institution; to be protected by the institution from retaliation for reporting an incident; and to receive assistance and resources from your institution.”
- All reporting individuals will receive information about resources, including intervention, mental health counseling, and medical services, which shall include information on whether such resources are available at no cost or for a fee. In addition, information will be provided on sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault forensic examinations, and resources available through the New York state office of victim services, established pursuant to section six hundred twenty-two of the executive law.
- Retaliation of any kind against a reporting individual or against any person participating in the investigation is strictly prohibited. Any retaliation will be treated as a new and additional violation of the code of conduct.
- Declining to consent to an investigation shall be honored unless the institution determines in good faith that failure to investigate does not adequately mitigate a potential risk of harm to the reporting individual or other members of the community. Honoring such a request may limit the institution’s ability to meaningfully investigate and pursue conduct action against an accused individual. Factors used to determine whether to honor such a request include, but are not limited to:
- Whether the accused has a history of violent behavior or is a repeat offender;
- Whether the incident represents escalation in unlawful conduct on behalf of the accused from previously noted behavior;
- The increased risk that the accused will commit additional acts of violence;
- Whether the accused used a weapon or force;
- Whether the reporting individual is a minor; and
- Whether the institution possesses other means to obtain evidence such as security footage, and whether available information reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location or by a particular group.
- Pre-Hearing Procedures
The following procedures have been adopted by Westchester Community College to separate the accused/respondent and the reporting individual during an investigation and possible hearing for the purpose of preventing retaliation and providing a non-hostile environment.
Separation of accused/respondent and reporting individual
- The reporting individual will be provided a “no contact order” against the accused or respondent consistent with institution policies and procedures, whereby continued intentional contact with the reporting individual would be a violation of institution policy subject to additional conduct charges; if the accused or respondent and a reporting individual observe each other in a public place, it shall be the responsibility of the accused or respondent to leave the area immediately and without directly contacting the reporting individual.
- When the accused or respondent is a student determined to present a continuing threat to the health and safety of the community, the accused or respondent is subject to interim suspension pending the outcome of a judicial or conduct process. When the accused is not a student but is a member of the institution’s community and presents a continuing threat to the health and safety of the community, to subject the accused to interim measures in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements, employee handbooks, and rules and policies of the institution.
- Lastly, reasonable and available interim measures and accommodations will be provided that effect a change in academic, housing, employment, transportation or other applicable arrangements in order to help ensure safety, prevent retaliation and avoid an ongoing hostile environment, consistent with the institution’s policies and procedures.
- Investigation process and student’s rights
Students involved in Title IX cases will receive a prompt response to any complaint and have the complaint investigated in a fair, impartial, timely manner that provides a meaningful opportunity to be heard.
- All reports shall be investigated in accordance with institution policy and the reporting individual’s identity shall remain private at all times if said reporting individual wishes to maintain privacy.
- The investigator, a trained college officer, will take primary statements from the complainant and respondent, ask follow up questions, reach out to and collect statements from others who have evidence/information relevant to the question of violation of the code of conduct, and ask follow-up questions as needed.
- The complainant, reporting individual and respondent may each provide evidence, suggest questions to the investigator to be asked of others, and may suggest others that the investigator should interview. Final decisions about with whom to talk and what to ask will be made by the investigator.
- All of those contacted by the investigator will be required to maintain the privacy of the investigation however; the investigator may consult with the Title IX Coordinator in decisions regarding the investigation process.
- The Title IX Coordinator will receive and review the report, ensure that the report does not contain material that is inadmissible in the decision process and may request that additional information be gathered. Once the report in finalized, he/she will determine whether to bring charges against the accused student.
- If charges are brought up against a student, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the respondent, complainant and the reporting individual describing the date, time, location and factual allegations concerning the violation, the need for a hearing, a reference to the specific code of conduct provisions alleged to have been violated, and possible sanctions.
- If the accused is an employee, the final report will be submitted to the Human Resources Office to follow appropriate grievance procedures.
Student’s Rights in an Investigation
- If a reporting individual reports an incident of non-consensual sexual activity or sexual assault but does not wish to participate in the investigation and adjudication process, the situation will be reviewed by the Title IX Coordinator for student concerns. He/she will determine whether there is sufficient information to proceed with an investigation.
- If the accused/respondent does not wish to participate in the investigation and adjudication process, the process will proceed without their contribution to the determination of the facts of the case. The respondent should note that the appeal process based on appearance of new information not available to the hearing officers does not apply in cases of deliberate omission of information by the respondent, including refusal by the respondent to participate in the investigation.
- All students will receive a process investigated by individuals in a thorough manner, without a conflict of interest, and who receive annual training in conducting investigations of sexual violence, the effects of trauma, impartiality, the rights of the respondent, including the right to a presumption that the respondent is “not responsible” until a finding of responsibility is made.
- Hearing procedures and student’s rights
All students involved in a hearing, where a student is accused of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or non-consensual sexual activity will be afforded a hearing adjudicated in a fair, impartial, timely manner that provides a meaningful opportunity to be heard. All students will receive a process conducted by individuals without a conflict of interest, and who receive annual training in conducting hearings of sexual violence, the effects of trauma, impartiality, the rights of the respondent, including the right to a presumption that the respondent is “not responsible” until a finding of responsibility is made. A hearing is conducted differently from legal proceedings and shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures listed below. Specific hearing officers may adopt additional procedures that are not inconsistent with the provisions of The Code of Conduct.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee will assign three hearing officers, who are College Officials to conduct the hearing, with one individual being designated as the Hearing Chair. Hearing Officers are designated and trained by the Title IX Coordinator annually. Hearing officers in Title IX cases may only impose sanctions of suspension or expulsion. The hearing participants may include the investigating officer, respondent(s), a complainant, reporting individual, witnesses, three hearing officers, the Title IX Coordinator and a support person for each respondent or complainant.
An essential component of any a hearing is the determination and the weighing of the facts that pertain to the allegation(s). Therefore, it is vital that personal statements, investigator’s final report and other information be presented clearly and factually. All participants are expected to be respectful of each other’s purpose in the hearing process and to conduct themselves according to the direction of the hearing body. In an effort to be as fair as possible to the reporting individual and respondent, student conduct procedures may be modified by the hearing officers.
- A hearing shall be closed and not open to the public.
- Admission of any person into the hearing room shall be at the discretion of the chair. The chair shall have the authority to remove any person whose presence is deemed unnecessary or obstructive to the proceedings.
- When a hearing involves more than one respondent, the Title IX Coordinator or designee may, at his or her discretion, permit the hearings to be conducted either separately or jointly.
- If a respondent, after receiving notification, does not appear for a hearing, the hearing will proceed without the student.
- Except as directed by the chair, the support person shall limit his/her role in a hearing to that of a consultant to the respondent/reporting individuals.
- The reporting individual, complainant, the respondent, and the investigating student conduct officer may arrange for witnesses to present pertinent information to the hearing officers. The respondent, complainant, reporting individual, investigating student conduct officer, and any witnesses will provide information to and answer questions from the hearing officers.
- Questions may be suggested by the investigating student conduct officer, respondent, reporting individual and/or complainant to be answered by each other or by other witnesses. Questions will be directed to the chair, rather than to the individuals directly. This method is used to preserve the educational tone of the hearing and to avoid creation of an adversarial environment. All questions made by the respondent and reporting individual must be vetted at least two days prior to the hearing by the Title IX Coordinator. It will be left to the discretion of the Title XI Coordinator whether or not to entertain the questions during the hearing.
- Pertinent evidence (records or exhibits) and written statements may be accepted as information for consideration by the hearing officers’ discretion. Information presented by a student during a hearing that indicates a potential violation of The Code of Conduct may be adjudicated at a future time.
- After the portion of the hearing concludes in which all-pertinent information has been received, the hearing officers shall determine whether the respondent has violated each section of The Code of Conduct which the student is alleged with violating.
- The hearing officer’s determination shall be made based on the preponderance of the evidence meaning whether it is more likely than not that, the respondent violated The Code of Conduct.
- If a student respondent is found “responsible” on any violation, the hearing body shall review the student’s academic transcript and student conduct history, hear impact statements by the respondent, complainant, reporting individual and investigating student conduct officer, and impose the appropriate sanction(s).
- All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the chair. Procedural questions may be asked at any point during the course of the hearing by any member of the hearing, with the exception of the support person, who may advise the individual they are supporting to ask a question.
Hearings may be recorded and the College will maintain the audio recordings as required by New York state law. Recordings are the property of the College. Participants are prohibited from making their own recording. Upon written request, a respondent or complainant may review the audio recording and make appropriate arrangements for it to be transcribed on College premises. Arrangements for a transcriber and all associated costs involved in the transcription will be the responsibility of the requesting individual.
Student rights during a hearing
- The reporting individual, complainant and respondent will have the opportunity to state whether they feel a hearing officer should not participate in the panel due to bias or any other reason, which would prevent them from making a fair assessment of the evidence. The final decision on any such requests for recusal will be made by the Title IX Coordinator.
- The Hearing Officers must review the investigators report prior to the date of the Hearing.
- To present evidence and testimony at a hearing, where appropriate, and have access to a full and fair record of any such hearing, which shall be preserved and maintained for at least five years from such a hearing and may include a transcript, recording or other appropriate record
- Access to at least one level of appeal of a determination before a panel, which may include one or more students, that is fair and impartial and does not include individuals with a conflict of interest. In order to effect an appeal, a respondent and reporting individual in such cases shall receive written notice of the findings of fact, the decision and the sanction, if any, as well as the rationale for the decision and sanction. In such cases, any rights provided to a reporting individual must be similarly provided to a respondent and any rights provided to a respondent must be similarly provided to a reporting individual.
- For the respondent and reporting individual to be accompanied by an advisor of choice (Does not have to be a member of the College), who may assist and advice throughout the conduct process including during all meetings and hearings related to such process. Rules for participation of such advisor shall be established in the code of conduct.
- To have the institution’s conduct process run concurrently with a criminal justice investigation and proceeding, except for temporary delays as requested by external municipal entities while law enforcement gathers evidence. Temporary delays should not last more than ten days except when law enforcement specifically requests and justifies a longer delay
- To review and present available evidence in the case file, including the investigator’s findings report, or otherwise in the possession or control of the institution, and relevant to the conduct case, consistent with institution policies and procedures.
- To exclude their own prior sexual history with persons other than the other party in the judicial or conduct process or their own mental health diagnosis and/or treatment from admittance in the institution disciplinary stage that determines responsibility. Past findings of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault may be admissible in the disciplinary stage that determines sanction.
- To receive written or electronic notice, provided in advance pursuant to the college policy and reasonable under the circumstances, of any meeting they are required to or are eligible to attend, of the specific rule, rules or laws alleged to have been violated and in what manner, and the sanction or sanctions that may be imposed on the respondent based upon the outcome of the conduct process, at which time the designated hearing board shall provide a written statement detailing the factual findings supporting the determination and the rationale for the sanction imposed.
- To make an impact statement during the point of the proceeding where the decision maker is deliberating on appropriate sanctions.
- To simultaneous (among the parties) written or electronic notification of the outcome of a conduct process, including the sanction or sanctions.
- To be informed of the sanction or sanctions that may be imposed on the respondent based upon the outcome of the hearing and the rationale for the actual sanction imposed.
- To choose whether to disclose or discuss the outcome of a conduct or judicial process and.
- To have all information obtained during the course of the conduct or judicial process be protected from public release until the appeals panel makes a final determination unless otherwise required by law.
The reporting individual/complainant and the respondent have the right to request an appeal of the decision made by the hearing board. The right to appeal is limited to:
- significant procedural lapses;
- the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision; or
- the decision was manifestly unfair or unsupported by the testimony and evidence received at the hearing.
The deliberate omission of information by the appealing party in the original investigation is not grounds for appeal. Each party has 10 working days following the receipt of the written decision to indicate their intention to appeal with the Vice-President and Dean of Student Access, Involvement and Success. Any new evidence, proof of a procedural lapse or proof that the decision was unsupported by evidence must be included in the request. Appeals will be reviewed by a three-member appeal panel consisting of Vice-President and Dean of Student Access, Involvement and Success and two other designated College members of the Vice President’s choice. The appeal panel may up hold the original decision, reverse the decision or ask for another hearing with a new board. If the original decision is upheld or reversed, this decision will be final. If a new board is convened, the process will follow the same rules as the original process. The results of any appeal will be communicated simultaneously and in writing to the reporting individual/complainant and the respondent by Vice-President and Dean of Student Access, Involvement and Success.